Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour Review: Is It Worth It?

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Food, Mexico, Travel

Oaxaca is considered the culinary capital of Mexico. So, when you visit, you must try as much of the food as possible. The best way to do that is by taking a food tour. The good thing is that there are many food tours to choose from.

However, having so many choices can make deciding which one to take difficult. These food tours are not cheap, ranging from US$80 to $180. So, you don’t want to choose the wrong one.

I hope my review of one of Oaxaca’s most popular food tours (Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour) can help you decide.

I’ve taken three food tours in Oaxaca and several others in Mexico and worldwide. When I evaluate tours, I always compare them to others I’ve done.

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How to Book the Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour

I booked the Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour through Viator. However, I made 2 very big mistakes when booking my tour.

Mistake #1 was booking too late. My friend and I decided on Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour two months ahead of time, but I didn’t book it until one month before our trip. When I finally booked it, the day we wanted was full. Actually, every day except one day in February and most of March was already full.  In the end, we did the tour toward the end of our Oaxaca itinerary.  

You should book your food tour at the beginning of your itinerary.


On food tours, you learn how to order food, where to get the food, how to eat it, and what to eat. This knowledge will help make the rest of your stay in Oaxaca go smoothly. If you wait until the end, you can’t use the information and you only realize that you’ve been eating at the wrong places previously. Therefore, book your food tour for day two of your stay in Oaxaca.

Mistake #2 was not paying for it when I reserved my space on Viator. When I booked the tour, I had the option to pay now or pay later. I chose “pay later.”

The day my credit card was supposed to be charged by Viator, my credit card company froze my account because of suspected fraud. Indeed, someone had stolen my credit card number (I was never told where or how), so that card was no good. Luckily, I had a backup card. However, the day we were supposed to do the tour was now full. We were in luck, though, two spaces had opened up the following day.

So, here is my advice for booking tours:

  • Book your tour ahead of time. Me Encanta Oaxaca tour is very popular.
  • However, make sure it’s refundable if something happens and you must cancel. If you book on Viator, you can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour.
  • Have Viator charge your credit card right away. If you cancel, no worries. You’ll still get a refund. But pay for the tour right away.
  • Do the food tour on day 2 of your Oaxaca itinerary. Not the end!
  • Book on a third-party site like Viator or Get Your Guide that allows cancellations without penalty. Viator is trustworthy; you’ll get your money back if you cancel within the time frame. If you book on the tour agency’s website, you have no recourse if they don’t give you a refund.

Travel Pro Tip: What happens if you need to cancel (sick or injured) on the day of your food tour? Not to worry. This happened to me three times in Mexico. The first time involved a tour to Hierve de Agua that I booked through a local tour agency (Lescas). I needed to cancel because my new credit card was arriving by DHL and I needed to be at the guesthouse to receive it. Nope! The tour agency would not let me reschedule my tour. The second time I needed to cancel the day of the tour, I was in Puerto Vallarta. I got my foot crushed in an accident and couldn’t walk. I contacted the tour operator through Get Your Guide and they allowed me to reschedule the tour to another day. The third time happened with a food tour in Mexico City. I got food poisoning and had to cancel the same day as the tour. I contacted the tour operator by email through Get Your Guide, and they gave me a choice: reschedule or cancel with a full refund.

Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour Itinerary

I will share with you what we did on the Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour so you can decide whether it was worth it. I’ll tell you what we ate, where we ate, and what kind of guide Betsaida was.

For more Mexico travel info, check out my blog on the best things to do in Oaxaca for food, culture, and history lovers.

The Tour Guide Betsaida

Betsaida from Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour sitting at a table and smiling
Betsaida from Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour

We met our guide, Betsaida, at 9:00 in front of Templo de Santo Domingo. Eight people, all Americans, were on the tour.

Betsaida was an AMAZING tour guide. She was so positive, enthusiastic, patient, and kind. She was full of knowledge about Oaxacan cuisine and excited to share it with us.

The other thing I loved about her was how much she cared about our health. Before every food stop, she gave us hand sanitizer and brought her own cups and utensils for us to use.

Her English was also excellent.

We also got a free tote bag with a free bottle of water.

One of the best guides I’ve ever had.


After the tour, I watched the Netflix show Somebody Feed Phil, and Betsaida was talking to Phil!

Stop #1: Tacos del Carmen

people cooking food on a comal at a street stall
Tacos del Carmen is very popular with locals, so it’s often very busy in the mornings.

Our first stop was at a famous street food stall called Tacos del Carmen.

It’s a stall run by elderly and middle-aged women (in Oaxaca, it’s always the woman who cooks the traditional food). They serve tacos, empanadas, quesadillas, and memelas. The stand is only open in the morning (until 1:00 p.m.).

