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4 Essential Stops on a Food Tour of Oaxaca, Mexico

Restaurants + Bars
by Matador Creators Mar 20, 2023

Mexico is renowned for its delicious and diverse cuisine. Many travelers visit the country just to experience the amazing array of flavors from north to south, east to west. In southwestern Mexico, in the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range, the state of Oaxaca has developed a reputation for being one of Mexico’s culinary capitals.

The food in Oaxaca varies from traditional Aztec and Mayan dishes to Spanish-influenced recipes, all of which come together using staple ingredients like corn, squash, beans, tomatoes, avocados, and chiles, in addition to various meats. Oaxaca is particularly known for its regional specialties, such as a variety of mole sauces, tamales, barbacoa (barbecue), and tlayudas (grilled flatbread). There are also a number of beverages to try, such as tejate (a cold maize drink flavored with cocoa) and pulque (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented agave sap).

Where better to start a food tour of Oaxaca state than in Oaxaca city? You’d be hard-pressed to find many bad Oaxaca restaurants, but these four Oaxaca restaurants are worth seeking out.

4 essential Oaxaca restaurants to try

Ancestral Cocina Tradicional

One of the cutest Oaxaca restaurants to grab lunch or dinner, Ancestral Cocina Tradicional is a restaurant with garden seating located between Oaxaca’s Centro and Reforma neighborhoods. Dishes to try include the aguachile de tasajo (thinly sliced marinated cured beef) and tacos de camarones con tripa (shrimp and tripe tacos). Expect whatever you order to be beautifully plated.

Where: C. José López Alavez 1347, Barrio de Xochimilco, 68040 Oaxaca de Juárez

Cervecera Tierra Blanca

Cervecera Tierra Blanca is a brewery and restaurant that has been serving up delicious craft beers since 2009. The beers are brewed with locally sourced ingredients and made with an eye towards sustainability. In addition to the beers, guests can enjoy traditional Oaxacan dishes such as enmoladas (stuffed corn tortillas topped with mole) and choriqueso (cheese dip). This restaurant also hosts live music on the weekends.

Where: Calle de Armenta y López 202, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez

Terraza Istmo

Part of the Hotel Casa Abuela Maria, Terraza Istmo is a rooftop bar and restaurant in the heart of Oaxaca. The interior has floor-to-ceiling windows and contemporary art pieces while the terrace is decked out in bright colors and has a beautiful landscaped garden. Be sure to try the mole tacos for a unique twist on an old favorite. In addition to food, Terraza Istmo has an extensive cocktail list which includes classics like margaritas and palomas, as well as house specials like the agave swizzle made with tequila, mezcal, agave nectar and lime juice.

Where: Av. José María Morelos 400, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez

Tierra del Sol

One of the coolest things about eating at Tierra del Sol, located in Oaxaca’s Centro area, is the tableside salsa service that lets you customize the spiciness and additions of the salsa you’ll snack on while you await the rest of your meal. The salsa is prepared in the traditional way using a molcajete, which is a traditional Mexican stone mortar and pestle. Downstairs, Tierra del Sol also has an “atoleria” that specializes in making atole, a sweet and creamy Mexican beverage that’s thickened with masa harina (corn flour) and is said to have Mayan origins.

Where: Reforma 411, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez

A version of this article was previously published on March 25, 2023, and was updated on March 20, 2023, with more information.

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