Little Black Book

A Fashion Designer's Guide to Oaxaca

by Jacqueline Lopez
Oaxaca Jaline designer Jacqueline Lopez in Oaxaca. All photos by Tim Kitchen.

When it comes to Oaxaca, one of the creative capitals of Mexico, our go-to guide is always Jacqueline Lopez, the designer behind the Jaline women's fashion collection. She produces much of her work in collaboration with local artisans, and finds so much inspiration in the city that it's little wonder she keeps returning. She showed us around town before, and here's her update on what's new — and always great — to see, do, eat, and drink in Oaxaca.

I started coming to Oaxaca regularly in 2016, after meeting the family of artisans who would become the master weavers of the textiles for my clothing line, Jaline. Oaxaca's vast cultural and natural wealth inspired me to combine ancestral textiles in modern timeless designs. The colors, food, mezcal, people, music, architecture, and art are so vibrant and special. Oaxaca is slow living at its best.

The designer in Xochimilco.
The Tlacolula market.
The Tlacolula market.

What to See and Do

I like to walk around and explore the hidden, cobblestone streets of this area, the oldest neighborhood in Oaxaca. It's home to the Aqueduct of San Felipe, which was built in the 18th century and supplied water to the capital city until 1940. The streets of Xochimilco are so picturesque that you feel like you are in a little village.

I think Mexican markets are the best, and the one in Tlacolula, about an hour away from Oaxaca's center, is where artisans from the surrounding communities converge to sell their goods, textiles, pottery, and food. I love walking the streets and meeting the artisans. If you want to eat with the locals, take a seat at one of the tables inside. The women prepare meats in barbecue, a stew that takes hours to prepare.

La Sazón del Sol at Mercado Organico
This year saw the opening of Mercado Organico, a new organic market filled with different stands run by cooks preparing delicious, organic meals. My favorite is La Sazón del Sol. where founder Victoria prepares everything using solar power, even dehydrated vegetables and fruits. If you can't make it to the market, you can get everything at her free-standing shop located at Tinoco and Palacios 416, at the corner of Allende.

Hierve el Agua
A breathtaking site that resembles petrified waterfalls sculpted by nature, overlooking the Tecolutla Valley. I like to spend the day in this stunning landscape, enjoying the natural mineral pools and hiking.

Hierve del Agua.
Real Minero.

Hierve el Agua
A breathtaking site that resembles petrified waterfalls sculpted by nature, overlooking the Tecolutla Valley. I like to spend the day in this stunning landscape, enjoying the natural mineral pools and hiking.

Real Minero
Real Minero is considered by many to be one of the world's finest mezcal producers. The family has been making their mezcal for generations in Santa Catarina Minas, producing it in small clay pot stills and resting in glass for several months before bottling, resulting in a much softer character than the typical mezcal. Try to meet Graciela, who is running things after her father's passing. She's a special woman and can tell you all about their process.

Museo del Textile
This incredible space houses a vast collection of traditional textiles, art, and design. Learning about the different communities and seeing their work throughout the years has always been a top inspiration source.

Ancestral Cocina Tradicional.

Where to Eat and Drink

One of my favorite restaurants for the delicious dishes chef Luis Arellano constructs from local produce. The wine pairing is a must, as the team will introduce you to wonderful local artisanal beers and mezcal.

Antique Cafe
I love to have lunch in Xochimilco at Antique Café, a hidden gem filled with special antiques. It feels like a private home: The owner greets you and prepares a daily lunch menu based on organic ingredients.

Ancestral Cocina Tradicional
Another hidden gem in Xochimilco with a beautiful garden overlooking the aqueduct. I recommend tacos boca arriba and caldo de piedra, a fish soup of pre-Hispanic origins prepared on the spot with hot stones. A wonderful and delicious experience.

