As much as there is a ton to do and see outside Oaxaca City (see here for details), there is also days worth of stuff to see in city limits. Oaxaca City is a bustling town, but most of the main square is full of life, people, and pedestrian streets.
Things to Do
Explore the Main Square. There is so much life in Oaxaca, especially when there is a festival going on. Take time to wander around the colorful streets, enjoy the architecture, take in the culture and maybe walk in a few shops.
Shopping at the Zocalo, the Benito Juarez market, the 20 de Noviembre market and right near the Santo Domingo Temple. There are a toooonnnn of different places to shop around and they are luckily all walking distance from each other. The first place we hit was right around the Santo Domingo Temple. There were several different vendors with temporary booths set up selling anything from candy to blouses to kids toys. (Tip: one of our absolute favorite stalls for women’s handwoven blouses is right around. There are two little ladies that normally sit on the curb at the end of the lane sewing shirts and selling what they have already made. They have some of the most intricate designs that we have seen throughout Mexico at pretty reasonable prices.) Down the street, you’ll encounter the Zocalo (main square) bustling with people and goods. Just one street down (again), is the Benito Juarez and 20 de Noviembre markets – full of homemade food, fresh produce, clothes, baskets…pretty much anything you could ever want. We came back to the states with just a few goodies. 🙂
Santo Domingo Temple + Gardens. This absolutely beautiful church stands in the center of town and is one of the major sites of the skyline. You can’t visit Oaxaca without walking through this church.
Where We Ate
We honestly can’t rave enough about the food in Oaxaca. It was sooo good! But then again, Oaxaca is known for being a culinary hotspot. We had two pre-set dinners with the whole family, both of which were definitely drool worthy.
Pitiona. First family dinner of the trip and it was AMAZING! It is a smaller restaurant so you might want to make sure you call ahead to see if there is a table, but totally worth a wait. Our family settled on a huge sampling of passed appetizers and we have to say I don’t think there was a bad one – but the little tacos/tostadas where amazing and we kept going back for more. Also make sure to order yourself a Gin y Tonic con Hibiscus. The back bar whipped us up this specialty drink and the whole family couldn’t stop drinking them. If only we could have one now 🙂
Casa Oaxaca. Second family dinner. We actually went here the first time I was in Oaxaca and it didn’t disappointed the second time around. They have an awesome rooftop patio that looks straight into the Temple of Santo Domingo and into the streets below. At night, they usually have live music that plays in the first floor courtyard – perfect music to get you in the festive mood. Now onto the food. We had some absolutely delicious apps (maybe a few too many) and then we both had the traditional mole dishes – black turkey mole for me and yellow rabbit mole for Nate. We figured that we might as well go for as traditional as we could get at least once on the trip and our tour guides had mentioned that the turkey in black mole was a main delicacy of this area. Stop by for a drink at their bar, listen to the live music, or stop in for a meal – any way you do it, definitely worth a stop by Casa Oaxaca.
Los Danzantes. In my opinion, one of the best mezcal makers, but they can also surprise you with their food. Step into their hidden patio, and you feel like you’ve stepped into a totally different world. Definitely stop by for lunch or make a reservation for dinner – you won’t regret it.
Mezzaluna. As much as we always have mexican food in Mexico, sometimes you need a little break. Woodfire pizza, fresh pasta – YES! Definitely head over to Mezzaluna if you are looking for a change from Mexican food.
Sabina Sabe. Lets just say, Nate may or may not have been here every single night of our trip. My uncle has been wandering into Sabina almost every visit, so we had to get to know the bar that he loves so much. We would describe Sabina Sabe as a cozy space with great music and bartenders that know exactly what they are doing. They have a great list of never before seen cocktails and they had our family drinking Jamicons all night.
A few other recommendations we were given, but didn’t get a chance to go to:
That pretty much sums up what we know and love of Oaxaca City. It is such a bright, colorful, lively city that we absolutely fell in love with in the few days we were there. I mean we couldn’t get over the food, the people, and the weather (although it was unusually awesome when we were there – think 70s).
Have you been to Oaxaca City? What is your favorite city in Mexico?