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The Llama Travel Blog

Discovering the Flavours of Oaxaca, Mexico

Written by  Jordan

Chapulinas (a grasshopper snack) on the left, Tyaluda on the right Chapulinas (a grasshopper snack) on the left, Tyaluda on the right

I’ll be honest, there’s one major reason for my love of travel – food.

My travels in search of new and delicious food to try most recently took me to Mexico, the only country in the world whose cuisine is protected under the UNESCO heritage scheme. I was not disappointed.

I found some of my favourite foods and restaurants  in Oaxaca...

The City (and state of the same name) of Oaxaca is well known in Mexico for having some of the most unique and delicious food in the country. This is in part because there are 18 different indigenous cultures (most with their own language and customs) still present in the area of Oaxaca. This makes for a unique fusion of native and Spanish ingredients and cooking methods.

The first food I tried in Oaxaca was a Tlayuda – a large crispy corn tortilla loaded with toppings including black beans, avocado, mushroom, tomato, squash blossom and panela (creamy Mexican cheese). This treat is best eaten in one of the many busy market stalls in Oaxaca’s central market whilst people watching. It’s best accompanied with a large glass of Agua de Jamaica – a deep fuchsia-coloured juice made from Hibiscus flowers, sugar and water.

Mezcal Hibiscus drink Oaxaca Mexico Llama Travel

Agua de Jamaica quickly became one of my favourite drinks, so it was great that this was served on many streets in the central area, and for a super cheap price. I even a lady selling refreshing cool drinks from a cart named “Jordan” who was very happy to take a photo when I told her my name is Jordan too.

Jordan food stall Oaxaca Mexico

Another local drink in the area of Oaxaca is Mezcal. This is a spirit similar to tequila, but with slight variations in the type of Agave plant used to produce the drink, making for a more smoky flavour.

Mezcal can be found in most bars and restaurants in Oaxaca City, and many offer tasting menus where you can sample different types. I would highly recommend this as long as you remember the local saying “Mezcal is meant to be kissed.” Make sure you sip slowly!

If you prefer a softer drink, many restaurants offer amazing Mezcal cocktails.

One restaurant serving particularly spectacular Mezcal cocktails is the Casa Oaxaca near to the Santo Domingo Church in central Oaxaca. This is probably the most popular restaurant in Oaxaca, and for good reason.

The building itself is lovely, with an open downstairs courtyard and an upstairs terrace where you can view part of the city and catch the evening breeze. The menu changes depending on which local ingredients are in season at that time of year. The service is exceptional and the experience memorable – from waiters doing completely synchronized cocktail shaking, to making your tomato salsa with a pestle and mortar at your table.

Oaxaca salsa Mexico Llama Travel

The last must-try food in Oaxaca is only for the very brave – myself not included. This is the very popular street snack chapulines, deep fried grasshoppers that are served fresh on the street in 3 versions: plain, chocolate covered or spicy!

Fancy your own Oaxaca food adventure? Book a trip on our Passage Through Mexico + Flavours of Oaxaca holiday