Mostly tacos. I had the good fortune to volunteer as a short-term photographer for Fundacion En Via (more about this later) this fall, which meant two weeks in the town of Oaxaca. Oaxaca is well-known for its food and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Here were my favorite places to go during those two weeks. Note that for every restaurant on here (with the exception of Casa Oaxaca), you can get a full meal for less than $5. Map of listed restaurants at the bottom of the post.
- Casa Oaxaca: this was my first meal in Oaxaca and it was definitely a fitting introduction to Oaxacan spiciness. They make a salsa for you at the beginning of the meal and ask how spicy you want it. I, silly person that I am, said, “medium.” Yeah, the correct answer was probably not spicy. The salsa was delicious but my mouth was on fire for the rest of the meal. I had an extremely rich mole coloradito here and the service was excellent.
- Tacos Sierra: this was my go-to since it was about 1.5 minutes walk from my hostal. The people here are very friendly; I think they were amused that I always ordered veggies and cheese to put on my tacos. I always ordered the tacos al carbon (strips of pork cooked on a rotating spit) here with a side of avocado, tomato, and quesillo (Oaxacan string cheese – way more flavorful than American string cheese). The pork is always perfectly cooked and they are very fast with the food.
- Casa Taviche: they have kind of odd hours so it’s best to plan to go here for lunch. Their menu del dia always includes some lovely salad and a perfectly cooked mole or enchilada and their lechon tacos are so good. The decor is really cute and the service really friendly (service being friendly is going to be a theme for all of the restaurants).
- Cabuche: their lechon taco is amazing. It’s much bigger than a typical taco and comes on a black bean tortilla. They also make a really excellent shrimp soup, which actually tasted vaguely asian and is just the right thing to get if you are feeling under the weather.
- Pez: tasty tasty fish and shrimp tacos here. They have a toppings bar where you can add your own slaw and sauces. The pescado and camaron tacos are so good and the owner is super friendly. They also have a marlin taco that I wouldn’t recommend; the consistency is a bit too soft to complement the tortilla.
- La Guerita: chicken empanadas! Yes, I’m branching out! This fonda is located in the back of Mercado La Merced and they make delicious empanadas (the meat fillings are super tender and covered in sauce). In Oaxaca, the empanadas are ginormous so one is more than enough for a meal.
- Boulenc: best bread and croissants in Oaxaca. Boulenc would probably have the best bread and croissants in most cities in America actually. The croissants are super flaky and the breads have a beautiful crust. If you are missing bread, this is the place to go.
- Matatena Pizzeria: in the spirit of non-Mexican food, Matatena Pizzeria is the place to go if you are craving a pizza. They also have a really good selection of mezcal to enjoy with your pizza.
- Santo Sabor: they have a really cheap and excellent menu del dia, which consists of a soup, entree, dessert, beverage, and bread. The waiter are super friendly (shocking!). It was here that I learned enchilada does not mean covered in sauce. In Oaxaca, enchiladas are thin slices of meat rubbed with salt and vinegar, which are then grilled. Enchiladas are usually served with a side of rice and vegetables and make for much lighter meals than what I was used to in the states.
- Tlayudas El Negro: so I don’t quite like tlayudas but the ones here are pretty good. A tlayuda is a crispy tortilla smeared with beans and then topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and quesillo. Upon request, you can put a meat on it; I would recommend tasajo, which is a nice marinated beef. It’s a very filling meal and they are always open.
- Tortas La Hormiga: They make tasty sandwiches here and are a great option for a quick lunch. The sandwiches contain your choice of meat and some spicy pickled vegetables. Some of the sandwiches have quesillo, which I highly recommend adding.
Dang, now I want Mexican food..