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La Casa de la Abuela, located upstairs in the northwest corner of the Zócalo, serves up traditional regional specialties in a bright, airy atmosphere. Try the tasajo (salted beef), cecina (chile marinated pork), squash blossom soup, or the quesadillas, which they call empanadas. Also at La Casa de la Abuela, diners can sample all seven moles of Oaxaca.
El Asador Vasco occupies the upstairs space of the southwest corner of the Zócalo. Specialties here are mostly Basque, including various types of fondues and other salty and spicy specialties. The upstairs location makes it great for views of the square and lots of interesting people-watching. The lively Zócalo atmosphere is a perfect accompaniment to the bold flavors of El Asador Vasco.
This upstairs restaurant with a view of the Zócalo and the Cathedral is based on Laura Esquivel's novel, Like Water For Chocolate. The warm interior is decorated with some of the most memorable quotes from the book (in Spanish, of course), and the menu features recipes from the book such as the Quails in Rose Petal Sauce, Chiles in Walnut Sauce with Pomegranate and Ox-Tail Soup. However, not only the literary dishes are good here, everything is excellent, as well as their wine list and atmosphere. Also, this is a good place to try a selection of traditional Oaxacan moles.
Cafteteria Tito's is just what the name implies- your basic cafeteria. The surprisingly long and diverse menu features all kinds of Mexican classics as well as the closest thing you'll find to an authentic deli sandwich in the city. In addition to the wide variety of savory options, Tito's also has a wide variety of traditional American dessert options such as various types of pies. You will almost always find a majority of locals patronizing Tito's, and its a good place to get a feel for everyday Oaxacan life.
Just several blocks south of the Zócalo lies Doña Elpidia, marked only by a sign reading "Restaurant". At this restaurant, which has been around for over 40 years, guests will enjoy a real, homemade, homestyle Oaxacan meal. The fixed price menu, or Comida Corrida, consists of bread, appetizer, soup, rice, meat or enchilada and desert, all for an extremely reasonable price. Doña Elpidia is a great option to sample down-home, traditional Oaxacan cuisine in an authentic atmosphere.
One of the "splurge" restaurants of the city, Los Danzantes is named for the famous carved monoliths discovered at the nearby Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban. Go all out on dinner, or try the changing set lunch menu in the atrium, where the sky is mirrored into the reflecting pool. The food offered here is a modern kind of twist on traditional Oaxacan food, taking traditional and seasonal ingredients and using them in creative ways.
Located in the historic center of Oaxaca, the restaurant also doubles as a culinary class for interested ones. Chef Pilar Cabrera, the owner of the restaurant, leads these cooking classes on Oaxacan cuisine; after, you'll be treated to a five-course meal that you've prepared!
The restaurant at Casa Oaxaca specializes in "nouvelle Mexican cuisine." The restaurant features two elegant dining spaces, a covered patio as well as the indoor dining room. Fresh and inventive dishes include roast meats, stuffed squash blossoms as well as a select number of the traditional Oaxacan moles.