I’ve mentioned it in previous years, and it seems that things haven’t changed all that much in Oaxaca. If you do a quick google search for eating in Oaxaca, the same restaurants always show up. If you’re a dedicated travel food researcher like myself and delve further, you may find a few more interesting places to try. But for the number of restaurants, you pass by on the street in Oaxaca and the number of great suggestions we get from people once we’re here, I find it mind-boggling that you can’t access more information in advance.
This year, I came to Oaxaca with little advance preparation in terms of restaurant hunting. I’ve been busy, and with a few quick searches, I noticed not much new was coming up. Kyle (from Café Brújula) sent a great list of new places to check out a while back, but even with a list of recommendations, I wasn’t able to find much about them online. I trusted that once I arrived, I’d get a better handle on what was new in the city.
As luck would have it, the gang in Oaxaca had done a great job of finding out more information about the new (and new to them) places worth checking out. There didn’t seem to be a plethora of new for the year, but I was still able to fill out my weekend of wonderful dining with new and repeats.
Luvina was recommended by someone who had mentioned that Chef Carlos Garcia was doing exciting cuisine “in the style” of the other young guns in town like Rodolfo Castellanos (Origen) and Manuel Banos (Pitiona). I tried googling more information on Luvina, but couldn’t find anything other than a few mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, (which I don’t consider a credible source for restaurant recommendations). It was early enough in my week in Oaxaca that I felt I could take a gamble on a meal.
Located a bit outside of “convenient” Centro, Luvina is a great open space, although it was a bit weird being the only table in the large restaurant. Being alone in a restaurant in Oaxaca isn’t always indicative of the quality of the food. It’s something that happens quite often, so don’t be turned off if you go somewhere and this is the case.
We were served some tortilla for the table while we decided on our choices.
The gang ordered a great selection from the menu and we were able to get a very good sampling of Chef Carlos Garcia Ramos’ cuisine.
Chef Ramos came out to talk to us after the meal and unlike the other young gun chefs who are from Oaxaca, we found out he is from Mexico City. Most of his training comes from Mexico with some time spent in Spain. He opened a small restaurant in Mexico City before opening Luvina in Oaxaca. Looking around the empty room, I felt a bit more PR work was needed on his part for Luvina to survive and prosper. His food deserves notice, but given that most tourists seem to spend 3 nights maximum in Oaxaca, I just don’t see Luvina being included on most people’s lists. Even though it should be, the food was definitely worth a visit.
Luvina – Mártires de Tacubaya 517, Oaxaca