Well, we did it! Bryan and I took a vacation without Wallace and after the initial anxiety of leaving our son behind, we managed to have a great time. Oaxaca is a very special place filled with art, amazing food, too much Mezcal and the most loving people. I never had a moment where I felt unsafe and was able to completely immerse myself in the culture of the city. We were fortunate to join in on a trip that was planned by two of our dearest friends so we got to enjoy the perks of two seasoned Oaxacan travelers. My favorite part of the trip was of course, the markets. If you have heard the legends about the endless textiles and beautiful baskets, they are all true. I ended up scoring some beautiful pieces that I brought back to the states and will cherish forever. Also, so much Mezcal. I knew this was a part of the culture but I am coming from a once-a-week drinking habit so the consecutive drinking days wore me down by the end. But hey, there are so many adorable places to drink, it was very hard to pass up. Here are some of the places that I enjoyed and some places that I would like to experience when we go back.
El Destilado - This was my favorite meal that we had in Oaxaca which makes sense because it was established by three Americans. The food is this beautiful blend of fresh ingredients and traditional Mexican dishes. My favorites were the fish tacos, the guacamole with pecans and the Baguette from Boulenc. When you show up with a group they choose items for you which saves time from having to look at the menu and allows you to enjoy your party. Also their drinks are super on-point. My favorite was the La Chica De Rosa which is a Mezcal sour.
If you're looking for something a little more gourmet, definitely try Pitiona. We got a table pretty late in the day on the last night of the trip so unfortunately I was not that hungry when we went but I loved the two items I got. I had the the smoked vegetable salad and the shrimp with garlic. Both were amazing and I ate every bite. I also loved the cocktails at this place and enjoyed a beautiful Mezcal Margarita. One person in our party got the freeze dried cream and oh my, what a fun way to end the night.
Casa Oaxaca Cafe - This was the best breakfast we had during the trip. The service is wonderful, the decor is inviting and the food was delicious. Oh, and the lattes are perfectly crafted works of art. I loved walking across the city to find this sweet cafe.
Expendio Tradicion - Is the most stunning restaurant and the food/drinks won't disappoint! I got the blue corn tamales which were a little heavy for me after a long day of traveling (and drinking). But everyone else loved what they ordered. And can we talk about the design again? How can you not enjoy yourself while you're surrounded by all of the that beauty?
Loz Danzantes - This place way really packed and booked literally the entire time we visited. The atmosphere was beyond and was bustling with locals and tourist alike. It's now on the return list.
Definitely do a Mezcal tasting at Mezcaloteca! This is the best way to introduce yourself to the native drink and a great way to appreciate the process of making this sacred sauce. They offer tastings by appointment only so make sure to put this on your list. The space is really cute and everyone that works there is very knowledgable about Mezcal making this stop easily one of my favorite moments from our trip.
I also loved this little Mezcaleria called Los Amantes. This standing-room only spot is a perfect place to drop in a have a tasting of Mezcal. Here you can taste three different Mezcals for 200 pesos. I love the design and the scope of the space. With so little room, you can't help but feel like family.
This became our favorite place to grab coffee. The location was very close to where we stayed and they made a mean latte. Also, I know this is simple but I fell in love with their biscotti.
Cooking Class - If you're interested in learning how to prepare traditional Mexican food, the class at Casa Crespo was a fun experience. We first ventured to the local market to gather ingredients and then prepared several authentic dishes as a group. After we cooked, we enjoyed a drink on their rooftop and watched a wedding party parade down the street. We finished the class by drinking red wine and enjoying the dishes we prepared. I have always wanted to make tortillas and now I am more inspired than ever to bring the experience home and cook the recipes for my family. Oscar, the man who runs the class is also very enjoyable and a great teacher.
Tour - I don't think we would have had nearly as enriching a visit if we didn't go on this tour. The stops included visiting the native people who make both textiles and mezcal. We walked through a livestock auction which was insanely scary but invigorating. We were the only tourists where we ate lunch and were the only people at this small body of water where we took a small break. As part of the package, they photographed the entire day and wow, such a talented group of dudes. I definitely recommend taking this tour if you're into feeling like a local and having an authentic experience in Oaxaca.
Petrified Waterfall - We concluded our tour by visiting Hierve el Agua and you should try to visit even if you don't do a tour. It's a pretty incredible sight to see and offers some insane photo opportunities.
We ended up booking our hotel very late so couldn't get 3 rooms where I wanted but if I could go back, this is where I would stay. Casa Oaxaca also has a very well-known restaurant which was also booked during our stay. Now that I am a little more familiar, when I return, I will definitely experience this beautiful location.
If I had to pick another place to stay it would be Casa Azul. Oh, the design at this place is so lovely with a perfect balance of minimalism and authentic Mexican elements. This place is definitely something to look forward to.
This is probably the most important tip I am going to share with you so I want you to listen up, Lanii. This is the boutique where I got my palm-leaf backpack. They offer the best baskets, the cutest kid's booties, lots of a great women's clothing, unique ceramics and hats. So many hats. Do not miss this stop while you're in Oaxaca. Trust me.
Also offering a great selection of high-quality baskets is this shop. My friend Liz got a market basket here last year and it's still in perfect condition after a ton of use. This store is mostly known for unique clothing but I found the baskets to be the real prize.
I spent most of my shopping day at this market and found my favorite textiles here. There is a tiny booth straight back when you walk in called Coyuchi. This is where I got the nicest white Kaftan that I will probably wear daily this summer. Their stuff is very pricey but well made and unique. You'll find a lot of vendors in Oaxaca offer the same patterns but this place has unique textiles that were special to their brand. Another great market for shoes and leather is the Mercado 20 de Noviembre. There are so many great markets in Oaxaca, but these are the two that I visited the most.
Is there anything that you think I should do the next time I visit Oaxaca? I would love to hear any additional information as I am planning to go back soon. Safe travels to everyone out there.