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13 Best Restaurants in Oaxaca

13 Best Restaurants in Oaxaca

Everyone needs a best restaurants in Oaxaca list before making their way to this foodie heaven of a city.

Oaxaca City has it all, from humble market stalls where the menu is committed to memory not printed on paper to more creative upscale dining that pays homage to Oaxaca’s long-standing culinary traditions.

Come hungry, as these are 13 of the best places to eat in Oaxaca and you won’t want to skip even one. 

If you are planning an entire trip to Oaxaca don’t miss out on the best day trips, best tours, the best things to do, and a one-week itinerary to help you plan your trip.

The Best Restaurants in Oaxaca

Check each and every one of these top Oaxaca restaurants off your list when you visit for the ultimate experience of Oaxacan cuisine.

1. Casa Oaxaca

Casa Oaxaca is considered to be the top Oaxaca restaurant on many best restaurants in Oaxaca lists and for good reason. Its critically acclaimed chef Alejandro Ruiz brings together the tradition, flavors, recipes, and heritage of his upbringing in Zimatlán, a pueblo just an hour south of Oaxaca City. 

As soon as you enter the glamorous Casa Oaxaca dining room, you’re met with true Mexican hospitality. With a reputation to precede it, it’s best you make a reservation in advance if Casa Oaxaca is high on your Oaxaca dining list. And when you do, request a table on their rooftop terrace for dinner accompanied by views of the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán as you dine. 

Savor every bite of the meticulously prepared high-style versions of regional Oaxacan cuisine, like mole negro, sopa de nopales (prickly pear cactus soup), chile de agua (heirloom pepper) stuffed with ceviche, and grilled rabbit from Ruiz’s farm.

Every dish is prepared with such intention and love for the locally sourced ingredients that go into it. 

Location on Google.

best restaurants in oaxaca always serve up mole and amazing slow-cooked meats

Oaxaca is home to so many of Mexico’s most famous foods including mole of all kinds. You can sample mole at every restaurant in Oaxaca and they will all taste completely different.

2. Los Danzantes

Another frequent inclusion on best places to eat in Oaxaca lists is Los Danzantes. Their locally and sustainably sourced menu leans in the Mexican fusion direction, tapping into traditional Oaxacan ingredients but giving them a contemporary spin. 

Los Danzantes is also known for its own top-shelf homegrown mezcal, its wine list dedicated entirely to Mexican-only vino, and its tradition of meatless Mondays where all animal proteins are casually removed from the menu in favor of introducing diners to alternative protein sources. 

The dining room at Los Danzantes is naturally romantic, with its vine-covered high walls and low lit open-air patio aesthetic. Though it’s located on Oaxaca’s busiest pedestrian street, you won’t even realize it as soon as you take a seat. 

Location on Google.

mexican food

The beauty of eating at Mexican restaurants is that everything can be turned into a taco. Meals are almost always served with a side of tortillas to mop up your mole or pile your meat into.

3. Criollo

If you’re familiar with Pujol in Mexico City and a fan of chef-prepared Oaxacan cuisine, then Criollo is the best restaurant in Oaxaca for you.

Culinary heavy hitters, Enrique Olvera of Pujol fame and Oaxaca-born chef Luis Arellano, are the brainchildren behind this unique Oaxaca restaurant concept. 

Their gorgeous garden courtyard of a dining room is set on the outskirts of town, still walkable however from anywhere in Centro. At Criollo, it’s all about their seasonally-based six-course tasting menu, but their a la carte brunch also draws quite a list of regulars. So yes, this is a spot where you do need to plan ahead and book a reservation. 

The menu at Criollo, though ever-changing, is always inventive, reliably beautiful on the plate, and respectful of the ingredients and traditions of Oaxacan gastronomy in a haute cuisine atmosphere. They also have quite the selection of Mexican wine, mezcal, and artisanal beer to wash down your tamales, tostadas, mole, and stuffed chile. 

You’ll definitely need to pre-book a table which you can do here. See their location on Google.

 
 
 
 
 
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4. Tierra del Sol

Get a taste for Mixteca cuisine from Tierra del Sol’s chef Olga Cabrera. Her rooftop terrace restaurant is situated just next door to another top Oaxaca restaurant on this list, Casa Oaxaca.

Tierra del Sol is perhaps best known for its menu of over 30 different types of mole.  

Every bite at Tierra del Sol will expand your gastronomic horizons, including the seemingly unappetizing menu items like braised octopus in a chicatana (flying ant) chili sauce.

