“Being in Oaxaca” with a Drink in Hand

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I’ve had the pleasure in spending a lot of time in Oaxaca over the past 10 years. It’s become a place well known to many for its food, arts and culture, which I immensely enjoy. But one of the nicest things about being in Oaxaca, is just being in Oaxaca. To experience this, I love sitting in a pretty or fun space with a delicious drink in hand as I watch Oaxaca move around me. 

Sabina Sabe is the first serious cocktail bar I found many years ago and it still consistently serves delicious drinks. It’s been “found” by the tourist crowd, especially now that was named #20 on North America’s Top 50 Bars list. But I still enjoy heading to Sabina Sabe in the early evening when I have no problem getting a seat at the bar. Their Jamiacon with mezcal, Ancho Reyes & Hibiscus has been a favourite from the beginning so I’m happy they’ve kept it on the menu, but all the mixed drinks I’ve had there are fantastic.

Selva is the other bar that was named on the 50 Best Bars in North America list (#22) and is a place that strikes me as so un-Oaxacan, but I think that’s the point. You wouldn’t be surprised to find Selva in any cosmopolitan big city, which isn’t surprising because the bar is helmed by international powerhouse bartender Alexandra Purcu. Needless to say, the space is beautiful and the drinks unique with a focus on locally sourced ingredients that are surprising but always perfectly balanced. A seat at the bar is a great option to interact with the bartenders, but my favourite seat in the house is on one of their 2 tiny patio tables with a peekaboo view of the Santo Domingo church. 

A new find on my last trip was the bar downstairs at Nois restaurant. The space is minimalist but is a great respite from the heat or rain. I’ll recommend it with caveat that I’ve only been once, but loved the drinks I had. I’ll definitely be back to the bar and have the upstairs restaurant on my list to check out as well.

There was a time when it was hard to find a rooftop patio in Oaxaca, especially one with a view of Santo Domingo. But the Terazza at Los Amantes Hotel (blue) changed that. It was very trendy when it opened,(still is) and while there are other spots that I enjoy more, its still a wonderful place for a patio drink with a view.

I found Vaca Marina restaurant above Hotel Los Amantes (orange) across the street. This seafood focused restaurant gets busy in the evening, but it’s not hard to get a seat for an early evening cocktail with an unobstructed view of the Santo Domingo.

Another choice is the terraza at Pitiona restaurant. It’s a little less known with the tourist crowd than Los Amantes and a better drink list. Pitiona is one of the nicer restaurants in town, but if you head to the patio late afternoon, they’re more than happy to serve you a drink without food. But by all means, if you want a little nibble with your drink, you won’t be disappointed. 

La Tizateria is the patio that sits on top of La Olla restaurant and I’ve had great drinks on this terraza facing the back side of Santo Domingo. My only word of caution is that their hours never seem as posted, and they often have events without warning so I’ve been turned away on more than 1 occasion. But if you can get in, you’ll be treated to some expertly mixed cocktails. 

Puro Burro is another rooftop patio option with a view of Santo Domingo. Prices for their drinks are lower than those listed above, but with that, you’re sacrificing some on quality and creativity in their cocktails. Puro Burro is my choice when I’m looking for a cold beer or a simple drink. Puro Burro is also known for their extensive mezcal choices (on a budget conscious end). 

While there are more places in Oaxaca that I’d recommend to sit pretty with a nice drink in hand, most are restaurants where you need to order food with your drink. The places I’ve listed in this post are ones to go to if you’re just looking to pass your time without any commitment of eating. I know I’ve missed some, and will add more as I discover them.

Places I mentioned in this post:

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