Oaxaca’s Best Restaurants

With an abundance of great street food, market stalls, and gourmet restaurants, Oaxaca is truly a foodie’s paradise.

Calle Macedonio Alcalá 403, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Los Danzantes is a hip restaurant offering contemporary Mexican cuisine. It’s located on Alcalá street, in the same building that houses the Oro de Monte Alban jewelry store. It’s in a large partially covered patio space, with adobe walls and a koi pond on one side, and a bar made of recycled materials. Many of the items on the menu are made with traditional Mexican ingredients, but combined in new and interesting ways, and presented artfully. If you’re not feeling adventurous, there are also a number of pasta dishes to choose from. For dessert, the cascada de chocolate (fondant cake), served with vanilla ice cream will satisfy any chocolate cravings you may have—but order it in advance because it takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
Calle de Manuel García Vigil 105, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Most of Oaxaca‘s better restaurants are quite new, but La Catedral has been around since 1976. It is a Oaxaca institution, and besides reliably tasty food, you can also expect a lovely atmosphere and seamless service. You can pick a spot in one of the indoor dining areas, or in the lovely back courtyard next to the fountain. The menu at La Catedral is extensive and includes Oaxacan specialties such as mole negro and mole amarillo, as well as chiles rellenos and sopa de guias (soup made with zucchini shoots), but my favorite dish is the huitlacoche crepes. They also offer a buffet on Sundays from 2 to 7 pm that is popular with well-to-do Oaxacan families.
Calle de Ignacio Allende 107, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
The rooftop terrace of Casa Crespo restaurant affords this view of Santo Domingo church. It’s a great place to watch the sunset or while away the evening with dinner or drinks. The menu is varied and includes some local specialties such as mole and “stone soup,” a seafood soup that is cooked with hot rocks at your table. For appetizers, try the stuffed squash blossoms. They’re stuffed with cheese and deep fried - delectable but caloric. A 15% service charge is automatically added to your bill, so no need to tip extra.
Calle de Mariano Abasolo 121, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Oaxaca is known for its moles. The most famous is mole negro, the black mole—a thick, rich mixture of ground chiles, nuts, chocolate, and other ingredients. But that’s not the only type of mole you’ll find here. Los Pacos specializes in these rich sauces and you can sample seven different kinds to compare and see which you like best. If you find one you really love, they sell mole paste to take home with you, so you can prepare Oaxacan mole yourself. Los Pacos has two locations. The original is on Belisario Dominguez in the Colonia Reforma (north of the city center). This location is more popular among locals, and has an outdoor children’s play area. The other is on Abasolo in the historical center. The centrally located one has a roof terrace, perfect for enjoying warm evenings in Oaxaca.
Portal del Palacio
This white tablecloth restaurant on the second floor above the Zocalo is more upscale than other options around the plaza. It opened in 2013, and the floor to ceiling open windows allow all diners to enjoy the views; though from farther back you mostly just see treetops, it’s still a lovely view. They specialize in seafood, particularly oysters, but we tried the Ensalada Tres Bistro, and a pizza, and they were good too. Located at Portal de Flores, Num. 3, in the Zocalo. Phone: (951) 501 - 0407
Reforma 402, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Oax., Mexico
Run by the talented Chef Pilar Cabrera, who also offers cooking classes through Casa de los Sabores, La Olla is an unpretentious restaurant offering Oaxacan specialties. Head to the upper-level dining room, which is more spacious than the ground floor, with artwork by local artists. The moles are delicious, but to start, order the squash blossom soup. A beautifully arranged bowl with squash blossoms and seeds with some queso fresco and cream is placed in front of you, then the waiter pours the soup over it. It tastes as good as it looks. Open 8 am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday. Closed Sundays. La Olla offers a set meal between 1:30 and 4 pm - check the website for the daily menu.
512 Calle de Manuel García Vigil
Mexican food is extremely varied, and even just considering the cuisine of the state of Oaxaca, there is great diversity. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is where the land thins to the narrowest strip between the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. Here the weather is hot and sultry and the food has its own distinct flavors. Zandunga restaurant in Oaxaca city serves specialties from the Isthmus region, including some seafood dishes, and a few kinds of mole. You’ll also find an impressive list of over 60 types of mezcal. All meals begin with complimentary totopos (the regional tortilla chips) and minilla (spicy fishmeal), and salsa. Then take your pick of items from the menu. Maybe some molotes de platano or garnachas to start, and then the enchiladas with two types of mole for the main course. It’s all muy sabroso.
Gral. Manuel, Calle de Manuel García Vigil 512, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
We hung out at La Biznaga Restaurant a few times while in Oaxaca. We ate dinner there twice—the main courses were a bit too big, so I’d steer anyone who’s asking toward the delicious appetizers. They’re also open all afternoon and they have interesting beer on tap and a good selection of mezcals. They make a crazy spicy michelada. They’re on García Vigil 512, near Santo Domingo.
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