We spent an entire month in Oaxaca with one mission: to eat as much as possible. Oaxaca is the food capital of Mexico, so it goes without saying that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try as many restaurants and street food as possible during our stay. From memelas and tetelas to tlayudas and mole, there’s really no end to what you can eat in Oaxaca. The city and region boast an incredibly diverse cuisine, and Oaxaca has become one of our favorite foodie destinations.

If you’re visiting Oaxaca for any amount of time and you’re not sure where to go to eat, you’re in luck! We visited at least one new restaurant a day during our month’s stay, and here is our ultimate list of the best restaurants in Oaxaca, divided by street food, cheap and mid-range dining, upscale restaurants, and even cafes.

A quick disclaimer before we jump in: We personally tried all of these 30 restaurants in Oaxaca and recommend them wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, we were not so religious about taking photos at every restaurant, as we, quite honestly, forgot to under the heat of the Oaxacan sun. Here’s to trying better next time!

Best Street Food in Oaxaca

Let’s start off strong with the best street food you can find in Oaxaca. While Oaxaca doesn’t have as strong of a street food culture as other parts of Mexico, like CDMX, you can still find some amazing places to eat. In terms of street food, you’ll generally find memelas, esquites, and tlayudas, amongst other common Oaxacan street foods.

1. Memelas San Augustin

best restaurants in oaxaca memelas san
  • Prices: $
  • Location: C. de Manuel Fernández Fiallo 309, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 6 PM

Memelas San Augustin was one of our favorite restaurants in Oaxaca. In all honesty, we knew that we had to try memelas, but we didn’t understand the hype—that is… until we went to Memelas San Augustin. This is a small street food cart that you’ll find on the side of the road. Simply order what you want and grab a chair. They sell a variety of different memelas with various toppings, including vegetarian options! We particularly loved the tinga de pollo. If you love spicy food, grab some green salsa! This is the perfect lunch spot that is super popular with locals as well.

2. Empanadas Del Carmen

  • Prices: $
  • Location: Jesús Carranza 102, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Thursday to Tuesday from 5 PM to 11 PM

Where do I even begin? Empanadas Del Carmen sells empanadas, quesadillas, and memelas. But you’ve got to come here specifically for the empanadas and quesadillas. This is another street food stall you’ll find on the side of a road for a true Oaxacan dinner experience. We highly recommend trying a quesadilla con flor de calabaza! The empanada de amarillo was to die for as well. This place is popular for a reason and was even featured on an episode of Street Food: Latin America!

3. Tlayudas Doña Luchita

best restaurants in oaxaca - tlayudas dona luchita
  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: Av. de la Independencia 1503, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 3 PM to 12 AM

Whenever we asked a local about their favorite tlayuda restaurant, without fail, one of the locales that would always pop up on any respectable list was Tlayudas Doña Luchita. While not quite street food, they are located in a hidden spot past an alleyway. This tlayuda place was located literally two steps away from our accommodation, so we frequented it more than once! Tlayudas Doña Luchita offers a huge range of various tlayudas. While you really can’t go wrong here, we loved the tlayuda con tasajo. The salsas here are to die for as well.

4. Memelas Doña Valle

  • Prices: $
  • Location: Central de Abasto, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday from 7 AM to 12 PM

At the Central de Abastos, the largest market in Oaxaca, you’ll find some delicious food. But one stall we highly recommend is Memelas Doña Valle, another spot made famous by the Street Food: Latin America documentary. As you might be able to guess from the name of the stall, you’ll want to get memelas. On top of your choice for protein, you can also pick from two salsas, one of which is her famous salsa morita, which you can’t miss out on! Doña Valle is a pretty busy lady, but the memelas are more than worth the wait!

