Oaxaca, in central Mexico, may not have gotten as much attention as Mexico City or Tulum, but it doesn’t need to try hard to impress visitors, whether through its cuisine, art, ruins or mezcal.
This Mexican city, with its colorful colonial buildings and open-air marketplaces selling a seemingly infinite number of ingredients to make mole, the city’s claim to fame, is a sight to behold.
And speaking of mole, a sauce made from chocolate and ground chiles and ladled generously over many Mexican specialties: Oaxaca is a food destination in its own right. Diners looking to splurge on a meal should check out Casa Oaxaca, which has duck tacos and smoked octopus as well as a small section of the menu devoted to vegan dishes.
Casual diners (and everyone else) should try Oaxaca’s other regional items: the tlayuda. A large griddled tortilla filled with beans, pork fat and cheese, it can be found in restaurants around town and in food markets, such as the Mercado 20 de Noviembre.
After a day or two wandering the picturesque streets, hire a driver or join a tour group and head out of the city center to explore the ruins of Mitla or the city’s UNESCO World Heritage site, Monte Albán, a pre-Columbian architectural site.
Don’t miss: Oaxaca’s bed and breakfast scene is one of the most charming parts of a visit to Oaxaca. The Cabrera Family owns three B&Bs in the area, and they are all highly recommended both for their two-course breakfasts and beautiful rooms: Casa de las Bugambilias, Los Milagros and El Secreto. Of note also is the Casa de Siete Balcones, a bed and breakfast housed in an 18th century building that has preserved many Baroque details.