El Naranjo....Oaxaca, Mexico
On the first trip ever to Oaxaca City, Mexico my girlfriend and I was told by Houston long time Oaxaca visitors of a fabulous place for dinner. We all went to El Naranjo, just off the Zocalo (town center). The dinner wasn't Mexican food but Mexican cuisine! The service, the ambiance, the food, the presentation....all superb!! Dinner was so good we returned 6 days later for our special leaving Oaxaca going away dinner. Once again the best of everything. After dinner was spent in the Bar with Andrew (the owner) sipping top shelf Mescal and talking of Mexico, the friendly people, the food, Monte Alban and the great cultural diversity of Mexico. I am no newcomer to Mexico, having traveled Baja in the late 60's and since doing all the most of the major tourist cities on the Pacific to Cozumel and the Maya Riviera on the Gulf of Mexico. I have had far more expensive and less satisfying food in many places. The food at El Narajo was reasonably priced but more importantly, the best food I have ever had in Mexico! The return to Oaxaca and El Naranjo is already being discussed.
You're right. Oaxaca is definitely back. All that is needed is tourism, and I hope word gets out about how wonderful Oaxaca is again. The Zocalo is cleaned up and looks great (since previous visit in September of 2006, not that it was that bad in Oaxaca on that trip, but there were a lot of barricades and wacky things happening).
Also recommended, a favorite of ours, is El Escapulario Restaurant.
Did you try the awesome capirotada at El Naranjo? I have some photos of it here: