Our friend-of-Seek Meghan Moran transports us to magical Mexico. It is a place she has a deep connection to and it is where she and her now husband first met seven years ago. They return again and again to make new memories and in this Seek Journeys she shares some perfect few days in historic Oaxaca City at the start of this year.
My love affair with Mexico started when I was young, maybe 7 or 8. We moved to San Diego and living near the beach but not far from the border, our parents would take us on the weekends to explore the streets of Tijuana, the beaches of Rosarito and the port of Ensenada.
Fast forward twenty plus years and I found myself in Mexico City for work. Through friends of friends I met Luis, my now husband. On our first date we walked the streets of Mexico City and drank our way through a Pulqueria until 4am. The next day we rode bikes down Reforma all the way to downtown where he showed me the Diego Rivera murals, the Cathedral, the pyramids, rooftops, alleyways, tile walls, museums, and the Tiffany stained glass ceiling of the Gran Hotel. We ate tacos, churros, and everything in between. Almost seven years and one baby later, the rest is history.
Luis took me to Oaxaca very early on in our relationship, I fell in love (with him and Oaxaca) and we have been back… eight times now? Having traveled to thirty countries at this point, I can say, hands down, without hesitation, Oaxaca is my favorite place on earth.
At this point, we have our favorite spots, but I am constantly seeking out new things that have popped up since the last time I went.
Early this year we headed back to Oaxaca and there was one day in particular where we were able to visit a lot of our beloved spots. Our first stop was Boulenc for breakfast. It sits next door to their adjoining bakery where they bake all their own bread and ferment, pickle and make all their own preserves as well. The molletes are incredible, as is everything else you order. We popped next door afterwards to Succulenta to pick up their seasonal guava jam and mustard with capers to take home.
About a block away is Juana Cata where the owner, Remigio Mestas Revill, works with artisans all over the state of Oaxaca reviving and preserving lost or disappearing textile techniques. The staff is super knowledgeable and will tell you how the piece was dyed, who made it, what kind of loom they used, how long it took and where it came from. I left with a gorgeous turquoise huipil that I will most likely not take off all summer. It is an endless source of inspiration.
I needed to get some gifts for my coworkers so we headed down the Benito Juarez and 20 de Noviembre markets. They sell everything there. Inside it's a labyrinth of stalls overwhelming all of your senses. Luckily, I knew what I needed, and went about my hunt. I left with some bricks of Oaxacan chocolate, mole, and some fried peanuts with garlic.
Next up was our lunch reservation at Criollo, Enrique Olvera’s not-so-new-anymore restaurant in Oaxaca. The first time we came here our son was six months old, so we needed to go back when it wasn’t pouring rain and we didn’t have a baby in tow. We took a taxi a little outside of town, to an old colonial mansion, designed by architect Javier Sánchez. You enter through the kitchen, pass the woman making tortillas on the comal, walk through the dimly lit bar full of seasonal produce and exit out into a courtyard where you are seated. For the next two plus hours we drank cocktails and wine and ate our way through seven courses until I considered cancelling our dinner reservations because I wasn’t sure how I could ever eat another thing. It was perfect.
Needing a nap but refusing to do so, we headed back into town to walk around. Hotel Escondido just opened a new location in Oaxaca I was eager to see. Architect Alberto Kalach restored the 19th century house and built a new tower behind to house 12 rooms in total. Every detail was thought out and I will definitely be staying here next time.
Next we headed to Mezcalería In Situ nearby for a tasting. Ulises Torrentera, the owner of the tiny spot, has over 180 bottles in his collection. Each looks exactly the same, the only identifier is a small tag hanging from each bottle. I keep trying but I can’t say I love mezcal, although my husband does. What fascinates me is the complexity of flavors derived from different types of plants using different processes.
After a quick change of clothes (it gets cold at night!), we walked a quick 10 minutes to dinner at Casa Oaxaca. One of our favorites because of the view, we ordered a bottle of wine from Valle de Guadalupe (my other favorite place). We dined, by candlelight overlooking the beautifully lit up Santo Domingo. With more than enough vegetarian options, and another couple hours later, we ended what to me was the perfect day in the perfect city.
Meghan Moran is a freelance designer and you can see her work and more of her travels: here
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