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Conventional Meals in Oaxaca: 31 Dishes To Strive

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Uncover what to eat in Oaxaca, Mexico with this in-depth information to one of the best conventional meals in Oaxaca and the highest locations to seek out it.

Whereas the state of Oaxaca is finest identified for its Day of the Lifeless celebrations, monumental Monte Alban archeological website and sunny seashore cities similar to Puerto Escondido, Mazunte and Huatulco, it’s equally well-known for its scrumptious Oaxacan delicacies.

On this checklist of one of the best Oaxaca meals to strive on a go to to Mexico’s most attractive state, we’ll present insider tips about native excursions, avenue meals stalls, backstreets, cooking courses and meals markets.

And share the tales of the customs and other people behind the dishes! 

What’s Oaxacan Delicacies?  

A botana oaxaqueña sampler plate of Oaxacan appetizers.
A botana Oaxaqueña is an appetizer sampler of bite-sized parts a number of well-known Oaxacan meals. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

Conventional Mexican delicacies was acknowledged by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.

Even among the many well-known cuisines of Michoacán, Puebla, Yucatán and different states of Mexico, Oaxacan meals is distinct and various. 

It’s drawn from the deep cultural heritage of the Zapotec, Mixtec, Chatino, and different indigenous peoples in addition to Spanish, African and Mestizo influences, substances and cooking methods.

It’s additionally formed by geography. The State of Oaxaca encompasses the fertile slopes and valleys of the Sierra Madre Sur Mountains in addition to Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

Fishing boats in Puerto Angel, Oaxaca.
Fishing boats in Puerto Angel, Oaxaca. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Its offshore waters are world well-known for fish similar to mahi mahi, black marlin, tuna, sailfish and extra.

This all provides as much as a singular mixture of scrumptious flavours and experiences!

Scrumptious Oaxacan Meals You Ought to Not Miss Out On 

I’ve been exploring Oaxaca since 2003 whereas writing for Fodor’s Information to Oaxaca, Lonely Planet’s Mexico from the Supply and proudly owning a house right here.

However even after 20 years of consuming my approach across the state, there’s at all times one thing new to find. 

Collage of traditional dishes in Oaxaca Mexico.

To assist me compile the final word checklist of the finest conventional Oaxacan meals to strive in Mexico’s most scrumptious state, I referred to as upon some native foodie consultants.

In Puerto Escondido, Mexico-born Gina Machorro has been internet hosting small group culinary and cultural strolling excursions in Puerto Escondido for so long as I can bear in mind.

She’s enthusiastic about exploring out-of-the-way meals spots in addition to ancestral farming and cooking strategies. Spending time with Gina at all times results in extraordinary eats! 

I additionally relied on Suzanne Barbezat in Oaxaca Metropolis. Not solely is she an award-winning author and guide creator (Frida Kahlo at Residence) however she’s lived in Oaxaca Metropolis since 1997 the place, alongside together with her Mexico-born partner, they function Uncover Oaxaca excursions.   

On this checklist of Oaxaca meals to strive (one for on daily basis of the month!), we share our favorite native excursions, avenue meals stalls, cooking courses and markets.

There’s even a recipe or two. Buen provecho!

A Information to What to Eat in Oaxaca, Mexico

Barbacoa de Chivo – Goat Barbecue 

A plate of barbacoa de chivo ( goat barbecue) in Oaxaca.
A plate of barbacoa de chivo ( goat barbecue) in Oaxaca. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

Barbacoa de chivo is among the hottest Oaxacan dishes to take pleasure in on weekends and fiestas. 

To make this dish, goat meat is bathed in a lightly-spiced sauce of tomato, onion, jalapeño pepper, onion and avocado. Then, it’s wrapped in maguey or banana leaves and baked in an earthenware pot, an outside oven or pit oven the place it picks up the smoky flavour from the charcoal. 

The tender meat is normally served tucked inside corn tortillas and eaten like a taco. Dip it into the wealthy and barely spicy broth of tomato, jalapeño and onion and add a squeeze of recent lime. Heaven. 

Strive it: Many Oaxacan households exit to eat barbacoa on Sundays at roadside stands on the outskirts of Oaxaca Metropolis.

On Sundays, the devoted barbacoa part at Tlacolula market does a bustling enterprise. 

Insider Tip: Tomas Vicente of Wonderful Huatulco Excursions recommends La Barbacoa (C. Sabali 413, La Crucecita) as probably the greatest locations for goat meat tacos and consommé in Huatulco.

Open till 5 pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. 

Caldo de Piedra – Stone Soup 

Bowl of Oaxacan caldo de piedra at La Juquilena restaurant in Puerto Escondido.
A steaming bowl of caldo de piedra soup made with red-hot stones.

Some of the memorable conventional Oaxacan dishes is caldo de piedra (stone soup). 

This ancestral dish is so essential it was acknowledged in 2021 by Congress as a Patrimonio Cultural e Intangible del Estado de Oaxaca for its cultural and artisanal significance. 

This ceremonial soup is historically ready by the boys of a village as an indication of respect for his or her wives, moms, aged or different distinguished members of the group. It options seafood, epazote, tomato, onion, garlic and chile pepper. 

The cooking technique is particularly distinctive. First, river stones are collected, washed and heated over fireplace for hours.

Then, the crimson sizzling stones are immersed into the broth inside a jicara, a bowl created from a gourd of the calabash tree. The soup is cooked on the desk so the substances cook dinner instantaneously with a lot steam and scorching.

