You can witness Oaxaca’s rich Mexican culture through its classic restaurants blending traditional flavors and techniques with modern recipes.
Click here to read my entire guide to the best Oaxacan dishes but one dish to keep an eye out for is a sauce this region of Mexico is famous for. They are called “mole”, and you will find many versions but there are seven decadent recipes that are most popular.
Trust me; these are not your regular sauces; I have seen the process, and it takes a whole day (or more) and over 30 ingredients to prepare these moles.
My personal favorite gravies in Oaxaca were Mole Poblano (considered Mexico’s national dish), Mole Almendro, and Mole Chichilo (rare but delicious)! While visiting the town, don’t forget to taste Mole Negro; it’s a bitter-sweet combination of spices and chocolate.
That’s not all; Oaxaca will offer you traditional lamb, vegan varieties, and famous Mexican delicacies. Here are the 16 best restaurants in Oaxaca that were not only delicious but offered great history, culture, and techniques.
Visiting other destinations in Mexico? Check out our other delicious guides:
- The Ultimate Guide To The Best Puerto Vallarta Restaurants
- 15 Best Merida Breakfasts
- 12 Best Guanajuato Restaurants
- The 16 Most Popular Oaxaca Restaurants in Oaxaca, Mexico
- The Best Market In Oaxaca
- Oaxaca’s Best Bars And Mezcalerias
The 16 Most Popular Oaxaca Restaurants in Oaxaca, Mexico
C/ de la Constitución #104-A // +529515168889
Alejandro Ruiz is a rock star chef, a champion, and the walking library of Oaxacan cooking. He is the man behind this gastronomic standard of Mexico’s regional cuisine.
Casa Oaxaca is definitely the place you should visit to get the best of the country’s regional food at one destination. It’s in a charming colonial building in the heart of the state capital.
You can choose to eat inside or on the rooftop terrace. Expect to eat some of the best food you’ve ever had with a lot of different flavors. My personal favorites were the handmade salsa, duck, and grilled octopus. I love how Casa Oaxaca would make the salsa right at your table and optimize ingredients according to your tastes.
Please note that you would need to make a reservation two to three days prior because Casa Oaxaca is heavily pre-booked. Also, don’t forget to ask for a seat at the upper patio for the perfect view!
C. Macedonio Alcalá 403-interior 4 // +529515011187
Since its opening in 2001, Los Danzantes has become one of the best places in Oaxaca to get traditional food with a twist.
Having a high-walled garden is a great way to enjoy the restaurant’s tasty and unique food.
Brave food connoisseurs can choose from its “Bichos” (bug) dishes, including ant larvae, agave worms, and other bugs in an exciting platter.
Wash them down with some top-notch mezcal made by the restaurant’s distillery, then gobble them up.
I’m not a fan of insects, but I loved their seasoned octopus, stuffed chilies, mole platter, goat cheese flan, and mezcal varieties.
Las Tlayudas de Mina y Bustamante
Tlayudas with meat on top were among the best things to eat when visiting Oaxaca. Even though you can get them in restaurants, they’re simply more delicious on the street, and the best ones come from Las Tlayudas de mina y Bustamante.
Two blocks from the Zocalo, at the corner of Bustamante and Mina streets, you’ll find a local favorite that sells simple but good Tlayudas all day long. They’re made with traditional toppings like Tasajo (strips of dried beef) and pork chorizo, and they sell them all night long, finishing at 6am.
Spoon on their molcajete salsa and finish your street food feast with frothy chocolate camote. The street-style eatery will give you rustic vibes with traditional stalls and open-flame cooking. Their Tlayudas were crispy and cooked to perfection!
5 de Mayo 409 // +529515162226
Chef Julio Aguilera combines his passion for Mexican food and its ingredients with his fine-dining expertise at El Destilado.
Guests can select from a varied à la carte menu, the nine-course tasting menu, or a 12 to 14-course chef’s menu.
