When it comes to Oaxacan cuisine, mole probably comes foremost in many people’s minds. Mole negro and mole coloradito are delicious dishes but in my opinion, the best traditional Oaxacan food can’t be found in fine dining restaurants. They’re served in market fondas and mobile carts on the street.
There are many things to love about Oaxaca, but Oaxacan street food dishes like tlayudas and memelas are two of my favorite things about this city.
If you’re planning a trip to Oaxaca City and want to find the best street food, then this list of 25 Oaxaca street food stalls, eateries, and fondas will be your new best friend in Oaxaca.
This guide focuses on street food stalls and similar establishments but if you’d like to book a table at one of the city’s best restaurants, then be sure to check out our Oaxaca restaurant guide as well. If you have a taste for mezcal, then our guide to the top mezcalerias in Oaxaca will also be of interest to you.
OAXACA STREET FOOD QUICK LINKS
To help with your Oaxaca trip planning, we’ve put together links to popular hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
Top-rated hotels in Centro, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Oaxaca.
- Luxury: Hotel Escondido Oaxaca, a Member of Design Hotels
- Midrange: Los Pilares Hotel
- Budget: Andaina Youth Hostel
- Sightseeing Tour: Guided City Walking Tour
- Food Tour: Night Street Food Tour with Transfers and Tastings
- Mezcal Tour: Mezcal Adventure
- Cooking Classes: Oaxaca Cooking Classes
- Day Trip: El Tule, Mitla, and Hierve el Agua Tour with Mezcal
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WHAT STREET FOOD IS OAXACA FAMOUS FOR?
There’s so much delicious food you can enjoy on the streets of Oaxaca but in my opinion, tlayudas, memelas, and empanadas de amarillo are three of the tastiest and most interesting. These street food dishes are important parts of Oaxacan food culture so they’re definitely something you need to try when you visit Oaxaca.
Before anything, it’s important to familiarize yourself with what to eat in Oaxaca City before learning where to eat, so be sure to check out our Oaxacan food guide for a list of 25 must-try traditional dishes and drinks in Oaxaca.
When it comes to the most delicious Oaxaca street foods, nothing stands above tlayudas. Sometimes referred to as a Mexican pizza, this Oaxaca street food classic consists of a large toasted or fried tortilla topped with unrefined pork lard, black bean paste, Oaxaca cheese, and other ingredients.
Considerably smaller but every bit as delicious as tlayudas are memelas. They consist of toasted or fried rounds of masa corn dough topped with a variety of different ingredients like beans, spicy tomato sauce, queso fresco (fresh cheese), guacamole, and chicken tinga.
Empanada de Amarillo
You’ve probably had empanadas in other parts of Mexico or Latin America but I’m guessing you’ve never seen one like this. Oaxacan empanadas de amarillo are much larger than your average fried or baked empanada. To prepare, a large corn tortilla is filled with mole amarillo (yellow mole sauce), shredded chicken, and hoja santa (local Oaxacan herb) before being folded in half and toasted on a comal.
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST OAXACAN STREET FOOD
To help organize this list of Oaxaca street food stalls and restaurants, I’ve categorized them by type of establishment. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Street Food Stands
We love Mexican cuisine in general but street food is what really makes us tick. There is so much amazing food to be had in Oaxaca City and much of it can be enjoyed on a sidewalk or street corner like memelas, tacos, tamales, empanadas, and tlayudas.
1. Memelas San Agustin
Memelas are a popular Oaxaca street food or breakfast dish that you can find at restaurants, markets, or roadside stalls. Personally, I think they’re best when enjoyed from a mobile cart on the side of the road.
We enjoyed memelas at many different places in Oaxaca City and the Memelas San Agustin stall was one of the best. Pictured below was my tasty trio of memelas topped with chicken tinga (tomato and chicken stew), chicharron, and pico de gallo.
What makes Memelas San Agustin special is their variety of toppings. Many places make them with just simple toppings like refried beans and cheese, but you can get them with different kinds of toppings at this stall.
Don’t you just love the ambiance of a roadside stall? It feels so much more authentic and immersive than restaurants. Not only is the food cheap and delicious, but you get to rub elbows with Oaxaca locals as well. In spite of the language barrier, there’s an instant connection when locals see how much you enjoy their food.
Memelas San Agustin is located on C. de Manuel Fernández Fiallo, between Colón and Vicente Guerrero. You can check the location map at the bottom of this guide to see exactly where it is.
Memelas San Agustin
Address: C. de Manuel Fernández Fiallo 309, Zona Feb 10 2015, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8:30AM-5PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Memelas
2. Empanadas del Carmen
We’re huge fans of Netflix’s Street Food series so visiting Empanadas del Carmen was a priority for us. As their name suggests, they specialize in empanadas de amarillo but they make good quesadillas and memelas as well.
To be honest, mole amarillo was my least favorite of Oaxaca’s seven famous moles so empanada de amarillo wasn’t my favorite Oaxacan dish either. However, Empanadas del Carmen makes damn good empanadas. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a fan of the show. This was easily the best empanada de amarillo we had in Oaxaca.
Here’s an inside look at the empanada de amarillo. If you’re familiar with Latin American empanadas, then you may find this Oaxacan empanada to be a little different.
I’m used to smaller empanadas that are pinch sealed and then baked or fried, but this one is more like a quesadilla. A large corn tortilla is topped with ingredients and then folded in half before being toasted on a comal.
This is a quesadilla. See what I mean? It’s very similar in form to the empanada de amarillo except it’s made with cheese, hence the term “quesadilla”.
We tried a few of their quesadillas and they were all delicious. This one was filled with flor de calabaza (squash blossoms), Oaxaca cheese, and salsa verde (green salsa).
