Oaxaca Street Food Guide: A Culinary Adventure

by | May 25, 2024 | Food, Mexico, Travel

Let me tell you a secret about the food in Oaxaca:

The BEST food is not found at the fancy and expensive restaurants like Las Quince Letras Restaurante or Casa Oaxaca.

Save your money.

Instead, the best food in Oaxaca is found on the street. During my three trips and three months in Oaxaca, it was the street stalls, markets, and small hole-in-the-wall restaurants where I had the most memorable food experiences. There you will find a middle-aged Oaxacan woman (always a woman) making tacos, tlayudas, or memelas outside on a comal (a round flat griddle). You will find something to eat at these places for a satisfying and delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner for MXN$25 to $60.

So, what to eat in Oaxaca?

Oaxaca has 18 street foods and drinks that you’ve gotta try while visiting the city. Some of them are unique to Oaxaca while others can be found all over Mexico. You can find these foods easily in the historic center.

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What Street Foods to Eat in Oaxaca

These 18 street foods and drinks are available all over the historic center–at street carts and stalls, markets, small hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and sit-down restaurants.

If you go to a sit-down restaurant, look at the sections of the menu titled antojitos and comal. There, you’ll find Oaxaca’s street food. At these restaurants, you will definitely pay two or three times what you’d pay on the street.

The easiest and best way to sample as many street foods and drinks as possible is to do a food tour. Doing a food tour is one of the best things to do in Oaxaca. Most of the 18 foods and drinks come from these three food tours that I took:

  • Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour – Betsaida (she starred in the Somebody Feed Phil Netflix series) took me to street food stalls and markets that I still frequent today. We tried over 40 different foods and drinks! I cannot recommend her food tour enough! Read my full review of Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour.
  • Eating with a Local at the Markets—Besty helps you navigate the markets of Oaxaca and uncover its best street food. We visited La Cosecha Organic Market, Benito Juarez Market, and 20 de Noviembre Market. This is another excellent tour that I highly recommend!
  • Viajero Oaxaca Hostel – This hostel has a budget-friendly food tour that takes you to both off-the-beaten-path and popular places to sample the street food of Oaxaca. It’s Ok. The guide doesn’t speak English well enough to answer questions or describe the food. If you can, do one of the two previous tours.

1.     Tlayudas

a tlayuda with a chunk of pork ribs on top
Tlayudas El Negro is one of the BEST places to get tlayudas.

I’m going to start with the most famous dish in Oaxaca: the tlayuda.

But to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of tlayudas. They’re too messy. I end up using 20 or 30 napkins every time I eat one.

Still, you MUST try a tlayuda at least once!

Some people say a tlayuda is a Mexican version of a pizza. I would not go that far.

A tlayuda is made with a very large corn tortilla the size of a pizza. First, it’s topped with what I consider Oaxaca’s secret ingredient: pork lard (asiento). This is then followed by mashed refried beans (frijoles) and a good sprinkling of another Oaxacan secret ingredient: Oaxacan cheese (quesillo).

Finally, the tlayuda is topped with some kind of meat:

  • Tasajo – beef jerky
  • Cecina – ground beef
  • Chorizo – sausage
  • Costillas – pork ribs
  • Chapulines – grasshoppers

You can also get vegetarian tlayudas at sit-down restaurants that cater to a more foreign clientele. Another option is to ask for “sencillo” (simple), which will just be pork lard, beans, and cheese.

How to eat a tlayuda?

open-faced tlayuda with 2 slabs of meat on top
This was the tlayuda I got at 20 de Noviembre Market – How do you eat it?

Sometimes, the tlayuda is served open-faced like a pizza. If it’s in a restaurant that serves foreigners, they’ll slice it up like a pizza. If not (like at 20 de Noviembre Market), you’ve got to tear off pieces of it. It’s such a mess!

Other times, it’s folded in half, and the meat is placed outside rather than inside the closed tlayuda.

