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Oaxaca Foodie Guide: Oaxacan Cuisine and the Best Restaurants In Oaxaca

Updated: Mar 1

Are you wondering, "Que comer in Oaxaca!?" (what to eat in Oaxaca?). Look no further. As a bucket list destination of mine for several years, I researched, I salivated...I made a lot of Mexican meals at home in anticipation...and finally I got to visit my Oaxacan wonderland for a week in February. Here I've rounded up the best of Oaxaca foodie tips, tours and unique restaurants from my first-hand experience and research.


Try traditional and authentic Oaxacan mole, challenge your tastebuds with chapulines, or see what all the fuss is about the tllayudas de Oaxaca. Consider Oaxaca your foodie playground. Let's get into it!


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a trio of mole sauces with meat and rice


In this article you will find:



An Introduction to Oaxacan Cuisine


If you are a foodie like me (self-proclaimed, of course), then the first thing you probably Google when visiting a new place is where to eat and what to try. I'm hoping to cover those bases for you here!


Below, find the typical and traditional Oaxacan dishes you would find on street carts, in restaurants or in cooking classes before we dig in a little deeper with specific recommendations on restaurants and eateries.



Traditional Oaxacan Dishes


Carne

In Oaxaca, everything is generally offered with one choice of meat:


  • Tasajo (dried, slim cut beef)

  • Cecina (seasoned, slightly spicy thin cut pork)

  • Chorizo (choose from blanco or slightly spicy, seasoned the same as the cecina)


Pair the meat with corn tortillas to create dishes like:


Memelas

These popular little corn tortillas are loaded up with different toppings like beans, cheese and meats. Topped with little chapulines (grasshoppers) these are a fun and easy snack anytime.


corn tortillas topped with beans and cheese

Tlayudas de Oaxaca

Described often as a "Oaxacan pizza", this dish is served both in formal or street food settings. A large tortilla is topped with anything from meat to cheese and more, melted up nicely on a comal, which is an open flame oven.



mexican pizza


7 Moles of Oaxaca

Holy Moly there's a lot of mole happenings in Oaxaca. I only really ever knew about the one mole - mole negro - a blackish brown sauce that I've made from Dona Maria Mexican Mole paste, or of course in a restaurant. It's cacao (chocolate) based and a touch bitter, since it's not chocolate as we know it (i.e. full of sugar).


It's one of my favorite off-the-typical-tex-mex-menu options, and it's excellent with chicken.


In Oaxaca, there's several ways to try all 7 moles of Oaxaca, which include:


Green (mole verde)

Red (mole rojo)

Black (mole negro)

Yellow (mole amarillo)

Mole Manchamantel

Mole Coloradito

Mole Chichilo


How to try the 7 moles of Oaxaca:

I never saw pipian, chichilo or manchamantel specifically, so it's hard for me to say if those go by other names, but we did try five moles on this trip.


plate of five different colored sauces called mole

Our favorites were estofado, which lands somewhere in the reddish-orange range, full of almonds and green olives. It is absolutely delicious with any style of meat and is not spicy.


Another favorite was the amarillo. Get the empanada de amarillo, which has a tangy flavor and sometimes includes a new herb for me called 'santa'.


Lastly, I really enjoyed the coloradito. Slightly spicy, this dark brown mole packs flavor with a punch.


Also Try


Flor de calabaza quesadilla

A squash blossom quesadilla!