10 best restaurants in Oaxaca (2020)      

best restaurants in Oaxaca

Visiting Oaxaca and want to know where to go out for dinner?  You’ve come to the right place.  It was really REALLY hard work bringing you this list of the top 10 restaurants in Oaxaca.  We had to eat and drink at some of the best restaurants in Mexico, can you even imagine the hardship?

Between food comas and… more food comas, we learned that Oaxacan gastronomy holds a very important place in Mexican culture, and for good reason: the huge variety of flavors, aromas, and colors it offers is unrivaled anywhere else in the country.  There’s nothing quite like seeing food from all 8 regions of Oaxaca served in front of you, incorporating ingredients that come from the coast, the mountains, and the central valleys in dishes that have been enjoyed for centuries.

IMPORTANT: This article might cause uncontrollable food cravings.  To satisfy said cravings, book a flight to Oaxaca here.

1. Expendio Tradición

The modern twist that this restaurant puts on traditional Mexican dishes is nothing short of remarkable, maing it a heavy hitter among the best restaurants in Oaxaca.  Make sure to try the house mezcal elaborated with espadín maguey plants, tobalá, and tepextate, which complements the food perfectly.  The Chagoya family, who own the restaurant, have been making mezcal for over 140 years and have perfected the process over many generations.

The aesthetic of Expendio Tradición was overseen by architects Ian Castillo and Ezequiel Farca and the restaurant also houses unique metalwork by iconic Mexican artist Francisco Toledo.

If you’re wondering what to try here, the chef recommends the yellow molito with sea bass wrapped in hoja santa leaves and served with perfectly roasted vegetables.

Where is Expendio Tradición?  Murguía 403-A, Historic Center, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 501 1460

2. Restaurante Origen

Chef Rodolfo Castellanos opened the doors of Origen in 2011, and although it is a relatively young project compared to other restaurants in Oaxaca, it has quickly established itself as one of the best restaurants in the city.  The restaurant’s aesthetic is rich and traditional, and the space almost transports you back to the beginning of the 20th century.

Origen began as a small take-out business owned by the chef’s mother, Evelia Reyes, and eventually became one of Oaxaca’s most attractive up-market dining spots.  The restaurant also has a shop and a cooking workshop for those staying in Oaxaca for more than just a couple of days.

Our top recommendation at Origen is the tongue in almond mole.

Where is Restaurante Origen? Miguel Hidalgo 820, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 501 1764

3. Restaurante Zandunga Sabor Istmeño

Zandunga Sabor Istmeño offers traditional flavors and a deeply Mexican dining experience with dishes originating from the Istmo de Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca state.  Managed by Aurora Toledo, traditional cook and heiress to Istmo de Tehuantepec’s oldest culinary secrets, Zandunga has managed to establish itself as one of the most popular dining spots among lovers of home-made Oaxacan food.

Aurora’s business was originally born in her home and has grown to what it is today thanks to the help of her family.

Don’t leave Zandunga without trying Los Imperdibles (the unmissables): Garnachas, baked pork, Istmeño stew, corn tamales, and banana molotes.  Simply put, a plate full of the best Oaxacan comfort foods.  Make sure to wash it down with a smooth mezcal or a tasty local craft beer or six, you’re on vacation after all!

Where is Zandunga?  Manuel García Vigil 512-E, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 516 2265

They recently opened a second restaurant nearby at Calzada Porfirio Díaz #223, Col. Reforma, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 163 2352

4. Restaurante Pitiona

Pitiona offers all sorts of Oaxacan food from all over the state and is often listed as one of the best restaurants on the continent thanks to the impeccable work of its chef and founder, José Manuel Baños.  Pitiona takes its name from one of the herbs commonly used in Oaxacan cuisine, paying homage to the traditional cooking secrets that Baños has inherited from his mother, aunts, and grandmother.

You’ll be spoiled for choice at Pitiona, but to really get to know Oaxacan food try their “gastronomy tour” by trying dishes originating from the valleys, the coast, and the mountains of Oaxaca state.

Our top recommendations are the noodle soup with liquid cheese, the pork belly with coloradito, the tacos de suchón, and for dessert go for the churro nitro with rice pudding.  Pitiona has several tasting menus, so you can choose the dining experience that most fits your appetite.