A must, and the place I always come for breakfast the day after I arrive. The artisanal bakery makes incredible bread and pastries, as well as sauces and kombucha. The location, both outdoor and inside, is special for the original tiles and walls. When you're here, stop by Suculenta, their health food shop next door, for beautiful pottery dishes, aprons, and other kitchen items.

The view from Selva.

An incredible and somewhat hidden cocktail bar with a vintage, 1940s speakeasy feel. How good is it? Selva is the first bar in town make the list of Tales of the Cocktail's Best New Bars. Yes, the cocktails are incredible, and so is their Sunday brunch offering of small plates in partnership with local restaurants, like Sin Nombre.

Terraza Los Amantes
I love chapulines, grasshoppers that have been toasted and seasoned with lime and chile. My first dinner in town usually finds me sitting on the rooftop at gorgeous Hotel Los Amantes, overlooking Monasterio Santo Domingo and the beautiful surrounding mountains with a spicy margarita and guacamole with chapulines.

At Pitiona, chef José Manuel Baños takes the rich history of Oaxacan food and incorporates ingredients from other states he has visited. The service is excellent and the private dining rooms are beautifully furnished. Don't miss the view from the rooftop.

In Situ
The place to go for a great mezcal tasting experience. The walls are lined with bottles of one-of-a-kind mezcals, creating an apothecary vibe. You will always find Ulises Torrentera behind the bar, explaining the complexity of each spirit.

Another favorite lunch destination off the beaten path was started by two anthropology professors who fell in love with Mexican corn. Everything here is made fresh with corn from Oaxaca and Chiapas. You will never have better quesadillas or tacos, but my absolute favorite thing to eat is tetalas, a sort of triangular quesadilla.

Sabina Sabe
Another standout for top food and cocktails and an incredible selection of mezcal.

My Favorite Taco Stand
If you really want to feel like a smart local, make one meal a pit stop at the taco stand on the corner of Libres and Murgia for the best suckling pig tacos you will ever eat.

Casa Antonieta.
Hotel Sin Nombre.

Where to Stay

Ex Hacienda San Antonio
This impeccably restored 300-year-old hacienda is my favorite oasis when I come to Oaxaca. I also love the spa for incredible massages and an unforgettable temazcal experience.

Casa Santo Origen
Located twenty minutes from the city center, this is a place to connect and disconnect. Surrounded by nature and offering incredible amenities, Casa Santo Origen is a wonderful place to stay, and the food is delicious.

Hotel Sin Nombre
This absolutely magnificent hotel inside a 17th-century house feels a little like Morocco, only with Mexican art, textiles, and wood. The interior design respects the old structure while enhancing the construction in an all-white palette; I love the modern mixed with traditional Oaxacan flair. Also, the vegetarian restaurant is delicious.

Casa Antonieta
A very peaceful place to stay, with notably striking architecture, especially the original supporting columns that surround the interior courtyard. From the moment you step inside, you feel transported far outside from the city.

Central Oaxaca.
The author with Jaline master artisans Lidia and Sara.

Where to Shop

Arte Amuzgos
My favorite shop for the most beautiful handmade textiles, clothing, and housewares.

A beautiful old house is now a textile center with different boutiques selling handmade clothing, artwork, rugs, and more, each shop featuring the work of a different Oaxacan community.

A magnificent lifestyle boutique beautifully curated by Christina Hattler. I love the colors, furniture, and materials adorning the shop.

You'll find an array of handicrafts inside this colonial house in Calle Garcia Virgil 809, one of Oaxaca's most picturesque streets. This shop is a fantastic. The store is so dedicated to honoring the talented artisans who create each piece that it feels a bit like a museum. In a good way!

Cuarto Suspiro
Cuarto Suspiro is a ceramic workshop that produces incredibly artistic pottery. (I love the mugs with facial expressions.) Take time to meet the the creative young artists who work here. They love to walk visitors through their process. Creativity in craft, after all, is one of the best things to discover in Oaxaca.

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