The Wonderful, Beautiful Food of Oaxaca..

By Posted in - North America & Photo Stories & Travel Blog on December 27th, 2009

DSC_0645smallerheader3 As if you needed yet another reason to visit the magical city of Oaxaca, Mexico – I’m going to give you one. Chocolate. Oaxacan chocolate is well known around the world. The most popular chocolate staples in Oaxaca are hot chocolate & chocolate mole but it seems common to throw a little chocolate in almost everything. Because really what doesn’t taste better without chocolate? DSC_0708bsmaller Salsa? Nope they got that covered and it was quite tasty. DSC_0952smallerChicken? That’s covered too and Randy said it was “yummy”.

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Chicken in Chocolate Mole

Chocolate tastes different here and it tastes good. Real good. In the chocolate making section of town the entire block smells like chocolate. You might wonder – what is it like to walk out of your hostel and be hit with noisy traffic, Mexican music blaring and the unexpected, overwhelming smell of chocolate? Well my friends it really is like a traveler’s dream. One of the chocolate shops right around the corner from our hostel was Mayordomo and the wafting smell of chocolate came directly from their shop because they made their own chocolate right there. We found this place after following our noses and popped in just in time to see them making a fresh batch.

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Cocoa beans about to become chocolate.

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Scooping out the chocolate sauce.

DSC_0962smallerIt took less than 5 minutes for the beans to be ground up into the sticky sauce. The aroma was outstanding. It was easy to see that the process of making chocolate was the smell that brought us into the store in the first place. It is definitely worth a peek in if you are in the area. You can also load up on all types of chocolate while you are there. However there was one thing missing – freshly made chocolates to order. I expected a glass counter where I could pick out the most amazing delectable bits but there wasn’t one. All of their chocolate was pre-boxed and not available in individual pieces. I can’t help but think they must be missing out on a ton of tourism dollars by not having a chocolate counter in the shop. I pondered this thought for a long time and really couldn’t come up with a reason why they didn’t do this since there were already a ton of people working in there. Oh well, I would have to find my individual chocolates and cake slices elsewhere. And I did. At a restaurant in the Zocolo.

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Chocolate Crepes

To be honest we had some excellent chocolate in the local markets but the most outstanding deserts we had were from the restaurant Como Agua Pa’ Chocolate (Like Water For Chocolate – yes, it was named after the movie.) The restaurant was right on the main square which is also called the Zocolo. smallerIt was a bit gringo-ed out with the menu being in both English & Spanish.  As a result it was also a bit more expensive than the market and street food. However it was really worth it. The hot chocolate was amazing and we couldn’t stop ourselves from returning and trying their different chocolate specialties and salads.

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A grape and walnut salad.

We normally don’t like to hit up such touristy eateries but when it comes to food, good is good and their food was very, very good.  All of the chocolate deserts (and the salad) photos in this post were taken at this restaurant. The open air balcony also provides incredible views of daily life in the Zocolo.

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A view of daily life in the Zocolo.

It became quite addictive to just relax, eat chocolate and people watch from above.  I would highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat here during your visit. Another benefit of the bilingual menu was that it stated all of their salads  and veggies were washed with purified water. I was dying for a salad and I was very excited about this fact. We found out later that Oaxaca has a city law that mandates all ice cubes and salads need to be made with purified water. I don’t know how many vendors adhere to that law but it is nice to know  that in the restaurants you should be fine to order whatever your heart desires.

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Randy in the restaurant.

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Another pretty view.

Another popular thing we noticed is that most hot chocolate comes with a large sweet roll. In the roll there is often a little head baked in.  It’s edible but not quite made out of candy or sugar, I’m not sure what it is made of exactly. As we looked at the Day of the Dead altars throughout the city we noticed that these breads were used to symbolize the DSC_0974smaller DSC_0979smaller (Hot chocolate & bread from a market stall.)                                   (Close up of a bread head. )relatives that had passed away. We saw many of the breads baked into shapes of people – male & female. This seemed to be a common element when the altar was made for grandparents that had passed on. Randy liked the taste of the bread but much to my surprise I didn’t care for it.

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The French creperie restaurant.

