There are many restaurants in Oaxaca, perhaps on average, they are a little more expensive then comparable restaurants in other cities in Mexico. This can be attributed to the fact that Oaxaca is a popular tourism destination. Years ago I heard that visitors were afraid to eat in Oaxaca’s restaurants for fear of becoming sick from food poisoning. This has completely changed as the standards of food health have improved significantly including using filtered water.
Most restaurants serve bottled water upon request. It is wise to ask for drinks (sin hielo), meaning without ice. The only places that still may be unsafe are roadside vendors selling items that need refrigeration but are not refrigerated. In restaurants that were clean and or I could see the kitchen, I ate everything that was served to me including fresh salads and fruit.
Here are several retaurants I frequented during my time in Oaxaca:
The Cathedral, located at 105 Garcia Virgil serves delicious food. The service was impressive and the waiters were well dressed. The main dining room is housed in a fancy open air room. A tarp serves as the ceiling in case of rain or other inclement weather. Bathrooms are located up stairs – the door to the men’s restroom requires some real strength in order to open it. The price of dinner ranged from 50 to 100 pesos.
La Casa de la Abuela or translated as “The House of Grandmother” is located upstairs in the north west corner of the main zocalo. The food was just average here as was the service. The chapulines were good though. The grasshoppers that were served here, unlike in other restaurants were very small, so there was less of a chance of recognizing them for what they actually were! The chiles rellenos de picadillo would be the only other dish that I would recommend. Phone: (951) 6-35-44
Cafe Bar Del Jardin is located in the south west bottom corner of the zocalo. Tables are spread out near the street under several picturesque arches. This is a great place to eat breakfast and watch people walk by. The yogurt and fruit salad are particularly good. Also a number of vendors frequent this part of the zocalo – and they will immediately stop once they see you are a tourist. They will attempt to sell your various trinkets or jewelry. Simply motion them onwards with a wave of your hand if not interested in what they are selling.
El Asador Vasco is located just above the Cafe Bar Del Jardin in the south west top corner of the main zocalo. This place serves memorable sangria’s. In case you aren’t familiar with sangria, it is a mixed drink of red wine (which appears on top) and fruit punch which appears light colored on the bottom. Sometimes small pieces of apple will be floating in the mixture. Servers bring you this drink with the wine and fruit punch in separate glasses – you have pour them into one larger glass and stir them yourself. They also have the best avocado butter here. It is slightly green of course. This restaurant is a romantic place to eat at night.
Mariachi roam patio below in the evenings strumming their guitars and slowly playing their violins. If you want to eat next to the rod iron fence overlooking the zocalo beneath you it is best to reserve these tables earlier in the day. Otherwise you may end up eating in the rooms further away from the zocalo. This restaurant had the most tourists of any restaurant that I ate in in Oaxaca. It is probably a good restaurant to eat at on your first night in Oaxaca. Also recommended are the thinly sliced steaks. The dinner prices ranged from 100 to 250 pesos. For more information call (951) 6-97-19 or visit: www.asadorvasco.com
Maria Bonita is located at M. Alcala 706. This restaurant is located away from the activity of the zocalo. It is a small restaurant that serves authentic Oaxacan cuisine to mostly local Oaxaquenos.
Mi Casita is located at Hidalgo Ave on the second floor. Their specialty is their moles and grasshoppers. If you get a table by a window you will have a good view of the zocalo.
El Colibri is located on the street, Heroes de Chapultepec. This is a fancy restaurant complete with good service. Live music.
El Mesón Oaxaqueño is located on Hidalgo 805 right off of the zocalo. This restaurant is clean and they have an open air kitchen. The prices are fairly inexpensive.
El Sagrario is located on Valdivieso 120 two blocks from the zocalo. This restaurant serves mostly the younger crowd. They offer pizza and Italian food in a party-like atmosphere with live music.
La Flor de Oaxaca is located at 311 Armenta. This is only a block from the zocalo. They serve typical Oaxacan cuisine.
Hosteria de Alcala is located at 307 Alcala. The restaurant is situated in an indoor patio with tables that surround a beautiful fountain. They offer Oaxacan specialties and national cuisine. Live music is offered Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.
Los Mestizos is located at Garcia Vigil 416. This is one of Oaxaca’s newer restaurants. It is in a colonial building three blocks from the zocalo. The owners are Italian; the cuisine is excellent and focuses on Italian food including pasta.
Los Pacos is located at Constitucion 104. This restaurant is located directly across from the Santa Domingo Church. It has an open air patio and from this you can access the Quetzali art gallery. This restaurant is known for their fresh spinach salads and the mole colorado. They have 10 tables.
Senorial, located in the Hotel Senorial is pretty much a dump. The prices are cheap, although I did not eat here, I was told by several people that the food was lousy.
Del Vitral is one of Oaxaca’s fanciest restaurants. It is located at Guerrero 201 just off Armenta and Lopez, about 2 blocks east of the Hotel Senorial. This place has elegant decor and some of the private dining rooms are quite luxurious. Visitors entering the downstairs will quickly see an elegant marble stairway leading up to the restaurant. On your left will be a cage with a pretty parrot. The food is quite good but a little on the expensive side although not too bad. It is open from lunchtime until 11:30 at night. For more information call PHONE NUMBER (951) 6-31-24.
Quinta Real Hotel serves a beautiful buffet breakfast with a wide variety of local dishes and fresh fruit. The drinks are especially good. One can order everything from orange, pineapple, carrot, tomato, to papaya juice.