After breakfast at your hotel, head out to visit some of the city’s best museums. The Rufino Tamayo Museum
is named for one of Mexico’s most renowned muralists and houses the pre-Columbian works that Tamayo, who was born in Oaxaca, collected. The pieces were organized aesthetically by Tamayo, creating connections across the various Mesoamerican cultures represented in the museum, which is housed in a colonial mansion.
The Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca
is a surprising botanical garden in the heart of the city. More than 900 different species of plants grow in what was once the farm of a Dominican convent built in the 16th and 17th centuries. Native cacti of Mexico, in an astounding variety of shapes and sizes, are especially well represented in the garden’s collection.
Cactus also turns up at your next destination, Los Danzantes
, one of Oaxaca’s most celebrated restaurants. The chef uses ingredients typical of Oaxaca—nopales
(corn fungus), and local cheeses—in haute-cuisine preparations. The drama of the restaurant’s design, with high earth-colored walls around a reflecting pool, competes with the remarkable dishes for diners’ attention.
Skip dessert as your post-lunch stop is the Chocolate Mayordomo Factory
. Chocolate is an essential ingredient to many Oaxacan dishes, and Chocolate Mayordomo is celebrated for creating some of the city’s best bar and drinking chocolate—mixing the highest quality cacao with cinnamon, almonds, and other ingredients. Spend the rest of the afternoon choosing from some of the historic center’s other highlights: the Museum of Oaxacan Cultures, the State Government Palace with its remarkable murals, or exploring local markets.
Tonight you’ll dine at another Oaxaca restaurant that has become a destination for serious gourmets. Pitiona
is presided over by Jose Manuel Baños Rodriguez, a Oaxaca native who has also worked in the kitchens of Europe, including the legendary El Bulli in Spain. His dishes reflect his background: a combination of traditional recipes and ingredients with the latest experimental techniques. The six-course tasting menu adds up to an unforgettable culinary experience.