5. Elotes y Esquites Don Paco

best restaurants in oaxaca - elotes don paco
  • Prices: $
  • Location: Av. Hidalgo, esquina Armenta y Lopez, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Daily from 7 AM to 11 PM

Besides memelas and tlayudas, when in Oaxaca, you’ve also got to try esquites. While you can find this food pretty much on every street corner, no one does it better than Don Paco. We stumbled across this street food stall one night by simply following the locals who were lining up. Don Paco’s esquites are incredibly juicy and even come with a topping of crickets and chicken feet for an extra crunch! But don’t worry if you’re not feeling too adventurous, you can get the esquites without them as well. Don Paco also sells elotes, if you prefer to try grilled corn.

6. Tlayudas La Chinita

  • Prices: $
  • Location: Esquina Nuño del Mercado y 20 de Noviembre, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 12 AM to 12:30 PM and 7:30 PM to 12 AM; Thursday from 12 AM to 12 PM and 7:30 PM to 12 AM; Sunday 12 AM to 12:30 PM; Monday 7:30 PM to 12 AM

Another street food highlight featured on Street Food: Latin America is Tlayudas La Chinita. While we personally didn’t think this was the absolute best tlayuda in Oaxaca, it is definitely one of the top 5! But the best part about this place is the hours: It’s the place to go during a night out! As with any decent tlayuda place, the portions are huge and just what you want late at night. They offer a huge range of protein options, so you’ll definitely find what you’re craving.

7. Barbacoa at Tlacolula Market

best restaurants in oaxaca - barbacoa
  • Prices: $
  • Location: Galeana 2, Tercera Secc, 70400 Tlacolula de Matamoros, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Sunday from 6 AM to 6 PM

While not technically in Oaxaca, this is a special mention we simply had to mention in our list of the best restaurants in Oaxaca. If you happen to be in Oaxaca on a Sunday, take a colectivo or a private transfer to Tlacolula Market. This also happens to be one of the best things to do in Oaxaca in general and was definetely a highlight of our trip!

While the market itself is an absolute gem, one of the main reasons to go is to try barbacoa, a stewed meat dish generally made with goat. There’s no single stall that makes the best barbacoa (they’re all amazing!), so feel free to sit at any stall within the barbacoa section of the market!

Best Cheap and Midrange Restaurants in Oaxaca

Street food is all good and dandy, but sometimes you just need to sit down and cool off (especially in the middle of the day in Oaxaca!). Luckily, in Oaxaca, you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a sit-down restaurant. Here are a few of our favorite affordable restaurants in Oaxaca.

8. Comedor Istmeño

  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: C. Porfirio Díaz 601, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday from 2 PM to 10 PM

This is a super unique restaurant that serves food from the coastal Istmo region of Oaxaca. Since we didn’t have the chance to visit the coast during this visit to Oaxaca, this was a great opportunity to try some delicious seafood. The ceviche, in particular at Comedo Istmeño was to die for! 

Other classic Istmo dishes you should try at this restaurant are pollo garnachero, garnachas, and empanadas. The restaurant doesn’t have a menu, so we simply ordered what the workers recommended.

9. Santo Sabor

best restaurants in oaxaca - santo sabor
  • Prices: $
  • Location: Murguía 510, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM

We came across Santo Sabor one day when we were looking for an affordable place to have brunch. After discovering their delicious breakfast buffet, we came back 2 more times! This is a real hidden gem in Oaxaca. On the outside, the restaurant seems pretty humble and unassuming, but the food is top-notch, especially considering you only pay 80 MXN (4.75 USD). For this price, you’ll get an all you can eat breakfast buffet including coffee, juice, bread, chiliquiles, vegetables, eggs, fruit, meat, and more! It is honestly such a great deal.

This restaurant serves breakfast until 1 pm and then switches to the lunch menu, which costs 90 MXN (5.33 USD). This menu usually includes a starter, a main dish, and juice.

