We left Puebla and decided we were ready for some beach action. But we were still reeeaaally far from the coast, so we split up the drive.
From Puebla we went on to Oaxaca City. We left around 11 A.M. and made it there by 5 P.M. It was a 6 hour drive through some crazy elevation mountains. The type of drive where you’re hanging off the side of a cliff throughout the entire ride. It was sooo scenic and so unsettling. I had to pee so bad at one point so we pulled over at a “lookout point” and I peed next to a couple thousand foot drop. That was fun.
In Oaxaca City, we stayed at a bed & breakfast type hotel. It was simple and the hosts who welcomed us with sanitizer and temperature checks were really nice. We were so hungry and tired after being in the car all day, so we decided to go out for dinner.
We google maps searched “Vegan” and everything that showed up was too far to walk to or closing soon, so I searched “Organic”. That’s usually my go to when vegan searches come up with nothing. I figure that a place conscious of organic eating might have something vegan on the menu. A spot called Teocintle turned up, so I called because they had no menu up to make sure they were open and had something I could eat. The guy on the phone was so nice, he said definitely and asked when we’d be coming in. I told him 30 minutes.
So we got ready and made the 7 minute walk over. We got there and thought maybe we were lost or that google had the wrong address because the street looked like it had nothing on it. Then we saw a group of guys hanging out outside what seemed like a literal hole in the wall and we asked them if they knew where Teocintle was. They were like “yup, you’re here.” The outside is so unassuming, you would have never known there was a restaurant there. The doors were wide open, but it was early for a Friday night and no one was inside.
We walked in and the decor was really cute. Super earthy and simple, but chic. It reminded me of a trendy yet undiscovered place you would have gone out to dinner in in Williamsburg or Bushwick like 15 years ago before it was overrun by hipsters, transplants and yuppieees.
Anyway, we sat down and waited for menus, but menus never came. Our server came over to ask if I was the one who called and I said yes. A minute later food started coming out! I was like “Hmmmmmmmmm I don’t know if I like this. What are they going to give me?” I’m not picky when it comes to eating as long as what I’m eating is vegan (which I know to many people is picky all on it’s own), but in my experience a lot of the time in Central and South American countries even when I explain what vegan is I’ll still get food with cheese or dairy in it. Sometimes I’ll get beans with pork or rice cooked in chicken stock. Chicken soup turned vegetable soup where the actual chunks of chicken have been removed, so it must be vegan.
I get frustrated at times, but I don’t want to be rude and insult what someone is serving me, because food and dietary habits are a part of people’s culture. I also realize that turning down food because I can eat something later or because it doesn’t meet my dietary restrictions and lifestyle is a luxury a lot of people on this planet do not have. I try to keep this in mind at all times. Traveling or not. So I was anxious, because I hate to be that asshole who sends food back to the kitchen or wastes it. Luckily Keith will usually eat my food if I can’t or take it to go.
Our server brought out fresh made thin crispy corn tortillas with the MOST delicious dipping sauce I’ve ever had. It tasted like za’atar mixed with chili oil. It was so smoky and good. We ate it all and the server brought out more. Then he explained to us that he would be bringing out multiple courses of food. We were like “WhOaaA babbyy. Where did we stumble upon?” He explained that Teocintle is a Mixtec Indigenous cooking concept restaurant. They have a different menu every day all made with locally and organically sourced ingredients from the surrounding mountains. The recipes they serve have been passed down for multiple generations and have been modernized by the three chefs who run the kitchen. Teosinte is the name of the plant that corn stems from and is native to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Once the server explained all of this we were stoked. We were also like “Shit. How much is this going to cost?”
What proceeded was the most amazing, savory, gratifying, tantalizing meal I think I will ever have the pleasure of eating. I’m Peruvian and grew up in Manhattan, so it’s not like I haven’t had my share of culinary eating adventures vegan or not. But holy shit was this food good. And it wasn’t just good like mouth watering good and you know and crave these flavors. The flavors were new and unique. It was the most unique dining experience I’ve ever had. In my opinion it was a step up from fine dining because of the atmosphere. It was so laid back and chill. A vibe you would never get in a city in the North Eastern United States. And if you did you’d be dropping $500+ on dinner. And that doesn’t sound so chill.
Our server brought out 9 courses. A vegan version for me and Omnivore for Keith. Two of the courses were mezcal cocktails with muddled fruit. The mezcal was their house blend, specially made for Teocintle. Each course was more exciting and delicious than the last. We also had no idea how many courses there were supposed to be, so every time a new dish came out we were surprised. It was the best treat. I honestly don’t even know how to describe these dishes. They were so aesthetically pleasing from the food to the actual silverware.
We had tacos, soups, tortillas, moles, noodles, tamales, tetelas, fruits, barbacoa and more. Each dish came with its own story and description. The plates were small and delectable. We thought we would be so stuffed but it was the perfect amount of food. Everything was prepared with the next and previous dishes in mind.
We were so happy when we finished eating and felt sooo lucky to have stumbled upon this gem. The restaurant has only been around for 3 or so years and I highllyyyy recommend checking it out if you’re ever in Oaxaca City.
It came time to pay the bill and we were shocked at the price. It was $80 for both of us. Like are you kidding? We would have easily paid five times the amount for that experience in New York. And it was only $80, because Keith ordered 2 glasses of mezcal. The total for our food was $60, $30/person for 9 courses.
We walked back to our hotel, FaceTimed our parents to gush about the best meal we’ve ever had and passed out. What a treat.
You know when you go somewhere in another country or place and you’re like “Oh I love it here. I can’t wait to come back. I’m definitely coming back.” And you never go back. Well we HAVE to go back to this place one day!!!
The next morning we woke up, packed up the Suba and stopped by an organic market to pick up some groceries and made our way to San Jose Del Pacifico.
Miles driven: 2,929.
Days on the road: 15.