A travel guide through the beautiful city of Oaxaca including the best bites, sips and more.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Mexico absolutely has my heart. We have visited Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City and now Oaxaca with each city being more magical than the one before. We typically start our trip in Puerto Vallarta with a bunch of friends, then pick a second spot for the two of us to bounce to so that we can take advantage of as much of the country as we can.
This year we’re heading to San Miguel de Allende with our best buds as well as another quick jaunt to Mexico City. These are the same friends who told us we just had to visit Oaxaca – and boy were they right. We had an absolutely glorious time taking in all the beautiful scenery and food and local culture. Just an absolute dream of a city.
If you have the opportunity to visit Oaxaca, you absolutely should. We could have easily enjoyed another full week exploring the city. So enough of the chatter, check out our trip below.
To Stay: Casa Antonieta
Treats: Nevería la Oaxaqueña
Where to stay in Oaxaca
Casa Antonieta – Miguel Hidalgo 911, Centro, 68000
This was such a perfect hotel for our visit. The location is right in the Centro district which allowed us to walk to all the restaurants and to-do’s I list below – always love that. And the decor and design of the space was breathtaking. It’s a stunning historical building that was remodeled in a way that embraced the original architecture.
We are proud to tell you that Casa Antonieta is part of the first buildings in Oaxaca, The Spanish Villa de Antequera was built in mid-1529, between the current streets of Independencia and Hidalgo. Located in the first block of this project. We are part of the construction of the old convent of San Pablo, which contains the first evidence of human occupation in the area of Oaxaca.https://www.casaantonieta.com/the-house
It also didn’t hurt that there is a gorgeous rooftop bar (with a happy hour) and that Muss Cafe is located on the main floor – more on that later. The whole staff is also very helpful and kind. They even texted us to see if we needed a ride from the airport to the hotel before we arrived, yes please! Truly a lovely stay.
Where to eat breakfast in Oaxaca
Boulenc – C. Porfirio Díaz 207, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000
We were told that a stop (or two) at Boulenc was an absolute must on our visit and we could immediately see why. The bakery side of the business was where we stopped first for a quick breakfast on the go. Dave got the ham and cheese quiche and I got an almond croissant which is my favorite vacation treat. These were divine bites, I seriously didn’t want this breakfast to end. Hit up this bakery as soon as you possibly can on your visit!
Muss Cafe – Miguel Hidalgo 911, Centro, 68000
This café was recommended to us before we realized we were staying in the hotel that its located in! Count us lucky. We had coffee from here every morning and it was rich and strong, just how I like it. Since it was nearly always full of locals eating, we wanted to give the breakfast menu a try. So, we ordered the breakfast sandwich on sourdough with scrambled eggs, cheese, avocado, and pesto and served with a side salad. It was one of those sandwiches that hits all the right flavor and texture notes perfectly. Maybe the best breakfast sammy? You let me know!
Memelas “Doña Vale” – Cosijoeza, Central de Abasto, 68090
Dave was adamant that we visit this special stand deep in Mercado de Abastos as he read it was spectacular and that they have been featured on a Netflix special (and later Somebody Feed Phil even visited)! We decided to go first thing in the morning as he knew they served pork rib memelas and he could not fathom why he hadn’t been eating ribs for breakfast all this time.
The market can be a bit of a fast-paced energetic and bustling maze, but many folks were kind enough to point us in the right direction until we found the bright blue sign for memelas. We bellied up to the counter and promptly ordered egg, steak and pork rib memelas with a big cup of luxurious sweet coffee. What a magical meal. Bright, spicy & robust flavors just bursting in every savory bite. And watching Valentina Pacheco, or “Doña Vale” run the whole operation is like watching a perfectly orchestrated theater. People wanting her photo, manning the hot grill, taking orders, brewing coffee, not missing a beat. I can’t recommend this enough. Don’t miss this really wonderful experience.
Where to eat lunch in Oaxaca
El Tendajon Agaveria – Calle de José María Pino Suárez 409, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000
As much as we are pretty serious about booking meals ahead of time and doing a ton of research about where we should visit prior to travelling, we always have those “I’m hungry, where can we eat right now?” moments. Stumbling into El Tendajón Agavería was one such moment and it was great!
We got the esferas de queso istmeño acompañadas con mole de plátano de castilla, which is similar to a croquette, tripa tacos and cochinita pibil tacos – all vibrant with flavor and wonderful.
Tacos De Comal Plaza Del Carmen – Jesús Carranza 110, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000
As a general rule, one should not visit Mexico without hitting up street food HARD. It’s how Dave and I have had some of our most glorious foodie experiences. This particular stand is pretty well known and loved by locals, so we had to try it. We ordered a bit of everything and were truly blown away by the homemade tortillas, the luscious Oaxacan cheese on the tacos, the chicken stew in the empanadas – I’m literally running out of words to describe tasty. Ha! BUT beware, this salsa is not messing around. My lips were a lovely shade of red after this spicy meal!
Where to eat dinner in Oaxaca
Tierra del Sol – Reforma 411, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000
Our first dinner was on the rooftop at Tierra Del Sol. What a start. The lechon tacos that were out of this world. Would have ordered a second round had we not had more food coming. We dove right into mole with the turkey with mole blanco and huachimole which is pork with a mole made of guaje seeds and chilis. Phenomenal meal, service and atmosphere.
