The 20 de Noviembre market has a variety of food stalls where you can sample many Oaxacan specialties, but carnivores flock to the one corridor that's known as "El Pasillo de las Carnes Asadas" (the grilled meats aisle). Follow your nose to find it: smoke and the smell of meat grilling are thick in the air. You can select the raw meat that looks best to you and have it grilled to your specifications as you watch on. Find a spot at one of the long tables with benches and order salsa and guacamole to accompany your feast. Buy some tortillas from one of the passing vendors, and enjoy!
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Hall of Meat
After years of longing to visit Oaxaca, I have finally made it. In the airport, I thought I recognized another American woman so I told her so. As travelers do, we shared a taxi into town and discovered that we had the city of Austin in common and we just knew we had a connection. Over micheladas in the square that night, we honed in on a mutual friend in Austin and the story unfolded in an unbelievable way. Turns out, she has been a chef of Mexican cuisine for years and has worked with and is working with the best of the best in this field. She soon turned into my food guide in Oaxaca and the first place she took me was this "Hall of Meat" (our name), or the "Pasillo de Carne Asada" section of the Mercado 20 de Noviembre. You buy a bunch of spring onions and chiles de agua and choose your meat stand, or pueso, and then choose your meats. We usually (yes, we go often) choose chorizo, thinly sliced pork with chile powder, and thinly sliced beef. They throw the veggies directly on the coals and cook the meat on a grate above the veg. You then choose salsas and extras and they bring it all in a basket when it's ready with fresh corn tortillas. All for about $7 per person. Some of the best food I have ever put in my mouth.
This massive, banana leaf wrapped tamale is not to be missed. It's about the size of two typical tamales and is filled with cumin heavy stewed meat and black mole. Very filling and delicious. I highly recommend splitting one with a friend so you have room to try all the other dishes at each stall. I picked this up at Comedor Betty, one of the first places when you enter the market.