The 15 Best Restaurants in Oaxaca, Mexico

After spending six days eating our way through Mexico City, we took a flight to Oaxaca to explore a smaller, quieter, less densely populated town. Oaxaca is southeast of CDMX by about 285 miles and felt much more like a small town without any skyscrapers, subways, or buses.

There’s lots to see and explore here, and much of our trip was focused on discovering great food. We explored mezcal, coffee, affordable street food and some finer dining restaurants, and of course sweets. Check out the best restaurants we tried in Oaxaca below!


Boulenc - banh mi sandwich

Boulenc was the first stop we had once we landed in Oaxaca and had available seating for a group. Even though it was a busy day, we only waited about 10 minutes before being seated. There is plenty of seating space in this restaurant. 

Boulenc comprises two spaces–the main restaurant and the small bakery on the side of the building. I first got lost trying to find the restaurant due to ongoing construction and thought the bakery was the only place to eat; however, you just walk a couple more steps and find the entrance to the large indoor dining room. 

This popular spot is located in Centro and offers more European and American lunch and dinner options like croissant sandwiches, fresh pastries, and a full coffee bar. Curious, I ordered their banh mi, which was not a typical Vietnamese sandwich. The bread was ultra hard, the pickles weren’t right, and there was some spicy harissa spread instead of traditional pate. Those changes took the sandwich in a whole different direction. However, I also had the spinach and cheese croissant sandwich, and that was tasty. My friends had the concha, and it was flaky and fresh.

Type of food: pizza, cafe, and pastries 
Price: $ ($260 MXN / $15 USD pp)
What to order: pastries, sandwiches
Address: C. Porfirio Díaz 207, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 

Kiyo Cafe

Kiyo Cafe - street sign

If you want a good cup of coffee, visit Kiyo Cafe. Kiyo Cafe got an instant bookmark because it’s a modern boutique store and cafe that has a lot of cat paraphernalia. I ordered a pour-over and coconut affogato that were both really good. The coconut ice cream had a thicker consistency, similar to gelato, so it didn’t melt too fast in the espresso. This was possibly the only shop in Oaxaca that got close to the specialty / 3rd wave coffee style I look for back home.

Kiyo Cafe - pour over

If you like their coffee or want some souvenirs, they also sell their own organic roasted beans, among other cute, sustainable, and handmade items. I was able to buy some art prints and hats for gifts back home. It’s located in Centro and is right across the street from Boulenc. 

Type of food: coffee
Price: $ ($87 MXN / $5 USD pp)
What to order: pour over, affogato 
Address: C. Porfirio Díaz 212-Local B, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 

Expendio Tradicion

Expendio Tradicion entrees

Since we didn’t have a chance to make reservations on our first night in Oaxaca, we stumbled into Expendio Tradicion, which luckily had open seating available. The most exciting and maybe weird part was sitting in the corridor of an indoor “market” they designed to feel like a small town. Many people were staying at the hotel who would come down the stairs and walk by us as we dined. And we were seated next to the window where food from the kitchen would be delivered.

For dinner, we started with drinks, and I got to try a blended cocktail made of tejate and mezcal, which came in a coconut shell. Tejate is a traditional, non-alcoholic drink made from maize and cacao. If you like your drinks liquor-forward, this blended drink is for you. While I wouldn’t say the dishes we tried were the best of our trip, I did enjoy the fried shrimp and the carnitas rolled tacos. 

Type of food: Mexican
Price: $$ ($1,075 MXN / $62 USD pp)
What to order: fried shrimp, rolled tacos
Address: Reforma, Murguía &, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 


Criollo fried appetizer

From the same mind that brought us Pujol in CDMX, Chef Enrique Olvera opened Criollo in Oaxaca. This restaurant is located on the outskirts of the Centro region in Oaxaca and was a bit of a trek from my hotel with some small hills, so if you’re staying in a more central area, I recommend getting a taxi. I almost walked past the entrance because it was an unassuming white wall. Still, once you step inside, you’re welcomed into a beautiful outdoor patio with sparkling lights and minimalist wood-tone furniture. 

Criollo tamale

To be fair, Criollo may have landed on us better if we didn’t experience Pujol just a few days before in Mexico City. Pujol is consistently awarded as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants that feature modern Mexican food like nine-year-old mole and pineapple and mussels tostada. We were expecting maybe more of an Oaxacan style and ingredient twist on Mexican cuisine, but it was largely similar to the fine dining experience at Pujol. 