At night, another group of women come and run a street food stall selling empanadas and quesadillas called Empanadas del Carmen. They were the ones  featured on the Netflix Show “Street Food Latin America.”

Check out my Oaxaca Street Food blog post for more information on where to find Tacos del Carmen and what to eat there.

Food #1 : Café de olla

We started with a common breakfast drink in Mexico: café de olla. (pot coffee).

This is coffee cooked in a pot over the stove. It contains ground coffee, panela (sugar), and cinnamon. I’m not a fan of sweet coffee, but I liked it anyway.

Betsaida also added some mezcal into the coffee for anyone who wanted some.

Food #2: Empanada de mole amarillo

Betsaida on Me Encanta Food Tour is cutting an empanada with a scissor

Empanada de mole amarillo is one of Oaxaca’s most popular street foods. It’s not my favorite, but you should still try it at least once.

It consists of a large tortilla filled with a yellow sauce called mole amarillo and usually chicken and an herb called hierba santa.

However, our empanada that morning had flor de calabaza (squash blossoms) mushrooms, and Hierba Santa. The empanada is then folded in half and grilled on top of a comal (a large flat grill over coals).

Food #3: Tacos de chorizo

a small piece of a taco de chorizo on a plate
Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour guide gave us small samples to try so we wouldn’t get full quickly.

Next, we had Oaxacan tacos—another popular street food. Oaxacan tacos are not like tacos you’d eat in the rest of Mexico. A local told me that locals call them tacos blandos.

First, Oaxacan tacos are bigger. The tortilla is cooked on the comal, so it’s crispier than a typical taco. Finally, the taco is rolled up like a flauta.

The first taco we had was tacos de chorizo (sausage).

It was good, but not as good as our next taco.

Food #4: Taco de chili relleno de chile de agua

two tacos blandos on a red plate
Tacos de Chili Relleno is my favorite Oaxacan street food!

The next taco consisted of a tortilla wrapped around a chile de agua, which is an endemic green chile from Oaxaca, stuffed with pork.  

THIS taco was the BEST thing I ate in Oaxaca. I would stop by two to three times a week to eat two or three of these tacos.

Review of Stop #1

Stop #1 was an A++++! I appreciated that Betsaida introduced me to many kinds of Oaxacan street food and places I could return to on my own. So useful!

By the way, we did not get a whole taco. We just got a couple of bites of a taco. If we had had the full taco, we wouldn’t have made it to the end of the tour.

Stop #2: Tacos de Cazuela Tia Chave

peopel standing around a street stall and a sign for Tacos de Cazuela Tia Chiva hanging outside a street stall

Our next food stop was a block away at Tacos de Cazuela Tía Chave. This street food stall is only open in the mornings and closes at around 1:00 p.m.

We had one of Oaxaca’s most popular breakfast foods: memelas. By the time I left Oaxaca (after nearly 2 months), this became like an addiction for me—I could not go a day without eating one.

We got to try two types of memelas (half a memela each).

Food #5: Memela de salsa morita y queso fresco

a person holding two halfs of a memela on a plate

A memela is a medium-sized open-faced oval-shaped tortilla layered with asiento (pork lard) and other ingredients. A simple memela (sencillo) consists of mashed up refried beans (frijoles) and cheese (queso fresco or quesillo).

The memela de salsa morita y queso fresco was a simple memela of just beans, cheese, and a type of salsa called salsa morita.

Food #6: Memela de costillas de puerco con nopales

Our second memela was even better. In addition to the pork lard, it was topped with pork ribs (costillas) and cactus (nopales).

A friend of mine who did the same tour a month later said that this was her favorite stop on the tour.

Food #7: Agua Fresca – Jamaica

We also got to try Jamaica, a drink made with hibiscus flowers—one of my favorite drinks in Mexico.

Review of Stop #2

Another A+! This was another food stall that I returned to for breakfast during my stay in Oaxaca. The memelas as Tacos de Cazuela Tia Chave are just as good as the ones at the popular Memelas San Augustin that lots of bloggers and locals rave about.

Stop #3: Mercado Sánchez Pascuas

By stop #3, I was pleased with my decision to do the Me Encanta Oaxaca food tour. Little did I know that the next stop would elevate this food tour into my top four in the world (Hanoi,

Stop #3 was my favorite market in Oaxaca: Mercado Sánchez Pascuas. It’s a small indoor food market that sells fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, bread, and cheese. It also has a small food court with street food vendors.

Betsaida introduced us to some of the top vendors that I continually returned to during my three months in Oaxaca.

Food #8: Tamal de Mole Negro

a tamal de mole negro
The tamales don’t look pretty in photos but they sure tasted good!

