9 Best Things to Do in Oaxaca at Night

9 Best Things to Do in Oaxaca at Night

From lively bars and traditional mezcalerias to mouthwatering street foods and unique restaurants, the options are endless for those seeking an authentic taste of Oaxacan culture after dark.

Once the sun sets, the pedestrian streets come alive with street entertainers, vendors, locals and people enjoying an evening out - it's almost like every night is a celebration.

Stay clear of mediocre tourist spots with our guide on the best things to do in Oaxaca at night.

Planning a trip to Oaxaca? Don't miss our 3 Day Oaxaca Itinerary and Oaxaca 5 Day itinerary.

Overview: What to do in Oaxaca at night

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9 Fun things to do in Oaxaca at night

1. Try mezcals made with different types of agave plants

La Querencia Mezcaleria

Just as wine derives its character from specific grape varietals, mezcal takes on its flavour profile from different kinds of agave plants. Mezcal can be made from 30 different types of agave plants, and surprisingly, tequila is just one type of mezcal made from one agave plant called Blue Agave.

Tasting mezcal made from different agave plants and distillation methods was fascinating and the highlight of my trip. Despite not being a fan of drinking straight alcohol, I found the complexities of each mezcal reveal themselves with every sip, making that initial "alcohol taste" fade away.

You will see ancestral mezcals, meaning they were distilled in clay pots, and artisanal mezcals, meaning they were distilled in copper pots. Each method impacts the taste.

When buying mezcal internationally, outside of Mexico, you can typically only find mezcals made with espadin, the only cultivated (farmed) agave. The other agave plants are wild agaves, harvested by mezcaleros on horseback in the mountainous desert. Some are rarer than others, with a few living to be 30-35 years old before harvest!

Tasting mezcal at mezcalerias became our "apertivo hour" before dinner each night. My favourite variety of mezcal ended up being Jabali, and Ari's, Tepeztate. What will your favourite type be?

๐Ÿฅ”๐Ÿ”Ž Fun fact: the giant stem sticking upwards from a mezcal plant is called a quiote, and it blooms only at the end of its life cycle. Once bloomed, it can't be harvested.

Our favourite mezcal tasting rooms in Oaxaca

Our favourite tasting rooms were In Situ Mezcaleria and La Querencia Mezcaleria.

In Situ Mezcaleria has an exceptional selection of premium mezcals and its owner, Ulises Torrentera, is a respected mezcal expert and author.

La Querencia Mezcaleria stood out with its hypnotic music, red lighting and friendly service. We sampled small amounts of mezcals for free before deciding on our favourite to enjoy as a full glass.

2. Dive deeper into the world of mezcal at La Mezcaloteca

La Mezcaloteca

Once you've tasted a few mezcals, dive deeper at La Mezcaloteca, a unique mezcaleria designed like a library that offers educational tastings.

Your guide tailors the experience to your knowledge level and preferences in flavours and agave types. That's why we suggest exploring other mezcalerias first - that way, you can get a more comprehensive understanding rather than just an introduction to the spirit.

Mezcaloteca is quite popular and fills up quickly, so be sure to make your reservation online well in advance.

Talk like a local: maguey is the regional term for agave in Oaxaca.

โœ”๏ธ Top Tip: We recommend booking your tasting before dinner - it's a nice aperitivo before going out to eat.

3. Eat mouthwatering street food at stands that only come out at night

Some of Oaxaca's best food stands only come out at night. These are two street foods you don't want to miss:

Lechoncito de Oro

Devour suckling pig tacos at Lechoncito de Oro, a food stand open until the early hours of the morning that is a favourite among locals. Go for the taco that comes with crispy chicharron bits (fried pork belly).

Las Tlayudas de Mina y Bustamante

Pull up a seat at Las Tlayudas de Mina y Bustamante, a local favourite for tlayludas. They start setting up shop around 7:30pm. It was one of our most enjoyable experiences in the city.

A tlayuda is essentially a large, thin corn tortilla piled with refried beans, various meats like tasajo, cecina, or chorizo, Oaxacan cheese and fresh vegetables such as lettuce and tomatoes. It's folded then cooked over charcoal and often referred to as "Oaxacan pizza."

โœ”๏ธ Top Tip: also order their chocolate atole drink - is a great accompaniment.

Note: Due to construction, Las Tlayudas de Mina y Bustamantee was located here on Google Maps when we went.

4. Dress up and dine out at one of Oaxaca's top restaurants

Although Oaxaca has a huge selection of street foods and market stalls to try, you don't want to miss dining at one of its unique restaurants that combines tradition with innovation. These are two fantastic spots for a romantic evening or a special night out:

Casa Oaxaca

For a picturesque setting, we recommend Casa Oaxaca, a hot spot helmed by acclaimed Mexican chef Alejandro Ruiz overlooking the Santa Domingo Church. It's housed in an 18th-century colonial townhouse with multiple levels. For the best ambience, request a table on the outdoor upper terrace - it has the best lighting and views of the church.

