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 the next destination in the itinerary to Oaxaca that Katie Cadar of TravelStore, a member of the AFAR Travel Advisory Council, has designed: Los Danzantes, one of Oaxaca’s most celebrated restaurants. The chef uses ingredients typical of Oaxaca—nopales (cactus), huitlacoche (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.

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