Our tasting menu included many repetitions of molé and tamale – to the point where it felt a little monotonous. It was shocking to see this done regarding a chef’s repertoire. However, I did like the cocktails we ordered. We must say the cost here was 50% the cost of Pujol, though, and way more accessible for an eight-course tasting.

One bit of advice is to wear mosquito repellent if you’re going during the wet season because I, unfortunately, wore shorts and was eaten alive by the end of dinner since there is only outdoor seating.

Type of food: Mexican, Latin
Price: $$$$ ($3120 MXN / $180 USD pp)
What to order: tasting menu 
Address: Francisco I. Madero 129, Santa María del Marquesado, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 


Mezcalilleria - mezcal flight

Our group knew we wanted to do a mezcal tasting in Oaxaca, and 90% of Mezcal is made in the state. The owner and bartender, Edgar, was super friendly and knowledgeable about all the dozens of mezcals he offered. We went with a group of five and met a new friend inside the small bar — and Edgar put up with all of our antics through our two-hour stay.  

The interior design was interesting and eclectic, and they also have an upstairs section if the first floor gets too busy. You can also find the bathroom upstairs with an open window to look out–-into the dining area for some reason. It was a bit odd.

Since I opted for a tasting, the bartender asked if I wanted strong or light mezcal and gave a flight based on that. All the mezcals I tried were tasty, and the bartender also gave me a little background info on each. I met an awesome Mexican traveler here named Ricky, who our friend John ended up hanging out with for most of the day, trying mezcals. Mezcalilleria is a great place to try different mezcals, but also nice to meet random new travelers. 

Type of food: Mezcal
Price: $ ($350 MXN / $20 pp)
What to order: tasting
Address: Murguía 403a, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 

Tacos Roy

Tacos Roy taco al pastor with salsa plate

Tacos Roy was supposed to be a snack before our big tasting at Crudo, but it ended up being one of my favorite meals of the trip. This place had solid reviews, so we wanted to check it out, and walking inside felt like walking into someone’s home kitchen. There were about six staff running around in the small kitchen at the back of the open floor plan, and most of the space was empty. 

The menu featured tacos and other items split into two main sections of “grilled” and “steamed” meats. I ordered carne asada tacos, and they came with a large tray of salsas prepared similarly to Taqueria Orinoco in CDMX. All the choices here were very affordable at around $1 USD per taco. They also sell nachos, quesadillas, and have vegetarian options too. 

Type of food: Tacos, Mexican 
Price: $ ($175 MXN / $10 USD pp)
What to order: carne asada tacos
Address: Calle de José María Pino Suárez 313, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 

La Selva de los Gatos 

kitten from La Selva de Los Gatos

Is it ever really a vacation without visiting a cat cafe? The answer is no, never. La Selva de los Gatos was a legit cat cafe shelter where you could eat and order vegan food and drinks and play with adoptable cats. The keyword is adoptable, and that is very, very dangerous for cat lovers. You’ll end up falling in love with a new furball friend while you eat a delicious apple crumble. 

orange sleeping cat from La Selva de Los Gatos

It was tough to say goodbye, even though I spent almost two hours just hanging out with new kitty friends here. The cafe has plenty of cat toys to interact with the cats and also a small vegetable garden to see them exploring nature. There are posters of each cat inside and a small bio about each cat to help you learn about them and ultimately help them find forever homes.

Type of food: cat cafe
Price: $ ($ pp)
What to order: coffee, sandwiches, dessert
Address: C. de Mariano Abasolo 710, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Google

La Michoacana 

La Michoacana - coconut and mango paleta

Going to Oaxaca at the end of June means muggy and hot weather, aka the perfect time for ice cream. I was on the way back to the hotel and found La Michoacana. Now if you live in Southern California, you’ve probably heard of ice cream shops named La Michoacana, but most of them are privately owned businesses that aren’t related to any one company, like the ones in Mexico. 

The La Michoacana shop we visited was on the corner of Ave. de la Independencia and had plenty of different helados (ice cream) and paletas (ice pops). We picked up the coconut and pineapple flavors and were really surprised by how natural, ripe, and refreshing they tasted without being drowned out by added sugar. I was also shocked to see this made without food coloring too. For under $1 USD per paleta, this was a bonus on top of the flavor home run.

