Our city ‘cheat sheets’ are versions of the notes I send to friends when they are going to a city I know and love. x laura aviva
Updated: November 2021
My hands down favorite meal on my most recent trip (and on many more to come, I’m sure) was at LEVADURA DE OLLA. Chef Thalia García prepares ancestral food from the south of the state of Oaxaca. This is unfussy food without any pretention—just straight up delicious. They do various seatings throughout the day—go for breakfast or an early lunch or a late lunch… Just go. It’s a bullseye.
ITANONÍ Casual breakfast and lunch just to the north of the center. They make the best heirloom corn tortillas there on their comal — and use that same heirloom corn to make tetelas and memelitas and tamales and quesadillas and more. The setting has gotten a wee bit more worn down recently, but it’s no reflection on what they are serving.
Baked goods: My favorite is PAN CON MADRE—it’s all really delicious. I also think that just about everything at BOULENC bakery is pretty great. (I’m less in love with the adjacent restaurant/patio space than I used to be, especially if there’s a long wait like there so often is now—but the space is really pretty). Inside Boulenc also sit shelves dedicated to the beautiful jarred food stuffs from SUCCULENTA which make great take-home gifts. PAN AM also has really good baked goods, and an open courtyard space
ALFONSINA sits outside the city, past the airport, in the home/garden of the chef’s mother (who also cooks). They serve a pretty extensive parade of dishes from a 5-course set menu.
20 de NOVIEMBRE (MERCADO) Misc. stalls/booths. And there’s also a passageway (pasillo de humo) where they grill meats to order and set down in front of you at communal tables along with radishes and tortillas and scallions and more, a simple grilled feast.
Alejandro Ruiz’s (Casa Oaxaca) also has two restaurants outside of the center.
And newer is PORTOZUELO, which sits on an organic farm that supplies produce to his restaurants and where traditional food is cooked over the fire is served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in Zimatlán.
I really loved CRUDO on my most recent trip (much more than I thought I would). Japanese-inflected dishes incorporating Oaxacan ingredients, all pulled of pretty seamlessly. (The chef’s brother has Criollo, where he also cooked for some years). Omakase, served in set seatings for 5 people at a time.
SELVA is a newish bar from the Los Danzantes crew (it sits tucked away a floor above the restaurant). It’s really beautifully done, with a bit of an elaborate cocktail list.
SABINA SABE Great spot for mezcal sipping and cocktails (with some good bites, as well).
IN SITU MEZCALERÍA The best place to get schooled and sip mezcal… in flights, or in cocktails, or…
MEZCALOTECA Bar, tastings… they bottle their own mezcal (from a bunch of different individual producers that they work with, and then they private label it). There’s a huge range, and the tasting is super informative, perfect for mezcal nerding-out.
ZAACHILA on Thursdays
OCTOLÁN on Fridays
TLACOLULA on Sundays – this one’s a must. It’s my favorite-ever market.
LOS BAÚLES DE JUANA CATA The most beautiful clothing, caftans, etc. – highest quality (with prices to match).
ARIPO is a pretty good bet for one-stop crafty shopping.
MIS MEZCALES for small batch mezcal shopping.
For an opportunity to dip in to a rural Oaxacan experience in the form of a day (or multi-day) trip, privately or with a small group—and most especially around mezcal—contact my friend Andrea, who has the company MEZCOUTING. She’s lovely and engaging and knowledgeable and connected… Peek at her Instagram (@mezcouting) and message her there, or send her a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CASA ANTONIETA 6-room boutique space on the ground floor of a family-owned building next to the textile museum. Beautifully designed spacious rooms and interior courtyard space.
PIEDRA LIGHTING COLLECTION
onyx + marble sconces and semi-flush ceiling mounts
BARRO NEGRO TABLE LAMPS
black clay lighting
AGAVE PENDANT LIGHTING COLLECTION
handblown glass lights