Make a reservation ahead of time for these tasting menus. Julio’s cooking focuses on originality, even though the ingredients are Mexican. Huachinango fish tartar and chipotle sauce are served on a rice cracker.
To get the most out of your meal, order a drink from the bar to go along with it.
Drinks can be paired with tasting menus to allow guests to explore Mexico’s booze landscape and beyond. There’s something for everyone at El Destilado’s bar— from artisan beer to Mexican saké, mezcal to natural Mexican wine.
Francisco I. Madero 129 // +529513200709
Just outside the city’s busy downtown, Criollo is the Oaxacan food lab owned by Enrique Olvera and Luis Arellano. Both chefs are big names in the Mexican food world, and they’ve worked together for a long time— first at Enrique’s restaurant, Pujol, and now at Criollo, where Arellano’s Oaxacan roots are on full display.
The restaurant is in a colonial mansion with a large courtyard. The six-course tasting menu changes every day, but their focus always remains on regional Mexican flavors and Oaxacan taste in particular.
In addition to the best tamales and tostadas in town, Criollo also has the best moles and stuffed chili. They are made with modern techniques and freshly-sourced ingredients.
Please note: Criollo is a Mexican-tasting menu only restaurant. If you are on an unrestricted budget, the 8-course menu and Criollos setting will not disappoint!
Av Benito Juárez 309 // +529514622482
Crudo is a small restaurant located in an ancestral building in Oaxaca, South Mexico.
We entered a vast building to reach Crudo’s private rooms— they are relatively cozy and beautifully managed with golden lights. Crudo only accommodates six people at a time, and we were lucky enough to grab the seats.
The omakase menu is always a mystery, but we all know Ricardo Arellano loves to combine Mexican food with his favorite Japanese recipes. So be prepared to eat an interesting variety of food that’s also ever-changing.
The chef also looks for local ingredients, so Crudo collaborates with local fishers, farmers, and cooperatives.
There are eight dishes on each menu. I was served chintextle, sashimi, and spicy grasshoppers— all were cooked with delicacy.
Av Belisario Domínguez 513 // +529512052282
The tortilla-factory-cum-restaurant in Oaxaca City’s Reforma neighborhood serves food made with corn in all its different forms.
Smoky deliciousness fills the restaurant’s atmosphere, making you want to come in and eat the dishes made by the family.
We found Itanoni in a small traditional Mexican alley— I loved the setting, bamboo walls, and decoration. It’s a perfect destination for an evening snack and tasty, underrated food!
My favorites at Itanoni would be huevos and espirituosa served with queso fresco.
Primera Priv. de // +529513130485
Teocintle was another cool place offering small portions of tasting platters. There’s no menu, and you are free to be surprised with what the chefs have to present to your table, but wow is the food good!
Although the portions were small, they were delicious nonetheless. It’s a good appetizer tasting menu, but not really big enough (portion-wise) to fill your stomach.
You can find Teocintle in one of the newer areas of Oaxaca. The restaurant is small and only occupies a few tables with one server and two chefs. Teocintle gives off a homely vibe— it’s cozy and very much rustic. The interior also resembles that of a Mexican house.
A five-course meal is available at Teocintle, and the chef will make your meal with what is in season. As long as you tell the chef about your allergies and what you want, they will change the food to meet your needs.
You might not know this, but Teocintle was the name first given to the plant that bloomed corn. The name is also a nod to how they use past techniques in their food.
C. Porfirio Díaz 207 // +529513513648
If you’re looking for a place to get a good cup of coffee, Boulenc is the eatery you must visit. It has third-wave coffee, amazing pastries, and homemade preserves like jams, pickles, and other things. Juan Pablo Hernandez, the head baker and co-founder, makes delicious bread here in this beautiful bakery.
My personal recommendations would be the French toast, Shakshuka, and their sandwich range. Boulenc is perfect for starting your breakfast, especially if you are a croissant/sweet lover.
Start your breakfast or brunch off with a croissant or concha and finish it off with many waffles or a big bowl of shakshuka.
