Oaxacan gastronomy is one of the cultural manifestations that identify and define the people of Oaxaca. Result of the fusion of the pre-Hispanic and European kitchens, this meeting of two gastronomic worlds made a special way to prepare food, giving rise to one of the most diverse and rich cuisines in Mexico.

Oaxacan gastronomy

The flavor of Oaxaca is tasted in every corner, in every region and in every kitchen; in its lands are cultivated and harvested grains, fruits, vegetables and exotic spices to cook its famous “moles”. Ritual drinks are made, such as the mezcal, the “tejate”, and sparkling chocolate. Breads are also baked and sweets are made to celebrate the living and dead.

The Oaxacan cuisine is one of the most complete in the whole country. Its wide variety of richness, imagination and complexity makes visitors curious to try the full range of exquisite foods.

Oaxacan gastronomy

A very traditional dish is a sauce called Mole Oaxaqueño in seven different varieties, chiles rellenos, quesillo (string cheese), tlayudas, tamales, ice cream (nieves), fresh fruit drinks, long strips of lean, flat steak (tasajo), regional soups (caldo de guías) and of course, the exotic grasshoppers.

The regional sweets (dulces regionales) come in a wide variety. The coffee is of exceptional quality and competes at a world class level. Also noteworthy is Oaxacan chocolate which casted its spell on the Spaniards. You must try a hot cup of this magic potion with the exquisite egg yolk bread. Among the typical drinks is the mescal, an ancient drink considered a gift from the gods. The word mescal comes from the nahuatl word ‘Mexcalmetl', which means ‘agave'. Nowadays, the common word used in Mexico to name this agave is maguey.


Oaxacan woman traditional cuisine

Any meal of Oaxaca would be incomplete without the “mole”, the king of the dishes. There are seven varieties that are the most recognized in the Oaxacan capital, since in the state there are many more varieties depending on the region.

The Mole, as rich in its mixtures and flavors as in its preparation, is no more than a thick sauce, in which some endemic chilies and spices predominate, depending on the latter is how its varieties are determined.

Some of the famous 7 moles, take their names for the predominant color range that characterizes them: black is one of the most famous, made with the dried black chilies called “chilhuacles”; the coloradito, sweet and of intense red color; the almendrado, made with almonds, olives and capers; the verde, that takes its color for the number of fragrant herbs that compose it; the Amarillo, with its fine flavor of “hierba santa” and the combination of yellow chilies; the chichilo, with an exotic flavor due to the burnt tortilla with which is cooked, and finally the manchamanteles with its fresh fruits incorporated into a light mole sauce.


Google Arts & Culture - SECULTA OAXACA

The Ministry of Cultures and Arts of Oaxaca is the body in charge of planning, directing and executing cultural policies, designed and approved by the State Executive, which promote the cultural development of citizenship, preserving the identity of the peoples of Oaxaca, promoting and strengthening their traditions and customs through education, creation and artistic training; as well as promotion and dissemination, in its various manifestations.


Traditional cook, proudly Oaxacan

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Traditional Cooks

With the strength and joy characteristic of the Oaxacan woman, the traditional cooks are a group of women passionate about cooking in sveral regions of Oaxaca, most of them senior, who have the purpose of spreading their traditions and gastronomy. Their essence lies in the ancestral tradition of preparing food, such as grinding with “metate” or stone mill, combined with the experience of knowledge of traditional flavors.

They are women who love what they do and have the intention to preserve the traditional flavor of Oaxaca, showing it to the world as part of their traditions and culture.


Recognized as the Oaxacan haute cuisine, it is an avant-garde cuisine, with the most creative and modern dishes with the personal touch of the chefs. The chefs take Oaxacan food as a base and give it a small twist, in their opinion, with a change of textures and shapes.

The signature cuisine can be enjoyed in various restaurants of the city of Oaxaca, with tasting menus or pairing experiences. It also represents the Oaxacan flavors, turning them into memorable experiences of unquestionable quality.

Great Chefs

The history of Oaxaca superimposes layers of flavors that are amalgamated in its ingredients and dishes, many of which would have disappeared long ago if it were not for the markets, authentic bastions of an invaluable heritage.

But not everyone can immerse themselves in markets without losing their senses in endless stimulus, only those heirs of a long tradition distinguish in the apparent chaos of smells, tastes, colors and names, the raw material to prepare the desired dishes. The chefs belong to this species, because they take the lived experiences to play Oaxacan flavors in a fun and modern way.


Oaxacan gastronomy

In the city of Oaxaca, food and beverage establishments provide two types of services: a la carte, which offers a variety of dishes that must be prepared, and with a menu; a selection of dishes the restaurant offers for immediate consumption.

Market days

Oaxacan gastronomy

Market days in Oaxaca are among the most famous in the country. Open air markets are moveable feasts traced back for centuries. They are often called a tianguis, an expression going back to the open air markets of the Aztecs.

The tianguis is different than the established markets — mercados — where vendors sell their wares each day.

Market days are social events for people coming into town from far away.


Traditional markets in Oaxaca city, include 20 de Noviembre y Benito Juárez, Artesanias, Abastos and Sanchez Pascuas.

Newer markets include Pochote Reforma and La Cosecha.

Ixtlán de Juárez
Villa Alta
Ayaquezco de Aldama
San Pablo Etla
Ejutla de Crespo
San Bartolo Coyotepec
Santo Tomas Jalietza
Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca City

In Oaxaca, the tianguis continue with market days rotating throughout the region. As the neighborhood tianguis sets up, local residents meet for breakfast and conversation in the food stalls before buying fresh produce, meats, homewares and clothing. There is a comfort and familiarity in seeing the same community members and the same vendors each week.