Oaxaca City is magical. It's my happy place. There is something so special about it. About ALL OF IT. The people, the daily celebrations and parades, the music, the dancing, the folk art, the artisans, the architecture, the restaurants, the food, the ingredients, the mezcal, the markets, the energy, I could go on and on—they all contribute to the warmth that fills me when I visit. It's like I'm exactly where I am supposed to be. It's like I am home.
Over the past 8 years I have been extremely fortunate to have travelled to Oaxaca over 20 times to buy product for Artelexia, to relax, to take Eat.Drink.Cook.Mexico. tour groups and, most importantly, to reconnect with my culture. Each and every time I fall more in love with this city. One of my favorite things about what I do is getting to share the warmth and richness of Mexico with my community. I love posting photos and stories of the places I visit, the food I try, and the people I meet. This always results in hundreds of messages asking for recommendations about where to go and what to do while visiting Oaxaca. Since I have so much to share I decided to write this post to help guide you. Keep reading to find out my favorite things to see and do while visiting Oaxaca's Centro Histórico. Here are just a few of the places that I love to frequent while visiting.
Each location is linked to its Instagram page and I've made a few short notes about what makes each place stand out.
Where to STAY
Why do I love La Betulia? There are so many reason why I choose to stay here time and time again. The staff is like family; so sweet and they take such good care of you. Their breakfasts and tabletop setup are the best in town! The rooms are super comfy, and you're located just a handful of minutes from Santo Domingo. Come and relax at this charming bed & breakfast when you visit Oaxaca.
Where to EAT
Cabuche is my go-to lunch spot. You can't go wrong when you order their huaraches and they have the most delicious grapefruit salad. It's pretty copious so be sure to go with a friend! While you're in the neighborhood, check out the Museo Textil de Oaxaca and the Centro Cultural San Pablo.
Make reservations ahead of time to visit Chef Enrique Olvera's restaurant, Criollo. Go for lunch to order à la carte or be prepared to enjoy their 7-course tasting menu for dinner. Pricey but worth it.
Perfect place to pop in for some craft cocktails. My favorite go-to drink is the Oaxacan version of a Last Word, "La Ulitma Palabra." Stay for a small bite and enjoy some tacos on their rooftop deck.
Recipe // La Ultima Palabra: 1 part Mezcal, 1 part Green Chartreuse, 1 part Lime juice, 1 part Maraschino liqueur
I love to stop in right before sunset and enjoy a cocktail on their gorgeous rooftop that overlooks Templo Santo Domingo. My favorite is their jamaica margarita.
La Cosecha is an Organic market offering prepared food, smoothies & produce plus artisanal products. Perfect place to visit on a Sunday morning.
I came here for the first time back in 2012 with my dad. We were on a month-long buying trip and arrived here late in the evening. Sitting at Los Danzantes under the starry sky I knew then that Oaxaca was my place. Sitting there at that table with my dad talking about life, where it had taken me and where I wanted it to go. It was one of those unforgettable dinners - the ones where there is crying and laughter. Anyhow, every time I go there I am reminded of that evening when my dreams and future seemed so far away and impossible.
So about the restaurant. :) Good food, great space, and delicious desserts. You will definitely need to make reservations. Be sure to order the hoja santa and fideo seco.
Always such a lovely time at the winner of Mexico's Top Chef, Chef Rodolfo Castellanos', Origen. The staff is beyond lovely, the food is always on point and the space is muy relaxing. Everything here is delicious. Definitely order whatever ceviche is on the menu, their desserts are oh-so-good and be sure to enjoy a mezcal margarita. If you are looking to try some typical Oaxaca bugs, this is the spot. Give Oscar a big hug for me and tell Ignacio we say hello!
We come here for one thing, and one thing only, the tacos de lechón. We've tried them all around town but found these to be our favorites. Ask to be seated on their rooftop deck and take a selfie by Efederoy's bathroom mural.
One of my faves for sure. This spot is fun for lunch, dinner, and drinks. Attentive staff, tasty food, delicious craft cocktails, fun ambiance, and a great all around space.
My husband and I love our wine, but not just any wine, natural wine. Any time we travel anywhere Miguel finds us the cutest little natural wine bars. He found us this gem located in the colorful Barrio de Jalatlaco, atop the family-owned Los Pialres Hotel. The owners happened to be there that day and we were quickly taken by their graciousness, extensive wine list, and lovely personalities.
What to SEE & DO
I guarantee this will be the highlight of your trip. Head outside of the city to Teotitlan del Valle to cook with Chef Reyna Mendoza and her family in their beautiful outdoor kitchen. You will start the day with a visit to her local market where you will shop for ingredients to prepare your meal. Once back at her kitchen, you will enjoy a quick bite and hot chocolate before she puts you to work. Everything about this day is pure magic. She provides aprons, instruction and plenty of knowledge. You'll use both modern and traditional methods of cooking so be prepared for some grinding on the metate! End the afternoon with a meal at her gorgeously set table. Be sure to check out her little folk art shop, it's always full of fun finds. When you go, be sure to give her and her mother a big hug from me. They are the most lovely people you will ever meet.
Fundación En Via provides interest-free loans and educational programs to entrepreneurial women using funds generated through responsible tourism.
With the help of various day and multi-day tour programs lead by their volunteers and on-going collection of donations, Fundación En Via provides many educational programs including business courses, workshops, and English classes in order for the female entrepreneurs to be able to develop as the matriarchs of their families through their businesses. With a 99% pay-back rate of these no-interest micro-loans, En Via gives access to services these women would not otherwise have access to through the usual socio-economic spaces.
I highly recommend taking one of their day tours to spend the day meeting some of these inspirational women. You'll be happy you did.
I hope that you get an opportunity to make your way to Oaxaca, visit some of these lovely people, and experience the magic of it all. In all my times that I have taken my tour groups (approx. 250+ people) not one person has not absolutely loved Oaxaca. Does that make sense? :) It is just one of those places. A real crowd pleaser, and rightly so. Make those reservations and buy those plane tickets, you won't regret it. If anything, you will ask yourself why you didn't go sooner.
Stay tuned for a GIVEAWAY with La Betulia Bed & Breakfast!!
I will edit this list as I think of more places to add. Leave me your questions in the comments and I will work on answering them in my IGTV video to come.