The first (and second and third) time I ate a closed tlayuda, I didn’t know what to do with the meat. Do I put it inside? Do I leave it on top of the tlayuda?

None of the above. A local told me to just tear off a piece of tlayuda with my hands and eat it. It’s so messy! Then, tear off a piece of the meat and eat it. Don’t put the meat inside or on top of the tlayuda.

Where to find the BEST tlayudas?

The best tlayuda I had in Oaxaca was at Tlayuda La Chinita food stall. Located five blocks from the Zocalo, this place does something to its tlayudas to make them taste better than all the other ones in Oaxaca. I think they cook them longer on the comal or lather more pork lard onto the tortilla. The place opens at 8:00 pm. I arrived at 8:00 pm and had to wait 30 minutes for my food. It costs MXN$90 for a small and MXN$120 for a large. You pay MXN$30 extra for the meat (tasayo, cecina, or chorizo). I had the chorizo.

I’ve eaten at Talyuda El Negro Restaurant, and my tlayuda was good (MXN$90 – $160) but not as good as at La Chinita. Go at 8:00 pm to see the traditional dance performance.

a vegetarian tlayuda
This delicious vegetarian tlayuda I got at La Popular comes sliced in four pieces, making it easy to eat.

The second BEST tlayuda I had was at La Popular Restaurant. Their vegetarian tlayuda (MXN$110) is open-faced and covered with lots of vegetables, such as chopped-up zucchini, red bell peppers, onion, avocado, and much more. They also have a seafood tlayuda that sounds good. If the restaurant is full and the line to get in is long, head to their annex at La Otra Popular.

However, you can find tlayudas just about everywhere: markets, sit-down restaurants, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

2. Memelas or Memelitas

two memelas on a tray

Memelas were one of those foods that I didn’t instantly fall in love with, but after I had a few, I couldn’t stop eating them. I think it’s because the Oaxacan chefs put crack in them.

Ok. It’s not exactly crack that’s in memalas.

It’s pork lard (asiento). That, I believe, is what makes memelas so damn good!

You start with an oval-shaped tortilla slightly thicker than a normal tortilla.

The secret ingredient, pork lard (asiento), is then layered on the tortilla.

two memelas on a comal

For a simple memela (sencillo), layers of mashed refried beans (frijoles) and cheese (quesillo or queso fresco) are added. I recommend asking for quesillo (Oaxacan cheese). You can also ask for salsa to be sprinkled on. That’s a simple memela.

For a bit more complexity, you can add more ingredients to the top of your memela, such as squash blossoms, corn fungus (huitlacoche), mushrooms, chapulines, chorizo, etc. You have to ask for cheese specifically.

Most of the time, memelas are just left open-faced, while they’re folded in half other times.

Where to get the BEST memelas?

Memelas are usually eaten for breakfast, so the morning is the best time to find them.

The two best places for memelas are at street stalls: Tacos de Cazuela Tía Chave (MXN$25 – $35) and Memelas San Augustin (MXN$25 – get the memelas with avocado, tomato, and cilantro).

You can also get good memelas at La Cosecha Organic Market (MXN$20 – $35). It’s a relaxing place to sit and have a meal and it’s popular with foreign tourists.

I used to get good memelas every morning near my guesthouse (Casa Los Arcos) at El Rincón de Catarina (MXN$17 – $30).

You can usually find memelas listed under the Comal Section of the menu at traditional Oaxacan restaurants.

3. Mexican Tacos

four tacos on a white tray

You’ll find two kinds of tacos in Oaxaca: the tacos that you’ll find in other states in Mexico, which I’ll call Mexican tacos, and Oaxacan-style tacos, which are called tacos blandos or blandas.

First, let’s talk about Mexican tacos—those made of corn tortillas the size of your palm and are topped with pork, beef, chicken, and tongue. Onion and cilantro are also added.

