Hospitality, warmth, folklore, ancestral customs, live cultures represented in more than a dozen of ethnic groups are part of the essence of the “Very noble and loyal city of Antequera”, title granted by Charles I of Spain in 1532. The current Oaxaca de Juárez, named thus in honor of the Benemérito de las Américas– as President Benito Juárez is known- is an authentic jewel of great architectonic richness, therefore the downtown area is part of the Patrimony of Humanity. Must visit: Cathedral (eclectic, valuable pieces of sacred art), Plaza Constitución (art nouveau): Government Palace (renaissance); Santo Domingo de Guzmán Temple and Ex Convent (baroque); San Felipe Neri Temple; Basilica of Our Lady of Solitude -Nuestra Señora de la Soledad- (outstanding building from the vice royalty period in green quarry); Contemporary Art Museum of Oaxaca, Rufino Tamayo Museum, Textile Museum. Its multicultural diversity renders a magnificent mosaic of celebrations (the most representative and unique in all the countries is La Guelaguetza; in addition to the Day of the Dead, the Calendas and the Night of Radishes).
Art flows through the veins of the people of Oaxaca, and here it is manifested in several expressions: from the fine and unique arts and crafts (textiles –openwork, embroidery, waist loom – pottery- black clay; baskets, leather goods and the unsurpassable and magnificent alebrijes) to the great confluence of ethnic groups, each one with its own world vision of beauty and the countless art galleries that represent the most significant trends, acclaimed artists as well as the new promises. Complex in ingredients, colors and flavors, the gastronomy of Oaxaca is the perfect example of culinary intermixing and quite a sensorial experience.
Typical: tlayuda con tasajo (huge tortilla with salted meat); chapulines (so common in markets, just as if they were selling peanuts); black turkey mole (there is also yellow, green or red mole); Oaxaca tamales served with the traditional mezcal that contains a worm. Very interesting sites close to the city: archaeological site of Monte Albán and Mitla (the most famous, without a doubt, although on highway 190 there are other Zapoteca and Mixteca ruins in Dainzú, Lambityeco and Yagul); Santa María del Tule; petrified water falls of Hierve el Agua (impressive natural sight); Calpulálpam de Méndez (Magical Pueblo). After your stay in the city, I suggest you save some days to relax at the beach, whether in Puerto Escondido or Huatulco, the trip is worthwhile.
TO STAY OAXACA
• Azul de Oaxaca
New boutique hotel and gallery. Sixteen rooms and five suites, each one designed by a different artist, Francisco Toledo among them. Terrace with a view to the city; subterranean art gallery.
Abasolo 313. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 501 0016.
• La Casona de Tita
Small colonial style hotel with modern touches. Six rooms and suites, all spacious and cozy, with good taste. Ideal to relax. Attentive personalized service.
García Vigil 805. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 516 1400.
• Casa Oaxaca
Old house turned into a contemporary Mexican style boutique hotel. Seven rooms decorated individually with crafts and works of art. Pleasant patio and terrace. Pool; temazcal.
García Vigil 407. Centro
Tel: (01-951) 514 4173.
• Camino Real
Lovely building in what used to be the Santa Catalina convent. Well-located in the heart of the city. Cozy rooms. Nice gardens and pool. Gym.
Calle 5 de Mayo N° 300. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 501 6100.
TO EAT OAXACA
• Casa Oaxaca
Fusion cuisine with Oaxaca specialties.
Located downtown. Chef Alejandro Ruiz is in charge; he expresses himself by cooking traditional dishes with a precise personal touch. I suggest you choose a table at the terrace with a view to the Santo Domingo Ex Convent. Ideal for a romantic outing.
Duck with mole; Chile de agua filled with ceviche; Fish with avocado sauce.
Constitución 104-4. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 516 8531.
• Casa Oaxaca Café
Alejandro Ruiz (Casa Oaxaca) is in charge. A more informal version but with class and style. Visited by locals. Tasty breakfasts, typically regional.
Snack; Bean soup; Moles.
Jazmines 518. Col. Reforma.
Tel: (01-951) 502 6017.
• El Asador Vasco
Regional and international cuisine.
Well located at the main plaza; great terrace with a view to the Zócalo (Main Square). Varied menu with Basque specialties. The bad side: Inconsistent seasoning. Ideal for any occasion; large groups.
Veal shoulder; Cabrales sirloin; Costa Vasca red snapper.
Portal del las Flores 10 A. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 514 4755.
Oaxaca corn cuisine.
Very simple, snacks. Highlight: freshly-made corn dough products. Ideal for any occasion, casual.
Tetela de chicharrón; Tamales.
Belisario Domínguez 513.
Tel: (01-951) 513 9223.[/one_half_last]
TO EAT OAXACA
• La Catedral
Contemporary Mexican and international cuisine.
Ongoing quality since 1976. Beautiful colonial house with a Porfiriano style central patio right downtown. Sunday buffets. Traditional breakfasts. Ideal for business lunches; in groups or families.
Tlayuda con tasajo; Tamal de mole negro.
García Vigil 105. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 516 3285.
• La Palapa de Raúl
Authentic regional cuisine. Simple building under a fresh palapa, visited by locals. Ideal for a casual outing with family or friends.
Parrillada; Refried beans; Mole with almonds.
Belisario Domínguez 213. Col. Reforma. Tel: (01-951) 132 6174.
Camino Analco 1 (Carretera Oaxaca-Istmo Km. 11). Tlalixtac de Cabrera.
Tel: (01-951) 517 5450.
• La Teca
Warm and simple environment. Only six tables. Deyanira Aquino is in charge; she has undertaken the task of recovering ancestral cuisine recipes. Ideal with friends or for couples.
Pork filling; Corn tamales; Banana Molotes; Garnachas.
Violetas 200-A. Col. Reforma.
Tel: (01-951) 515 0563.
• Los Danzantes
Current Mexican cuisine.
In the heart of downtown; inside a remodeled colonial building; nice design. Pleasant outdoors terrace where it is nice to linger after the meals. Ideal for families, friends or couples.
Bean soup; Shrimp tlayuda.
Macedonio Alcalá 403. Int. 4. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 501 1184.
TO EAT OAXACA
• Los Pacos
Family-like diner, traditional in Oaxaca; everything reflects a home-style flavor and seasoning. Ideal with friends or family.
M. Abasolo 12. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 516 1704.
Belisario Domínguez 108-1. Col. Reforma
Tel: (01-951) 515 3573.
Contemporary Oaxaca cuisine.
It opened recently. Creative cuisine where Chef José Manuel Baños is in charge; he only uses regional products. The menu changes constantly. Ideal for couples, for a special occasion when looking for a gourmet experience.
Noodle soup; Beef tostadas with chicatana mole; Tasting menu.
Allende 108. Centro.
Tel: (01-951) 514 0690.
The trip is to Telotitlán worth it (20-30 minutes from the city of Oaxaca) where this quaint and unique place is located. Original recipes from the period of the Conquest in the hands of Abigail, who has taken his authentic Zapoteca cuisine to high levels. Ideal for an adventurous gourmet outing.
Tamales; Mole; Chicken in corn sauce.
Av. Juárez 39. Centro. Teotitlán del Valle.
Tel: (01-951) 524 4006.[/one_half_last]