The first dish at the market ended up being everyone on the tour’s favorite: tamal de mole negro, also known as Tamal Oaxaceña. I returned to the same tamale vendor twice a week during my stay in Oaxaca.

You can find tamales all over Mexico. Each region makes theirs a bit differently. Oaxaca has a tamale that is wrapped not in the usual corn husk but in banana leaves.

The ingredient that makes Oaxaca’s tamales special is the mole negro sauce mixed in with mashed corn and chicken. Mole negro is the only mole that contains chocolate.

It’s not a pretty dish, but it tastes so rich and complex: spicy, sweet, and savory.

Food #9: Tamal de Salsa Verde

Our next tamale was wrapped in corn husks and contained verde salsa. It was good but not as memorable as the mole negro one.  

Food #10 – #12: Curado de mezcal de Passion fruit, tamarindo, and café

While we were eating our tamales, Betsaida gave us shots of flavored mezcal. We tried passion fruit, tamarindo, and coffee.

Food #13: Tlayuda

a slice of a tlayuda on a plate

Betsaida also had us try one of Oaxaca’s most iconic dishes: a tlayuda.

Tlayuda is a large round tortilla the size of a pizza that has been fried so that it’s hard and crispy. The tortilla is topped with asiento (pork lard), refried bean paste, and quesillo. Sometimes avocado and tomato are added. A piece of meat (beef, pork, sausage) is placed on top.

Before the food tour, I’d had tlayudas before and I wasn’t that big of a fan of them. It wasn’t until I had a tlayuda on my last few nights in Oaxaca at Tlayuda La Chinita that I realized how good they can be. The nightly tlayuda stand is five long blocks from the Zocalo through a sketchy neighborhood, but it’s worth it!

Food #14: Hot chocolate with Almonds

We also got a cup of Oaxacan hot chocolate with almonds.

Food #15: Espresso coffee from Pluma Hidalgo

Before leaving the market, we stopped at a stall selling local coffee and had a shot of espresso.

Food #16 – #19: Local Honey

We then tried four samples of local honey: miel criolla, miel de mantequilla, miel de flores de café, and mile multilfora.

Food: #20 – #26: Fruit

Before leaving Sanchez Pascuas Market, Betsaida had us sit on plastic stools around a tree outside the market and try exotic fruits that most of us had never seen before.

The fruit pushed this tour into the best food tours in the world category. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to try a foreign country’s fruit.
I th

We sat outside the market and sampled the following fruit:

1. Huaje

Oaxaca is named after the huaje (guaje) fruit. In English, it’s called a River Tamarind. When you open the green pod, red edible berries are inside. The berries are used as condiments in Oaxacan cuisine.

2. Zapote negro
a hand holding half of a zapote negro fruit

Zapote negro is one of the most interesting (and delicious) fruits I’ve ever had. The outside is green, while the inside is black! The fruit is soft and creamy, not sweet, a bit nutty-flavored.

3. Chico Zapote
a hand holding a chico zapote that has been cut open
Chico zapote

My second favorite fruit in the world is Chico zapotes (also called sapodillas in Southeast Asia) is also called sapodilla in Southeast. My #1 favorite fruit is mangosteens.

It’s a small round fruit the size of a plum and the color of a kiwi. The inside

The outside is brown like a kiwi and the inside is a beautiful coral color. The inside is soft and smooth like kiwi, and it tastes like brown sugar—honey and floral flavor.

4. Mamey

Mamey is a very common fruit in Mexico. It’s the size of a melon. The outside is the color of a kiwi, but the inside is coral with a large pit.  It’s smooth and creamy like an avocado but tastes like a sweet potato mixed with a peach.  

5. Curuba
a person holding a taxo fruit that's been open so you can see the inside
The inside of a curuba

The Curuba (called taxo in Ecuador and banana passion fruit in English) is not my favorite. It’s very sour—more sour than passion fruit. People don’t usually eat curuba raw. They crush it in a blender to make juice.

6. Cuiajinucuil
two hands holding an open Cuiajinucuil fruit

Cuiajinucuil was the strangest fruit I’d ever eaten. It doesn’t even look like a fruit! The outside is green (it looks like tamarind), covered in something soft and a bit fuzzy, and the inside contains a row of seeds.

7. Maracas (Granadilla)
a person holding a maraca that has been cut open

The last fruit we tried was one of my favorites: maracas.

Before taking this food tour, I knew this fruit as a granadilla. I was introduced to it on a food tour in Quito, and during my six months in Ecuador, I ate it all the time.

Maracas taste like passion fruit (maracuyas), but they are less sour and more sweet. They look different, too:

  • Passion fruits’ exterior is purple
  • Maracas’ (granadillas) exterior is yellow.