Where to get the BEST tacos in Oaxaca

A group of people standing in front of a food cart at night
Lechoncito de Oro is a delicious and inexpensive place to get tacos in Oaxaca.

After 8:00 pm, head to the food stall Lechoncito de Oro for some of the best tacos in Oaxaca. This popular street stall opens at 8:00 p.m. and runs well into the night. They sell tacos made with puerco (pork) or chicharron (pork + crackling). Just be aware that it’s the meat from a baby pig, hence the name “lechoncito.” “Lechon” means “piglet” and “cito” means “little.” One taco costs MXN$17 pesos. I got four tacos and was full. The chicharron ones are the BEST!

Another place that I love is Don Juanitos. Get the tacos al-vapor—tacos that have been steamed.

4. Oaxacan-Style Tacos

two tacos blandos on a red plate
Tacos de quesillo con chili relleno might not look pretty, but they taste pretty damn good!

Promise me one thing when you visit Oaxaca:

Do not leave the city without trying the tacos at Tacos del Carmen. This food stall is near the Carmen Alto Church and is only open in the mornings (not Wednesdays and Sundays).

Order tacos de quesillo con chili relleno–the BEST taco in Oaxaca!

The tacos you’ll eat at Tacos del Carmen (AND pretty much every other restaurant, market, and food stall in the historic center) are nothing like the tacos you find in the rest of Mexico. This Oaxacan-style tacos are called tacos blandos or blandas.

people cooking food on a comal at a street stall
Lots of tacos, empanadas, and quesadillas cooking on comals at Tacos del Carmel.

Tacos blandos differ from tacos in the rest of Mexico in several ways:

  • The tortillas are larger and thicker
  • They are cooked on a comal (griddle) until they become hard, crispy, and a bit burnt
  • They are rolled up like flautas
  • Sometimes quesillo or mashed-up refried beans are added to the tacos

Tacos blandos are stuffed with several different fillings:

  • Tasajo – beef jerky
  • Cecina – ground beef
  • Chili relleno – A chili pepper stuffed with pork, quesillo, and frijoles (beans)
  • Chorizo
  • Potatoes and chorizo
  • Nopal – cactus
  • Tinga – chicken cooked in a tomato sauce
  • Grasshoppers
  • Mushrooms
  • Squash blossoms (flor de calabaza)
  • Barbacoa

Where to get the BEST tacos blandos

a menu of Oaxaca street food at La Cosecha Market
A menu at a food stall at La Cosecha Organic Market.

Like I’ve already mentioned, the best tacos in Oaxaca are at the morning food stall, Tacos del Carmen (MXN$27).

At La Cosecha Organic Market, get flor de calabaza (squash blossoms) tacos (MXN$40 – $50). They come with quesillo (Oaxacan cheese).

One of the top things to do in Oaxaca is to visit the Sunday market in Tlacolula, where you can find one of the most delicious tacos in the area: barbacoa tacos.

You might be interested in these posts on Mexico:

5. Empanadas

a woman cutting an empanada with a scissor
Empanadas de amarillo at Tacos del Carmen comes with squash blossoms and quesillo.

Empanadas are one of the most befuddling street foods in Oaxaca. They confuse even visitors from other states in Mexico. It’s because empanadas in Oaxaca look NOTHING like empanadas anywhere else in the world. They look more like quesadillas but without the cheese.

Oaxacan empanadas start with a tortilla larger than a tacos blandos but smaller than a tlayuda. The tortilla is placed on a comal and the ingredients are then added on top.

The quintessential empanada filling required is mole amarillo (yellow sauce) with either chicken, flor de calabaza (squash blossoms), or mushrooms.

A few herbs are added for extra flavor: hierba santa and cilantro.

You can also get empanadas with any kind of filling: mushrooms, flor de calabaza, or any kind of meat. However, empanadas have no cheese in them. If you put cheese in them, then it’s considered a quesadilla. 

Finally, the tortilla is folded in half and cooked until it’s hard, crispy, and a bit burnt.