This quesadilla was filled with mushrooms, Oaxaca cheese, and salsa rojo (red salsa).
This one was filled with chorizo, Oaxaca cheese, and salsa verde.
As you can tell, we had a street food feast at Empanadas del Carmen. We tried all their offerings in one meal, including these memelas. Unlike the offerings at Memelas San Agustin, the memelas at Empanadas del Carmen are pretty basic – just refried beans, asiento (unrefined pork lard), salsa verde, and queso fresco.
Empanadas del Carmen is located in a busy part of downtown Oaxaca, about a block away from Santo Domingo Church. They’re open from 5-10PM daily and set up right next to a similarly named stall called Tacos del Carmen (#5).
Empanadas del Carmen
Address: Jesús Carranza 102, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 5-10PM, daily
What to Order: Empanadas, quesadillas, memelas
3. Tlayudas La Chinita
As described, tlayudas are among the most popular street food dishes in Oaxaca. Depending on the restaurant or stall, tlayudas can be served folded in half (see below) or open-faced like an Italian pizza. You can enjoy them with some type of roasted meat, usually tasajo (thin dried beef), cecina (chili-crusted pork), or chorizo.
You can find tlayudas everywhere in Oaxaca. One of the best places to try it is at Tlayudas La Chinita, a popular roadside stall about a few blocks east of Mercado de Abastos. Like Empanadas del Carmen, it was one of the stalls featured on the Netflix series.
From what I can tell, the main difference between tlayudas served at different restaurants or stalls is in the texture of the tortilla. Some are thin and crispy while others are thicker and chewier, like a pizza. This one was somewhere in the middle. It was delicious.
Don’t let this picture fool you. I came shortly after they opened so it wasn’t that crowded yet, but Tlayudas La Chnita is popular. By the time I left, this alley was packed with both locals and tourists.
Thankfully, Tlayudas La Chnita is very organized. They keep track of customers by handing them a number as they arrive. That way no one gets their tlayuda out of turn. A tlayuda melee around hot coals would be dangerous.
Unlike the other tlayuda restaurants we visited, La Chinita offers two sizes – small and large. This was a small and more than enough for me so I assume the large is enough to feed 2-3 people. The radish comes standard but I got mine with an extra side of tasajo and chorizo. You can see the chorizo just barely peeking its head above the tlayuda in the picture below.
Unlike American-style pizzas where the toppings are evenly distributed, tlayuda vendors will give you the roasted meats on the side. Taking bites of the meat after bites of tlayuda is the perfect way to eat this dish. You can really taste the smokiness of the meat that way.
Tlayudas La Chinita is open from 8PM till midnight. They usually set up on this spot, at the corner of 20 de Noviembre and C. de Nuño del Mercado. But for some reason, they set up shop in an alley about a block away on Wednesdays. You can see a befuddled pair of tourists in the picture below. “But Google Maps says it’s supposed to be right here!”
If you decide to go to Tlayudas La Chinita on a Wednesday, then just walk west on C. de Nuño del Mercado after getting to this corner. You’ll see them set up in an alley on your left side (see the next picture).
This is the alley. Just look for the number 405 on the wall and the Tlayudas La Chinita stall will be right around the corner.
Tlayudas La Chinita
Address: Corner of 20 de Noviember and C. de Nuño del Mercado, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8PM-12MN, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Tlayudas
4. Taqueria Chava
We absolutely loved this taqueria. Taqueria Chava is a humble roadside stall that serves some of the best street tacos in Oaxaca.
Taqueria Chava offers just two things on their menu – tacos and consommé. I don’t know if they make their tacos with different types of meat but on the two days we went, they were offering tacos de cabeza or tacos made with meat from the animal’s head.
Tacos de cabeza are among our favorite types of tacos. We’ve enjoyed them throughout Mexico, including Mexico City, and these were some of the best we’ve had. They’re delicious.
The tacos are delicious but you cannot miss their consommé either. It’s basically a cup of soup filled with the same meat they use in their tacos.
In our case, we got a cup of consommé overflowing with that soft and gelatinous head meat. You actually get more meat in the consommé which is why it’s more expensive than the tacos. It’s so damn good.
Taqueria Chava is located on the corner of C. de Los Libres and C. de Mariano Abasolo. We walked by their stall a few times and it would always be crowded with locals enjoying their tacos and consommé. Based on what I’ve read, they stay open only for as long as they have food so it’s best to go early if you can.
Address: C. de Mariano Abasolo 503B, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 10AM-5PM, Mon-Thurs / 9:30AM-8PM, Fri-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Tacos, consommé
5. Tacos del Carmen
Tacos del Carmen is the street food stand that sets up right beside the similarly named Empanadas del Carmen (#2). They have similar offerings and are just as popular so you should try them as well.
Pictured below are a pair of memelas with Oaxacan cheese and a quesadilla filled with squash blossoms and quesillo.
As I said, Tacos del Carmen is just as popular as Empanadas del Carmen. Don’t worry about confusing the two because the former opens from 8AM till around 3:30PM while the latter doesn’t open until 5PM.
Tacos del Carmen
Address: Jesús Carranza 110, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8AM-3:30PM, Mon-Tue, Thurs-Sat (closed Wednesdays and Sundays)
What to Order: Tacos, quesadillas, memelas, tlayudas
6. Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto
Tacos de guisado were among our favorite tacos in Mexico City but they don’t seem to be as common in Oaxaca. Thankfully, I found this street food stand – Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto – a block away from Tacos del Carmen and Empanadas del Carmen.
As its name suggests, a taco de guisado is a variety of taco made with different types of stewed ingredients. The one on the right was filled with liver and vegetables while the other one was made with a stew of hard-boiled egg and other ingredients.
Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto is located on a street corner exactly a block north of Tacos del Carmen and Empanadas del Carmen. Pay them a visit if you get a hankering for tacos de guisado in Oaxaca City.
Tacos de Cazuela del Carmen Alto
Address: C. de Quetzalcóatl 103, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, La Paz, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8AM-4PM, Mon-Tue, Thurs-Fri (closed Wed, Sat-Sun)
What to Order: Tacos de guisado
7. El Lechoncito de Oro
El Lechoncito de Oro is arguably the most famous stall for tacos de lechon in Oaxaca City. A taco de lechon is a type of taco made with roasted suckling pig.
At Lechoncito de Oro, you can get it in tacos, tostadas, or tortas with the addition of either pork leg meat (pierna) or chicharron. Personally, we’re fans of pork rinds so we always get them with chicharron.
El Lechoncito de Oro is open from 8PM till 3AM, making it a great place to get street tacos after a night of mezcal drinking in Oaxaca City.
This stand is popular. There was already a line of people waiting for their lechon tacos even before they formally opened.
El Lechoncito de Oro
Address: C. de Los Libres s/n, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8PM-3AM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Tacos de lechon
Street Food Restaurants
I enjoy eating street food from roadside stalls but you can have street food in Oaxaca at humble restaurants as well. Here are some of our favorite restaurants for Oaxaca street food.
8. Tlayudas El Negro
Tlayudas El Negro was one of my favorite tlayuda restaurants in Oaxaca. Aside from the usual offerings, they have interesting variations like tlayudas topped with mole negro (enmolada) and chapulines (grasshoppers).
I was excited to try the enmolada but unfortunately, they were out of it that day. I went with a regular tlayuda topped with a side of chorizo instead. It was delicious but if you go to Tlayudas El Negro and enmolada is available, then I suggest trying that. We went to several tlayuda restaurants and this was the only place that had it.
If you’re used to eating American-style pizzas, then you may be tempted to chop up the chorizo and evenly distribute it on the tlayuda. Resist the urge. The meats wind up losing flavor if you do.
Instead, take bites out of the chorizo or whatever meat you ordered it with after each bite of tlayuda. You’ll appreciate the smokiness and flavor of the meats much more that way. I learned that here.
Most tlayuda restaurants in Oaxaca City open only at night or later in the afternoon. I think tlayuda is something Oaxaqueños enjoying eating with a round of beers or other drinks. The dining space of Tlayudas El Negro seems to suggest that as well. There’s a stage for live bands or musicians to perform.
Another thing I liked about Tlayudas El Negro is its location. It’s located in a more residential part of Oaxaca, about a 15-minute walk east of the zocalo (main square). It has a largely local clientele, which speaks to the quality and authenticity of their tlayudas.
NOTE: Google Maps says that Tlayudas El Negro is open from 12NN-12MN. I don’t think this is correct because I tried going there a little after noon one day to find it closed. It’s a bit of a walk from the zocalo so I suggest going later in the day to be safe.
Tlayudas El Negro
Address: Vicente Guerrero 1029, Zona Feb 10 2015, Obrera, 68115 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 12NN-12MN, daily
What to Order: Tlayudas
9. Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña
Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña is another great tlayuda restaurant in Oaxaca. It was already on our list and our Airbnb host recommended it as well. It’s located in Barrio de Jalatlaco, one of the coolest neighborhoods in Oaxaca.
Like Tlayudas El Negro, Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña offers more interesting tlayuda toppings like chapulines and tripas (small intestines). We got ours with a combination of two meats, which they chopped up and evenly distributed on the tlayuda. This was the only tlayuda restaurant we went to that did that.
Many restaurants will serve your tlayuda with a side of chepiche. It’s a Mexican herb that tastes similar to fresh coriander.
Check out all those delicious strands of quesillo or Oaxaca cheese. Oaxaca cheese is a delicious mozzarella-like string cheese commonly used in many Oaxacan dishes. It’s popular outside of the state as well. In Puebla, it’s a key ingredient in cemitas.
Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña offers other dishes like tacos, tostadas, and pozole as well. Pictured below is a tostada topped with Oaxaca cheese, avocado, and tomato. A tostada is basically a crunchy deep-fried corn tortilla served with a variety of toppings.
Here’s a tostada topped with one of the more interesting ingredients in Oaxaca – chapulines or grasshoppers. Chapulines have been consumed in the region since pre-Hispanic times and can be used in many dishes like tlayudas, tostadas, and tacos. It can even be used to flavor nieves or Mexican ice cream!
A closer look at the chapulines. You can find them in two basic sizes in Oaxaca – small (like below) or large. We’d sometimes get bags of the larger chapulines from markets and bring them with us to mezcal tastings. The saltiness and crunch from the chapulines go so well with the smokiness of the mezcal.
Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña is a colorful and spacious restaurant in Barrio de Jalatlaco. They open from 1PM till 1AM daily.
Las Tlayudas Antojeria Oaxaqueña
Address: Calle de Lic Primo Verdad 119D, Hacienda, 68080 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 1PM-1AM, daily
What to Order: Tlayudas, tostadas
10. Tacos Roy
Located just a block away from Taqueria Chava is Tacos Roy, another great taco restaurant in Oaxaca. This place was highly recommended to us by two locals and they weren’t wrong. The tacos here are phenomenal.
Unlike Taqueria Chava that has a highly focused menu, Tacos Roy has plenty of offerings. They have tacos a la plancha, tacos al vapor, tortas, pozole rojo, and other typical taqueria dishes like alambres, volcanes, and quesadillas.
Pictured below is a pair of Mexico’s most iconic taco – tacos al pastor. If you’ve never had it, it’s a type of taco made from grilled marinated pork shaved off a vertical spit.
