Postcards from Oaxaca, Mexico: Restaurant Alphabet Vol. II from Le to Tacos

Above: Guava mole with shrimp and battered cauliflower at Levadura de Olla

Thalía Barrios Garcia is young, 27 years old, yet she has worked her way from a small Oaxacan village to own two widely acclaimed restaurants in the historic center of the state capital. One, Cocina de Humo, is intimate, providing a chance to observe traditional methods of cooking, but you need to make a reservation in advance. So we tried her Levadura de Olla instead.

Tomatoes. The gorgeous display of heirloom tomatoes immediately announces produce is important here. And a woman kept busy flipping fresh tortillas you know are made the ancient way, from dried corn boiled down with ash, nixtamal.

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Postcards from Oaxaca, Mexico: Restaurants from the letter A through Las

Above: Zandunga chicken at La Biznaga

We’ve been visiting Oaxaca off and on for several decades, yet never tire of the food. For some arbitrary reason, or maybe so as not to appear arbitrary, I’m going to offer up a menu of restaurants in alphabetical order spread over two volumes.

Our first rental on this trip was next door to a new rooftop restaurant and bar that packed people in at night. We went up for lunch though and found Agavero Cocina y Bebidas a rather peaceful outdoor space.

Continue reading “Postcards from Oaxaca, Mexico: Restaurants from the letter A through Las”

Postcard from Oaxaca, Mexico: Settling into La Biznaga

It would be easy to simply blame it on the margaritas. They are a major magnet. We are absolutely convinced La Biznaga shakes up the best ones anywhere, and we begin every meal there with one. It’s the first place we go when we hit town and the last place we go before leaving.

But our love of La Biznaga also lies in its menu. There are so many different dishes to try, and servers don’t mind if all you order is a quesadilla (under $2) or a bowl of soup. A new favorite for the Mister this time was the luscious blackberry mole over turkey breast meat. I confess I stole a little of the mole and drizzled it over seared tuna encrusted with amaranth seeds; it was perfect for it. The light and refreshing mushroom “ceviche” one day left room for us to share the rich coconut flan bathing in a mezcal-infused cajeta sauce.

La Biznaga does have a younger sibling restaurant in town, Cabuche. The menu is entirely different. We enjoyed Cabuche’s fresh ceviche and the unusual Mextlapique, a roasted corn husk stuffed full of smoky wild mushrooms native to Oaxaca.

We thought of returning, but big brother Biznaga does have an unfair advantage, that magnetic margarita served on a spacious sunny patio….