Disclosure: We were provided discounted or free lodging, meals, tours, and activities as part of reviewing some of the below mentioned companies. Although the products and services were free or discounted gifts, all opinions in this review remain our own and we were in no way influenced by the companies.
Where To Stay? | Before we dive into our 3 days in Oaxaca, we must start off with where you’ll actually be staying during your trip! Since most of what you’ll want to do is in the center of town, we recommend a hotel that’s centrally located. Our pick? El Diablo y La Sandia. This charming hotel has more of a BnB feel with two locations and only a few suites available to book. Each room has it’s own authentic Mexican decor…and the best part…you’ll be served breakfast every morning in their gorgeous courtyard. Make sure to book your stay at least 3 months in advance though because their rooms go quickly
Breakfast | El Volador ($5-$10) You’ll want to start the day off light since you’ll be chefin’ it up later at your scheduled cooking class. This coffee joint is the perfect way to shake your slight jet lag and get ready to experience the city. Not only is the coffee UH-mazing here, but they also have a pretty cute outdoor seating section. Disfruta! (Enjoy!)
Lunch | Casa Crespo ($100) Depending on what you choose at the beginning of Casa Crespo’s cooking class, you’ll be enjoying traditional Oaxacan food prepared by none other than…you!
Dinner | Casa Oaxaca Cafe ($15-25) Expect to receive 5-star treatment…and food, at this gem. The best part? You won’t be paying 5-star coins! From the time you arrive you are greeted with pulled out chairs, napkins placed in lap…and fresh guac made table-side to munch on before the main course. We highly recommend the bistec. Literally one of the juiciest pieces of meat that could be cut with a fork! We also had the grilled octopus with the black ink rice. DELICIOSO!
To Do | Casa Crespo Cooking Class ($100) This is far more than just the run of the mill cooking class. At Casa Crespo you’ll start with a run to the local market to pick up all of the fresh ingredients you’ll need to make your lunch. While perusing the market you’ll get a quick history lesson in Oaxacan food from Oscar, founder, and chef, who’s been cooking up mouth-watering dishes since he was helping his mom in the kitchen as a child. Once you’re in the kitchen, things move pretty quickly, but the end product will be unbelievable. When you first start the class Oscar gives you a few options on dishes you can prepare. We chose the handmade tortillas, tamales, traditional Oaxacan mole with chicken and rose petal ice cream to top it all off. All in all, Casa Crespo’s cooking class is a great way to start your trip in this foodie’s paradise.
Breakfast | Cafe Conchita ($2-5) Buen dia! Start your morning off on another light note since your mezcal tour starts around 10 am. Here, we recommend none other than Oaxacan hot chocolate with milk! This ain’t ya mama’s swiss miss, so get ready to get hooked on this rich, chocolatey drink that should hold you over til lunch.
Lunch | Los Danzantes ($30-40) Just when you thought the Los Danzantes mezcal distillery tour couldn’t get any better, you’ll be taken to their gorgeous restaurant in the heart of the city. Simply put, everything from the service to the mezcal cocktails was to die for. We had Hierba Santa for an appetizer, a gorgeous mole served over chicken as the main course, and this perfectly chocolate molten cake with ice cream for dessert. All we can say is pace yourself because you’ll want to get through all three courses!
Dinner | Pez ($5-10) So I know you’re probably thinking “When the hell are they gonna get to what I reeeaalllly came for? Tacos.”. We gotcha covered. This small restaurant knows it’s way around some fish tacos! The menu isn’t too extensive, but we promise you can’t go wrong with anything listed. Oh, and did we mention they were playing “Say It Loud” by James Brown while we ate? #WeGoToo
To Do | Los Danzantes Mezcal Distillery Tour So by now you should know that mezcal is king as the drink of choice in Oaxaca. What better way to get to know this Mexican southern city than by getting the inside scoop on how this popular spirit is made. The team over at Los Danzantes has put together the mother of all mezcal tours with a stop at their distillery as well a tasting of their locally made mezcals. Both Victor & Lorena are so knowledgeable of the mezcal process we felt like experts by the end of the tour.
Breakfast | Casa Oaxaca Cafe/ Brunch ($10-20) We normally wouldn’t recommend the same place twice, but y’all…this is literally one of the best meals you’ll have in the city! We’re talking a spread of warm breads, the freshest juice you’ve ever tasted and this is all before you even order your breakfast! If you’re an egg slut, you can’t go wrong with any of their delicious omelets, but for something a little heftier, we recommend the chilaquiles.
Lunch | Xuncu Choco ($5-15) Great local spot with food that will not disappoint! This hole in the wall serves up some damn good picaditas and quesadillas.
Dinner | Sabina Sabe ($10-20) This unassuming bar may have you wondering what fabulous meal could possibly be conjured up in their small kitchen, but don’t judge his So-Ho-ish bar by it’s look. We ordered the pork tacos with bits of chicharron mixed in and the shrimp and octopus tacos. BRUH. So good. Also, this place takes its mixology serious, so don’t be afraid to try any of the listed cocktails!
To Do | Traditional Oaxacan massage ($50-60) We were a bit skeptical when we drove 30 minutes outside of the city and pulled up to a small, dimly lit house. Almost stayed in the cab…but thank God we didn’t. This 2-hour massage starts by stripping down (yes, you naked) and detoxing in a stone sauna. After about 20 minutes of sweating it out and rubbing raw aloe on your skin, you rinse off, grab some tea and head to the massage table where you are expertly rubbed DOWN. HEAD TO TOE.
Currency $1 = 18.18 Pesos
What Language? We’ll be honest, we’re accustomed to going to most touristy Mexican cities and not having an issue with finding people who are fluent in Spanish and English. Here, it’s a bit different. Most people only speak Spanish so you may want to dust off that dictionary and pack it for the trip.
When To Go? We recommend April or May. You’ll escape the oppressive heat AND the rainy season.
What To Wear? If you’re like us, you want your pics for the Gram to pop. We suggest plenty of breathable wear that’s colorful to match with this vibrant city. It will get hot, so tanks, short sleeves, skirts, pants will all work, but we’d avoid wearing shorts if you’re not trying to look too touristy.
What To Do (Extras):
Tlacolula (Sunday Market) ($40-80) | About 30 minutes out of the city, you’ll find a true shopper’s heaven. Tlacolula is one of the world’s oldest and largest markets, so be prepared to see a little bit of EVERYTHING. When you first enter, you’ll mostly find food and home goods. Grab a snack but don’t stop walking! All the magic is just beyond all the food vendors, where you’ll find leather goods, handmade clothes, jewelry and just about any souvenir you could dream of. To get here you’ll need to hop in a cab (around $200-$300 pesos). Make sure to ask the driver to wait while you shop and agree on a time for pick up.
Hierve el Agua ($20-30) | This natural beauty boasts gorgeous views, petrified waterfalls natural pools…which aren’t “hierve” (boiling) at all! While you’ll be able to get some gorgeous pics, this place is quite touristy. To beat the crowds we recommend heading here early in the am. You can book a tour that will most likely include a mezcal tour, but if you’d like to get in and out, take the bus to Milta and then a colectivo (shared minivan) to Hierve el Agua.
Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca ($5-$10) | One of Mexico’s best regional museums that walks you through Oaxaca’s rich history between pre-Hispanic and contemporary cultures. There’s definitely a lot to cover once you’re inside, so we recommend snagging a tour guide (about $15) to truly experience everything this museum has to offer.