Where to get empanadas de amarillo?

Lots of food stalls and hole-in-the-wall restaurants serve these empanadas. I like the ones from Tacos del Carmen. Get the one with squash blossoms!

6. Quesadillas

a quesadilla in a basket
Quesadilla with quesillo and flor de calabazo from La Cosecha Market.

If you’re hesitant about trying the street food in Oaxaca, quesadillas might be your safest choice. You’ll find them everywhere in the historic center—at street stalls, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and on menus at more upscale restaurants.

Quesadillas look a bit different from the ones in other states in Mexico. They resemble Oaxacan empanadas.

the inside of a quesidilla filled with quesillo, squash blossoms and epazote
Quesadillas filled with quesillo, flor de calabaza (squash blossoms), and epazote are very popular in Oaxaca.

The cook places a tortilla (bigger than a memela but smaller than a tlayuda) on the comal, adding quesillo (Oaxacan cheese) and at least one more ingredient. Quesadillas must have cheese in them. If there’s no cheese, then they’re considered empanadas.

The two most common quesadilla ingredients are (1) mushrooms or (2) flor de calabaza (squash blossoms) with a local herb called epazote. You can also get other ingredients (guisados) like huitlacoche (corn fungus), tasajo (beef), cecina (pork), chorizo (sausage), chapulines (grasshoppers), or chicken.

Finally, the quesadilla is folded and cooked until the tortilla is hard and crispy.

Add salsa to the quesadilla for more flavor.

Where to get the BEST quesadillas?

A person standing behind a food cart at night
Foreign tourists love to get quesadillas at Empanadas del Carmen Alto in the evening

My favorite place is this hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Calle de Porfirio Diaz called El Rincon del Catarina. It’s VERY popular with locals for breakfast and lunch. It’s closed for dinner (MXN$45). Be aware that they call their quesadillas empanadas.

Another great place to get a quesadilla is La Cosecha Organic Market (MXN$40 – $50). They’ve got a good selection ranging from mushrooms to grasshoppers.

Made famous in the Netflix show, Street Food Latin America, Empanadas del Carmen Alto is a popular place with foreigners in the evenings (MXN$60). I’d say it’s about 80% foreign customers and 20% local. The lines can be long, so you need to wait a long time. I used to often go there until I got frustrated that the employees always let locals cut the line in front of me every time I was there.

7. Tamales

a tamal de mole negro

Tamales are not easy to find in Oaxaca.

But when you do find them, don’t hesitate even for a second.

Buy one. Or two.

It’s got to be the tamale with mole negro, though.

You won’t be disappointed if you buy from the place I recommend below (Sanchez Pascua Market). You will want to thank me.

Oaxacan tamales are a little bit different from tamales in other parts of Mexico.  

  • Tamal de mole negro (tamale Oaquenos) – These tamales are wrapped in banana leaves (not corn husks like other tamales in Mexico). They also include mashed corn, chicken, and mole negro sauce. Soooo good. Mole negro is a mole made from chocolate. Then they are steamed.
  • Tamal de salsa verde – These tamales are wrapped in corn husks and include chicken and mole verde sauce.
  • Tamal de salsa roja – These are tamales with mole rojo (sauce) and chicken.

Where to get the BEST tamales?

a woman standing at a street stall

At Mercado Sánchez Pascuas, the woman in the above photo sells three kinds of tamales from a basket. Her mole negro ones are to die for! (MXN$40). She also has salsa verde and salsa roja tamales (MXN$30). Get there BEFORE 10:00 am, or she’ll be all sold out. I went here on the Me Encanta Oaxaca food tour.

If you miss out on the mole negro ones at Sánchez Pascuas, head to Mercado 20 de Noviembre. A safe bet is the popular Comedor Tipico La Abuelita.

8. Tetelas

one tetela on a plate

I walked all the way to Reforma (a 25-minute walk) during the hottest part of the day (100 degrees Fahrenheit) just to eat tetelas at this restaurant called Itanoni.