10. Tlayudas El Negro

best restaurants in oaxaca - el negro tlayudas
  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: Vicente Guerrero 1029, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Daily from 12 PM to 12 AM

One of the first tlayuda places we tried during our trip to Oaxaca was Tlayudas El Negro. They have a couple of different locations in Oaxaca, but we visited the Zona Feb 10 2015 location. This is one of the top tlayuda restaurants in Oaxaca, which is saying a lot. We absolutely loved the steak tlayuda (arrachera), which was the most expensive item on the menu at 170 MXN (still under $10 USD), but totally worth the price, especially considering we split it between two people and still couldn’t finish it.

11. Tacos Roy

  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: Calle de José María Pino Suárez 313, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Daily from 2 PM to 1 AM

Are you craving some tacos? While you won’t find tacos littered on every street corner like you would in Mexico City, you can still find some tacos in Oaxaca. One of the best places to get some no-frills tacos is at Tacos Roy. They have a pretty wide range of meats to choose from, and if you’re vegetarian, they have a super good vegetarian taco option as well! This restaurant has a very friendly atmosphere where locals will come and go, so it can be chaotic, but that’s part of the experience! To not miss: the red pozole was to die for!

12. La Casa De La Chef

  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: Calz. de la República 304, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Sunday to Thursday from 8 AM to 5:30 PM; Friday from 8 AM to 5PM; Saturday from 8 AM to 1 PM

La Casa De La Chef is busy for a reason. While we personally didn’t think it had the best food in Oaxaca, it’s a really great option if you’re on the hunt for non-Oaxacan food. This is the place to be for breakfast, as they’ve got a huge range of different omelets that you can order. But La Casa De La Chef does not disappoint when it comes to lunch, as they offer a stunning menu del dia. We loved their smoothies and refillable coffee as well.

13. Ocote Cocina

  • Prices: $$
  • Location: 5 de Mayo 107, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday from 11:30 AM to 11 PM; Sunday 4:30 PM to 10 PM

Where to begin with Ocote… Ocote Cocina has some of the most stunning food in all of Oaxaca. This is the place to go if you’re in the mood for some unique tacos and moles that are flavor-packed to the brim! While the atmosphere of the restaurant may be humble, the moment the food arrives at your table, you’re going to be blown away by the presentation and the taste. This is probably one of the best restaurants in Oaxaca for value for money.

14. Caffe Rustiko

best restaurants in oaxaca - caffe rustiko
  • Prices: $
  • Location: Av. de la Independencia 1203, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday from 8 AM to 8 PM

This restaurant really surprised us. We initially came here because we were craving pizza, which is pretty hard to come by in Oaxaca (unless you count tlayudas!). The pizza here was not only delicious, but also pretty reasonably priced. They do a mix of Italian classics and Oaxacan-inspired fusions. For example, one of the pizzas we tried was covered in chapulines. Don’t knock it till you try it!

The cafe has a cute little enclosed courtyard and serves delicious coffee, smoothies, and fresh juices. This quickly became one of our favorite lunch spots in Oaxaca, as it was right around the corner from our coworking space.

15. Mariscos La Quebrada

  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: Calle de Armenta y López 410, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Wednesday to Monday from 9 AM to 7 PM

We are huge fans of seafood, so there were a few times during our stay in Oaxaca when we really craved some fish. I know what you are probably thinking: How can you get fresh seafood in Oaxaca? Isn’t it far from the coast? Yes, technically, Oaxaca City is far from the coast, but you can actually reach the beach in less than 3 hours. So, it is actually pretty easy to get fresh seafood in the city!

Mariscos La Quebrada was our favorite seafood restaurant in Oaxaca. The restaurant serves traditional Mexican seafood dishes such as ceviche, shrimp cocktails, grilled and fried fish, and more! 

16. Emperatriz Comedor

best restaurants in oaxaca - emperatriz comedor
  • Prices: $
  • Location: Santos Degollado 104A, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM

If you are looking for a cheap lunch in Oaxaca, one of the best restaurants to check menu del dia at Emperatriz Comedor. You’ll pay just 70 MXN  (4.10 USD) for a starter (generally a soup or salad), a main, and a drink. The food here is honestly so good for what you pay, and the serving sizes are more than enough to fill you up! The restaurant also serves a tasty breakfast if you’re looking for something to fuel you for the day.

