Visiting Mexico’s Culinary Capital of Oaxaca

Travel advisor Sequoia Armstrong posing in front of a stone wall and wooden door, while wearing a light blue top.
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Sequoia Armstrong

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  • Food & Wine

  • Active Travel

  • Solo Travel

  • Oaxaca

  • Mexico

  • Downtown

  • Shopping

  • Entertainment

City view of Oaxaca Mexico
Curator’s statement

Oaxaca is an absolutely special place to visit. During my time working in the restaurant industry in NYC, no place in Mexico was recommended more, by Mexican colleagues, than Oaxaca. My first visit was truly magical. I go once a year if possible. I’ve been with my partner, my mother and my friend on different trips. I’d definitely recommend it for solo travel as well. You'll undoubtedly meet wonderful people regardless of who you travel with. Each time I visit I continue to meet the most inspiring and friendly people and have the best food. From street food to fine dining, it’s incredible. The ingredients, the care that’s taken with the land, its resources and the dishes is profound.

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Where to stay in Oaxaca

Hotel Escondido Oaxaca

A dreamy mix of old and new in the heart of Oaxaca, with a coworking space, rooftop pool and bar, and streetside Piedmontese eatery.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Welcome amenity.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Casa de las Bugambilias B&B

A charming and intimate bed and breakfast nestled in the heart of Oaxaca, Mexico, offering a tranquil retreat with colorful gardens and personalized hospitality.

GRANA B&B

A charming and cozy retreat in the heart of [location], providing guests with a warm and welcoming atmosphere for a memorable bed and breakfast experience.

Travel advisor Sequoia Armstrong posing in front of a stone wall and wooden door, while wearing a light blue top.

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Things to do in Oaxaca

Sunset over Magnolia Mezcal Cafe

Spend a morning at Monté Alban

The state of Oaxaca has the largest number of Indigenous groups in Mexico. Monté Alban is the most historical archeological site in Oaxaca. It was the capital of the Zapotec people for thirteen centuries. It is now a UNESCO heritage site.

The views from Monté Alban are absolutely breathtaking!

Take a cooking class with a local instructor

I took one on my first visit to Oaxaca and I learned so much about the ingredients and how the local dishes are made. Making dishes the traditional way takes time and patience. You’ll have a greater appreciation for these dishes after taking an Oaxacan cooking class.

Learn about and taste mezcal

Whether you visit a palenque or mezcal distillery where they grow, roast, distill, and bottle mezcal. Or hop around the local mezcalerias in Oaxaca Centro, you will learn and taste the nuances of mezcal - they’re not just smoky. You will understand the arduous labor process of growing and making mezcal and the nuanced beauty that the terroir of each type of agave and its distillation process.

Spend time at a market

Mercado 20 de Noviembre and Mercado Benito Juarez are where you’ll find local produce, baked goods, street food, artisan goods and more. Mercado 20 de Noviembre is more for food.

Enjoy coffee and chocolate

Plenty of both. On chilly mornings, hot chocolate will warm you up and there are numerous coffee shops to enjoy. You’ll love the coffee so much you’ll want to bring some home with you!

Places to eat & drink in Oaxaca

Sweet dish plate with a spoon

Mezcologia: Sip on mezcal pre or post dinner. Buy a sweet or savor tamale from any street vendor set up on the corners of centro streets or inside Mercado 20 de Noviembre

Cafe Brujula (Alcala location): For excellent coffee and a cute outdoor courtyard

Criollo: This beautiful and elevated restaurant with an open kitchen is run by Chef Luis Arellano, a local from Oaxaca, and is co-owned by Chef Enrique Olvera. The tasting menu at dinner or a la carte at lunch are both fabulous.

Boulenc: Some of the best pastries I’ve had. I had read that the chef trained with a French chef in Mexico and went to Copenhagen to learn. Don’t quote me on it, but however they trained it shows. You can get pastries to go or enjoy a meal at the restaurant behind.

Las Quince Letras: Recommend dinner here where you’ll enjoy wonderful Oaxacan dishes. The restaurant is owned and run by Chef Celia Florián.

Magnolia Mezcal Cafe: Perfect rooftop terrace for a sunset hour cocktail.

Travel advisor Sequoia Armstrong posing in front of a stone wall and wooden door, while wearing a light blue top.

Travel Advisor

Sequoia Armstrong

Get in touch with Sequoia

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Oaxaca.