Tacos Roy’s tacos a la plancha are delicious but what we really fell in love with are their tacos al vapor. Also known as tacos de canasta (basket tacos) or tacos sudados (sweaty tacos), tacos al vapor are filled with a variety of stews and then bathed in oil or melted butter. They’re commonly known as basket tacos because they’re sold from baskets covered with cloth to keep them warm.
We’ve enjoyed tacos al vapor throughout Mexico but the offerings at Tacos Roy are different. They aren’t as wet as the usual basket tacos and they’re rolled like small enchiladas. You can get them with different types of meat like carnitas (shredded pork), oreja (ear), corazon (heart), and sesos (brains).
If you’re a fan of texture like I am, then be sure to try the oreja. Soft and crunchy from bits of cartilage, it’s so incredibly delicious. We love tacos, especially tacos made from parts of the head, but this was the only time we saw tacos made with pork ear.
Be sure to try a bowl of their pozole rojo as well. Pozole refers to a Mexican dish made from hominy, shredded cabbage, radish, onion, garlic, chili, and some type of meat. You can get it in white, red, or green versions, the color coming from the type of ingredients used. Pozole rojo is made from different kinds of red chili pepper so it’s usually the spiciest of the three.
Tacos Roy specializes in red pozole served with either pork, beef, or chicken. I’ve had pozole in other parts of Mexico and this was the best I’ve tried so far.
Tacos Roy has several branches in Oaxaca City, two of which are located in the centro area.
Address: Calle de José María Pino Suárez 313, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 12:30PM-1AM, Sun-Fri / 2PM-1AM, Sat
What to Order: Tacos, pozole rojo
11. El Embrujo
Like Tacos Roy, El Embrujo was one of our favorite Oaxaca street food restaurants. They serve Mexican breakfast dishes, memelas, and quesadillas but for us, the best things on their menu are their tacos and consomme. You can get them with various ingredients but our hands down favorite was the ojo or beef eye.
Pictured below is a bowl of their consomme especial with hefty chunks of ojo. My god was this delicious.
We tried different fillings but their tacos de ojo are the best.
We were chatting with the bartender of a mezcaleria one night and we told him about El Embrujo. As popular as this place is with locals, he didn’t know there was a restaurant in Oaxaca City that served ojo! He thanked us for the tip and said he’d be visiting them soon.
Pictured below is a memela topped with ojo. It was delicious though it perhaps contained a little too much ojo meat, which is a good problem. They have the same “problem” with their ojo quesadillas.
El Embrujo serves a few desserts as well, like this flan de vaso…
…and this pay de queso or Mexican cheesecake. Both were very good.
You can’t tell from this picture but El Embrujo is hugely popular with locals. Located near Mercado de la Merced, it’s a big restaurant but it was always packed with Mexican customers.
Address: Mártires de Tacubaya 218, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily
What to Order: Tacos, consommé
12. Tacos de Lechon Oaxaca Panteón General
As their mouthful of a name suggests, Tacos de Lechon Oaxaca Panteón General specializes in tacos de lechon. They have the same offerings as the more famous Lechoncito de Oro but in our opinion, they’re even better.
You can get two variations of the same dish – tacos de lechon and tacos de lechon with chicharron (pork skin). Definitely get the latter. The chicharron adds another layer of flavor and texture to the dish. It’s so good.
Tacos de Lechon Oaxaca Panteón General is located in a less touristy part of Barrio de Jalatlaco. I believe its name is just “Tacos de Lechon” but Google Maps adds the second part due to its proximity to the Panteón General cemetery.
Tacos de Lechon Oaxaca Panteón General
Address: C. Del Refugio #154, Barrio de Jalatlaco, 68080 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 5:30-11PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Tacos de lechon
13. El Torito
El Torito is another great taco stand that not as many tourists get to try because of its location. They serve a few types of tacos but we always get just one thing – tacos de tripa or tacos topped with small intestines.
Tripa has a soft and chewy texture similar to squid rings. These tacos de tripa at El Torito are absolutely delicious and one of our favorite tacos in Oaxaca City.
Open only at night, El Torito is a hole-in-the-wall with just a few tables so we’d always get our tacos de tripa to go.
Address: FERROCARRIL, Victor Bravo Ahuja Sur, 71244 Santa Lucía del Camino, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 6:30-11:30PM, Mon-Tue / 6:30PM-12MN, Wed-Sun
What to Order: Tacos de tripa
14. Los Sombrerudos
As much as we love tlayudas and memelas, nothing beats street tacos. For us, it’s the ultimate Mexican comfort food and street dish.
Los Sombrerudos is another great taqueria in Oaxaca City. They serve the usual taqueria offerings like tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, and volcanes topped with arrachera (skirt steak), costilla (pork ribs), carnitas, chorizo, or campechanos.
Pictured below is my beautiful platter of taquesos campechanos or tacos made with a mixture of different meats plus cheese. This was pure taco bliss.
More taco deliciousness from Los Sombrerudos. What you’re looking at here is a trio of regular tacos (no cheese) filled with arrachera, costilla, and chorizo. ¡Que rico!
This tasty dish is what Los Sombrerudos calls a super gringa. It’s basically a big quesadilla filled with the meat of your choice, two cheeses, cilantro, and onions.
Los Sombrerudos is located in the Barrio de Jalatlaco area, not too far from Mercado de La Merced. It’s in a more local part of town so I don’t think you’ll find too many tourists there, which is always a good thing.
Address: Avenida Universidad 112, Universidad, Trinidad de las Huertas, 68120 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 9AM-9PM, daily
What to Order: Tacos
15. El Posito
El Posito was another restaurant featured on the Street Food Latin America series. They serve just two things – piedrazos and aguas frescas.