Book your table in advance.

๐Ÿ˜‹ Must eat: Corn tetela with rabbit barbacoa.


For a culinary experience, we recommend Origen, led by Chef Rodolfo Castellanos, the winner of Top Chef Mexico (Season 1). Despite our concerns that the restaurant could be overhyped, we were pleasantly surprised by the exceptional food, even preferring it to Casa Oaxaca. The restaurant's intimate setting added to the experience. We ate from the a-la-carte menu.

Make your reservation in advance.

๐Ÿ˜‹ Must eat: Plantain dumplings with heirloom tomato sauce and
dried shrimp. Also try some of their ice-cold beer!

5. Watch the sunset from a rooftop bar

One of the best ways to get a view of the city and its mountainous surroundings is from the rooftop. There are many rooftop bars and restaurants in Oaxaca to watch the sun go down.

Terraza Istmo is a cute and affordable rooftop spot for drinks and traditional Oaxacan bites. Ari enjoyed his chilada (beer with lime) and I loved my mezcalina made with pineapple juice. We recommend making a reservation because you will get a better table - we secured a spot beside the railing.

The best sunset view we saw was from the intimate rooftop of hotel Otro Oaxaca. Our insider tip is that non-hotel guests can get drinks up there after 6pm (if capacity allows). Just check in at the front desk and ask them to bring you up.

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Browse more hotels in Oaxaca

6. Watch the pedestrian streets in Centro come alive at night

C. Macedonio Alcala pedestrian street

One of the best free things to do in Oaxaca at night is walk down its pedestrian streets. They come alive in the cool evenings, with entertainers, vendors selling goods directly on the street and stalls selling handcrafted products.

Our favourite street to walk down was C. Macedonio Alcala Street - don't miss seeing the 16th-century Santo Domingo church light up in a beautiful orange glow after dark.

Don't miss our Oaxaca shopping guide with the best artisan shops and street markets.

7. Sip cocktails at one of North America's best bars

Did you know that Oaxaca has not one, but two, cocktail bars listed on North America's 50 Best Bars List? We went to both and they were great for different reasons:

Sabina Sabe - best for an alternative vibe

With its teal and brick walls, exposed wooden beams and alt-rock music, Sabina Sabe had a relaxed, alternative feel to it. We recommend sitting at the bar if you can get a spot - there are only 8 seats. I really enjoyed my creative mezcal cocktails.

Selva - best for the storytelling

Nestled on the second floor of one of Oaxaca's prettiest historic buildings, Selva shows off an impressive mid-century-glam decor. Beyond its aesthetics, what sets Selva apart is the storytelling behind each of its cocktails that celebrates local plants. The upbeat music perfectly complements the vibrant atmosphere, making it an ideal spot for a lively night out.

See our list of 7 unique bars in Oaxaca City.

8. Eat ancestral and traditional dishes in the charming courtyard of Levadura de Olla

Levadura de Olla is one of Oaxaca's best restaurants serving traditional, ancestral, and creative dishes inspired by Oaxacaโ€™s Sierra Sur region. Located in a pretty colonial-style building, the restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere and charming courtyard. Make your reservation online.

๐Ÿ˜‹ Must try: Oaxaca Native Tomatoes. It felt good to have some raw veggies!

9. Get drinks at a cool watering hole that attracts locals

La Cueva Oaxaca

Among Oaxaca's notable cocktail bars like Sabina Sabe and Selva, La Cueva Oaxaca stood out for its authentic atmosphere attracting both locals and travellers. Located on a side street in Centro, its inviting ambience, highlighted by amber lighting and textured brown walls, drew us in.

It felt like a cool watering hole with awesome cumbia-fusion and psychedelic-Latin American music to match.

We hope you enjoyed these 9 awesome things to do in Oaxaca at night!

Bonus: our top hotel pick for design & value

We recommend staying at Hotel Materia, a terracotta-pink boutique hotel that feels like a home away from home. We stayed in the Humo room, which has a private terrace you can eat breakfast on each morning.

๐Ÿ›๏ธ Browse more hotels in Oaxaca

Don't miss our Oaxaca 3 Day Itinerary.

Get started on booking your trip to Oaxaca

  • 🌃 Book your accommodation: Booking.com is our go-to for finding places to stay. Sort by top reviewed.
  • ๐Ÿš– Book private airport transfer: through Viator
  • ๐ŸŒฎ Book your food tour: through Viator
  • ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€โš•๏ธ Get affordable travel insurance: with SafetyWing - it's budget-friendly and you can even buy it while abroad, but note the max medical coverage is $250,000 USD.
  • ๐Ÿฅ Get comprehensive travel insurance: with World Nomads - it's more expensive, but the max emergency medical coverage is $5-10 million, depending on the plan.
  • โœˆ๏ธ Track flight prices: with Hopper

Combine your trip to Oaxaca with Mexico City - check out our itineraries:

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