We also found a French creperie a few blocks away. We ate there because we wanted something a little different than Mexican and it was cheap. The food there was surprisingly good as well. I forgot to take a picture of the sign so I cannot remember the name but if you are there and you run into a French crepe restaurant with a bookstore below there is a good chance that is the place. Here are some pictures of their food. IMG_0114 correctedsmaller

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What a Caprese salad looks like in a French restaurant in Mexico.

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A squash flower crepe.

DSC_0645smaller All in all, Oaxaca is a foodies dream come true. From fried crickets to chocolate salsa, micheladas to Mexican mochas you cannot go wrong here. Another amazing treat I had was from the market and was less than $2. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of it but it was a large tortilla covered with black beans, tomotos, salsa & avocado. Then it was baked with cheese on top like a pizza. Absolutely amazing! We loved everything we ate in Oaxaca and there is no end to the gastronomic delights to satisfy the backpacker’s budget or the luxury traveler’s wallet. Want to know more? – You can read our post about the Mexican Michelada here and shortly we will have video footage of Julia and her small Oaxaca restaurant. After meeting her at a cemetery she invited us for some food the next day and entertained us with her stories while making us one of her specialty dishes. Did you like this article? If so, consider retweeting below or stumbling it. Better yet sign up for our RSS feed here and get the goodies delivered directly to your inbox! Consider yourself hugged. 🙂

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(13) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Sam -

    December 28, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Beth I am so amazed by you. I miss you terribly. San Francisco just isn’t what it could be if you were there. Well, to be fair, I’m actually in Idaho for awhile… but the idea remains. I am so excited for you and Randy. I wish you could send all that good food here! I’m salivating and suddenly ravenous.

    • beersandbeans -

      January 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

      Hi Sam!

      It’s so good to hear from you! I’ve been wondering what the heck you were up to. How is Idaho? I’m gonna have a pic of you coming out soon on here. 🙂

  • Anthony -

    December 31, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    Wow these photos are amazing. The chocolate looks so good! Good luck with your travels. I am in San Diego for New Years before going back up to OC.
    .-= Anthony´s last blog ..Definition of Mid 30s =-.

    • beersandbeans -

      January 29, 2010 at 4:07 pm

      Thanks Anthony I’m glad you liked the pictures! You can remember the old days at the UMD Torch. hahaha….. so funny how we still keep running into each other after all these years…

  • Stacy -

    January 29, 2010 at 11:42 am

    This is a wonderful blog post about chocolate and the foods of Oaxaca. Currently on the bookshelf is a book about the many ferns of Oaxaca. I may have to visit this place someday!

  • beersandbeans -

    January 29, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    O’Grady! Yes you will have to visit and we will have to go together – look at ferns, avoid dangerous animals and eat chocolate while people watching….sounds like a good time huh? Miss you.

  • Countertop Water Filters -

    February 18, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    These are some interesting thoughts. You mentioned some important ideas that I haven’t previously considered. I’ll subscribe to see if you write any more updates.

  • […] So not only was the hostel right across the street from the awesome market and two blocks to the Zocalo, it was also right near the chocolate district. If you walk just a couple blocks (in the opposite direction of the Zocalo) you will land in the chocolate making area of the city. The smell of chocolate literally wafts down the streets. You can just follow your nose – it’s that potent and yummy! Oaxaca is known for their amazing amazing chocolate. If you want to see some mouth watering photos of the food in Oaxaca please check out the post – The Wonderful, Beautiful Food of Oaxaca. […]

  • Rebecca -

    May 28, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Wow. This post is reeeeeeeally putting me in the mood for my visit to Oaxaca in August! Gorgeous photos, wonderful site you have here.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Evolution of an itinerary =-.

  • beersandbeans -

    May 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Have fun in Oaxaca Rebecca – you will love it!

  • […] The Wonderful, Beautiful Food of Oaxaca […]

  • Kim -

    January 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Oh wow. As if I needed another reason to love Mexico. Oaxaca just got bumped up on my list of places I need to go soon. Chocolate on everything? Count me in!

    • Bethany -

      January 14, 2011 at 3:55 pm

      Thanks Kim – We loved it and the chocolate was amazing! @Kim,