Meaning “stone” in Spanish, piedrazo is an interesting snack made with dehydrated bread soaked in fruit vinegar and served with carrots, potatoes, onions, Oaxacan cheese, chili powder, and salsa. It’s a highly acidic and spicy dish that gets its name from the bread that’s as hard as rocks before they’re soaked in vinegar.
Piedrazos may be too acidic for some people but pair the bread with some Oaxaca cheese and it all comes together beautifully. The creaminess from the cheese goes so well with the acidity of the vinegar.
Aguas frescas are a family of non-alcoholic Mexican drinks made from different types of fruits, flowers, cereals, and seeds blended with water and sugar. Meaning “fresh waters”, they’re available throughout Mexico but according to the owner of El Posito, two are traditional to Oaxaca – agua de chilacayota and agua de horchata con tuna.
Pictured below is agua de chilacayota. It’s an incredibly refreshing drink made with fig leaf gourd, cinnamon, piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar), and water. The molasses-like sweetness of the agua de chilacayota is another component that adds to the experience of eating piedrazos. They go so well together.
El Posito is a small restaurant located southeast of downtown Oaxaca. It’s about a 15-minute walk from the zocalo but definitely worth the effort.
Address: Calz. Cuauhtémoc 112-201, Trinidad de las Huertas, 68120 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 9:30AM-5:30PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Piedrazos, aguas frescas
Markets / Fondas
There are a lot of great fine dining restaurants in Oaxaca. Casa Oaxaca and Alfonsina come foremost to mind.
Mexican gastronomy is always interesting but you don’t need to go to a fine dining restaurant to get great food in Oaxaca. More often than not, the tastiest dishes are prepared by abuelas (grandmothers) at market fondas (family-owned eateries) for a fraction of the price.
If you want traditional food and classic Mexican dishes like mole negro, tlayudas, enmoladas, and memelas, then look no further than your humble Oaxacan mercado. Not only are they convenient hubs for cheap eats and street food in Oaxaca, but they’re also home to some of the city’s best and most authentic regional dishes.
CENTRAL DE ABASTOS
Central de Abastos or Mercado de Abastos is by far the largest market in Oaxaca. Most of the ingredients used for all the delicious food in this city probably come from this market.
Central de Abastos is a chaotic labyrinth of fruits, vegetables, meat, baked goods, household items, clothing, accessories, souvenirs, and furniture. If you can’t find something at Mercado de Abastos, then you probably can’t get it in Oaxaca.
I almost didn’t go to this market because every local I met advised us to avoid it altogether. Central de Abastos has a reputation for being unsafe and a haven for pickpockets. However, it’s also where you’ll find Doña Vale and her now world-famous memelas. If her name rings a bell, it’s because she was the main storyline in the Oaxaca episode of Street Food Latin America.
I had to go.
16. Memelas Doña Vale
Like every installment in that Netflix series, I loved Doña Vale’s story. Every episode features a story of triumph and hers was no less inspiring than the others. It was great to see her stall thriving.
Open from 7AM till noon, people say that it’s best to go to her stall before 9AM to avoid the crowd. I arrived shortly after 8AM and there was one spot left on her bench that could seat a maximum of about eight people. All she serves are memelas topped with the best-tasting sauces you’ll find in Oaxaca.
Here’s a trio of Doña Vale’s memelas topped with fried eggs. I believe she offers 2-3 different types of sauces but I asked for her classic signature sauce.
Unlike the other memelas in town which top theirs with refried beans and asiento, Doña Vale makes hers with her own blend of sauces. I don’t know exactly what’s in it but her classic sauce looks and tastes different from the other memela stalls. They’re more like actual sauces rather than just a simple bean paste.
I loved the fried eggs on mine but Doña Vale’s memelas are delicious on their own and don’t really need anything else. I wolfed mine down with a pot of Oaxacan coffee.
The kind gentleman sitting next to me was topping his memelas with some type of local green bean. I can’t remember the name but he told me that they’re native to Oaxaca.
He kept referring to me as paisano (countryman) and offered me as many pods as I could eat. Chewy and delicious, they reminded me of stink beans but smaller and without the smell. ¡Muchisimas gracias señor!
This is what Doña Vale’s stall looked like a little after 9AM. They’re mostly cropped off but you can sort of see the people on the left waiting for a spot on the bench.
People were right. You do need to be here before 9AM if you want to be seated right away. I suggest arriving even earlier, before 8AM if you can.
There are two general parts to Central de Abastos – a tented area with outdoor stalls and the covered market itself. Doña Vale’s stall is located inside the covered market. The pin on Google Maps gets you in the general area so just keep your eyes peeled for signs (like the one below) that point you to its exact location.
After my Doña Vale experience, I can say that it’s definitely worth the experience. Yes, Central de Abastos is chaotic, much more chaotic than any other market in Oaxaca. But it’s no different from any of the large wet markets in Southeast Asia. If you’ve been to any of those, then this is nothing new.
I felt completely safe when I was there. Just dress modestly and keep your valuables secure (like your phone) and you should be ok. Doña Vale’s stall is located at the south end of the market so it’s best to enter from there. These memelas are too good to pass up out of fear.
Memelas Doña Vale
Address: Cosijoeza, Central de Abasto, 68090 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 7AM-12NN, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays)
What to Order: Memelas
MERCADO 20 DE NOVIEMBRE
Not too far from Central de Abastos is Mercado 20 de Noviembre, perhaps the most famous market in Oaxaca. It’s home to many fondas, bakeries, and pasillo de humo – a popular alley lined on either side with stalls roasting different types of meat or carnes asadas.
