Where To Eat In Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
Updated: Feb 7
Whether you consider yourself a “foodie” or not, it’s indisputable that food is a large part of travel. Great or terrible meals can make or break an experience and often the most memorable moments are based around food. This is why before I visit anywhere, a great deal of my research goes into the food culture, regional dishes and recommendations for where to eat. If you only have a handful of opportunities to eat in a specific area then surely you would want at least some of those experiences to be outstanding. True to form, before visiting I did my customary research into where to eat in Puerto Escondido and came back with a lot of information, most of which was largely the same.
The vast majority of travel blogs and vlogs covering food in the area of Puerto Escondido seem to mention the same handful of restaurants. A breakfast joint in the mercado, a few Instagrammable spots in the trendy boho neighbourhoods and some cheap eats in centro is basically what you’ll find online. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon one of the best meals I’ve had in my entire life, at a place that didn’t seem to be mentioned on any travel resource that I had found. To give a little perspective, I have visited nearly 40 countries and over 200 towns and cities and this was one of the top 5 meals I have ever had.
Puerto Escondido can be divided into several neighbourhoods that run along the Pacific coast. The southern point of the town is the trendy area where the barefooted yogis roam and about 15 minutes driving north of there is the quieter area of Bacocho. Along the Rinconada in a strip of restaurants, is an unassuming gem nestled between a beachwear shop and a café, Almoraduz Cocina de Autor (Signature Cuisine). As soon as you approach this restaurant you notice the quiet confidence that oozes from every inch. Greeted at the door by well dressed servers, the tone has been set for an amazing yet affordable dining experience.
Almoraduz is clearly a chef-driven ship. The menu politely reminds you that changes to the dishes are not permitted and while that may be off-putting to some, I assure you it is worth trusting them over. The cuisine at its heart is traditional Oaxacan with a focus on local ingredients and dishes changing seasonally. The list of offerings is small and every item is so thoughtfully assembled to absolute perfection with a unique flare that can only come from an unbelievably gifted and creative chef, in this case Chef Quetzalcoatl Zurita.
A recurring theme as you travel Oaxaca is the use of insects as food. In the culinary world, or even most areas outside of North America and Western Europe this is not unusual. Insects are an excellent source of protein, and they happen to be just about everywhere. In Mexico it is very common to see grasshoppers and ants used as ingredients, snacks, infused in alcohol and even ground down and mixed into salt. In fact, my first introduction to consuming insects was through a mezcal cocktail that used grasshopper salt on the rim.
My meal at Almoraduz began with an amuse-bouche of grasshopper and corn stew. A delicious little pot topped with Oaxacan cheese and served along side a variety of tostadas and salsas. After my first bite I knew we had wandered into a culinary goldmine, and I couldn’t wait to see what came next. The prospect of eating insects can be daunting for those of us who aren’t used to it but I would encourage you to try. A small dish like this is a great introduction to these ingredients and shows that whatever you thought “bugs” tasted like, you were wrong. They are actually delicious, savoury, smoky and worth trying.
The Blue Tuna Fish Tostada starter was a little bite of seafood delight. This appetizer was so perfectly balanced with carefully selected compliments like ginger, avocado, fried leek. The tuna was so fresh with just the right amount of creaminess and crunch to leave me wanting for more.
For my main course I opted for the Catch of the Day with Chimichurri and this was some of the best fish I have ever tasted. The fillet of sea bass came out perfectly cooked, breaking away easily with just a nudge of the fork. The portion was generous and rested atop an absolute flavour bomb of false potato risotto and topped with salad and grapefruit for a citrus punch.
When in Oaxaca, do as the Oaxacans do and indulge in their delicious chocolate for dessert. As a chocolate fan I believe Mexico holds its own amongst the chocolate giants of the world like Switzerland and Belgium. Mexican chocolate is somehow both less sweet and less bitter than European counterparts. Often lightly spiced, Mexican chocolate has a natural flavour that tastes like something you could enjoy everyday without feeling too guilty about it.
Almoraduz has two chocolate options on the menu and in the name of research I tried both.
The Oaxacan Lava Cake is incredibly decadent. A molten river of Oaxacan chocolate pouring out onto the plate, balanced by the cooling freshness of the burnt milk popsicle it was served with.
The other option is my personal favourite, Stuffed Churros. The churros are served warm and stuffed with melting Oaxacan chocolate cream, with walnuts and an unusual, almost fruity pumpkin-like mamey ice cream.
While the food is incredible, the cocktails are also right on par. The restaurant offers non-alcoholic options, a curated wine list which you can navigate with the help of the in-house sommelier and a cocktail list I would happily drink my way through.
The cocktail list is a law unto itself. I am an avid cocktail fan and the creativity of this list had me seeing combinations I had never come across before. The first cocktail I tried was the Calenda, a gin-based drink with olive and chamomile infusion and rosemary syrup. As with many cocktails, if I see gin and olives together, I’m sold but I wasn’t sure what to expect with the other botanical additions. The Calenda is beautifully refreshing, perfect for the hot evenings in Puerto Escondido. The unusual flavour additions served to draw out the natural highlights of the gin and is an absolute thirst quencher.
The second cocktail that caught my eye was the Hibiscus Chai. Oaxaca is the land of mezcal so it seemed only right to have a mezcal-based libation. Presented like a gorgeous, vibrant fishbowl, the Hibiscus Chai is fruity yet floral and spiced with cardamom, cloves and the smoke of the mezcal. Another refreshing option but given the bold flavour profile I would recommend choosing this before or after your meal rather than as an accompaniment.
The last cocktail I tried is one that is close to my heart, the Espresso Martini. The Espresso Martini was created by the late, great Dick Bradsell, a London-based mixologist. I had the pleasure of knowing Dick, being a member of his private cocktail club in London and enjoying many cocktails that he created, most notable of which being the Espresso Martini. Now a staple of the corporate crowd menus, this cocktail is easy to find all over the world.
Some places stick to Dick’s recipe while others try their own variations like adding Baileys but whatever the take, when you’ve been spoiled by the pioneer, the bar by which you measure is high. I can honestly say that the Espresso Martini at Almoraduz is the best I have had since Dick himself. Dangerously smooth, the cocktail drinks like a dream. Not too bitter, not too sweet, just gorgeous, satisfying coffee, so good that I had two.
If you can't tell by now this isn’t a recommendation, this is a love letter. Almoraduz does what most restaurants only strive for. Everything from the effortless décor to the smartly dressed front of house staff to the unbelievable food and cocktails they just know what they're doing and they do it so well. Any visit to Puerto Escondido without a meal at Almoraduz is a wasted journey. This restaurant is the perfect introduction to Oaxacan food by glorifying local ingredients and tradition in a modern way. It is an unexpected surprise to have a world-class dining experience in a surfer’s haven of tacos and smoothie bowls but that’s exactly what Almoraduz delivers.
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