Strive it: This Chinanteco soup will be discovered within the communities of San Felipe Usila, Tuxtepec, exterior Oaxaca Metropolis at Caldo de Piedra. It’s a preferred cease on excursions to  Hierve el Agua and the legendary el Tule tree. 

You may as well discover caldo de piedra at Antojitos Regionales Las Juquileñas (Google Map), a preferred conventional eating places in Puerto Escondido.


Grinding cacao by hand in Oaxaca.
Uncover the traditions of cacao manufacturing and its position in Oaxacan delicacies. (Credit score: Gina Machorro)

One of many first meals to strive in Oaxaca is cacao. The recognition of cacao dates again to historic occasions and was thought-about ‘meals of the gods’ among the many Aztecs.

As we speak, there’s even a museum in Mexico Metropolis devoted to the historical past and tradition of chocolate.

In Oaxaca, cacao is a key ingredient in mole negro (spiced sauce for rooster) in addition to in drinks. Chocolate additionally takes centre stage in mole negro, one in every of Oaxaca’s most well-known meals. 

Choose up some chocolate to go on the Mercado de la Merced in Oaxaca Metropolis and at Mayordomo in Puerto Escondido.

Strive it: To dive additional into the scrumptious world of conventional Oaxacan chocolate, take the Loco for Chocolate tour with native knowledgeable Gina Machorro. You’ll get insights into the manufacturing of cacao, harvesting, getting ready and serving it. 

In Oaxaca Metropolis, take a deep dive into the world of Oaxacan cacao with a Meals of the Gods: Chocolate and Maize tour supplied by Oaxaca Profundo Classes.



Toasted chapulines ( grasshoppers) in market in Oaxaca
Toasted chapulines (grasshoppers) in Oaxaca market. (Credit score: Francisco Sanchez) 

Consuming grasshoppers (and different bugs) is an ancestral culinary custom in Oaxaca. Bugs are excessive in protein, cheap to supply, straightforward to arrange and handy to retailer, all of which makes them interesting as a meals supply.

They’re so fashionable that chapulines (crunchy, toasted and spiced grasshoppers) are offered in nearly each market within the state of Oaxaca.  They’re scrumptious in tacos or on their very own as a fast, crunchy snack. 

If you happen to take a meals strolling tour in Oaxaca Metropolis, you’ll uncover that in sure markets — similar to Oaxaca Metropolis’s Central de Abastos — chapulines are available in a spread of sizes. Their measurement depends upon after they had been harvested.

The most important chapulines are harvested late within the season after they’ve had time to mature within the alfalfa and corn fields.  

Filled with tangy flavour, they’re scrumptious rolled up in a corn tortilla or floor to a tremendous powder, blended with sea salt and used to rim a margarita or mezcalito cocktail glass.   

Many Oaxacans merely munch on chapulines as they’d peanuts as they sip a beer or different refreshing drink.

At some eating places chapulines served on the facet as a condiment. If not, you possibly can at all times request chapulines on prime of an order of huevos revueltos or huevos divorciados at breakfast or sprinkled into guacamole.   

Verify costs and availability of an Oaxaca Metropolis Meals Strolling Tour (20+ tastings together with chapulines) on   

Chiles Rellenos de Picadillo

Guatemalan Chile Rellenos on a plate.
Chile Rellenos with out sauce. (Credit score: Wendy Valdez)

Chiles rellenos de picadillo is the Oaxacan variation of the stuffed peppers fashionable throughout Mexico.

Whereas in different components of Mexico the peppers are normally full of cheese, in Oaxaca the filling is most frequently minced rooster, pork and even beef.

On this approach, they’re fairly just like Guatemalan chile rellenos.

To make this Oaxacan dish, charred poblano peppers are full of the chopped meat combination (picadillo) then battered. They’re served topped with a tomato and onion sauce.  

Learn to make chile rellenos in a Conventional Oaxacan Cooking Class on  

Cuitlacoche or Huitlacoche – Black Corn Fungus  

Cuitlacoche corn edible fungus, traditional Oaxacan food.
Cuitlacoche is an edible corn fungus (smut )fashionable all through Mexico however particularly so in Oaxaca.

Also called huitlacoche, this distinctive black corn fungus is so revered for its earthy flavour that it’s often known as the Mexican truffle.

Look-wise, the delicacy could also be not be essentially the most appetizing, however the black gold fetches prime greenback in native markets.

It’s value extending your journey to in a single day in Huatulco simply to pattern cuitlacoche at Terra-Cotta Restaurant at Mision de Los Arcos in La Crucecita, Huatulco. 

Or, you should purchase a bag of cuitlacoche on the Mercado Zicatela and make your self some cuitlacoche quesadillas. 

Strive it: In Oaxaca Metropolis, head to the La Cosecha market north of Santo Domingo church on Alcalá Road (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) the place you possibly can take pleasure in huitlacoche on prime of a memela or inside a quesadilla.


Woman cooking empanadas in Oaxaca Mexico.
Making ready empanadas in Oaxaca. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

Some of the well-known meals of Oaxaca, empanadas are proof that Oaxacan meals is sort of distinct from what you’ll discover in different components of North America.

Considerably just like a calzone, this crescent-shaped avenue meals will be ready with a wide range of fillings similar to beef, turkey and pork.