17. Pasillo de Carnes Asadas (Pasillo de Humo)
Pasillo de humo or pasillo de carnes asadas is a meat lover’s dream come true in Oaxaca. It consists of a long alleyway with dozens of roasted meat vendors on either side. If you’re a true-blooded carnivore, then you need to enjoy a meal here.
If you arrive at peak times, like around noon, then you’ll be hounded by touts trying to attract you to their stall. Just ignore them and keep walking down the hallway. Every stall pretty much sells the same things so feel free to pick the stall that offers the best deal, though the price difference between stalls shouldn’t be that significant.
Every stall at pasillo de humo will have tasajo, cecina, chorizo, and tripa. Some stalls may offer other types of meat as well, but most if not all will have those four basic meats. They’re priced by weight so feel free to choose the right amount for the number of people in your group.
Many stalls will offer packages which is probably what you’ll want. For reference, a package of 1/4 kg (0.55 lbs) each of tasajo, cecina, and chorizo (3/4 kg or 1.65 lbs of meat total) was a good enough amount for two people. We enjoyed it with tortillas, a few side dishes, and salsa.
Here’s the grill master roasting up our meats. The alley is constantly filled with smoke from the grilling meats hence the name pasillo de humo or “hall of smoke”.
This is what 3/4 kg of perfectly grilled meat looks like. At the top is tasajo and at the bottom is cecina enchilada or cecina for short. Now this is real Mexican food!
We ate at pasillo de humo twice. On our second trip, we asked that the tasajo be replaced with tripa. The tripa is incredibly tasty but it’s also gummy and hard to chew so it may not be for everyone.
Our roasted meat feast with tortillas, roasted green onions, lime juice, and salsa rojo. ¡Buen provecho! Oaxaca cuisine is the best.
Mix the meats up on your tortilla with the salsa and sides and voila! Your very own DIY taco campechano. I just love the smokiness of all the meats. ¡Que rico!
Pasillo de Carnes Asadas (Pasillo de Humo)
Address: 68000, Miguel Cabrera 116, Centro, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 10AM-5PM, daily
What to Order: Carnes asadas
18. Comedor Chabelita
Comedor Chabelita is a typical Oaxacan fonda located inside Mercado 20 de Noviembre. They serve many traditional Oaxacan and Mexican dishes like enmoladas, mole negro, mole coloradito, and chiles rellenos (stuffed peppers). We heard they make a mean tlayuda so that’s exactly what we came for.
Of all the tlayudas we tried in Oaxaca, Comedor Chabelita’s version had the most unique texture. As you can see below, it wasn’t folded in half like the others. It was served open-faced because the tortilla was thinner and crispier than the others, like a large tostada.
They offer different combinations for their tlayuda but we got the especial which was topped with Oaxacan cheese, tasajo, cecina, and chorizo. It was delicious and the most unique texturally from all the tlayudas we tried in Oaxaca.
I don’t recall what this dish was called but it’s basically a sampler of Oaxaca food favorites like mole, cecina, Oaxacan cheese, and more. Get this if you want a little bit of everything.
Comedor Chabelita is one of the busiest stalls at Mercado 20 de Noviembre. Like hawker centers in Singapore, always look for the fondas with the most locals.
Address: Mercado 20 de Noviembre, 20 de Noviembre S/N Locales 97,98 y 99, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 7AM-9PM, daily
What to Order: Breakfast dishes, tlayuda, mole, tamales
MERCADO DE BENITEZ JUAREZ
Mercado de Benito Juarez is located across the street from Mercado 20 de Noviembre. It was perhaps the cleanest and most organized market we visited in Oaxaca.
19. Agua Casildas Regionales
We didn’t go to any fondas at Mercado de Benito Juarez but we did get a drink at this famous aguas frescas stall called Agua Casildas Regionales. They’ve been serving different types of aguas frescas at the market since 1926.
Agua Casildas Regionales serves many different flavors of aguas frescas like guanabana (soursop), tamarindo (tamarind), jamaica (hibiscus flower), and pepino con limón (cucumber with lemon).
I asked the server for recommendations and she suggested I get the agua de horchata con tuna. It’s the house specialty and one of the most traditional in Oaxaca.
No, agua de horchata con tuna isn’t made with tuna fish. Tuna refers to the sweet fruit of the prickly pear cactus (atún is the word for tuna in Spanish).
A serving of the housemade horchata – made from rice, almonds, cinnamon, and water – is poured into a glass followed by red prickly pear syrup, a few chunks of cantaloupe, and crushed pecans. Like agua de chilacayota, it’s refreshing and delicious.
Agua Casildas Regionales
Address: Flores Magón s/n, Local 30-31, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 10:30AM-6:30PM, Mon-Sat / 10:30AM-4PM, Sun
What to Order: Aguas frescas
MERCADO DE LA MERCED
Mercado de La Merced was in our hood so we spent the most time at this small but interesting market. It’s located just south of Barrio de Jalatlaco.
20. Fonda Florecita
Fonda Florecita was our favorite fonda in Oaxaca. It’s a popular breakfast spot that serves typical fonda fare like mole, enmoladas, entomatadas, and chilaquiles.
If we didn’t need to cover as many places as we could for this blog, then we would have been happy eating at Fonda Florecita everyday. Like the best fondas in Oaxaca, the food is simple but exceedingly delicious.
Mole coloradito is one of the seven famous Oaxacan moles. Mole negro may be the most famous but mole coloradito may have been my favorite.
Like any mole, mole coloradito is made with a plethora of ingredients like ancho and guajillo chili peppers, chocolate, tomatoes, garlic, sesame seeds, raisins, almonds, herbs, and spices. It tastes similar to mole negro but a little less rich and sweet.