While I was walking there, I thought I was a bit crazy (I stopped to turn back twice) to go so far for food that I had previously eaten and wasn’t all that thrilled about.

Then I got to the restaurant and took my first and second bites of my tetela. They were so good that I decided I’d probably walk over an hour in a blizzard for them.

a tetela

Tetelas are like triangle-shaped food pockets. They are made with corn tortillas and stuffed with anything from black beans to chicharron to mushrooms. They are also usually stuffed with Mexican cream (crema) and cheese.

Get the Antojadiza (chicharron molido) with quesillo (MXN$93).

Where to get the BEST tetelas in Oaxaca?

Tetelas are not the easiest street food to find in Oaxaca. BUT make as much effort as you can to eat them.

As I mentioned, Itanoni is where to go for tetelas. Order the Antojadiza (tetela with chicharron). It should cost MXN$93.

The small hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Doña Ceci, also serves tetelas. You can stuff them with anything. I got chicken and mushrooms.

9. Garnachas

a plate of 5 garnachas

Another hard-to-find street food in Oaxaca is garnachas.

Garnachas or garnachitos come from the Istmeño region of Oaxaca. They are thick, round tortillas the size of your palm. They are covered with salsa, shredded pork or chicken, fermented cabbage, and queso fresco.

If the chef can get the right amount of cabbage to pork to tomato sauce ratio, you get a flavor bomb in your mouth—a combination of savory, sweet, and sour all in one bite. I’ve only had a perfect Garnacha at Ancestral Cocina Tradicional restaurant.

Where to try the BEST garnachas?

As I mentioned above, I had the BEST garnachas at Ancestral Cocina Tradicional. I also tried them at Zandunga, an Istmeño regional food restaurant. Comedor Istmeño Juchitán is another option.

I had garnachas at La Cosecha Market, but they weren’t very good.

Is it safe to eat food from street vendors?

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, buying food from the street vendor is probably safe:  Is the food cart clean? Is the vendor clean? Is his or her clothes clean? Does the vendor avoid touching the food directly? Does he or she cut up the fruits and vegetables without touching them? Does the vendor cook the food in front of you? Is there lots of business and thus a good turnover of product?

If you see many locals buying food from the vendor, it’s probably clean and delicious. You want to buy food from a place with a high turnover because you don’t want food that’s been sitting out for a long time.  I also generally avoid eating uncooked food from street vendors unless I see them peel the food in front of me and avoid touching it directly.

10. Tortas

a torta on a comal

Tortas can be found all over Mexico. They are not unique to Oaxaca and in fact I could find only one significant difference: Oaxacan tortas often use quesillo (Oaxacan cheese). However, they are a delicious and convenient addition to your food menu while in Oaxaca.

A torta is a sandwich made with a hard roll called a bolillo. It’s filled with cheese, meat like ham or milanesa (breaded pork), or pretty much anything. Another common filling is tinga (chicken in a tomato-based sauce).

Where to get the BEST tortas?

There’s a food truck at Jardin Conzatti called Tortas La Hormiga. I always ate here during my first visit to Oaxaca when I stayed nearby at Posada de Los Angeles. Get the milanesa one. It’s good but not something to go out of your way for.

You can also get a torta at Lechoncita de Oro’s taco stand. They sell tortas with their carnitas and chicharron for MXN$40.

I’ve also had the tortas at two small hole-in-the-wall restaurants: Doña Ceci and El Rincón de Catarina.

11. Carne Asada

a plate of meat and vegetables on a table

One of the most fun street foods you can get in Oaxaca is roasted meats and vegetables at Pasillo de Humo (Smoke Alley) in Mercado 20 de Noviembre.

I’ve been three times to Smoke Alley, all times on food tours: (1) Eat like a Local with Betsy and (2) Me Encanta Oaxaca food tour with Betsaida and (3) a food tour with Viajero Hostel. Both were excellent! It’s best to go with a group rather than by yourself, so you can order a lot of different meats and veggies.