However essentially the most well-known empanadas Oaxaqueñas are the empanadas de amarillo.

They’re full of shredded rooster and mole amarillo, the versatile yellow salsa flavoured with chile costeño, chilhuacle amarillo and chile guajillo.

Strive it: Take one in every of Culinary Backstreets meals excursions of Oaxaca Metropolis’s Historic District and also you’ll have the chance to pattern the favored empanadas at Empanadas del Carmen Alto, a family-owned avenue meals stall on the nook of Garcia Vigil and Allende in Oaxaca Metropolis.

This family-owned avenue meals stall has been in operation since 1965.

Enfrijoladas Oaxaqueñas

Enfrijoladas Oaxaqueñas on a white plate.

Enfrijoladas are one of the fashionable typical dishes of Oaxaca. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

In Oaxaca, enfrijoladas do double responsibility as each consolation meals and quick meals.

This scrumptious conventional dish is made by bathing corn tortillas in a refried bean puree flavoured with avocado leaf, then topping them with crumbled cheese, crema Mexicana, slivers of crimson onion and slices of avocado.

They might or might not be folded. Typically, they arrive served with tasajo (beef), shredded rooster, eggs, or Oaxacan string cheese. 

They’re typically eaten for almuerzo (a late breakfast) however are served at different occasions of the day as effectively.


Generally known as enchiladas, on this conventional Oaxacan meals which is analogous to enfrijoladas, flippantly fried corn tortillas are bathed in a mole sauce (normally mole negro or rojo).

Then, they’re topped with crumbled cheese, crema Mexicana, slivers of onion and bits of parsley.

They might be full of rooster or cheese, and served with meat or eggs.


One other variation of enmoladas, these corn tortillas are bathed in tomato sauce and served topped with crumbled cheese, crema Mexicana, slivers of onion and slices of avocado. 

They might be full of rooster or cheese.

Strive it: In Puerto Escondido, Danny’s Terrace (Av. Alfonso Pérez Gasga 900,) on Playa Principal options entomatadas, enmoladas and enfrijoladas (with egg, rooster or tasajo) on its breakfast specialties menu.  

In Oaxaca Metropolis, any of the meals stalls within the 20 de Noviembre market serve this conventional Oaxacan meals. 

Flor de Calabaza – Squash Blossoms 

Flor de calabaza on a blue plate.
Get pleasure from flor de calabaza (squash blossoms) in soup, stuffed inside a quesadilla and battered. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Flor de calabaza (squash blossoms) are an essential ingredient in Oaxacan delicacies. They’re typically served sautéed and stuffed inside a quesadilla or empanada or cooked inside a creamy squash blossom soup. 

Additionally they make scrumptious appetizers when the blossoms are full of Oaxacan cheese, battered after which deep-fried. They’re then typically topped with a easy tomato salsa.

Strive it: The most effective locations to pattern crema de flor de calabaza or tamalitos de flor de calabaza is Restaurante La Olla, helmed by the good chef Pilar Cabrera, in Oaxaca Metropolis.  Closed Tuesdays. 


Huauzontle prepared Guerrero style
Oaxacan delicacies evolves with the seasons and varies from area to area.  You should definitely strive huauzontle when obtainable! (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Huauzontle pronounced “wah-zont-lay” is a wild plant that grows excessive within the Sierra Madre Sur mountains and valleys. 

Filled with nutritional vitamins and minerals, this tremendous meals is a member of the amaranth household. 

It’s delivered to Puerto Escondido by farmers solely on Mondays and Fridays. So order this dish (or substances) a day or extra upfront if you wish to strive it. 

Make This Dish at Residence: Get a recipe and learn to make Tortas de Huauzontle.

Huaraches and Sopes 

Oaxacan sopes made with mushrooms served on a brown plate.
Mushroom sopes topped with cheese. (Credit score: Francisco Sanchez)

A standard appetizer in Oaxacan and Mexican meals, these oval formed masa dough are formed like a sandal (therefore the identify) and cooked on a comal.

They arrive topped with refried beans, mole rojo, tinga de pollo (shredded spiced rooster), chorizo, chicharron (deep fried pork fats), mushrooms and Oaxacan cheese.

These thick, fried tortillas are just like sopes, small tortillas product of masa with a raised border across the edges. The perimeters are shaped when shaping the tortillas they usually’re designed to include an abundance of toppings.

They make scrumptious bite-sized appetizers and are sometimes served as avenue meals. However they can be present in eating places or comedors.

Strive it: Start your meal with sopes at Antojitos Regionales Las Juquileñas (Google Map) in Puerto Escondido. They’re simply 25 MXN pesos for 3 so order a wide range of toppings. 

La Parillada Oaxaqueña – Oaxacan Grill Plate 

Overhead view of a typical la Parillada Oaxaqueña.

A must-try dish in Oaxaca is la Parillada Oaxaqueña. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Well-liked all through Mexico, a parillada is a blended grill of meats cooked over wooden charcoal.

It’s a meals custom on weekends and for celebrations at residence or at eating places the place the whole meal is cooked on a grate open air over coals on a grill often known as la parilla.

In Oaxaca, a parillada options an assortment of meats together with beef steak arrachera (flank steak), rib-eye steak, rooster, quail, pork ribs, chistorra (skinny Basque-style sausage) in addition to strips of nopales (cactus) and  cebollitas (tiny white or entire inexperienced onions).