Type of food: ice cream 
Price: $ ($17 MXN / $1 USD pp)
What to order: coco paletas
Address: Av. de la Independencia 806, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Yelp | Google 


Crudo chefs at work

I am always a little apprehensive about Asian fusion restaurants, so when we made a reservation at Crudo, I was curious to see how Japanese and Mexican fusion dishes would be served. When we first tried to find the restaurant, we were confused by the lack of signage, but luckily a worker was standing outside on his break. We were welcomed by a very minimalist and Japanese interior design inside with just bar seating. Constant incense was burning, which helped bring a calm and relaxing atmosphere throughout the night. 

Crudo - seared taco

Chef Ricardo Arellano and his staff serve you an eight-course omakase in about two hours, so make sure you accommodate for time. They also offer an array of sake, mineral water, and beer. The food tried to combine traditional Japanese dishes with Oaxacan and Mexican ingredients like cactus wagyu nori wrap or the eel and roasted maguey worm nigiri, which was one of my favorite courses. However, I didn’t care for the two iced desserts that were heavy on acidity and felt monotonous. I also felt like some of the assembly felt a little elaborate and almost took away from the experience.

One thing that tarnished a good night was the payment process. Our party wasn’t completely aware of the cash-only / bank transfer requirement, and we didn’t have enough cash on hand, so we had to download and sign up for a bank transfer app after dinner. Standing around in such a large space was a bit awkward, and transferring the money took about 20-30 minutes. Ultimately, Crudo was about $100 USD per person, and our group liked most of the dishes. If you want a fancy dinner in Oaxaca and like fusion restaurants, Crudo is a nice spot to try – just remember to bring cash!  

Type of food: Japanese, Mexican, fusion
Price: $$$ ($1700 MXN / $100 USD pp)
What to order: tasting menu
Address: Av Benito Juárez #309, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 

Nono Cafe

Nono Cafe - iced coffee and hot lattes to go

I stumbled on Nono Cafe unexpectedly in the middle of the day, just when I needed a quick pick of caffeine. It’s a tiny corner shop with sweet workers and a few tables to work in. Like many coffee shops in Mexico, their decor resembles organic, modern, and minimalist designs. I ordered a flat white and an iced mocha full of spice and dark chocolatey flavors – like an iced cafe de olla. They also sell pastries and treats here if you need a snack with your coffee. 

Type of food: cafe, coffee
Price: $ ($ pp)
What to order: iced mocha latte
Address: Jesús Carranza 119, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Google 

Muss Cafe

Muss Cafe - mushroom toast

Muss Cafe was one of my favorite coffee spots in Oaxaca because of its dark and moody interior decor, delicious menu items, and refreshingly bold cold brew. After striking out with some iced coffees during our trip, we found a cold brew that finally wasn’t watered down and, of course, tried a latte. 

We ordered the BLTA and were surprised by all the fresh ingredients – crispy lettuce, sweet tomatoes, rich bacon slices, and nutty and ripe avocado sandwiched between thick and fluffy bread slices layered with garlic aioli and aged mustard. To this day, I still think about this sandwich, even though it was so simple. 

Muss Cafe - iced cold brew

This small cafe is attached to Casa Antonieta Hotel and is made up of a handful of tables with bench seating, so there isn’t that much space to work if you need a coworking space, but it’s the perfect place to meet up with friends for a quick brunch or snack. 

Type of food: cafe, coffee
Price: $ ($ pp)
What to order: BBLT, cold brew 
Address: Miguel Hidalgo 911, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 

Tacos Del Carmen

Tacos Del Carmen - street tacos

Tacos Del Carmen was a popular spot that many people recommended on blogs and social media, and luckily everything in the Centro region is walkable from my hotel, so I stopped by for lunch after a morning in Monte Alban. Since this is a popular spot, I recommend coming earlier to try different items because, by the time I arrived around 1 p.m., several items were sold out for the day. 

I tried chorizo tacos, mushroom tacos, and squash flower quesadillas. All our items come with cheese. Of everything I tried, I liked the chorizo rolled tacos the best because they had the best flavor and spice. The mushroom tacos were too watery, and the quesadillas needed more salt. 