People walking through Pasillo de Humo with meat stalls on each side

When you go to Smoke Alley, you need to order and pay for each item separately. First, go to the butcher stalls and order your grilled meats. Then, go to the vegetable stalls to order your veggies. Next to the tortilla stall buy your tortillas. After that, you’ll want some condiments like salsas and guacamole. Then get your drinks. Finally, grab a table (or do this first) and they’ll bring your food to you.

12. Chapulines

a person holding a chapuline in Oaxaca

Everyone who visits Oaxaca needs to try chapulines at least once. They are simply fried grasshoppers! Usually, they are cooked in chili or lime, so they taste spicy or sour.

I know it sounds gross.

But live a little and just try it. They won’t kill you.

If you want to be even more adventurous, try a bag of chicatanas (giant ants)!

Where to get the BEST chapulines?

You can get a small bag of chapulines for MXN$5 at the Benito Juarez Market and walk around munching on them, have them with a glass of beer, or eat them while watching TV.

However, if you want chapulines on your tlayuda or in your tacos or quesadilla, go to any traditional Oaxacan restaurant. The most famous restaurant in Oaxaca, Casa Oaxaca, has a tostado on its menu topped with grasshoppers, ants, and agave worms! It’s only MXN$410 (US$25)!

13. Nieve

a plate with six small bowls of nieve icecream, a popular Oaxacan street food

Nieve is simply water-based ice cream made from natural fruits. It’s not made from milk. The juice from the fruit is made in a bowl that’s surrounded by ice. When you mix the juice, it turns into a solid.

If it’s made from milk, it’s called helado.

The most popular flavor of nieve is tuna (the fruit not the fish). I like lime. You can also get cheese and basically any flavor you want.

Where to get the BEST nieve?

a nieveria shop in Oaxaca with colorful chairs and tables
A fun place to try nieve is the plaza next to the Solidad Basilica.

The best place to get nieve is at a nevería (ice cream shop).

There’s one nevería called Nieves Chonita in the Benito Juarez Market that offers 30 different flavors. Grab a seat and order a small bowl for MXN$40. You can choose two flavors. I like the cheese and coffee flavors together.

However, you really want to go to Plaza de Las Nieves next to the Solidad Basilica. In the plaza, you’ll ONLY find neverías. I’ve only eaten at the very colorful La Oaxaqueña Nevería (MXN$40). They have tons of flavors from passion fruit to coffee to cheese!

You’ll find lots of Neverías on the main pedestrian road, Macedonia Alcala. The closer you get to Templo Santo Domingo, the more expensive they get (MXN$90). Skip those. Go to the ones closer to the Zocalo and you should be able to get a cup of nieve for MXN$40.

14. Elote, Esquite, and Toastilocos

corn cobs cooking on a grill

Mexicans do wonders to corn. You must not leave Oaxaca (or Mexico in general) without trying elote (corn on the cob) or esquite (corn in the cup).

You can find elote and esquite being sold by vendors on nearly every street corner in the historic center.

a spoon in a cup of corn
  • Esquite – It’s corn in a cup (MXN$35 – $55 depending on size of cup). I recommend adding all the extra ingredients: mayonnaise, cheese, lime, and chili powder. It’s a total flavor bomb – savory, sweet, sour, salty, and spicy all in one bite!
  • Elote – It’s corn on the cob. You can add the same extras as the esquite. I always get the corn in the cup because the corn on the cob seems messier.
  • Toastiloco – I’ve eaten this once in Guanajuato, and I’m not crazy enough to order it again. Once is enough. The vendor takes a small bag of Doritos (or some similar kind of chips), opens the bag up sideways and adds corn, mayonnaise, cheese, lime, and chili sauce on top of the Doritos. Really!