A parillada Oaxaqueña usually comes topped with quail eggs and served with heat tortillas, charro or refried beans, queso fresco and guacamole. It’s the final word meal for serving a crowd! 

Strive it: In Puerto Escondido, restaurant Rincon de los Alemendros is among the finest locations to strive la parillada. Phrase has it that that is Mexico’s President Obrador’s favorite place to eat in Puerto.

Carry a buddy because the smallest order is made to serve two individuals.  


Preparing memelas in Oaxaca over a fire.
Just like sopes, memelas are thicker and fewer crispy than tostadas. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

Though memelas are normally eaten at breakfast or brunch, they are often loved as a tasty snack any time of day! Oaxacan memelas are made with corn masa just like tortillas however thicker and extra oval-shaped.

Earlier than including toppings, the masa is flattened and toasted over a comal griddle. Conventional Oaxacan memelas are slathered with a black bean paste, sprinkled with tacky queso fresco and topped with salsa.

However they will have all kinds of different toppings added as effectively, together with potatoes cooked with poblano chiles, huitlacoche, squash blossoms, or eggs.

Merely eat them like an open confronted sandwich or fold in half and revel in!

Strive it: You’ll discover some scrumptious memelas made by Doña Vale at a stall on the Mercado Central de Abastos in Oaxaca Metropolis. She tops the memelas with a spicy tomatillo salsa.

Molcajete de Carnes

Molcajete de Carnes in Mexico.
Molcajete de carnes is a mountain of meats, cheese, nopal cactas served in a conventional mortar. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

That is one other conventional Oaxacan dish that’s finest loved with a eating companion until you’re ravenous and might handle to shine off this epic meal solo.

In contrast to typical dishes of Oaxaca which can be loved at residence with household, it is a dish that requires a special day each resulting from its presentation and amount of substances.

A molcajete de carne usually is available in two sizes. However every will function a towering collection of meat, cheese and veggies, organized in a cascading style inside a molcajete.

This conventional bowl product of volcanic stone is used as a part of a mortar pestle for grinding spices, making salsas and guacamole. It’s one of the essential instruments of the Oaxacan kitchen. 

The dimensions and weight of a molcajete de carne means it takes middle stage in the midst of the desk. There will probably be a basket of heat tortillas.

Every individual builds their very own tortilla by topping it with grilled arrachera (beef flank), a strip of nopal cactus, some Oaxacan queso fresco or string cheese, avocado, onion, chistorra sausage.    

Strive it: A molcajete de carne is fashionable all through Oaxaca however in Puerto Escondido, strive it at Antojitos Regionales Las Juquileñas (Google Map).

At Restaurant Casa Chatina in San Marcos Zacatepec, enroute to Santa Catarina Juquila, pattern a seafood model. 

On a day journey to Ocotlan from Oaxaca Metropolis, make a cease at Restaurante Tierra Mágica (Google Map) on Freeway 175 the place they serve it served with handmade tortillas recent off the comal.

Moles – Pink, Black, Yellow, Inexperienced and Others 

Mole and tlayuda served in a white bowl in Puerto Escondido.

Get pleasure from Oaxaca moles and tlayudas and extra at La Juliqueña.(Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Each a well-known Mexican meals and an iconic dish of Oaxaca, this conventional sauce takes hours to make and is a must-try on any go to to Oaxaca.

Oaxacan moles are sometimes served at celebrations however are additionally served as a part of a hearty noon meal served with corn tortillas and white rice. Moles are normally served over rooster legs or cubes of pork.

Seven Moles to Strive in Oaxaca 

Oaxaca is called the Land of Seven Moles so make sure you strive all of them!  Listed below are essentially the most well-known kinds of moles:

  1. Mole Negro or simply mole Oaxaqueño: It might sound uncommon to eat chocolate as a part of a important course however strive mole negro as soon as and also you’ll quickly be a convert. This darkish, barely spicy and intense mole is essentially the most well-known of Oaxacan moles. It’s historically served over turkey on Day of the Lifeless, however you’ll extra generally discover it served with rooster. 
  2. Mole Amarillo: This deep yellow mole options cumin and chiles. It’s thickened with corn masa and is  typically served with rooster, however it’s possible you’ll discover a vegetarian model with mushrooms throughout the wet season.
  3. Mole Chichilo: An intense mole that includes charred black chilhuacle chile and avocado leaves.
  4. Mole Manchamantel: It is a barely fruity mole and features a bounty of substances similar to pineapple, plantain, tomato, chile peppers and extra. The identify manchamantel means “table-cloth staining” mole.
  5. Mole Rojo: Some of the fashionable of the seven important Oaxacan moles, crimson mole is commonly served with pork.
  6. Mole Verde: Considerably just like the sauce within the  Mayan dish of jocón, this inexperienced mole options sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chiles, parsley and epazote.
  7. Mole Coloradito: A crimson mole with tomato served over rooster or pork.

Strive it: In Oaxaca Metropolis, the economical La Flor de Oaxaca Restaurant (Google Map) close to Templo San Agustin makes an particularly tasty mole negro. It comes served with plain white rice.

Or head to Restaurante Coronita the place you will get a mole sampler of all seven.

Most cooking courses embody a guided market tour to buy substances adopted by a hands-on lesson on the way to make mole negro. You’ll then take pleasure in a communal lunch. 

