Published: April, 2024
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Oaxaca City , Mexico

Oaxaca is a special place on earth. It's full of magic, mescal and mole and beauty.
— Cynthia Pillsbury
  • More about your oliver guide:
  • Trip type: Adult, City
  • Activity level: moderate
  • Ideal length of trip: 3 full days!

to & from

Fly to Oaxaca from Mexico City- an easy 1 hour flight on Aeromexico
You do not need a car when you are in Oaxaca — walk everywhere in the city/town centre and take a taxi or car service to neighboring villages if interested.

Where to Stay

We stayed at Escondido Oaxaca and LOVED it. It’s a small hotel that has an authentic vibe with all the necessities — roof top pool (which is unusual for the area) and bar to soak in the sunset and city views and cool rooms. We also loved that it was a bit out of the hectic part of the town (blocks off the two major squares). Their sister hotel, Otro Oaxaca is cool and more of a scene, they do have a spa/sauna and underground pool!
Another recommended spot is Casa Antonieta– which has the Muss Cafe.

Where to Eat and Drink

You really can’t go wrong eating in Oaxaca! We loved all our meals- food is fresh and has a big range; representing the Oaxaca region which goes from sea to mountains.

Have you tasted a Nudo? Don’t miss one at the bakery, Boulenc (@boulencpan) which was just around the corner from our hotel. Next door, Suculenta (@suculenta_oax) is the most charming mini-market (Oaxaca style). I care less about food and more about atmosphere and tabletop and this spot has it all; artisanal chocolates, salsa mocha, pottery (ceramic mushrooms worth obsession) and beautiful produce.

We ate at Crudo. This is a very cool spot and VERY hard to find (you should not go before your reservations or it will be next to impossible to find!) — it’s behind a wood door, that looks to be in an abandon building on a somewhat busy street. So NO atmosphere on the outside, but once you walk inside, you are overwhelmed with a subtle cool vibe, incense burning and a huge fish tank is the backdrop. They offer Omakase (chef choice) or you may choose your own adventure– we did a bit of both and LOVED it. The hybrid of Japanese and Mexican food flavors were unique and delicious! We also loved the Sake tasting– that included two Mexican Sakes that were LOVELY!

Casa Oaxaca  is the quintessential Oaxcan cuisine restaurant– a little bit of everything. The food is fresh and the presentation special; salsa made table-side, the bean soup with herbs avocado, crispy tortilla strips and fresh cheese is not to be missed, squash blossom filled with ricotta, crispy sweet potato and plantain puree (YUM!) and red snapper, the catch of the day with some of the best tomato salsa I have ever had and end your meal with the flan… absolutely perfection! Make sure to request the lovely rooftop terrace.

Las Quince Letras  This is a perfect lunch spot! Escape the heat and find yourself in a sunlit, (not too toasty) charming courtyard, complete with a lovely hearth where tortillas are made. The menu is inspired by family recipes and the mole is not to be missed!! We did a sampling of three moles, and both preferred the almond mole — paired with warm tortillas was delicious. They also have a very nice ròse by the glass that paired perfectly (needed a break from Mezcal!).

Wish we had time to Sip and Eat…

Selva They make artisanal cocktail apparently, but are closed Mondays when we hoped to go!

Criollo  Same chef as Pujol in Mexico City– supposed to be a beautiful setting… bunnies and chickens hopping around and a 6-course meal!

Next time!

What to Do

We focused our precious time (2.5 days) on shopping and walking…

We were there on Saturday pm, Sunday and Monday; Sundays some shops are closed, so we decided to take the advice of some fellow guests of our hotel and hire an English speaking driver and went to Teotitlán del Valle, a small village about 30 minutes away from Oaxaca center that is the capital of the artisan rug craft. We had the honor of visiting expert weaver, Nelson Perez’s home and workshop. His nephew gave us a lesson on the process and we were able to see a loom at work and went home with a few rugs; a really special experience. We also hit a local market that is a Sunday-only event in the small town of Tlacolula — you will see goats walking down the aisle, toys, undies, fresh chilies and lovely Oaxacan crafts. This is a 4 or so hour excursion and perfect for a Sunday when shops are closed in the city center.

Pop in the Templo de Santa Domingo and the Botanic Gardens- No tour necessary. Truthfully, the blossoms on the trees along the streets were more impressive than the Botanic Gardens.

Monday was our day to focus on Oaxaca and check out all the shops– we did a hybrid of a few shops we did not want to miss, and also had the desire to wonder and fall into shops that caught our eye!

Shops we loved:
MexChic This shop is just as it’s name suggests, made locally, and so very chic. It’s a pretty penny (but wow, the design is really something!) The designer is a lovely expat, Christina Hattler who is from Miami, but has lived in Oaxaca for many years. You could spend hours in her special shop (open Tues and Thurs and by appointment).

Coopertiva 1050 (degrees) Ceramic Shop is not to be missed. My travel companion was in the market for new dishes and she scored some beautiful earth colored, glazed plates and bowls and I walked away with a real chia pet in the ceramic form of a big horn sheep; hard to explain, but oh so cool! They ship to the US and it’s a fun experience!

Pentandra Oaxaca (#716 Plaza Cruz de Piedra) is one of these shops we fell into — and we are so glad we did. There are a lot of Oaxaca-inspired apparel shops; however we felt this shop struck the right tone of not being too precious ($$$) and hard to wear stateside, yet still authentic, fun and reasonably priced. The shop was so fun to discover and we walked away with gifts (bags, dresses, tops) for friends, family and even something for ourselves!

Wish we had time…
Proper Mescal Tasting at Mezcaloteca . Again, we hoped to go on Monday pm, but they were closed and Sunday they were full!

inside scoop

English is by far a distant 2nd language… it’s fun to immerse yourself in the culture, but don’t expect people to speak English. We used Google Translator a lot!

What to Pack

Sundresses, comfy sandals, sun hat, extra bag for all your finds!

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