For lunch, try their absolutely delicious pizza, salads, and sandwiches. Their eye-catching bar is a treat to intoxication; it’s a place to relax and enjoy yourself.
And while Boulenc doesn’t take reservations you’ll want to come early if possible as there’s a line that forms almost every day. During Day of the Dead wait times were an hour and a half or more.
Vaca Marina is a new land and sea fine dining restaurant in Oaxaca, located on a terrace overlooking the Santo Domingo chapel. The restaurant is in the new Hotel Los Amante’s sector, Posada Dos Palmas, and Casa Zanate.
One can choose from prime cuts to the freshest seafood from Baja California, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Oaxacan coast at Vaca Marina. There is something for everyone at this place.
For evening, there is a menu comprising pasta and rice dishes baked in charcoal ovens. There’s also a fresh seafood bar with Pacific oysters, clams, stone crab, and king crabs. In raw or baked ceviches, extra ingredients are added to enhance the flavor of the seafood.
C. de Manuel García Vigil 504 // +529515162938
Enjoy expertly grilled Monkfish, Laing, and Calamari at Gozobi. Or, finish your meal with some scrumptious gelato. In this restaurant, customers can enjoy tasty craft beer and margaritas. One won’t ever forget the excellent cappuccino and hot chocolate because I didn’t.
This location offers a beautiful view and allows visitors to relax, given their elegant and unique setting. Customers have appreciated the prompt service of the staff. Not to forget, Gozobi’s affordable prices will delight you.
Manuel García Vigil # 512-E // +529515162265
At this lively restaurant, there are tamales, chambray, moles, chileajo, baked cogito, toasted corn mole, and mole shrimp on the menu. Their sweet dessert selection will delight you and make your dinner even better.
A variety of mezcals go well with the unique flavors of the dishes— so you can drink and eat well.
People from all walks of life can come in and experience Mexican hospitality at its best because the prices are so affordable.
C. de Manuel García Vigil 519 // +529512062751
This modest corner restaurant serves a variety of fascinating antojitos and more substantial Oaxacan and Mexican cuisine at a low price in a loud and rapid manner.
The soft tacos are worth trying, and the garlic-marinated mushrooms are even more delicious. La Popular offers a lovely view of Santo Domingo Cathedral. If you are looking for a casual dining scene, La Popular is a great choice.
After Las Tlayudas de mina y Busante, this cute restaurant has the BEST Tlayudas in the town.
If you are visiting in a group, I’d highly recommend ordering their Chamorro; a dish plated with a huge pork leg to customize your own tacos. They also have a great range of IPA beers that you can choose from!
This was the only restaurant my friend group visited twice during our recent visit and in fact loved it so much that we went for our last night in town.
Jesús Carranza 110 // +529511621221
Tacos del Carmen was one of my absolute favorite street stalls— their chorizo are top-notch, amarillo empanadas are rich in flavors, and salsa is mouth-watering.
You can order all that and much more at very affordable rates. Due to the minimal seating area, visit early to grab a table or order to-go.
Tacos del Carmen is a street vendor located directly across La Popular and serves up the best memelas, quesadillas, and tacos in the morning and early afternoon.
C. de Quetzalcóatl 205-D // +529512281154
Bakeries such as Pan con Madre are among my favorites. Focaccia, fresh English muffins, and sesame loaves of bread are my favorite orders about this place.
Additionally, they offer an exceptionally delicious handmade granola.
Coffee is also frequently sold by the kilo at this location because of its quality and taste. First of all, Pan con Madre smells delicious from afar.
Pan con Madre will pull you toward it with its aromatic essence. Just like the smell, the bakery goods taste delicious, especially their almond and lemon cake and pan con dulce de leche.
Memelas Doña Vale.
Cosijoeza, Central de Abasto // +529513946276
Of course, I had to cross-check the hype Memelas Doa Vale received from Netflix’s series, Street Food. To be honest, the taste and flavors are worth it! The recipes are rich and complex in flavors. Plus, their popular salsas are to die for! My favorite was their original chipotle sauce.