Best Upscale Restaurants in Oaxaca

On top of the various street food and cheaper dining options, there are plenty of upscale restaurants you’ve got to try in Oaxaca. While some of these restaurants serve more traditional food, others put their own twist on the food, allowing your taste buds to explore something completely different.

17. Dassani Restaurant

  • Prices: $$
  • Location: H749+659, 3a Avenida Sur, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
  • Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 4 PM

First off, let’s start with a restaurant that does not serve any Oaxacan food at all! We considered not putting this restaurant on this list for that reason, but we honestly had one of our favorite dinners here, so we couldn’t not give this restaurant a shout-out!

Dassani is an Italian restaurant that serves delicious pasta in a cozy environment. Our only issue with this restaurant is that the serving sizes were a wee bit too small compared to other restaurants in the city.

18. Casa Taviche

best restaurants in oaxaca - casa taviche
  • Prices: $$
  • Location: Miguel Hidalgo 1111, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Thursday to Tuesday from 8 AM to 10 PM

One of the most popular restaurants in Oaxaca is Casa Taviche. This restaurant offers a menu filled with a modern spin on traditional Oaxacan food. We tried several of their dishes, but what stood out the most was the aguachile starter! The only thing on their menu that we weren’t a huge fan of was the pork (unfortunately quite dry), but everything else was spot on! Their moles were absolutely outstanding. If you want to have a drink with your meal, we recommend getting the cucumber mezcalita.

19. Ancestral Cocina Tradicional

best restaurants in oaxaca - ancestral
  • Prices: $$
  • Location: C. José López Alavez 1347, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 2 PM to 10:30 PM; Sunday from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 2 PM to 6 PM; Monday from 2 PM to 10 PM

Another super popular restaurant for both tourists and locals is Ancestral Cocina Tradicional. Every Oaxacan we talked to would recommend this restaurant, so you know they’re serving top-notch elevated Oaxacan food. You really can’t go wrong with their menu, but some of the highlights among what we ordered were the pork chop and the shrimp and tripas tacos! The taste is absolutely amazing, and the presentation is stunning.

When we went, they even had a musician playing live music, leading to a very romantic and serene atmosphere.

20. Oaxaca Te Amo

best restaurants in oaxaca - oaxaca te amo
  • Prices: $$
  • Location: C. de Manuel García Vigil 509, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Daily from 5 PM to 12 AM 

We initially came to Oaxaca Te Amo because we were on the hunt for a rooftop bar. But we loved the atmosphere and the staff so much that we decided to stay for dinner. And boy, are we glad we did! The food was absolutely delicious and gorgeously presented. We asked our server for recommendations on the food, and while we loved everything we tried, we have to give a particular shoutout to the tempuras de flor de calabaza y mole!

Oaxaca Te Amo is one of our favorite bars in Oaxaca – for their drinks as well as their food. Check out our full list of the best bars in Oaxaca for more bar and club recommendations.

21. Sabina Sabe

best restaurants in oaxaca - sabina sabe
  • Prices: $$
  • Location: 5 de Mayo 209, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Daily from 1 PM to 12:30 AM

There’s a reason Sabina Sabe is so popular! This is another restaurant you should absolutely book beforehand. While we were lucky enough to get a table without a booking, we were only two people, and we were squished into a corner, making it difficult to eat.

The food was beautiful, tasty, and representative of those traditional Oaxacan flavors. While Oaxaca may not be as known for its seafood, Sabina Sabe serves the most amazing fish tostada, which is the perfect dish for raw fish and ceviche lovers. We ended up ordering a second one because it was that good (even though it’s a huge portion)!

Plus, as another one of our favorite bars in Oaxaca, the restaurant also serves amazing cocktails that pair perfectly with the food.