Tacos Del Carmen - cooks at work

It’s a street taco operation, so you’ll find Tacos Del Carmen posted on the corner of Jesus Carranza. Seeing their banner and a gaggle of women cooking and serving in a constant but calculated flurry, you’ll know it’s them. If you plan on coming, give your order to the person at the front. They’ll give you food and keep serving you until you’re done–you don’t pay until the end of your meal. There’s extra salsa on hand, beers, and bottled soda for purchase. 

Type of food: tacos, Mexican, street food
Price: $ ($ pp)
What to order: chorizo tacos
Address: Jesús Carranza 110, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Yelp | Google 

Hotel Escondido Restaurant

Hotel Escondido Restaurant - best concha of our Mexico trip

I’m never one to purchase a breakfast add-on for any hotel voluntarily, but due to our busy schedule, I ended up eating at Hotel Escondido’s restaurant–and I am honestly so glad I did. The restaurant serves a mix of typical continental meals with traditional Mexican breakfasts like chilaquiles. There’s fresh juice in the morning, 

But let’s get to the point, the most essential part of this breakfast is the homemade conchas made daily by the resident chef that blew my mind. After trying a ridiculous amount of conchas during this eight-day trip in Mexico, the conchas from Hotel Escondido Restaurant were our favorite. They were similar to a light brioche base with a thick, crispy, sugary crackling on top. I ate two every morning and even snuck some out to have friends try because they were fantastic – even after two hours in a bag. 

Hotel Escondido Restaurant - chilaquiles

Hotel Escondido Restaurant also offers other items besides the food on display, and you can scan your phone for a digital menu. We ordered the chilaquiles and the french toast topped with abundant local ripe fruits. I loved that the French toast wasn’t soggy and had a caramelized surface. If you’re staying near or at the Hotel Escondido, I recommend grabbing some breakfast and enjoying the hotel’s beautiful interior design. 

Type of food: Mexican, International
Price: $ ($ pp)
What to order: conchas
Address: Av. José María Morelos 401, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 

Tacos Sireno

Tacos Sireno - fried fish taco

Tacos Sireno was on my list for Mexican seafood, and we even took a taxi to reach the northern area of Centro, across from a park plaza. I liked the mid-century modern design inside; it almost felt like walking into someone’s large house. Tacos Sireno is known for its fresh seafood, especially their oysters and clams; however, I was really bummed they didn’t have any in stock the day we visited. 

Tacos Sireno - marlin tacos

Our group was the only ones there on a Friday afternoon, and we ordered many dishes like ceviche negro, fish tacos, tuna tostada, and cocktails. They often have specials daily, and we got the two-for-one martinis, which were very strong. I opted for a refreshing gin and tonic. 

Like Criollo, I recommend wearing bug repellent here because the front and patio doors stay open, and mosquitoes can come in and out during the wet season. Also, note that the wait time for food took especially long even though we were only one of two tables seated, so don’t come here too hungry. 

Type of food: seafood, Mexican, tacos
Price: $$ ($780 MXN / $45 USD pp)
What to order: ceviche, fish tacos, tuna tostada
Address: Calle de José María Pino Suárez 900, Ruta Independencia, Centro, 68050 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico
Website | Tripadvisor | Google 

Lembranza Mexico – Nocturnal Walk of Urban Legends and Dinner

Tlayudas El Negro - dinner at the end of our tour "Lembranza Mexico’s Nocturnal Walk of Urban Legends"

Lembranza Mexico’s Nocturnal Walk of Urban Legends and Dinner was by far the best tour we took during our entire trip. Our guide, Javi, led our small group throughout Oaxaca, giving us great details of myth, history, and family stories. It felt like a friend leading us on a walk to give us a new perspective on Mexican history instead of a tour guide repeating history books. 

At times, there was a little spook factor, but Javi did a great job at storytelling to captivate his audience and make us feel so at home. We were also able to grab a bite to eat at Tlayudas El Negro–so make sure you have an empty stomach before the tour because there are a LOT of tasty traditional foods. Dinner also included drinks like water, coffee, or hot cocoa. While I won’t spoil the tour’s contents, I will say that we departed at the end of the tour with almost a life-changing experience, and if you have a chance to experience this tour, you won’t regret it. 

Type of Activity: walking tour  
Price: $$ ($780 MXN / $45 USD pp)
What to choose: night walking tour 
Website | Airbnb 

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