Where to get the BEST elotes and esquites?

people surrounding a street vendor selling street food in Oaxaca

If you walk around the historic center in the evening, you are bound to run into a vendor selling elote and esquite on every street corner.

How do you know it’s clean?

If you see a lot of locals giving business to the vendor, it’s probably fine.

15. Marquesitas

a hand holding a Oaxacan street food called a marquesita

If you’re looking for something sweet and simple, you must try a marquesita—a Mexican version of a crepe.

Marquesitas didn’t originate in Oaxaca. They’re from Yucatan and are especially popular street foods in Merida and Valladolid. However, you can find them all over the historic center of Oaxaca. And you should not leave Mexico without trying one.

To make a marquesita, start with a thin crepe cooked on a griddle until it becomes hard and crispy. Spread a layer of Nutella (or chocolate, caramel, jam, or cheese) onto one side of the crepe. You can also add fruit like strawberries or bananas. Finally, roll it up.

a man cutting a banana at a street food cart in Oaxaca
My favorite marquesita vendor in Oaxaca

Where to find the BEST marquesitas?

Honestly, they’re not hard to find at all. On just about every street corner in the city, you’ll find a guy with his little cart selling marquesitas in the evening (starting at around 6:00 pm).

Check out his cart: Is it dirty? Messy? Are his clothes clean?

The marquesita guy that I always go to is on the corner of Calle Macedonia Alcala (the pedestrian street) and Calle de Mariano Abasolo (view map). His cart is clean and he dresses well and handles the food professionally. He has a menu with prices ranging from MXN$40 – $60.

16. Tejate

a hand holding a cup of tejate
Try a cup of tejate at least once during your trip to Oaxaca

Tejate is one of those drinks that most foreigners don’t like all that much.

Me? I love it!

It’s got a unique and refreshing flavor.

The drink is a big part of Oaxacan culture, so definitely don’t skip it.

The key ingredients are toasted corn, cacao, and seeds of a mamey fruit. The ingredients are smashed into a paste. Water is added and then it’s mixed by hand. You’ll find white foamy bits rising to the top. That’s the flower from the cacao fruit.

The last time I had it, the vendor added a bit of sugar and water to dissolve the sugar to the tejate.

a large bowl of tejate

Where to EASILY find tejate:

Every tejate vendor I have seen has the same green bowl as the one above. You can usually find them at one of the many markets around the historic center.

The easiest place to try tejate is at La Cosecha Organic Market. There, you’ll find a single vendor who sells only tejate.

Both times I tried tejate was from the same street vendor in Benito Juarez Market: Tejate Silvia. I was on two different food tours.

Another fun place to go for tejate is

17. Agua Fresca and Licuados

a row of jars of a juice
At the entrance to La Cosecha Organic Market is this wonderful agua fresca vendor who sells drinks for MXN$25 (MXN$35 to go)

By the time you leave Oaxaca, agua fresca is going to be your favorite drink. It was mine.

Agua fresca directly translates as “fresh water.” It’s really blended fresh fruit and water, in other words, fruit juice. Generally, sugar is added but you can ask for it without. I usually ask for a little bit of sugar.

Licuado includes fruit mixed with milk.

The Best Places to Get Agua Fresca

You MUST go to La Cosecha Market. At the entrance, there is a vendor selling the best and cheapest agua fresca (MXN$25) I’ve had. They have unique flavors such as lavender and lime, bougainvillea and lime, and Jamaica and watermelon.

Super Jugos Angelita at Mercado Sánchez Pascua is another place you must visit before you leave Oaxaca. They sell licuados consisting of a combination of different fruits and either milk or water for MXN$60. The stall is right across from the woman who sells the tamales I mentioned above.

Try Casildas at Benito Juarez Market. They sell really good horchata and tuna agua fresca (MXN$35).

You’ll find agua fresca on almost every menu. Usually, it’s called “agua del dia.” The flavor changes daily, so ask first.