Verify charges and availability of the Flavours of Oaxaca Metropolis Market Tour and Cooking Class on 


Four Oaxacan molletes on a white plate.
Breakfast molletes at La Julia espresso store in Puerto Escondido. (Credit score: Francisco Sanchez)

A hearty and filling breakfast, molletes are made with refried beans, melted cheese and salsa on toasted bolillos.

Served with pico de gallo, it can be loved as lunch or dinner.

Strive it: Get pleasure from an order of pillowy bolillos  at La Julia cafe, probably the greatest eating places for breakfast in Puerto Escondido. 

Molotes de Plátano Istmeños

A standard dish from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec area of Oaxaca State, molotes are made with mashed plantain full of cheese and fried till caramelized after which drizzled with crema. 

In Oaxaca Metropolis, strive molotes and different specialties from the Isthmus area at Zandunga Sabor Istmeño Restaurant. (Google Map)


A serving of Nicuatole a dessert of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Historically, the crimson hue of nicuatole was sourced from pulverized cochineal bugs. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

Each tradition has a beloved candy deal with. For the individuals who name Oaxaca residence, that candy deal with is nicuatole.

This jelly-like dessert has a protracted historical past. Historically, it’s created from floor maize, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar.

A distinguishing function of this conventional dessert is the highest layer made with the crimson crimson dye sourced from the cochineal insect, a parasite that feeds on the nopal or prickly pear cactus.

The crimson dye, together with indigo and the purple dye of the tixinda sea snail, are a number of the most essential pure dyes of Oaxaca. They’ve been used to dye wool, silk, leather-based and meals for hundreds of years.

Trendy variations of nicuatole could embody completely different substances similar to pineapple, coconut and mango. Whereas it seems to be straightforward to make, quite a lot of time and work goes into making nicuatole. The 40 minutes of blending to get the feel good is only the start.

Strive It: This scrumptious dessert is finest loved chilled and will be present in many of the markets round Oaxaca. Doña Priscila, who has been making and promoting nicuatole for over 50 years, has a stall arrange at Mercado Hidalgo in Oaxaca Metropolis.

You may as well strive nicuatole as dessert at La Olla, helmed by chef Pilar Cabrera, in Oaxaca Metropolis. It’s typically featured on the menu of the day at lunch. Closed Tuesdays. 

Nieve de Leche Quemada con Tuna

A nieve stand in Oaxaca Mexico.
Try a variety of scrumptious nieves in Oaxaca.

Nieves are a scrumptious frozen delight which can be a cross between ice cream and sherbet.

Each space of Mexico has its personal model of this deal with. However in Oaxaca essentially the most conventional flavours are leche quemada (burnt milk) and tuna (not the fish! – that’s what the fruit of the prickly pear cactus known as in Spanish).

These two flavours are sometimes served collectively, and complement one another fantastically. The style is a decadent mixture of savoury and candy with a creamy texture.

Nieves are the perfect snack for days when it’s so sizzling you don’t really feel like consuming a lot however a chilly, tasty deal with hits the mark!

Strive it: Discover a conventional model of nieve de leche quemada con tuna on the Adoquín in Puerto Escondido or within the Zócalo of La Crucecita within the Bahias de Huatulco. 

In Oaxaca Metropolis, Jardín Socrates, in entrance of the Basilica de la Soledad (Google Map), is the place to get your conventional nieves repair.

Different flavours to strive embody mamey, mezcal, beso de angel (kiss of an angel) and even rose petal.

Nopal Cactus 

Nopal cactus in Puerto Escondido's Benito Juarez Market.
Store for nopal in Puerto Escondido’s Benito Juarez Market. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

First-time guests to Oaxaca may elevate an eyebrow when first recognizing cactus on the menu. However nopal is one in every of Oaxaca’s most well-known substances.

Strive it for your self on the market, the place you possibly can watch Zapotec distributors take away the spiky spines, peel the rind after which stack the shiny paddle-shaped leaves to go.

With its delicate, tangy flavour, cactus is flexible. It’s typically served as ensalada de nopales with diced tomato, onion and cilantro. Or grilled and served together with meats and inexperienced onion.

Strive it: You’ll find nopal most in all places in Oaxaca even all-inclusive resorts similar to Secrets and techniques Huatulco Resort & Spa and different prime accommodations in Huatulco on Tangolunda Bay. 

Oysters – Uncooked, Fried and Grilled

Platter of fresh oysters at Agua Blanca in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Platter of recent oysters at Agua Blanca in Oaxaca, Mexico. (Credit score: Francisco Sanchez)

Whereas recent oysters aren’t distinctive to Oaxaca, they’re such an essential a part of the culinary tradition, they’re value including to any meals tour.

The catch is you will have to move out of city to strive them.

One of many prime issues to do in Puerto Escondido is to take a day journey to Agua Blanca seashore to pattern recent oysters plucked recent from the ocean. 

Palanqueta and Different Oaxacan Dulces 

A selection of Mexican dulces in a food stall.
Palanqueta (decrease left) is a well-liked dulce or Mexican candy. (Credit score: Francisco Sanchez)

Mexican sweets are one of many most exuberant Oaxacan meals you’ll come throughout in your travels. They’re loved on weekends, evenings and at gala’s.

Dulces are additionally given as presents to households and mates at events and on particular events.