22. Crudo

  • Prices: $$$
  • Location: Av Benito Juárez 309, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 3 PM to 11 PM

Crudo is not your typical restaurant in Oaxaca. This is the place to go if you want to have a bougie date night out, but the food is honestly some of the best that we’ve tried. The best way to describe the food at Crudo is that it serves Oaxacan food in a Japanese style. This omakase is a super fun fusion experience that will leave you with a better understanding of Oaxacan cuisine.

Crudo is a super intimate dining experience where all the small plates are filled with flavor. Just like a traditional omakase, Crudo changes its menu often, according to the availability of ingredients. Make sure to book this restaurant beforehand!

23. Casa Oaxaca

  • Prices: $$$
  • Location: Constitución 104-A, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Saturday from 1 PM to 11 PM; Sunday from 1 PM to 9 PM

One of the coolest gastronomic experiences we had in Oaxaca were at Casa Oaxaca. This may be a pricey restaurant, but if you want to head out somewhere fancy to have traditional Oaxacan food with a modern twist, this is it. Make sure you reserve a table in advance!

We absolutely loved that the staff would make the salsas to order right in front of you! You can’t get any fresher than that. Don’t miss out on the short rib! It was probably the most delicious short rib we have ever tasted! 

Best Cafes in Oaxaca

While the above are the best restaurants in Oaxaca, I couldn’t not mention the best cafes in the city as well. These cafes serve great coffee, chocolate, and even food!

24. Marito & Moglie

best restaurants in oaxaca - marito e moglie
  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: Miguel Hidalgo 1204, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM; Saturday to Sunday from 9 AM to 2 PM

Looking for a cute cafe with a hipster vibe? The coffees were great, with a wide variety to choose from. And the food was even better. We were craving an avocado toast when we walked into this cafe for the first time, and it certainly did not disappoint! Other standout orders include the M&M special and the shakshuka.

This was actually one of our favorite cafes for coworking. At any day of the week, you’ll find people sitting at the cafe with a laptop.

25. Sorbo Cafe de Especialidad

best restaurants in oaxaca - sorbo
  • Prices: $
  • Location: Colón 516, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Monday to Friday from 7:30 AM to 5 PM; Saturday from 8 AM to 4 PM

Sorbo was one of the only cafes that we went to more than once. We are huge fans of pour over methods when it comes to coffee, which can be difficult to find while traveling. Sorbo was one of the few cafes that offered this method. But if you’re not into pour overs, this cute cafe also had some pretty good americanos, reminiscent of a New Zealand long black coffee, instead of something super watered down. Highly recommend stopping by this cafe for a good coffee whenever you need a pick-me-up!

26. Once in Oaxaca

  • Prices: $
  • Location: Curtidurías 121C, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 8 PM

Located in the adorable and picturesque Jalatlaco area of Oaxaca, Once in Oaxaca was one of our final cafe finds in the city. This super friendly and hip cafe has a great selection of coffees to choose from, from stunning V60 drips to espresso. Sit outside at one of their tables under the trees, and people watch as you drink your coffee and have one of their pastries! The service here is outstanding as well.

27. Jalatlaco Cafe

  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: Calz. de la República 800a, Oaxaca
  • Hours: Daily from 7:30 AM to 9 PM

One of our favorite work cafes in Oaxaca was Jalatlaco Cafe. It’s a super cute environment with great service. It’s the perfect cafe to chill and take in the gorgeous views of the gallery. Of course, the coffee was great (a special shoutout to the matcha latte), and the food satiated our appetite. We had the banana and blueberry pancake, which we definitely recommend if you’re craving a sweet breakfast!

