Where better to start writing about than the city I live in? Oaxaca City Mexico is located in the south pacific side of Mexico and is the capital of the state Oaxaca.
El Centro is full of life and colour. We live in a gorgeous old building with great neighbours and a pizzeria downstairs. It is very hard to avoid eating pizza everyday, the struggle has been real.
Slowly, we are figuring out the city and all of its nooks and crannies. I love how there is always an art show, live music, parties and street vendors ready to feed you any night of the week. Art is a big deal here in Oaxaca City Mexico. You will find hand made textiles from local pueblos (towns), graphic artists in their tallers (workshops), painters, embroiderers and poets. This city is buzzing with creative people making beautiful things.
El Teatro Macedonio is one of my favourite places and buildings. This place is full of old school elegance and always has a great variety of shows on offer. I recommend popping by the ticket booth and getting some tickets for any show available, even if you don't like whats on the ornate decor and stunning ceilings will impress you.
The town square or Zócalo is always busy, this area is full on tourist land. Worth a wander but it can get annoying with constantly being asked to buy trinkets or go on tours. There are many restaurants around the Zócalo, but they are overpriced and you will get interrupted a fair bit by people trying to sell you things. As I said, check it out, but don't stick around. There are better restaurants else where.
Templo de Santo Domingo is a former monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán. This iglesia (church) is stunning and super old, like built in 1575 old. I am not religious but I admire any kind of intricate historical architecture and this place is full of it. The interior is baroque and dripping with gold of more than 60,000 sheets of 23.5-karat gold leaf, photos really do not do it justice. The rooms that used to house the monastery are now the Cultural Centre of Oaxaca and showcases pre columbine artefacts. The outside plaza is always bustling with people and during festive times of the year this place is a hot spot.
Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca, aka The Botanical Gardens are lovely and were the former gardens of the monastery. I suggest this attraction for a lazy day of sight seeing. Grab a nice lunch then take your time strolling through the gardens and finish at a place like Casa Oaxaca or El Olivo with a glass of wine and a plate of nibbles. Only issue that may not suit every traveller is that you can only take a guided tour of the gardens at $100 pesos each. I would rather pay that money to walk around by myself but some people love listening and learning about native flora. So whatever tickles your fancy really. Also, if you are in the midst of learning Spanish, it's a great lesson to go with a Spanish spoken tour and increase your vocabulary.
Monte Albán, Zapotecan ruins, these ruins are beautiful and really close to the city. I suggest hiring your own car for the day and doing the trip yourself. But there are plenty of tours if you wish to take one. I just prefer doing things my own way and it is super easy to get to Monte Albán by yourself. Once there, find a park, pay your admission and get to exploring the ancient Zapotecan sites. Bring a big bottle of water, some snacks, sunscreen and wear comfortable clothes as you will be climbing big stairs and walking a fair amount. The best time to view the ruins is in the afternoon from 3pm onwards. It is less crowded and the heat will be dying down.
Museo Textil de Oaxaca is free to enter and full of textile history, collections and culture. Oaxaca is famous for it's beautiful textiles and the exhibitions are always beautifully curated. On the way out there is a little shop where you can buy high quality local textiles. This is an easy option to get your hands on a great souvenir if you don't have the time for a Textile tour to local towns.
Hierve El Agua is just a pretty short trip from Oaxaca Centro. It is located right near a little textile town called Mitla. Herve El Agua is a natural wonder, it used to be flowing waterfalls over the Oaxaca Valleys but now due to the high levels of calcium the waterfalls have become petrified. They have infinity like pools on top of the frozen waterfalls that tourists can swim in. But, the views alone of the Oaxaca landscape are just gorgeous. The name Hierve El Agua translates to Boil the Water, but the water is not hot, it is refreshing and on a hot day, really welcome.
Talleres de Gráficas, around the city you will find many graphic artists with amazing work. Here are a few you can visit and buy some amazing art from during your stay.
- Oaxaca Subsuelo
- Burro Press
- Siqueiros Taller-Galeria
- Jaguar Print
- Cooperativa Gráfica
- Taller de Gráfica, La Chicharra
- Taller Oaxaca Gráfico
- Espacio Zapata
- Gabinete Gráfico
El Llano, is a park where in the mornings you will find people running, walking theirs dogs and doing tai chi. Throughout the day families and people pass the time under trees in the shade and on Fridays it turns into a market where you can buy everything from a big lunch, fresh veggies, plants and trinkets. In the mornings there is a great juice cart where you can get a freshly made juice for $16 pesos.
Mercado Ogánico 'La Cosecha', from Wednesday to Sunday you can stop by this market and stock up on some fresh organic veggies, grab a tamale and a juice then take a seat. Your work is done. There is plenty to see, although this is a small market compared to others, its definitely my favourite. The people are lovely, it is not over crowded and the food is great. You will keep coming back to try all the vendors offerings.
OaxacaCine, international and local film screenings, they also run workshops for anyone who is interested in the film making process. Check their website for up to date screens and events.
