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Oaxaca Food: A Culinary Food Guide

Oaxaca Street Food and Traditional Dishes

What is Oaxaca food? Which Oaxacan dishes should you seek out and what sort of flavors and spices might you find when you visit this city and in southwestern Mexico? We spent two months living in Oaxaca to find out and explore Oaxacan cuisine. This Oaxaca Food and Culinary Travel Guide guide shares our favorite Oaxacan street foods, traditional dishes, snacks, drinks, and desserts, plus where to find them in this beautiful culinary city.

If Mexican cuisine ranks as one of the world’s great cuisines (it was the first cuisine to receive , it’s certainly aided in part by what goes on in the kitchens of Oaxaca.

Oaxacan food: roasted, subtle, rich, layered. Moles, chocolate, tiny avocados that taste faintly like licorice, balls of quesillo cheese ribbons, grasshoppers, whopping Mexican pizzas, stunning grilled meats, corn fungus, mysterious herbs like epazote, and more types of chili peppers than you can shake a fire extinguisher at.

Oaxaca. Say it with me: Wa-ha-ka. We won’t lie: when we opted to spend a couple of months in Oaxaca, Mexico its cuisine was certainly a major factor in our decision.

We used the gourmandish pretext of “We need to discover what Oaxacan food is all about” as an excuse to explore the city and to eat ourselves silly. We took a Oaxacan cooking class to give ourselves background. We cornered our Mexican landlord each time we saw him to ask about his favorite Oaxacan street food stands and dishes.

Some might say we were obsessed.

I say we were focused.

As friends and readers have made their way to Oaxaca, we’ve sent Oaxacan food information and recommendations in bits and bobs by email. Now it’s time to put it all together to share with you our massive Oaxaca Food Guide with 41 recommended dishes, street food, moles, desserts, drinks and more.

Oaxaca, as we use it, will generally refer to the city of Oaxaca, the capital of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, which kindly stretches down to a beautiful coastline in southern Mexico. Oaxacan restaurant and Oaxacan cooking class recommendations are

1. Tlayudas

Tlayuda in Oaxaca recommendations: the stand just to the right of the entrance to the Carne Asadas aisle at Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Also, a hole-in-the-wall stand at Mercado de la Merced serves up some mighty fine tlayudas as well.
2. Huitlacoche
Huitlacoche is a corn fungus, but I prefer the term “corn smut”. Earthy, mushroomy, huitlacoche is also very much a texture play.  Make sure to get it fresh, although you can also find it in cans.  Canned corn smut, mmmm.  This is a seasonal item, but you might be lucky enough to make fresh corn smut tacos like we did at the Seasons of My Heart cooking school in Oaxaca.
3. Enfrijoladas
Enfrijoladas are essentially fried tortillas served with beans and sauce. The key in Oaxaca is that the beans are stewed with the leaves of the local avocado plant (see more below in the ingredients section). As our Oaxacan landlord’s wife would say, “It’s not real frijol if it doesn’t include avocado leaves.”  How about that!

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