There are endless reasons to visit Oaxaca in Mexico – the incredible churches, the friendly people, the connection to indigenous cultures, and the list goes on. But right up there has to be Oaxaca’s food culture. Whenever you tell a Mexican that you are travelling to Oaxaca, they will regale you with food stories of the incredible eats that can be found over the city.
In the first instalment of my Oaxaca street food posts I told you all about the super delicious nieves (ice creams) that can be found on the streets of the city, and this time I am moving away from a particular kind of food, and telling you about one particular market. Does food in a market count as street food? I’m not sure, but it’s definitely cheap, tasty, and inside your stomach from minutes of ordering. So let’s say it counts, huh?
The 20 de Noviembre market is probably the most popular food market here in Oaxaca, and everything that I have consumed here has been full on delicious. I really like that this place caters to locals just as much as tourists so you can tick your “live like a local” box if you really must, but you can also expect to be shown menus left, right, and Chelsea if you have anything about you that makes you look like a tourist.
So what can you actually eat here? First of all, there is the alley of grilled meats, which could be good news for you if you are the carnivorous type. Walking down this alley is quite an experience. First of all, the smell of grilled meats hits you straight away. This is definitely the place for barbecue fans. Then either side of you, you will see stall after stall of meat sellers with their raw meats hanging up, from tasajo to salchichas. If you look like a tourist, they will all be hollering at you for your custom. You then pick your meats, have them grilled then and there for you, and they will be brought over to your table along with tortillas, grilled onions and chiles, and guacamole. The meal itself is called carne asada which translates literally as roasted meat.
Welcome to the alley of grilled meats.
And when you have made it through the alley, you are in the main section of the market, which is home to little fondas selling traditional Oaxacan food – really good traditional Oaxacan food at super low prices. At breakfast time, I recommend tucking into entomatadas or enfrijoladas. These are tortillas soaked in a tomato or black bean sauce and covered with crumbled cheese. You can order them with all kinds of meats or quesillo (Oaxaca cheese). And then of course, there is the Oaxacan staple – tlayudas. These are basically giant tostadas and you can also eat them with a variety of meats or quesillo.
Enchiladas – a typical meal at the market
Tlayuda with tasajo
One of the things that I like about this market is that most vendors are licensed to sell beer so you can wash all that loveliness down with a cold one. Most vendors start selling at around 8am and stay open until 9pm, so there is plenty of time to grab a bite at this market. Enjoy!
Mercado 20 de Noviembre can be found on a street called 20 de Noviembre (obvso), a few blocks south east of the Zocalo.