18. Chocolate

hot chocolate with pan de yema on a plate
Locals dip their pan de yema into their hot chocolate.

Don’t leave Oaxaca without trying one of its popular chocolate drinks:

  • Chocolate con agua – water is the most traditional way to drink hot chocolate (MXN$50)
  • Chocolate con leche – you can also order it with milk (MXN$50)
  • Chocomil – a cold drink for hot days – get it from Mayordomo (MXN$30)

Try to order your hot chocolate with almonds.

Oaxacans like to drink their hot chocolate in the morning. They usually drink it with bread (pan de yema), which they dip into the hot chocolate.

Where to go for hot chocolate?

Locals tell me the best place to get hot chocolate is at Mayordomo, a chain restaurant and Chocolateria all over Oaxaca. However, I wasn’t all that impressed (MXN$55 + $25).

Stop by Comedor Tipico La Abuelita at the 20 de Noviembre Market to get a hot chocolate with pan de yema for MXN$50.

Final Thoughts: Oaxaca’s Best Street Food

If you’re still hesitant about trying the street food of Oaxaca or you just want to immerse yourself even more in its food, sign up for a food tour. I loved Me Encanta Food Tour with Betsaida—she introduced me to many of the places on this list. Betsy’s Market Tour is also great and for those on a budget, try the food tour through Viajero Hostel (Wednesdays and Fridays). I wrote a blog post describing what I ate on my review of Me Encanta Food Tour.

A quick guide to what and where to eat in Oaxaca:

  • Tlayudas – Tlayuda La Chinita, Tlayuda El Negro or La Popular
  • Memelas – Memelas San Augustin, Tacos de Cazuela Tía Chave, or La Cosecha Market
  • Tacos – Lechoncito de Oro
  • Oaxacan-Style Tacos – Tacos del Carmen
  • Empanadas – Tacos del Carmen or El Rincon de Catarina
  • Quesadillas – Empanadas del Carmen Alto
  • Tamales – Sanchez Pascuas Market
  • Tetelas – Itanoni
  • Garnachas – Ancestral Cocina Tradicional
  • Tortas – Tortas la Hormiga, Lechoncita de Oro, and Doña Ceci
  • Carne Asada – Pasillo de Humo
  • Chapulines – Benito Juarez Market
  • Nieve – Benito Juarez Market and Solidad Basilica plaza
  • Elote or Esquite – food street carts in the historic center
  • Marquesita – corner of Calle Macedonia Alcala (the pedestrian street) and Calle de Mariano Abasolo
  • Tejate – La Cosecha Market and Benito Juarez Market
  • Agua Fresca – La Cosecha Market and Super Jugo Angelita at Sanchez Pascuas Market
  • Hot chocolate drink – Mayordomo

You can find street food on the menus of many sit-down restaurants, from medium-priced ones to fancy, expensive restaurants like Casa Oaxaca. The street food is usually in the sections del Comal, Antojitos, or Entradas.

Best Resources for Planning Your Trip to Mexico

Book Your Flight to Mexico

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Mexico. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re going to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

Book Your Accommodations for Mexico:

The best hotel booking sites for Japan are Booking.com. They have the biggest selection, and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels at the lowest prices of any other booking site. Another website for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World.

Book Your Tours for Mexico:

The three best tour booking sites for Mexico are Viator and Get Your Guide. Viator has the biggest selection. Get Your Guide has terrific customer service. They will help you if you have trouble with your tour, especially if the tour company cancels on you or doesn’t show up.

Stay Connected When in Mexico:

To have access to the internet and not spend a lot of money while you’re out and about in Mexico, get a physical SIM card or an eSIM. I used Airalo eSIM in Mexico. While setting up can seem overwhelming at first, the SIM card has worked well for me in Mexico.

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Best Street Foods in Oaxaca You've Gotta Try
18 Best Street Foods and Drinks in Oaxaca


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About the Bamboo Traveler

The Bamboo Traveler

Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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