I was in Oaxaca City over Christmas and then on the coast and then back in Oaxaca City for New Years Eve. Here is my brief food report:
Best meals in Oaxaca City:
chocolate con leche (hot chocolate) at any of the spots on calle Mina south of the Zocalo in particular Soledad and Mayordomo.
The moles at Los Pacos. Its on Constitucion just past Santo Domingo. You walk through an art gallery and its to your left. Its a beautiful open courtyard, the black mole was really rich and delicious. I also had the chicken in yellow mole which was spicy and also rich. Also, hand-made tortillas, not from a tortillaria.
At the market. We went into this section of the Benito Juarez market which was packed, and I mean packed, with people. Smoke filled the air. Everywhere there are people grilling tasajo (thin strips of beef). We waded through the crowd to the middle of the hallway where women are putting together baskets with green chiles and scallions. We took a basket from them and went to one of the meat stands. We selected some meat (tasajo and some chorizo) and they grilled it for us along with our scallions and chiles. While we were waiting, we flagged down one of the women wandering around selling tortillas. When the meat, chiles and onions were done and paid for ($7 US for five people) it was back to the ladies with the baskets where they gave us guacamole, radishes, pico de gallo and then doused our grilled veggies with lime juice and salt (all this for about $3.50 US). Then we squished ourselves into one of the crowded booths and chowed down. Delicious and fun in a chaotic sort of way.
Delicious flor de calabaza tortillas at a place called El Meson just off the Zocalo.
Delicious crema de flor de calabaza (cream of squash blossom soup) at La Olla on Reforma above Constitucion.
at La Biche Pobre we had the botanas, --you don't order they just bring you a selection of small snacks tostadas, empanadas, sliced milanesa de res, etc with some killer salsa. Everything is small, but there is so much you can't posssibly eat it all. On Calzada de la Republica
At Monte Alban, they have a restaurant patio with an amazing view. An also not a bad pastel de canela (cinnamon cake). Monte Alban is amazing in its own right of course.
At the coast we spent 5 days at a small beach town a little ways from Puerto Angel called Mazunte. There there wasn't a lot of food choices, but at the cabanas where we stayed, Alta Mira, they have a seaview restaurant where we had the best yogurt with granola and fruit for breakfast and spaghetti con camarones at night in a tomato-cream sauce that was truly amazing. At the beach, the food was good, but the best thing is the ability to sit under a palapa all day drinking agua de melon and watching the ocean and the beautiful young students on vacation.
A few low points: the food at the zocalo restaurants was mediocre. Of course, the best thing about them is not the food but the ability to sit and watch the crowd go by. We had a great ringside seat for the Christmas Eve Posadas
New Years Eve at Los Danzantes, an upscale-restaurant on Alcala (a pedestrian mall). the appetizer was amazing. Marlin carpaccio in a spicy oil. It was delicious and I have never had anything like it before. After that it was all downhill. Smoked turkey breast that seemed to have come out of a can with some sort of cold mashed potato pellets. It wasn't cheap either. Along with the lousy entree, they had some sort of special New Years Eve performance that included some really bad jugglers with glow in the dark batons that they kept dropping. We got out of there as soon as possible and joined the mayhem in the zocalo.
All in all, a great vacation.