The Wonderful, Beautiful Food of Oaxaca..
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? Salsa? Nope they got that covered and it was quite tasty. Chicken? That’s covered too and Randy said it was “yummy”.
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.
It 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.
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. It 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.
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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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. 🙂