Casa Oaxaca El Restaurante – C/ de la Constitución #104-A, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000
Once again we landed on another rooftop for another gorgeous dinner. We had a spectacular salsa made at the table with whatever ingredients we wanted. Dave ordered the tostada de insectos for an appetizer, while I opted for a crab cannelloni that is no longer on the menu (was good though and look at how pretty she was!). It does look like their dinner menu rotates, so I can’t do my normal stalk the menu and remember what we ordered bit. I believe what you see below is lechon and a layered pork cheek situation. All I can tell you is we cleaned the plates and that we’d go back again to try all the new dishes!
Las Quince Letras Restaurante – C. de Mariano Abasolo 300
Do you know of my love affair with mole? If not, you’ve been warned. We found out this restaurant is known for their trio of moles so I basically put on my roadrunner shoes and ran there, hoping Dave would follow. He did! We sat down in their main dining room which had an open ceiling and was vibrant with activity from the owner greeting guests and posing for photos to friends and family cheers-ing over a well-had meal. We ordered the isthmus grenache and guacamole which were perfect bites to begin.
Criollo – Francisco I. Madero 129, Santa María del Marquesado, Centro, 68000
After having visited (and loved) Pujol in Mexico City we just had to visit Criollo, which is run by the same chef, Enrique Olvera. The restaurant is gorgeous and eating outside in the garden was lovely. They offer a rotating tasting menu with drink pairings that highlights Oaxacan cooking, ingredients and techniques. It was a perfect last meal before we headed back home – we were blown away by the unique dishes, excellent service and divine ambiance.
Where to grab a sweet treat in Oaxaca
Nevería la Oaxaqueña – Antigua, Carr. Antigua Xoxo 122, 68150 Oaxaca de Juárez
I freaking love ice cream. So anytime we travel I make sure that we taste the local goods. We found this adorable shop around a small town square that had a ton of flavors to choose from and a lively atmosphere. I had the pistachio and Dave had the prickly pear, which is one of the most popular flavors in Oaxaca. They were both perfection. This ice cream is a little more sorbet-like in texture and totally delicious.
And of course, please don’t forget to grab a churro basically anytime you see them being sold on the street.
Where to get a cocktail in Oaxaca
Selva Cocktail Bar – C. Macedonio Alcalá #403-int. 6, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000
We adored this cocktail bar. It’s small and intimate and even has some seating outside on small balconies. The drinks are unique and the service is impeccable. I’d count this as a must-visit spot if you’re in the mood for a very tasty sipper.
La Cueva Oaxaca – Miguel Hidalgo 1203, Centro, 68000
It’s not often you stumble into a mezcal bar in Mexico and find a super knowledgeable French owner who is stoked to have you try his favorite mezcals, but here we were! This welcoming and cozy bar is just down the street from the hotel we stayed at so it was a lovely surprise to find for a night cap. And oooh did I sleep good after a few mezcal sips!
What to do in Oaxaca
Tasting at Mezcaloteca – Reforma No. 506, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000
We have loved mezcal since our first taste. Every time we’re in Mexico we try to set up a tasting since there are so many varieties, we want to try them all! Life goals and all. We booked a tasting at Mezcaloteca and it was superb. It was only Dave and I at the tasting which was nice as we got to ask a bunch of questions and take our time. We absolutely brought a bottle home and just recently polished it off. Such a treat.
Shop Pottery at La Chicharra Cerámica – Local 22, plaza Casa de Barro, Reforma 703, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000
I was thrilled to stumble into this ceramic pottery shop. If you’re a pottery nut like me definitely make time to visit. We loved everything and would have bought much more had we had any more space in our suitcases. The glazes and shapes are gorgeous and every time I use our pieces from here they remind me of our lovely trip.
Explore the street art of Oaxaca – everywhere!
You definitely don’t need a map to find amazing street art throughout the city, it’s nearly everywhere. Much of the art is political so it was interesting to research the statements being made in many pieces. You could really spend hours just walking through the neighborhoods and taking it all in.
Visit local markets – Mercado Benito Juárez Las Casas S/N, OAX_RE_BENITO JUAREZ, Centro, 68000
We visited a lot of markets while we were in Oaxaca, they are so fun to explore. From food and textiles to shoes and drinkware they have everything. We grabbed up mezcal shot glasses, table linens, huarache sandals and more. While I listed one of the larger markets above, you’ll also find street vendors throughout the city which are definitely worth checking out.
I tried to get a nice shot of the lovely runner, napkins and tablecloths we bought at a few different vendors, but our new cat Luigi decided it was time for his blog debut. May I introduce Luigi.
Visit art shops – Taller de grabado Gabinete Gráfico – C. de Manuel Bravo, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000
Once again our same friends introduced us to the works of artist Irving Herrera who is known for these beautiful woodcut prints. The particular art shop I list above has a huge collection of his prints for sale in all sizes (as well as other artists), so definitely pop in if you can.
There is a really robust art scene in Oaxaca – we probably visited at least ten art & design shops featuring local artists so keep your eyes peeled as you explore the city.
That’s a wrap on our trip to Oaxaca, friends! It’s a city that is easy to fall for and a place that we know we’ll visit again. If you’ve been, I’d love to hear recommendations for our next trip there or if you have any questions about our trip feel free to drop them in the comments below.
Next up: San Miguel de Allende!