For a less adventurous, yet unique, flavor profile, order one of Olga’s own mole creations, something you surely won’t find anywhere else. 

On your way out, pop into Masea on the ground floor. You’ll smell it before you see it. This is Tierra del Sol’s bakery. Their shelves are sure to be stocked with a variety of pan dulces, perfect for your next day’s breakfast or an after-meal dessert. 

Location on Google.

 
 
 
 
 
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5. Ancestral Cocina Tradicional

Ancestral Cocina Tradicional is the total package. Its menu of prehispanic Oaxacan cuisine cooked right in front of you on the comal in the entirely atmospheric setting of Xochimilco’s colonial-era aqueducts and greenery makes for a dreamy dining experience.

Their hours are slightly different than other places in town, as they open daily from 9am to noon for almuerzo (the Mexican equivalent to breakfast but with more lunch-like savory fare) and then they open again from 2pm to 10:30pm with a slightly different menu for a late lunch or dinner.

As one of Oaxaca’s best restaurants, it sets itself apart with its menu of 100% re-imagined prehispanic cuisine. In other words, don’t expect any Western palate pleasers here.

If you’re looking for something truly unique, order the caldo de piedra, which literally translates to stone soup. This delicious dish with humble Oaxacan roots is traditionally a fish-based soup cooked by the fire-warmed river rocks that are thrown inside of it just before serving. 

Location on Google.

breakfast of mexican food with eggs on top.

Breakfast is my favorite meal in Oaxaca because there are so many different markets and restaurants in Oaxaca to find mole, eggs, tamales, and enfrijoladas to enjoy. Of course, the coffee is exceptional, too.

6. La Biznaga

No best restaurants in Oaxaca list would be complete without a mention of La Biznaga. This highly acclaimed local restaurant offers an elevated menu del dia in a lovely setting just beyond much of the buzz of Centro and has quite a selection of vegetarian-friendly dishes on the a la carte menu.  

La Biznaga is a nice step up from the basic, but delicious, menus of the more local and traditional restaurants in Oaxaca, meaning it’s often less crowded than those restaurants as well.

Everything that comes out of La Biznaga’s kitchen is as much about flavor as it is about presentation. It’s like dining at an upscale restaurant at mid-range prices. 

Their menu del dia usually includes an appetizer, a main course, and a drink for under $5USD, while everything else on the menu doesn’t go much above $10USD.

If the weather’s nice, definitely seat yourself at a table in their back garden. It’s like a little oasis in the city, that only grows even more enchanting at night when the string lights turn on. 

Location on Google.

tamales in a big pot

You can never walk past a tamal stand while you are exploring the restaurants and market stalls in Oaxaca. All of th best tamales I’ve ever had were from the markets around Oaxaca.

7. La Popular

Appropriately named, La Popular is always bursting at the seams with hungry diners or locals just sipping on glasses of mezcal and beer with friends.

It’s a casual spot with good food, cheap prices, and located right in the heart of Centro, behind the Templo del Carmen Alto and a block over from the pedestrian thoroughfare of Macedonia Alcala. 

La Popular belongs on this best restaurants in Oaxaca list more for the fun and lively local atmosphere than the wow-worthy plates. However, that’s not to say the food is bad by any means. The tacos de cochinita pibil, moles, and anything with huitlacoche are on par with many other beloved eateries in Oaxaca. 

While you wait for your food, if you’re not already distracted by the other diners and passerby in the street, look around at the art on the walls.

La Popular takes advantage of their popularity by showcasing art from various local artists all over the interior of the restaurant. Between the lively clientele and art on the walls, you’re in for a fun and sensory dining experience at La Popular. 

Location on Google.

mercado 20 de noviembre in oaxaca

Enjoy a cold soda in a glass bottle at most of the markets to wash down your food or better yet, a chocolate de agua.

8. Restaurante Coronita

A few blocks west of the Zocalo is Restaurante Coronita, a family-run foodie landmark that’s been making a name for itself in Oaxaca since it first opened in 1948.

Many come for the 7-mole tasting and leave with a new appreciation for the delicious depth of flavor that is Oaxacan cuisine.

If you’re not ordering the 7 moles, everything else on Restaurante Coronita’s menu doesn’t exceed $10USD, meaning this is a classic and cheap spot to grab a bite while in Oaxaca City.

It’s also a great place to sample some mezcal with your meal. Their surprisingly high-quality mezcal selection all comes from local producers. 

Location on Google.

