A while back I had the pleasure of taking my wife to one of the best and most acclaimed restaurants in Oaxaca City… Casa Oaxaca. Casa Oaxaca is on all the must visit lists for people wanting to experience the gastronomy of this great city.
Chef Alejandro Ruiz has definitely created a magical place to sit, relax, and enjoy the full impact of the rich flavors that make up Oaxacan gastronomy.
Situated in view of the historic Cathedral of Santo Domingo, we were seated on the rooftop terraza, perfect to watch the sunset and the sky change colors before us.
As the captain seated us, he took our initial drink orders and soon returned to make our salsa for the evening right at the table. Carefully hand grinding guajillo chiles, garlic and onions in a molcajete, our salsa was made complete when roasted green tomatoes were added. He then invited us to try our fresh made salsa on a blue corn roasted tortilla sprinkled with asiento [seen here with both chile and herb salt].
It was wonderful, made even more so when paired with a margarita or some Real Minero Madre Cuishe mezcal.
Soon our salads and appetizers arrived and they were visually stunning. Chef Alejandro says that a chef is like a painter seeking a balance between colors. He certainly succeeded here.
I had the shrimp stuffed avocado role while my wife had the tropical salad. Both were wonderful.
The roll, seemingly floating on a sea of cilantro dressing was carefully sliced and stuffed with baby shrimp and cheese and then topped with perfectly cooked chicharrón, or fried pork skin bits.
The tropical salad which was adorned with passion fruit, mango, avocado, slivered almonds and goat cheese alongside a wonderful jamaica dressing. If your grandmother ever told you to avoid lettuce when traveling in Mexico, forget it! Next time you are in Oaxaca, you’ve got to try this salad.
Next up were our entrees, vanilla scented shrimp and a traditional tlayuda topped with rib eye steak.
The tlayuda was covered with that wonderful Oaxacan cheese, quesillo, and the steak was perfectly done, just as I had ordered. But I will warn you, unless you are extremely hungry, plan on sharing this one. Perhaps a slightly smaller tlayuda would make this seem a little less daunting.
The shrimp platter was unbelievable. Who thinks of pairing shrimp, vanilla and an apple puree together? Only someone daring enough to stretch your ideas about food. Grilled to perfection, the shrimp, when touched with the puree was simply out of the world.
Finally it was time for dessert and we were presented with an extensive dessert menu complete with paired dessert wines. At the waiters suggestion, I had the flan of the day, a wonderful coconut infused version topped with a dollop of ice cream and a rose petal. My wife had chocolate rolls, one stuffed with a chocolate ganache and the other a guanabana cream… both were light and wonderful.
Served with coffee and Oaxacan chocolate covered espresso beans, the dessert was a wonderful end to a fantastic meal made even better by the sounds of latin jazz wafting up from the courtyard below..
If you decide to go, you can walk from almost any place in the city.
Located on Avenida Constitución, between Reforma and 5 de Mayo, make sure you get reservations on the weekend as this award winning restaurant fills up quick. And make sure you ask to eat on the terraza.
As for cost, dinner for two, including appetizers, drinks, a great view, incredible service and tip will run about $100.00US.
Well worth it in the wonderful city of Oaxaca, or as we say in Spanish, “Vale la pena!”
(“DIning with Dave” will be a regular feature of Dave Miller’s Mexico, offering up Dave’s unique take on Mexican dining where ever he happens to be…)