In the Street Food series, Vale Pacheco produces a version of Oaxaca’s iconic memelas that landed her a sweet spot on Netflix’s Street Food.
One dark, smokey salsa made with chile Morita and miltomate (green tomatillo) and another with red tomato and green chile are the stars of this establishment, aside from Doa Vale herself.
Ask for grilled tasajo, eggs cooked on the comal, or pig ribs with your memelas— an absolute combination for your day. You may get excellent Oaxacan hot chocolate or café de olla at the destination as well.
The Best Market In Oaxaca
You can only truly discover Oaxaca’s original flavors on the streets, in the alleys, or in the local markets. So, be sure to visit my favorite market before you take off from Oaxaca.
20 de Noviembre, Mercado Benito Juárez neighbor, focuses more on artesanas than the former. You’ll find embroidered blouses, huaraches (leather sandals), and household accessories like cushions and table runners.
Tasajo is one of the best dishes at the Mercado 20 de Noviembre, but if you’re looking for a more affordable option, you can stop for breakfast or lunch at one of the many stalls that populate the market.
As you can likely tell from this list I’ve tried many of the fine dining restaurants in Oaxaca but truly the best food in Oaxaca comes from the smaller street food and market vendors.
Oaxaca’s Best Bars And Mezcalerias
We found some of the best mezcal bars in Mexico behind the rainbow-colored facades of the low-rise buildings on Oaxaca City’s streets. You can try the smoky spirit here after a day of exploring all of the markets, art galleries, and street food spots that are available in town.
C. de Manuel García Vigil # 509 // +529515140115
Oaxaca is known for its mezcal, and where to find the best of it? Well, I tried out a few bars in the town, and here’s what I found! Our favorite bar in the area is Mezcalogia, one of the many.
Despite its tiny size, the bartenders are polite and helpful, and the mezcal is lovely. A locally distilled mezcal or a well-crafted drink would be a great choice here.
Go early because this little drinking spot becomes rather crowded.
If you want to learn more about mezcal, arrive a little early when the live music hasn’t started and the crowd is minimal— the bartenders will help you with multiple choices and specialties.
Mezcalogia takes a hit once the live music kick starts; it offers a great vibe.
Wednesday through Monday, 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Díaz Ordaz 712 // +529515168791
Cuish promotes and protects traditional mezcals and educates mezcal drinkers locally and internationally. Its popularity among artists and mezcal enthusiasts alike has made it a model for other notable establishments.
When it comes to producing mezcal, Cuish prefers to leave the production in the hands of the mezcal maestros they collaborate with and their respective local traditions. Because of this, no two batches are exactly alike, and each one tells a story about its source.
Calle Unión No. 1 // +529512066988
Casa Embajador is one of the top Spanish cuisine restaurants in the city, and it is one of the most popular ones.
Providing excellent service is something that these restaurateurs take pride in. The beautiful ambiance creates a pleasant atmosphere for guests during their stay at this location.
The margaritas are a must-try at the bar, and we would highly suggest them. The range of house mezcal is impressive.
Miguel Hidalgo 1119 // +529511455349
This posh tasting room is your best bet if you want to learn about mezcal. You’ll also learn how to taste it and what to look for in a high-quality product here.
Make a reservation for a tasting in advance. If you want to sample multiple mezcals, you can do so for a fee, but be sure to arrive with plenty of questions.
Your host will offer you a selection of house brands based on your preferences.
Many of their mezcals are one-of-a-kind blends of small-batch and wild-crafted agave mezcals that you won’t find anywhere else.
Reforma No. 506 // +529515140082
Those who work here have a deep love for the mezcal and are eager to share their knowledge with those new to the spirit. An extensive selection of mezcals from around the state and beyond is on offer, making it feel more like a mezcal tasting room than a bar.
If you’re a novice or a fan of mezcal, this is a great place to learn more about the spirit, but it’s not the kind of place you’d plan a party.
Which of these Oaxaca restaurants will you try first? Let us know in the comments section below!
Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.