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Where the locals eat in Oaxaca City

I just arrived in Oaxaca and am 3 weeks into a year long backpacking trip around the world. During this time I'm blogging ( http://www.baconismagic.ca ) about my experiences and will be focusing on food and photography.

I posted this question about Cancun and got a fantastic response and I'm hoping Oaxaca will be the same in that the board can suggest some places to eat that are local favorites - any family haunts and stalls that go missed by travelers.

As I'm backpacking on a budget of $30 a day, high-end restaurants are out of the question. I'm just looking for good, authentic food. That said, I know Oaxaca is famous for its food so I'm willing to bend the budget a little.

Also if you know of any particular specialties (besides Mezcale) for this region, I've love to hear them.


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  1. I am doing the same sort of research at the moment--headed to Oaxaca in a few weeks--but I can tell you, from my last trip to Oaxaca a few years ago, that you must eat a tlayuda on the street. Look for the giant tortillas, usually spread with lard and refried beans. Delicious!

    1 Reply
    1. re: loumarie

      I agree with recommendatin for the tlayuda - they are wonderful!

    2. Ayngelina, there are actually quite a few posts about Oaxaca on this board. I know the search function can be a bit challenging in returning truly relevant hits, but try it anyway. Look for the posts by RST from about 4, maybe 5 years ago, they are absolutely fantastic and will at least point you in the right direction. Also look for posts by rworange from last month. She was on a road trip through Mexico and posted about her Oaxaca experience.

      Barring that... a good start in almost any Mexican city would be the local mercado. You've got several choices in Oaxaca. Start with the 20 de Noviembre market a couple blocks off the Zocalo. The fondas are in the 2nd building, many of them are pretty good. There is a nieves stand in the 1st building that is very good. There are also many nieve stands in the little plaza next to the Basilica de la Senora de la Soledad. They're good too, but I think the Chaguita in the market is better. But nieves are cheap enough that you could afford to try both and make your own decision as to which is better. All have the usual assortment of odd and unique flavors.

      Good luck, sounds like a great way to spend a year :-)

      1. Locals eat at home, primarily.

        Other locations I've visited there that are mostly locals, and where it's the rare occassion I've seen foreigners or other tourists: Central de Abastos - the central market. There are scores of small restaurants in the market serving local and regional specialties.

        1. Itanoni in Colonia Roma would be my suggestion for something special, cheap (ridiculously cheap imo) and off the beaten track. Also as noted the Mercado 20 de Noviembre is fun and cheap, we had good food there. Tamales Oaxaquenos are our favourite local specialty. So much flavor in one small banana leaf.

          1. Go to the Friday tianguis (temporary market) at Parque JĂșarez, better known as El Llano.
            Some Oaxaca eating photos here. http://tinyurl.com/yftcaf5

            1. Hey Ayngelina, we are also living in Oaxaca and blogging about food (I am a chef) so I have a few recommendations of where to buy and eat. Have a look at your own discretion http://delatierrablog.blogspot.com/ might see you around if you are still here.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ZedKatsu

                Mercado Merced--try the empanadas at La Guerita. The best! For nieves, try Malena's stand outside the Basilica. Itanoni is highly recommended. The important thing about it is it's heirloom, indigenous corn. The soups and stuffed avocados at Quince Letras on Abasolo are good and their comidas are gigantic. La Gran Torta, across the street from the Post Office, is the quintessenial greasy spoon (they close a few days each year, so they can do a deep cleaning) famous for its tortas and its 3 different kinds of pozoles.

                1. re: PAO

                  If not doing comdia Itanoni is good for lunch. Treat it kind of like tapas, try a bunch of different small items.

                  Second the comment about the soups at Quince Letras. Their tortilla and black bean soups are outstanding. Comidas are large but can be hit or miss depending upon what you order.

              2. have been to Oaxaca many times but it has been awhile, there was restaurant [only open afternoon] near the 2nd class bus station, you will have to go to the tourist office and ask for exact location, If the restaurant still exists; the food was special and it was a real mom and pop operation. worth the effort.
                Friday there is a big market in Ocotlan,about 30 miles out of the city. Take the collectivo and enjoy the local culture. There is a museum behind the church that you should see. Also Tamayo's house has a great collection of artifacts

                1. I have several go to spots all over Oaxaca and I never pay more than 45 pesos. One of the ways to identify a good comida corrida is the soup i.e. does it change often and is not the usual sopa caldosa? This is a great indicator. Recently I enjoyed a sopa con nopalitos with egg floating around a clear broth and small shrimp. Wow. Today on my way to a usual favorite I stopped at a packed place because the menu said lentejas and the soup had chunks of pineapple... wow again. I realize this might be normal but my dear old suegra in Barcelona would never have thought of that. Anyway, look for different soups, a packed house with families and away from el centro. Explore and have fun.