Most Popular Dulces Tipicos de Mexico 

  • ata (fruit jellies),
  • glorias (burnt milk and nuts in crimson cellophane),
  • alegrias (amaranth seed muffins),
  • cocada (coconut milk sweets),
  • mazapán (floor almond, egg and sugar – de la Rosa is a well-liked model),
  • merengues (tinted egg white inside crispy cone)
  • palanqueta.    

Whereas palanqueta is fashionable all through Mexico, Oaxaca has its personal conventional approach of getting ready this tasty snack. 

Manufactured from a mixture of roasted peanuts, sugar syrup and seeds, it’s similar to peanut brittle and sesame snaps.

The sweetness is balanced with a pinch of salt. The top result’s a crunchy, decadent creation that may be eaten as a deal with any time of day or as a dessert.

Strive it: You’ll find commercially-prepared palanqueta at tiendas and different small grocery shops. Artisanal Oaxacan varieties — which could embody pumpkin seeds or different nuts — are most frequently offered at markets and meals stalls.

Paletas – Popsicles 

Fresh fruit paletas or popsicles in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Fruit-flavoured paletas in Oaxaca. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Icy paletas provide a fast and scrumptious technique to cool off within the sweltering warmth on Oaxaca’s coast. In contrast to ice cream, they’re made by freezing purified water with sugar and fruit.

In Puerto Escondido, search for flavours like watermelon, guava and mango or unique creations like gooseberry or jicama with chili and gardenia petals. 

It’s even attainable to seek out adult-only, boozy variations of paletas spiked with tequila or mezcal.

In Oaxaca Metropolis, Paletas Popeye situated at Dr. Liceaga #119 on the south facet of the Llano park has many various sorts to strive.

Pan de Yema

Bags of pan de yema in Santa Caterina de Juquila, Oaxaca.
Baggage of pan de yema in Santa Caterina de Juquila, Oaxaca. (Credit score: Francisco Sanchez)

A standard candy bread, Oaxaca’s pan de yema will be deceiving. Baked in wood-burning clay ovens, this egg yolk bread is toasty and nearly dry on the surface, however gentle and fluffy on the within.

Sesame and anise seeds give this bread its distinctive style. It’s so fluffy, it melts in your mouth.

Dunk it in sizzling chocolate — the standard technique to take pleasure in this barely candy bread — and it’s much more pleasant.

Strive it: Discover pan de yema offered at native festivals together with Day of the Lifeless in Oaxaca  the place a particular model often known as pan de muerto is an important merchandise on residence altars.

12 months-round yow will discover superb variations of pan de yema on the market stalls in Santa Caterina de Juquila in addition to at Comedor Candita’s market counter on the Mercado 20 de Noviembre in Oaxaca Metropolis


Plate of Oaxacan pescadillas with salad.
Pescadillas at El Mexicano Restaurant-Bar at Playa Manzanillo in Puerto Escondido. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Fishing is a vital a part of the tradition alongside Oaxaca’s coast. You’ll be able to see shrines devoted to the Virgin of Soledad, patron saint of Puerto Escondido and fishermen, at native seashores.

In December a particular mass takes place on Playa Principal. A statue of the Virgin is taken  by procession to the ocean as a part of a flotilla of boats alongside the coast.     

Some of the fashionable seafood snacks in Oaxaca are pescadillas. The identify of those tasty folded tacos is a mix of ‘quesadilla’ and ‘pescado’ as they’re made by tucking fish cooked with onion, tomato and Mexican oregano inside a folded corn tortilla.

The scrumptious pockets are then flippantly fried and topped with shredded cabbage. 

In contrast to different components of Mexico the place pescadillas may be made with dogfish, in Oaxaca they’re normally made with dorado or mahi-mahi.  

Strive it: At El Mexicano Restaurant-Bar at Playa Manzanillo in Puerto Escondido. 

Quesillo – Oaxacan String Cheese

A ball of Oaxacan cheese being unfurled like string.
Quesilla cheese rolled like a ball of yarn or string. (Credit score: Michele Peterson)

Simply once you thought it’s essential to have tried each kind of cheese, you uncover quesillo, or Oaxacan string cheese because it’s typically referred to as.

Quesillo is a white, medium-hard cheese with a light, buttery flavour and springy texture. It’s created from cow’s milk.

By itself, it’s introduced as a ball made up of a protracted strip of cheese rolled up like a ball of yarn!

To eat it, you pull the strings aside. As a result of it melts so simply, quesillo is utilized in many dishes together with quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos and soups.

You’ll don’t have any downside discovering dishes that use it as an ingredient at many eating places round Oaxaca. Many eating places additionally serve it by itself as a starter or on a charcuterie board. 

Raspados – Snow Cones 

Do you bear in mind the snow cones you really liked as a baby? Effectively, raspados are snow cones with a conventional Oaxacan twist they usually’re a most welcome deal with on sizzling afternoons.

Shaved ice is topped with flavoured syrups, fruit and condensed milk.

In Oaxaca Metropolis, yow will discover raspados at a number of markets and served by avenue distributors across the zócalo. 

Salsa de Chicatanas – Ant Salsa 

A bowl of salsa de chicatanas ( ants) Photo Credit The Mexykan
Don’t miss attempting salsa de chicatanas (ants) Photograph Credit score: The Mexykan

At first (and finish) of the wet season in June and July, winged black bugs escape from their flooded nests.

Households head out to assemble baskets filled with the prized flying ants. The ants are toasted on a comal and eaten plain or floor for use in regional dishes. 

 Salsa de chicatanas is a treasured delicacy in each Guatemala and Oaxaca. The sauce is featured in costilla de puerco en salsa de chicatana (pork ribs in ant sauce).  

Strive it: Take cooking class with The Mexykan. You’ll learn to make a salsa chicatana and salsa verde (inexperienced tomatillo salsa).

Or, verify what’s on the culinary radar of Chef/Proprietor Quetzalcoatl Zurita, who focuses on Oaxacan delicacies at Almoraduz (Google Map) in Puerto Escondido.  

One other place to seek out chicatanas on the menu is at Lodge Escondido exterior Puerto Escondido. There, ants add crunch to a uniquely Oaxacan risotto.  

Verify charges and availability at Lodge Escondido on

Sopa de Guías

A bowl of Oaxacan sopa de guías on a wooden table.
Sopa de guías is a scrumptious soup product of squash blossom leaves and stems. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

In Oaxaca, it’s not simply the flower, fruit and seeds of squash which can be edible. They’re key substances in sopa de guías, a conventional soup made with the tender shoots and leaves of the zucchini plant.

There’s typically a chunk of corn on the cob, squash blossoms and tiny leaves of chepil (a neighborhood herb) within the bowl. Generally chochoyotes (small dumplings product of corn masa) are added for a particular deal with.

It’s normally served with a chunk of tasajo (beef) and a tostada or tlayuda.

You’ll find sopa de guías at many Oaxacan eating places and fondas. On weekends, chef Celia Florian makes a scrumptious model served at her restaurant Las Quince Letras in Oaxaca Metropolis.

At produce stands in meals markets round Oaxaca, you’ll discover the substances for sopa de guías ready-to-go in a plastic bag. So, you possibly can simply make your personal at residence.

Tinchuiche – River Anchovies 

dried and salted tinchuiche fish in Huatulco Mexico.
Dried and salted tinchuiche fish in Huatulco, Mexico.

If you happen to’re in search of a singular oaxaca meals, don’t miss tinchuiche. It might seem like a worm however tinchuiche is definitely a tiny fish that tastes like an anchovy.

Pattern this seasonal fish (gathered from the Zimatan River) in a 4-hour, small-group cooking class at Chiles & Chocolate Cooking Faculty.

Taking a cooking class is among the prime issues to do in Huatulco. You’ll get a hands-on alternative to make use of the  tiny salted tinchuiche fish in salsas the place it provides a lift of flavour.

Different regional substances you’ll study to work with embody nopal, chapulines (toasted grasshoppers) and Pacific Coast shrimp.

Price for the course contains transportation pick-up/drop-off at Huatulco accommodations in addition to lunch, recipe guide, reward bag and extra.

Tamales Oaxaqueños

Oaxacan tamales on a white plate.
Oaxacan tamales are distinct from tamales of different areas of Mexico. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

Whereas tamales are a preferred meals in all places in Mexico, in Oaxaca these tasty bundles are a murals. Oaxacan tamales include a wide range of completely different fillings from rajas (strips of pepper) to rooster in mole.

Whereas there are lots of variations of tamales all through Mexico, tamales Oaxaqueños have distinct variations.

Initially, these tamales are cooked in banana leaves. The substances fluctuate barely however usually function both pork or rooster with a mole or tomato-based salsa, masa with pork lard and a minimum of two kinds of chiles.

One other regional specialty is the tamal de chichilo Oaxaqueño, made with the black chilhuacle chile and a meat, typically venado (deer).

This conventional Oaxacan dish is often served on particular events, most notably for Día de Muertos, Christmas, and Día de la Candelaria.

However you possibly can normally discover it at many markets and avenue distributors across the state of Oaxaca any day of the yr.

Strive it: Among the finest tamales in Oaxaca Metropolis are offered on the Tamales Cande stall within the Sanchez Pascuas market. Get there early, although. They’re normally offered out by midday!

Tamales de Tichinda

Tamales de Tichinda are a typical Oaxacan food.
Tamales de Tichinda are a typical Oaxacan meals. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

Some of the distinctive kinds of tamales Oaxaqueños is so distinctive it deserves a class all its personal. These are  the tamales de tichinda. These heat tamales are each stuffed (and accompanied by) recent black clam-like mollusks.

To make it, masa dough is blended with melted lard and the river snails which have a barely earthy, smoky flavour. 

Strive it: Tichinda are harvested from Oaxaca’s mangroves and rivers so search for tamales de tichinda in comedors and roadside eateries on Freeway 200 close to Manialtepec Lagoon.

Or strive them within the cities surrounding Chacahua Lagoon Nationwide Park, a extremely really useful weekend journey from Puerto Escondido. 

If you happen to’re fortunate, you may also see them on the market on Saturdays on the Benito Juarez Market, Puerto Escondido’s major market. Learn the Puerto Escondido Journey Necessities Information for extra particulars.


A plate of tasajo meat.
A plate of tasajo meat. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

In contrast to Cuban tasajo (horse meat), Oaxacan tasajo is a thinly-sliced minimize of beef that’s usually flank or skirt steak. It’s marinated to tenderize it.

This conventional Oaxaca meals is commonly served by itself as a platillo asado (grilled plate) accompanied by rice and grilled cebollitas (inexperienced onions) and nopal cactus.

However it can be served as a topping on one other dish similar to a tlayuda. Or alongside enchiladas or entomatadas.


