Good greens are not easy to find in Mexico. However, if you happen to be in Oaxaca City on a Friday or Saturday you are in for a treat.
The guide books may mention El Pochote organic markets which do indeed exist – though their location is apparently variable so you will have to inquire as to where they are before you set out. There was not that much for fresh vegetables at the market, but you will find some tomatoes, avocadoes and greens. There was one woman selling whatever greens she happens to have for the week – and you might choose kale, lettuces, radishes and a few carrots from her if you are lucky.
There are quite a few little food stalls selling some beautiful snacks as well as one woman with a great collection of breads full of seeds and other good things. If you are craving healthy food, I highly recommend searching out this little market.
On the first Saturday that I was in Oaxaca City, I had an even better find for greens. At Casa de Las Bugambilias (Reforma 402) there was a little stand set up by a few folks who are extremely passionate about their greens. Kale, cavolo nero, mizuna, a variety of other lettuces and herbs. The greens were absolutely beautiful and obviously a lot of care has gone into producing them. If you can understand Spanish, the lady running the stall will tell you all about how to prepare each of them as well. At the time of writing this blog, these folks were there every Saturday morning and up until early to mid-afternoon.
For fitness types or vegetarians or someone who just wants a healthy meal, the 100% Natural restaurant chain provides a great oasis of healthy food in Mexico. In Oaxaca City, 100% Natural is located just off El Llano park. Prices are reasonable with meals ranging from about 45 to about 150 pesos. I ate here a few times and dishes such as the Especialidad Mexicana (a generous portion of chicken breast, with nopales salad and guacamole); Huevos Enjojada (2 eggs in salsa verde with a side of beans); and the Pescado al Coco Picante (a large piece of fish with chilis and coconut with a very generous side of veg) were all delicious and well balanced. For vegetarians, there are also plenty of options – including several dishes with tofu and beans.
If you’ve been traveling for a while and your body is craving something nourishing, I highly recommend 100% Natural restaurants. You still get the flavours of Mexico but with many healthy and affordable options.
Tip: You can also find 100% Natural in the airport in Mexico City with a smaller but equally healthy menu!
I had been in Oaxaca for a week now and still hadn’t tried a mole. So, I did some research via google about the different types of moles I would encounter. I really love salsa verde and generally don’t like sweet or rich sauces, so I decided that I would start with a mole verde.
At Los Pacos (Absalo 121) you can order a sampler of all the different moles which may be a good way to start. Since I was by myself, I decided just to launch into the main dish and ordered the mole verde con pollo. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I was pretty happy with this dish. There were about three pieces of chicken (a little small but not too bad) and lots of mole with some white beans. It came with a platter of raw onions and lime, as well as three different types of salsa. (Yum! Salsa verde on mole verde!). I was the only person dining and the waiters were very polite – even though I’m sure they were disappointed at the way I put the meal together. I wasn’t quite sure how everything worked….
Prices were very reasonable (109 pesos for my meal) and I’d recommend giving this place a try.
Unfortunately the lighting was pretty bad and my pictures didn’t turn out so check out their website instead: http://www.lospacos.com.mx/
Have loaded up a pic from my trip to Monte Alban today which turned out much better than the pics of the food.
Yesterday was entirely dedicated to exploring the cafes in Oaxaca. There are so many cafes here that I could only try a small sample of them.
I usually start my mornings at Pan & Co (Garcia Vigil, on the corner of Allende) – this being my favorite for coffee in the city. So not to break with routine, I dropped by for an espresso on my way to the gym. I also picked up some pan integral from their very good fresh selection of bread (not at all sugary like much of the bread you buy in Mexico) and grabbed a salad for later in the day (tip: ask for your dressing on the side and go home and squeeze lime all over it instead – yum!)
Pan & Co street view
Espresso sencillo at Pan & Co
Later in the day I took shelter from the rain in Gaia Cafe (in the Plaza las Virgines). A small organic cafe with a few tables in the courtyard with a fountain – it was a blissful space. I had a chai tea which was quite nice. Another traveler beside me ordered a juice which was homemade but then poured into a large bottle and we laughed at the enormity of the drink before her.
Gaia Chai tea
Finally, at the end of the day – if you need a boost you could try Coffee Beans Cafe (near Santo Domingo, just between Constitution and Absalo) for some super strong coffee. This cafe is popular with the locals and doesn’t open until late morning but stays open late in the evening. The coffee was a bit cooler in temperature than I would prefer but with really good bold flavor.