28. Mama Pacha Chocolate

best restaurants in oaxaca - mama pacha
  • Prices: $
  • Location: H749+659, 3a Avenida Sur, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
  • Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 4 PM

Oaxaca is known for its chocolate. While there are many different cafes you can go to try the famous Oaxacan chocolate, our personal favorite was Mama Pacha Chocolate. This is one of the only cafes in Oaxaca that serves Oaxacan chocolate with vegan milk for lactose-intolerant people like us! There’s also the option to have the chocolate with water instead if that’s what you prefer. For non-hot chocolate drinkers, Mama Pacha Chocolate also has some pretty good coffee on the menu.

29. Cafe Lupita

  • Prices: $
  • Location: H749+659, 3a Avenida Sur, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
  • Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 4 PM

Cafe Lupita serves their own coffee, which is quite delicious. To savor their beans, they offer pour over methods like V60 and French press. This little coffee shop has a cute Instagrammable area with a little bookshelf. The seating area is very comfortable, and the coffee is excellent value! They offer a variety of hot and cold drinks, so you’ll surely find something you like!

30. La Selva De Los Gatos

best restaurants in oaxaca - la selva de los gatos
  • Prices: $-$$
  • Location: H749+659, 3a Avenida Sur, Antigua Guatemala, Guatemala
  • Hours: Daily from 8 AM to 4 PM

Who doesn’t love a cat cafe? We first wandered in as we wanted to hang with some rescued cats, but we stayed because of the food. The decor of the cafe was definitely something as well! While we didn’t pay an entrance to get in, there is now an entrance fee of 50 pesos to get in. But don’t worry; that fee is subtracted from your bill.

La Selva De Los Gatos is one of the only vegan restaurants in Oaxaca – and it’s absolutely delicious. The restaurant has a fairly limited menu, but you can choose from a few different entrees written on the whiteboard by the kitchen.

Foods You Must Try in Oaxaca

things to do in oaxaca - cocktail

There are so many different types of foods to try in Oaxaca. After all, this city is the food capital of Mexico. Here’s a quick list of everything you should try while you go restaurant- and cafe-hopping around the city!

  • Mole: A rich, complex sauce made with a blend of chilies, spices, chocolate, and other ingredients. There are 7 different moles you’ve got to try: rojo, coloradito, amarillo, verde, negro, chichilo, and manchamantel.
  • Tlayuda: A large, crispy tortilla topped with a variety of toppings, like beans, meat, cheese, avocado, and salsa, also called a Oaxacan pizza.
  • Memela: A thick, oval-shaped corn masa cake, usually topped with various toppings.
  • Tamal: A steamed corn dough filled with meats, chilies, or other ingredients, wrapped in a banana leaf.
  • Tetela: Triangular corn masa pockets stuffed with beans, cheese, or other fillings, then griddled until crisp.
  • Empanada: A heated tortilla folded over with filling inside. Similar to a quesadilla.
  • Enmolada: A type of enchilada covered with a rich mole sauce instead of the usual chili sauce.
  • Esquites: A street food best described as a warm corn salad mixed with mayonnaise, cheese, lime, and chili powder.
  • Caldo de Piedra: A traditional stone soup made with fish and vegetables, cooked right in front of you in a hot stone bowl.
  • Tasajo: Thinly sliced, salted, and dried beef. Think: jerky.
  • Quesillo: Also known as Oaxacan string cheese, a white, semi-hard cheese with a stretchy texture.
  • Chapulines: Crunchy, toasted, and seasoned grasshoppers. Don’t knock it till you try it!
  • Tejate: A refreshing traditional drink made from corn, cacao, mamey seeds, and flor de cacao.
  • Molote: A deep-fried masa empanada filled with ingredients like mashed potatoes, chorizo, or cheese.

Eat Your Heart Out at the Best Restaurants in Oaxaca

There’s really no shortage of amazing food in Oaxaca. From delicious and easy-to-eat street food to modern twists on Oaxacan classics, these 30 restaurants and cafes are among the best in Oaxaca! It’s difficult not to stuff yourself during your trip to Oaxaca, as the food is just that good. But it’s totally worth the extra pounds you’ll be putting on during your stay, that’s for sure.

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