The journey from San Cristobal to Oaxaca is an 11 hour overnight bus. With all the teacher protests that had been going on and recent bus hijackings we were a little trepidatious about travelling at night. It was a fairly comfortable bus but the police got on every few hours to search passengers and check I.D. so there wasn’t much chance of sleep.
Oaxaca city is really beautiful and it’s known as the food capital of Mexico. Oaxacan cuisine is famous for its moles, thick chilli-based sauces in different colours. The thing we were most looking forward to trying however was the Tlayuda.
Imagine a giant toasted tortilla, covered first with a layer of refried beans and pork fat. Add to this stringy Oaxacan cheese and habaneros. Lettuce, avocado, onions and tomato just to feel as if you’re eating something vaguely healthy. Topped off with a meat of your choice, or for an extra 50p have a mix of all the meats on offer. We went for a mix and got a whole spicy pork steak, a whole beef steak and a generous serving of minced chorizo. Prepare for food heaven.
We found eating locally in Oaxaca super cheap and the best place was Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Inside there is a food hall, actually very clean compared to places we normally frequent and everywhere does pretty much the same dishes. You need Spanish here, maybe some miming and gestures would get you by, but it’s a great place to try all of the local dishes at a good price.
As we were coming to the end of our time in Latin America we decided to treat ourselves and made a reservation at El Destilado. The chefs at this restaurant previously worked in a San Francisco Michellin star kitchen and offer a 9 course tasting menu of Oaxacan flavours. The food was outstanding and each course came with a beverage pairing of wine, craft beer or Oaxaca’s other famous export – mescal.
Another fantastic Mexican city and somewhere we’d love to go back to. You can just wander the streets for days taking photographs. At the time of our visit the teacher protests were ongoing and the Zocalo (main square) was still filled with tents and teachers camping out. This didn’t have any impact on our visit, we passed through there on the way to the market without a problem. We didn’t get chance to visit the ruins at Monte Alban, or take a Mezcal tour, but these are both high up on the list of things to do in this culturally and culinary rich city.