Mole coloradito is typically served with a piece of chicken, rice, and corn tortillas. I could seriously eat this every day.
Pictured below is a popular breakfast dish known as enmoladas. Enmoladas are basically enchiladas drenched in mole negro. This one was topped with fried eggs and queso fresco.
You can find enmoladas at nearly every fonda in Oaxaca. Moles in general are time-consuming to make but mole negro is the most complex of the seven famous Oaxacan moles. It’s an incredibly rich-tasting mole that can be made with over thirty different ingredients.
Fonda Florecita makes delicious memelas too. The one in the foreground was topped with huitlacoche and Oaxacan cheese. Huitlacoche is the Mexican term for corn smut, a mushroom-like fungus that grows on corn. It’s an interesting ingredient that’s often used in Mexican cuisine.
This memela was topped with Oaxacan cheese and squash blossoms.
Address: Calle Morelos Mercado La Merced Int 37 Zona del Pan, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, Wed-Mon (closed Tuesdays)
What to Order: Mole, enmoladas, entomatadas, chilaquiles
21. Fonda Rosita
Fonda Rosita and Fonda Florecita are the two most popular fondas at Mercado de La Merced. And with good reason because they’re the best. We tried a couple of other fondas at the market and they weren’t as good as these two.
Fonda Rosita has a slightly wider menu than Fonda Florecita. They serve antojitos like tacos, memelas, tostadas, and tlayudas, but what they’re best known for are their desayunos or breakfast dishes.
What you’re looking at here is a hearty plate of entomatadas topped with queso fresco and served with a side of chorizo. Entomatadas are similar to enmoladas, except they’re topped with tomato sauce.
Another common breakfast dish you’ll typically find at Oaxacan fondas is enfrijoladas. They’re basically enchiladas topped with black bean sauce.
Like enmoladas, entomatadas, and enfrijoladas, chilaquiles is another exceedingly popular Mexican breakfast dish. It isn’t unique to Oaxaca and is something you’ll probably find at any Mexican fonda or restaurant that serves breakfast.
Chilaquiles refers to a traditional Mexican breakfast dish made lightly fried corn tortillas mixed with red or green salsa and other ingredients like queso fresco, crema (cream), onions, and avocados. This particular version was doused in salsa rojo and served with a side of chorizo.
Many fondas and breakfast spots in Oaxaca will serve hot bowls of chocolate Oaxaqueño. Chocolate has been an important ingredient and commodity in the region for thousands of years. It’s consumed daily and plays an important part in many rituals and celebrations like births, weddings, and funerals.
Hot chocolate in Oaxaca can be served with water (de agua) or milk (de leche). Drinking it with water is more traditional but personally, I prefer it with milk. It’s richer and creamier in flavor.
PRO TIP: Try asking for your hot chocolate served with a touch of chili. It adds just a hint of spice to your drink so you feel a slight burn in your throat each time you take a sip. It’s delicious.
If you order chocolate Oaxaqueño over breakfast, then chances are they’ll serve it with a roll of pan de yema or Oaxacan brioche bread. This slightly sweet bread is perfect for dipping in the hot chocolate.
Address: Av. José María Morelos 1522A, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Ejido del Centro, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily
What to Order: Entomatadas, chilaquiles, enfrijoladas, antojitos
Tamales are a pre-Hispanic dish that’s popular throughout Latin America. In Oaxaca, you can find several variations of tamales but the most well-known is enriched with mole negro and wrapped in banana leaves instead of the usual corn husk.
You can find tamales Oaxaqueños everywhere in the city. At Mercado de La Merced, one of the best places to try it is at the Lety tamales stall. They offer different types of tamales – both savory and sweet – but if it’s your first time in Oaxaca, then you should start with the version made with mole negro.
Tamales Oaxaqueños are traditionally made with masa, shredded chicken, and mole negro. I’m not the biggest fan of tamales but this may have been the best I’ve ever tasted. It tasted richer, sweeter, and with more depth of flavor.
Tamales Oaxaqueños are also moister than regular tamales, perhaps due to being wrapped in banana leaves rather than the usual corn husk.
Address: Mercado de la Merced, Av. Morelos 1522 Col. Centro 68000 Oaxaca Mexico
What to Order: Tamales Oaxaqueños
MERCADO SANCHEZ PASCUAS
Perhaps due to its location in the northern part of downtown Oaxaca, Mercado Sanchez Pascuas isn’t as well-known as the other markets on this list, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That usually means fewer tourists and a more authentic local experience.
23. Comedor Doña Deme (Fonda Oaxaqueña)
Mercado Sanchez Pascuas was actually the first market we visited in Oaxaca so Comedor Doña Deme was our first fonda experience. We visited in early March but as you can see from their decor, it’s still February 14 at this fonda. Ha!
Comedor Doña Deme serves the usual fonda offerings like mole negro, mole coloradito, chiles rellenos, and tlayudas.
I wanted my first taste of mole in Oaxaca to be mole negro so that’s exactly what I ordered. Like mole coloradito, it’s served with a piece of chicken, rice, and a basket of corn tortillas.
The mole negro was incredibly rich and complex but this may have been the single best piece of chicken I’ve eaten in my life. It was so unbelievably tender.
Mole negro is delicious and one of those dishes that makes you wide-eyed when you first taste it, but like mole poblano, I find it a little too rich to eat regularly. I think Oaxaqueños may feel the same way as every other local at the fonda was eating mole coloradito.
We also tried their chile relleno. Originally from Puebla, it consists of roasted poblano peppers stuffed with minced meat – usually chicken or pork – and Oaxacan cheese. The stuffed pepper is coated in egg before being deep-fried.