Oaxacan tetelas on a white plate.
Oaxacan tetelas are crispy, triangle-shaped snacks.  (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

A snack just like sopes or memelas, these masa dough snacks hail from the Mixteca area of Oaxaca State.

They’re corn pockets stuffed with beans and cheese (and typically different fillings), and folded in a triangular form.

Initially prized for his or her comfort and portability, elevated variations are showing in eating places round Oaxaca.  

Tlayudas – A Well-known Oaxaca Road Meals 

Oaxacan tlayuda with chepiche, guajes and radish.
Oaxacan tlayuda with chepiche, guajes and radish. (Credit score: Suzanne Barbezat)

This well-known Oaxacan avenue meals is typically dubbed a “Mexican pizza” as a result of it’s created open-faced and served as a snack late at night time.

However tlayudas are ready in some ways and with a wide range of toppings, and can be found any time of day.

These massive tortillas (a couple of foot in diameter) that are initially left on the comal till crispy and toasty brown. 

The toppings are made to order and will be served sencilla (plain), with chorizo (sausage), tasajo (sliced beef), pollo (shredded rooster) or mixto with all the pieces together with Oaxacan cheese, shredded cabbage, refried beans, chiles and extra.

The right avenue meals, it’s normally served folded in half and eaten on the go.

Strive it: 

In Oaxaca Metropolis, locals flock to Tlayudas los Libres on Calle Libres after hours to fulfill their cravings for this distinctive Oaxacan snack after an evening of partying.

Additionally try Tlayudas El Negro on Independencia close to the Zócalo for tlayudas and a stay efficiency of Oaxacan folks dances on weekend evenings.

Associated: Get pleasure from an upscale model of tlayduas created by Chef Alejandro Ruiz at Lodge Xcaret Arte  in Playa del Carmen.

What Meals is Oaxaca Recognized For? 

Probably the most well-known conventional meals in Oaxaca are moles, tlayudas, quesilla (string cheese), tamales Oaxaqueños, tetelas, caldo de piedra, sopes, huaraches and nicuatole.

Get pleasure from these typical dishes with a shot of mezcal espadín, tobala or tobaciche.   

What Makes Oaxaca Meals Totally different? 

The meals of Oaxaca is completely different from the remainder of Mexico in each its substances and inventiveness. 

Oaxacan delicacies depends closely on fragrant chiles (historic varieties similar to chilcosle, chilhuacle amarillo and smoky Oaxacan pasilla are distinctive to the state), chocolate and tortillas of maize (reasonably than flour).

One of many poorest states in Mexico (after Chiapas and Guerrero) Oaxacan delicacies additionally attracts on meat substitutes similar to grasshoppers, river snails and ants for protein in addition to flavour.

Wild-sourced (and cultivated) edible crops similar to nopal cactus, tuna, squash (leaves, stems and flowers) and chipilín are economical and ancestral meals of Oaxaca. 

In some ways Oaxacan delicacies has a lot in widespread with the meals of Central America.

Oaxacan Meals Information, Excursions and Cooking Lessons 

Woman making tortillas on a comal in Puerto Escondido Mexico.
Study concerning the position of the comal in Oaxacan cooking with Puerto Meals Excursions. (Credit score: Puerto Meals Excursions).

The most effective methods to dive into a rustic’s culinary tradition is to take a cooking class. It’s  thrilling to satisfy the individuals in kitchens and markets and listen to their tales. 

Attempt to time your go to for a market day. That’s when the farmers are available in from the countryside to promote homegrown tomatoes, wild mushrooms, herbs, chile peppers, recent cheese and artisanal crafts. 

Oaxaca Metropolis Meals Excursions

  • Culinary Backstreets affords a strolling meals tour in Oaxaca Metropolis together with Mercado de la Merced and Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Their Earth, Corn & Hearth tour is an in-depth take a look at the historic roots, substances and cooking methods that form conventional Oaxacan cooking. Alongside the way in which, you’ll take pleasure in six or extra tastings and meet the individuals who develop and put together the meals. 
  • Uncover Oaxaca affords non-public excursions (and small group excursions for Day of the Lifeless) together with their specialty Meals Traditions excursions centered on avenue meals, village markets and cooking courses. 

Puerto Escondido Meals Excursions

  • Native knowledgeable Gina Machorro affords a meals strolling tour of Puerto Escondido. It begins with breakfast at Playa Principal and continues via to Mercado Benito Juarez. Her agricultural tour is one other food-themed expertise full of insights in native historical past, traditions and flavours. 
  • Benefit from the flavours, sights and tradition of Puerto Escondido with one in every of three scrumptious strolling excursions supplied by Puerto Meals Excursions. An area knowledgeable will take you to hidden gems in a number of neighbourhoods to find one of the best meals in Puerto Escondido. Subscribe to the A Style for Journey e-newsletter and also you’ll get a ten% low cost off any reserving!  
  • Take a market tour and learn to make a number of conventional salsas with The Mexycan.  

Huatulco Cooking Class

  • Find out about southern Mexico delicacies and get hands-on instruction on making avenue meals, tacos, salsas and extra. Then, take pleasure in lunch on the Chiles&Chocolate Cooking Faculty within the village of Zimatan, close to Huatulco. Price contains transportation to/from native accommodations. 

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Traditional Oaxacan food collage.

Collage of traditional Oaxacan food.



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