Tingladography, is a gallery and antique photo shop. There are always awesome photos on display here and great prints or originals to purchase. You can buy old, anonymous photos from here too, I love that idea. I have found some really cool old Mexican snaps of life back in the day. I need to get them framed.
El Huipil de la Ajolota Rosada, an artist by the name of Carolina runs a Mexican blouse "Huipil" making project here in Oaxaca City Mexico. But she has put a modern swing on the traditional ways of embroidery and textiles. She runs workshops every now and then to teach the people the way of the huipil. If there is a workshop during your stay, and you are looking to bring home something handmade and authentic, contact her. Or if you don't have the time to embroider, she can hand make one for you.
Los Baúles, if you are wanting to take home some beautifully hand made textiles, this is where you should come. The quality and detail in every piece is stunning and the shop itself is vibrant and full of colour. If you are having trouble finding this place, look for the restaurant 'Las Danzantes' and its just to your right before the entrance to the restaurant, next to the pretty pond.
Cold Drinks & Tasty Eats
Boulenc Pan Artesinal - Great coffee, fresh bread and a tasty menu. I am here every other morning buying my bread and coffee, they also sell heaps of chutneys, marmalades and other delicious things in jars. My favourite spot for breakfast, but it can get busy!
La Naranja Dulce - The best sandwiches, salads and juices around town for $50 pesos and below in my opinion.
Cafeto & Baristas - Really good salads, sandwiches and very good coffee in all the kinds of contraptions that a coffee drinker could want.
The Urban Roll - The best sushi in town, and possibly the only? The only worth visiting in my opinion. Located in Alhóndiga Mercardo Gourmet and you will also find them at Parque El Llano every Friday for the weekly market. They have fresh veg and vegan options and also rolls WITHOUT cream cheese, which is a common weird sushi addition in Mexico for some reason.
Check out the local commodores for set lunch menus (Menu Del Día) of entree, main plate, desert and agua del día (normally $60 pesos) Also there are great tamales, tacos, hamburguesas and raspas vendors dotted all around the city if you love yourself some street food.
A Few Extra Bucks
Café Lavoe - Located next door to Casa Oaxaca, the entrance is it the back of a little shop along Constitución. Walk up the stairs to this cute little eatery and bar. They have a good rang of homemade mezcal, cold beers and tasty bar food. This place is great in the afternoons, but is pretty tiny so may be hard to score a seat!
La Popular - No fuss, grab a beer and eat kind of place. I always get the veggie soup of veggie tlayuda and my partner loves the camarones y arroz. He tells me they are the best prawns he's had in Oaxaca so far. Service can be slow, but there is no rush in Mexico.
La Matatena - Delicious thin crust pizza with ingredients like caramelised onions and balsamic glaze to choose from. They cater for everyone including gluten intolerant people, vegans and vegetarians too. They even have delicious locally made natural vegan cheese! The restaurant itself is located in a gorgeous building with beautiful architecture.
Latitud 17 - Vegan options are abundant here and if you come for lunch you can get the Menu del Día for $80 pesos which includes an entree, main, desert and agua del día. On the normal menu you can find burritos, tlyaudas and other delicious Mexican fair. They serve great coffee here as well.
El Gourmand - They have a micro brewery attached to this deli, so if you love craft beer pop in. Great coffee also and I hear the food is pretty good, I have only tried their salads and sandwiches but they are very tasty. They also have the option for mimosas with your brunch...ummmm, yes please!
Tastavins - Winos and craft beer lovers will find their little slice of heaven here. Vego options are easy to veganise and meat eaters will love the range of tasty as hell tapas. When you buy a glass of wine you get a little tapas plate on the house too! It is a small place with lots of atmosphere when its full and one of my favourites in the city.
El Olivo - All things tapas lives here. The only place where I enjoy eating the olives, I would be pretty disappointed if they sucked with the name of this place being "The Olive". They have great wine and a nice rooftop area to spend a lazy afternoon or a candle lit dinner.
Le Campane - Vegetarians, vegans and meat eaters will be satisfied here. Delicious fresh Italian and Mexican food with a good range of good wines to go with your carbs. Also, try the vegan tamales, they are delicious.
La Jícara - Another good spot for the vegos and meat eaters to fill their tummies together. Not just a restaurant but a bookstore and cultural centre as well. There is normally something happening here, like guest speakers, live music and screenings. Check out their timetable and enjoy the show.
El Destilado - A great range of craft beer, mezcal and yummy cocktails. The food is incredible here and only amazingness comes out of the kitchen. I highly recommend booking yourself in for a tasting menu experience, they also can cater for most dietary requirements too, just give them a heads up when booking. If you are on budget but still want to check out this gem, visit during happy hour (5-7pm) for cheaper drinks and a la carte menu.
Casa Estambul - I love this place, I would live here if they let me. Awesome cocktails, delicious food, great vibe. Come here on a weekend and there will be something happening and it will be a good time. The art alone is worth the visit.
If you are visiting Oaxaca City Mexico and need some help with any information, send me an email and I will happily respond!