9. Levadura de Olla

Relatively new to the Oaxaca food scene, Levadura de Olla has quickly become a top Oaxaca restaurant.

The Oaxacan chef behind it all, Thalia Barrios Garcia, had a dream to open a restaurant in Oaxaca where she could cook alongside family and serve diners the same dishes she grew up on.

The menu is an enticing collection of recipes from her upbringing, including ceremonial dishes and plates passed down through her own family line, as well as a few dishes that are entirely Thalia’s own creation.

Of the items on the menu, anything involving Levadura de Olla’s heirloom veggies is a must-try, as well their various moles and tamales. 

This is the sort of restaurant where you bring a group so you can try as many different items on the menu as possible.

The space is full of ambiance with string lights, wooden tables, and an interior courtyard feel. That and the gorgeous terracotta arches throughout the restaurant really add to the experience of the gorgeous cuisine and flavors on your plate.   

Location on Google.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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10. Itanoni Flor de Maiz

Though Itanoni isn’t always buzzing with clientele, have faith that it belongs on this best places to eat in Oaxaca list. Their menu is maíz heavy and for good reason. The entire concept is to celebrate Mexican cuisine’s staple ingredient. 

In their fun and streamer-decorated dining room, they bring together street food staples in a slow food style, things like tetelas (stuffed triangle-shaped tortillas), tamales, and pan de elote (a sweet cornbread).

They also have several corn-based beverages on the menu, including one you’ll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere called tascalate. It’s a non-alcoholic drink of toasted maíz, chocolate, ground pine nuts, achiote, sugar, and vanilla. 

Now that you’ve been sold on Itanoni, it’s time to mention that this top Oaxaca restaurant is slightly beyond the city center, up in a neighborhood called Colonia Reforma.

It’s no more than a 30-minute walk from Centro, so there’s no excuse not to sit down for breakfast or lunch at this shrine to heirloom Mexican maíz

Location on Google.

 
 
 
 
 
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11. El Tipico

El Tipico, in the Jalatlaco neighborhood of Oaxaca, has earned its place as one of the best places to eat in Oaxaca.

They’re open from 8am to 6pm daily and consistently dish out what tastes like home-cooked Oaxacan cuisine. Every day except Saturday, they offer a very affordable menu del dia that draws a crowd.  

Their a la carte menu is full of mouthwatering options, including dishes topped with the quintessential protein of Oaxaca, the infamous chapuline (grasshopper).

If edible insects don’t sound appetizing, their chile relleno never disappoints and the mole comes highly recommended as well. 

Combine the affordability and authenticity of El Tipico’s food with its warm and inviting atmosphere and friendly staff and you’ll begin to see exactly why El Tipico is among the best restaurants in Oaxaca City. 

Location on Google.

12. Casa Taviche

Head to Casa Taviche for a lighter, and bloat-free, take on Oaxacan cuisine.

Though the plates and surroundings could fool you into thinking you’ve been transported to an upscale restaurant, Casa Taviche is anything but pretentious. Its menu is not only approachable but affordable too. 

Like La Biznaga, this top Oaxaca restaurant offers a slightly gourmet menu del dia at lunch hour that includes a three-course meal (yes, that means dessert!) plus a drink.

Their regular menu changes by the day, so this is a spot you could come back to again and again and have an entirely different culinary experience. 

Though the menu isn’t always Oaxaca-only cuisine, it does include a few local food staples like tlayudas, mole, and squash blossom soup.

The concept at Casa Taviche is more cocina mestiza, meaning its chef, Daniel Garcia, pulls inspiration from all of Mexico’s regions when coming up with the ever-changing menu. 

Location on Google.

 
 
 
 
 
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13. Fonda Florecita

This no-frills food stall at the back of the Mercado de la Merced near Jalatlaco is beloved by locals and tourists alike.

Head to this top Oaxaca restaurant for a cheap and local breakfast or lunch. Just be prepared for a bit of a wait if the long communal tables are full, as they usually are. 

In true local market style, there is no physical menu at Fonda Florecita.

Instead, ask the nearest staff member to roll off the day’s offerings from memory. If you can’t keep up, the empanadas, enmoladas, chilaquiles, and anything with tasajo is surely a good choice. 

Though traditionally a drink of the morning hours, don’t miss a chance to try a true Oaxacan atole. This sweet corn-based ancestral beverage is a must-try while in Oaxaca and there is truly no better spot to try one than in this busy market atmosphere at Fonda Florecita.  

Location on Google.