The insides are the same, though. They both consist of small seeds covered in a gelatinous substance. You scoop the seeds out with a smooth and eat them raw or you can blend them with water to make a juice. They are supposed to be very nutritious.

Review of Stop #3

Amazing! But I was pretty full by the end of stop #3. This is not a good sign of a food tour. Food stops should be spread out so that this doesn’t happen. However, a friend of mine who did the same tour a month later did not feel full at all. So, it could have been just me.

Stop #4: Mercado Benito Juarez

By stop #4, I was already full. But we still had a lot more to eat!

Mercado Benito Juarez is one of the two main markets in the historic center. It’s full of souvenirs, handicrafts, and a few street food vendors.

Food #27: Chapulines

a woman standing behind a stand selling grasshoppers

No food tour in Oaxaca is complete without making travelers try chapulines (grasshoppers/crickets). The best place to try chapulines is at the Benito Juarez Market.

It sounds gross, but it’s a popular street food in Oaxaca that you should try once at least. Really, they’re not so bad.

Oaxacans eat them as snacks and add them to dishes like tlayudas, empanadas, tacos, quesadillas, and more. They are usually flavored with lime or chili. On the food tour, we tried both flavors.

Food #28: Tejate

a large bowl of tejate

The next food on the Me Encanta food tour was a stop at a tejate vendor. Tejate is a traditional drink with deep roots in the indigenous culture of Oaxaca. The key ingredients are toasted corn, cacao, and mamey seeds. 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—this is the flower from the cacao.

It’s served cold and is considered very refreshing and filling. Many foreign visitors don’t like it, but I have grown to love it!

Food #29 – #31: Chocolate

After the tejate, we stopped at a shop to try some chocolate and some more insects.

Food #32: Mezcal

The last stop at Benito Juarez market was a stop to try some mezcal.

Review of Stop #4

I’ve been to the Benito Juarez Market many times and I’ve been to the same stops we did on the Me Encanta Oaxaca food tour, so I wasn’t as blown away as the other people on the tour were. Still, I think the food and drinks we consumed represented an important part of Oaxacan culture and should be tried on any visit to the city.  

Stop #5 Mercado 20 de Noviembre

Our final stop of the day was the famous Smoke Alley at Mercado 20 de Noviembre–one of the most popular markets in Oaxaca. I had visited here on another food tour and loved it. However, this time, I was so full that I could not enjoy the food.

Another friend of mine who did the same tour a couple of months later said that she wasn’t full, so it was probably the fact that I have a small stomach!

Food #33 – 37: Smoke Alley

a plate of meat and vegetables on a table

Smoke Alley (Pasillo de Humido) is a famous place at the November 20th Market. Here, you can order meats and vegetables from different vendors and have them grilled. The grilled food is then brought to your table along with condiments, drinks, and tortillas. It’s a lot of fun when you get a whole bunch of people together.

Originally Smoke Alley was inside an old and not very well ventilated part of the market. When I took my tour, it was being renovated. They set up a temporary area outside, so we didn’t get the famous smokey atmosphere. In April 2024, renovations finished and Smoke Alley is back to being indoors.

We had lots of different meats: tasajo, carne enchilada, chorizo, and tripe along with nopal, guacamole, green onions, and chile de agua. We could order beer as well.

Betsaida gave us some giant ants (chicatanas), worms, and more grasshoppers to try!

Many of the people on my tour were not the most adventurous eaters. Half of them were afraid to eat the food on the tour, and sometimes, I saw them throw the food away instead of eating it. So, it wasn’t the most fun group.

Final Thoughts on Me Encanta Food tour

Was the Me Encanta Oaxaca food tour worth it?


For so many reasons.

First, the guide, Betsaida, was amazing! Like I said already, she was enthusiastic, friendly, patient, and knowledgeable.

Second, we tried 37 different foods and drinks on the Me Encanta tour. I ate more on this tour than I’ve ever eaten on a food tour before. You really get your money’s worth.

Third, the places we visited were useful. I went back to some of them during the rest of my stay in Oaxaca. I ate tamal de mole negro twice a week and stopped at Tacos del Carmen Alto twice a week.

If you are on the fence about taking this food tour, don’t be! Sign up right away. You won’t be disappointed. But make sure to do it at the beginning of your Oaxaca adventure to make use of all the information you learned from Betsaida about Oaxacan food.

You can book your tour through Viator or Trip Advisor and cancel up to 24 hours before the start date.

The other Oaxaca food tour I took was this one with Betsy. It was also excellent.

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Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour Review
Me Encanta Oaxaca Food Tour Review


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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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