Where is Restaurante Pitiona? Allende 114, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 514 0690

5. Restaurante Catedral

With over 40 years as a pillar of local dining, Restaurante Catedaral offers traditional Oaxacan dishes with an interesting modern take.  If you’re in Oaxaca to try some mole, this is the place to be with its extensive selection of authentic moles including the traditional mole negro as well as yellow, green, coloradito, chichilo, manchamanteles, almendrado and guiñado xhuba del istmo mole variations.

Restaurante Catedral is located in a beautifully maintained colonial building right in the center of the city, just a few meters from the zocalo.  If you’re a foodie, you can’t leave the city without eating here!

Where is Restaurante Catedral?  Manuel García Vigil 105, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 516 3285

6. Restaurante Los Danzantes

Mezcal lovers from far and wide flock to this restaurant year-round, but what makes it so popular?

For starters, they are one of the most important mezcal producers in the Oaxaca, offering a mezcal tasting menu, pairing their famous mezcal with incredible dishes.  They’re also known for their international menu made with traditional Oaxacan ingredients sourced locally.

One of our favorites off the menu is the pork in manchamantel salsa.

Where is Restaurante los Danzantes? Macedonio Alcalá 403, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 501 1187

7. Las Quince Letras

One of the cheaper options on this list, Las Quince Letras serves up a tasty daily set menu that won’t put a dent in your vacation budget.

Chef Celia Florián opened Las Quince Letras in 1992, and it has been a family-run restaurant at the heart of the local community ever since.  Although it’s not an expensive up-scale dining spot, it’s without a doubt one of the best restaurants in Oaxaca for real home-made Mexican food.  Most of the menu consists of traditional dishes and drinks from the different regions of Oaxaca state.

The black mole is particularly good here, you can practically taste the effort put in over three family generations to perfect this ancient Mexican recipe.

Where is Las Quince Letras? Calle Abasolo 300, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 514 3769

8. Restaurante Casa Oaxaca

Located next to the stunning Santo Domingo church is one of Oaxaca’s most prestigious restaurants, Restaurante Casa Oaxaca.  Chef Alejandro Ruíz has been on a mission to create immersive culinary experiences for years and at Casa Oaxaca he’s succeeded in bringing the very best of Oaxacan food to the table.  If you want a taste of some of the highest-standard Mexican food in the country, make a reservation here.

The turkey in mole negro washed down with artisanal mezcal is our go-to for any curious foodie.

Where is Restaurante Casa Oaxaca?  Constitución 104-A, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 516 8531

9. El Destilado Oaxaca

Unlike the other restaurants on this list, El Destilado Oaxaca is not locally owned, but it still competes with some of the oldest local food spots in the city.  El Destilado was dreamed up by 3 Americans who wanted to open a relaxed restaurant with plenty of Oaxacan soul that offered customers the very best of regional cuisine and the finest local mezcal.

If you’re not sure what to try at El Destilado, try the Chef’s Menu, which includes up to 15 courses of local delicacies made from fresh locally sourced ingredients.

Where is El Destilado? 5 de mayo #409, Ruta Independencia, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

Make a reservation by calling (+52) 951 516 2226

10. 20 de noviembre Market

Yes, I know this isn’t a restaurant but the food at Mercado 20 de Noviembre is out-of-this-world so who cares!  Some people (just me, actually) even say that if you haven’t visited this market, you’ve never really been to Oaxaca.

Before you sit down for a Oaxacan-style feast, get your appetite going by walking through the endless stalls of fresh fruit, vegetables, and cured meat.  Ok, your appetite should be in overdrive by now, time to eat!  Pick any of the food stalls in the market and be prepared to taste Oaxacan food in its most traditional and authentic state.  Top choices are tlayudas, mole, caldo de piedra, and chapulines!

Head to the market in the morning and start the day like a true local with a pre-Hispanic cocoa drink accompanied by a big piece of freshly baked sweetbread.

Where is the 20 de Noviembre Market? Calle 20 de Noviembre 512, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca.

To eat more than your bodyweight in mole at all the places on this list, book your flights to Oaxaca here!