Coffee Beans Cafe
Inside Coffee Beans cafe
There’s no shortage of good places to have a cup of coffee in Oaxaca. The biggest problem will be the after effects of all that caffeine….back to the gym to burn off all that energy?
This restaurant is found in a spacious courtyard, with walls covered with artwork and large chalkboards with the menu. Service was very friendly and it would be a good space to pass the time with friends over drinks and/or food.
However, for the average traveller it may be slightly too expensive. While snacks and salads cost about 50 pesos, meals run about 150 to 200 pesos. Although the piece of tuna I ordered was sizable, I was left wondering if they could have done with slightly less salsa verde and added a few vegetables (although it was amply covered in avocado). Since I dished out 180 pesos and had to go home and eat some oatmeal to fill myself up, I probably won’t go back. But depending on your budget and appetite – might be worth trying!
After 3 days of inactivity on the coast, I arrived in Oaxaca City and immediately went in search of a gym. There are two Calipso gyms in Oaxaca City – with the gym located at Calle Allende 211 being the most central and conveniently located (not far from the Santo Domingo church). Throughout my time in Oaxaca City, I walked passed a few other gyms but I was most impressed by the Calipso gym on Allende. The people working there were very kind, the music was pretty good, and the gym had what I needed (though bigger guys beware that the dumbbells didn’t go very heavy). If you are on a budget, you probably won’t go to the gym. But for an addict in desperate need of a fix, I had no problem paying 600 pesos for a 10 pass card (at about $6 per day that works out to less than what you would pay for a day pass in most other places). It’s 600 pesos for one month as well which is a better deal if you are in town for longer.
Important tip: You will need Spanish to set this up as English was not spoken. Or get someone to write you a note in Spanish to give to the front desk when you go in.
Hours: 6 am to 11 pm daily, except Saturday 7 am to 3 pm, closed Sundays
Calipso Gym Allende
Last night as I sat down to the best seafood meal I had since arriving in Puerto Escondido, I realized I had forgot my camera and had no way of capturing the feast set before me. Here’s the rundown of my seafood experiences in Puerto:
Sabor de Mar – Incomparable views & the best seafood
Sabor de Mar is recommended by the guide books as the best seafood in Puerto – so while I tend to avoid places frequented by tourists, I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that there are TWO restaurants that go by this name – one at each end of the beach. So the first night I had a terribly overcooked, tough piece of fish absolutely covered in thick white sauce. You’ll want to avoid the “Sabor de Mar” at the end of the Playa Principal and head instead to the Sabor de Mar at the other end of the beach (Playa Marinero). You’ll know you have the right one because it has the best view of the surfers and the waves crashing over the rocks. The feast started with tostadas and some kind of tuna mixture accompanied by a red sauce and a creamy sauce as a complimentary appetizer. I ordered the filete of fish “con ajillo” (tons of garlic and some chili and oil). While the serving of veggies was small, the 2 filetes were sizable and definitely worth the $95 pesos it cost for the whole meal.
Pascal – French restaurant with romantic atmosphere
Pascal is a place you probably want to go with someone special. The couple next to me seemed to really be enjoying themselves but the table by candlelight and the whole setting felt a little odd to me as a single traveler. Two things were unimpressive about this place. The first was that I kept hearing the microwave going off when they were preparing my food which was a good sign that it was not going to be freshly made. Second, the plate came out with a variety of bite size vegetable based dishes (all of which must have been heated in the microwave) when I really would have preferred one larger helping of fresh veggies. The tuna portion was very generous but I don’t have enough experience eating tuna that is properly cooked (ie. slightly raw inside) to comment. As a prairie girl, raw fish will probably always make me nervous so I won’t be hurrying back here. However, the owner was extra friendly and invited both my lonely table and the couple beside me to stay for tequila afterwards.
Tuna at Pascals
Danny’s Terrace – Give it a miss
This story doesn’t start with tuna – but ultimately ends with some. I decided to try a new dish and ordered eggs Oaxacan style – which is essentially supposed to be beaten eggs, lightly fried with some homemade tomato sauce on top. The eggs at Danny’s were one big greasy mess (I wondered if somehow they had possibly deep fried them?) and topped with runny sauce and cheese. I managed a few bites – the health freak inside of me absolutely screaming at me the whole time. I paid for my meal and left most of it there. Disappointed I started home wondering about peanut butter on rice cakes – and I passed a supermarket. At $11 pesos, lunch turned out to be tuna from a can on rice cakes, tomatoes and a squeeze of lime. Not the best – but a lot better than Danny’s.