Market Food and Street Eats in Oaxaca

Don’t miss out! Some of Oaxaca’s best food is served on the street and in the markets. This is the way the locals eat.

Democracia 18, PRIMERA ETAPA, Ricardo Flores Magon, 68058 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Breakfasts in Mexico are a lot more interesting than eggs and toast. Start with a cafe de olla (coffee made in a clay pot with brown sugar and cinnamon) or hot chocolate with bread to dunk in it, then move on to the main course. A lot of the popular Mexican breakfast dishes are tortilla-based. These chilaquiles are made with crispy fried tortillas that are drowned in spicy tomato sauce and topped with queso fresco, onion and parsley. A breakfast like this will give you plenty of energy for a day of sightseeing. The markets in Oaxaca offer great breakfast options, especially if you’re looking for a large meal that will fill you up and keep you satisfied until the late lunch that is customary in Mexico. The Mercado de la Merced has a few good options, including Fonda Florecita and Fonda Rosita, which both offer delicious breakfasts.
104 Calle Pueblos Unidos
Inside the main market in Ocotlan de Morelos there is a food stall called La Cocina de Frida (“Frida’s Kitchen”), and standing behind the counter is none other than Frida Kahlo herself, or at least a reasonable facsimile. Owner Beatriz Vázquez Gómez likes to play up her resemblance to the famous Mexican artist. She greets visitors warmly and serves up excellent chiles rellenos, mole, enchiladas, and other local specialties. This is a great choice for breakfast or lunch on a day trip to Ocotlan.
20 de Noviembre 512, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
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!
20 de Noviembre Loc. 39, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Inside the Mercado 20 de Noviembre you’ll find many food stalls to choose from. The Comedor Maria Teresa (Local #38) is a good bet. They have excellent mole, which you can enjoy with chicken and rice, or in enchiladas, as pictured above. A full Oaxacan breakfast starts with a chocolate de leche and pan de yema. The chocolate is served in a bowl to make it more convenient for dunking your bread. Later in the day choose a tlayuda or caldo de pollo. You really can’t go wrong!
Calle de Los Libres 212, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
These large, thick tortillas are called “tlayudas” and they’re a Oaxaca specialty that you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in the country. They’re prepared by spreading pork fat and bean paste on the tortilla, then the Oaxaca string cheese called quesillo is added in, plus some shredded lettuce or cabbage to add a little crunch. It’s folded over and toasted on a grill until it’s crispy and the cheese inside melts, and served with your choice of meat. If you want yours without the pork fat, just ask for it “sin aciento.” Tlayudas are served in many places in Oaxaca. In restaurants they’re usually served open-faced, which is perhaps more attractive, but when you have it folded over like this, the cheese melts more and combined with the crisp tortilla, it’s really delicious. Tlayudas Libres opens at 9 pm nightly and closes at 3 or 4 am. They have grills set up on the street so you can watch how they’re prepared. This is a popular late-night stop after an evening of partying.
Macedonio Alcalá s/n, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
On a walk through Oaxaca‘s Centro Historico any evening, you’ll come across carts selling steaming corn. Order an elote and you’ll get the corn on the cob on a wooden stick. If you request it “con todo,” the vendor will squeeze some lime juice on it, slather it with mayonnaise, and add crumbled cheese and chile powder. If you prefer your corn in a cup, ask for an “esquite” and you’ll be served a cup of corn with the broth it was cooked in, and the garnishings will be added on top for you to mix in. Any way you like it, this makes a great snack to eat while you’re enjoying the street scene.
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