At Comedor Doña Deme, they serve their chile relleno with salsa and a side of black beans and rice. It’s a simple but comforting dish that reminded us of tortang talong, a similar Filipino dish made with pan-fried stuffed eggplant.
We haven’t tried it but some Oaxaca restaurants serve tacos de chile relleno as well. It sounds delicious so we’ll definitely look for it on our next trip back to Oaxaca.
Comedor Doña Deme (Fonda Oaxaqueña)
Address: Mercado Sanchez Pascuas, Calle Porfirio Díaz, Calle de Tinoco y Palacios 719, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
What to Order: Mole, chile relleno
MERCADO ORGANICO LA COSECHA OAXACA
Mercado Organizo La Cosecha Oaxaca, or “La Cosecha” for short, isn’t a true Mexican market. Located in the northern part of central Oaxaca, not too far from Mercado Sanchez Pascuas, it’s more of an open-air food hall with a few stalls selling traditional Oaxacan dishes like memelas, tlayudas, tamales, and empanadas.
La Cosecha is frequented mostly by tourists so we weren’t sure how authentic their food would be. We didn’t eat here but we did come for a traditional drink that we knew we couldn’t find anywhere else in Oaxaca – pozontle.
La Cosecha is comprised of about ten or so stalls selling traditional Mexican food. It’s a pleasant al fresco space with wooden picnic tables and benches sheltered from the heat by tents.
24. La Pozontleria / Tejateria
These are actually two separate stalls right next to each other. One specializes in pozontle while the other serves tejate. Both are traditional pre-Hispanic drinks made with corn and cacao.
As described, we were here to try the pozontle. La Pozontleria is one of the few, if not the only place in central Oaxaca to try pozontle, a ceremonial drink from the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca. It’s made with cacao, corn, panela, cocolmecatl (soured vine), and water prepared in a jícara (gourd bowl) and made frothy using a molinillo.
We had dinner with a local Oaxaqueño at Restaurante Catedral one night and he was surprised to learn that we had tried pozontle. According to him, it’s a very uncommon drink and something that you can typically find only in mountain communities. That made us feel even more privileged to try it!
If you like experiencing rare traditional dishes and drinks, then you need to try a bowl of pozontle at La Pozontleria.
I didn’t catch the stall’s name but right next to La Pozontleria is another stall selling tejate. Tejate is a traditional Mexican drink similar to pozontle except it’s much more common and can be found pretty much anywhere in Oaxaca.
Tejate is made with a finely ground paste consisting of toasted corn, fermented cacao beans, toasted mamey pits (pixtle), and flor de cacao. The paste is mixed with water and served with or without sugar syrup in brightly painted jícara bowls.
The white foamy substance you see floating on top is the flor de cacao. After the paste is mixed with water, it rises to the top to form a thick pasty foam.
La Pozontleria / Tejateria at La Cosecha
Address: Mercado Organico a La Cosecha, C. Macedonio Alcalá 806, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Operating Hours: 9AM-4:45PM, Wed-Sun (closed Mon-Tue)
What to Order: Pozontle, tejate
BASILICA DE NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LA SOLEDAD
This isn’t a market but right next to Basilica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is a cluster of neverias and Mexican dessert shops. At one of these ice cream shops, we tried what could very well be the oddest ice cream flavor we’ve ever had in our lives.
25. Nieves Pepe
Nieves refers to a type of water-based Mexican ice cream made mostly with fruits like fresa (strawberry), guanabana (soursop), tamarindo, and mango. Those are the basics but some shops will sell more interesting local flavors like mezcal, tuna (prickly pear fruit), and elote (corn).
I don’t think you’ll find a flavor more interesting than the one we had at Nieves Pepe. Keep scrolling to find out what it is.
We walked to this cluster of neverias to look for a very specific flavor of nieves. At the time, only Nieves Pepe had it. When you walk up to the courtyard from Av. de la Independencia, Nieves Pepe is the shop on the far left corner, right by the steps to Plaza de la Danza.
I posted this picture on our Instagram Stories and asked people to guess the flavor. Some said tamarindo, others said brown sugar. No one guessed it correctly.
What you’re looking at is a large parfait glass of nieves de chapulin, or nieves ice cream flavored with grasshoppers. Before it was served to us, I was expecting to find nieves topped with whole grasshoppers but that wasn’t the case. The chapulines are ground and fully blended into the ice cream!
You can’t see the grasshoppers but you can definitely taste them. This exotic and very Oaxacan flavor of ice cream is a strange combination of sweet, savory, sour, and spicy. It’s odd but it works!
For people looking for less daring but equally interesting flavors, we suggest trying beso de Oaxaqueño. It’s a creamy concoction made with strawberry, cherry, and white chocolate. Beso de Oaxaqueño is a popular flavor combination that’s often made into mezcal liqueur as well.
Address: Frente ala Basílica de Nuestra Señora de la Soledad, Independencia, La Soledad, Oaxaca, Mexico
What to Order: Nieves de chapulin
To help you navigate to these street food stalls in Oaxaca, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST STREET FOOD IN OAXACA CITY
We’ve eaten our way through many cities in Mexico and Oaxaca is definitely one of the best food cities in the country. From fine dining Mexican restaurants to market fondas, cafes, and street food stalls, the food in Oaxaca will make even the most jaded of Traveleaters take notice.
As described, there are many fine dining restaurants in Oaxaca City but you really don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good meal. This guide to the best street food in Oaxaca is proof of that.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this Oaxaca food guide as much as I enjoyed writing (and doing field research for) it. At the very least, I hope it leads you to many amazing street food meals in what could very well be the most delicious city in Mexico.
Some of the links in this article on the best Oaxaca street foods are affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking at no extra cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. ¡Muchisimas gracias!