10 Weird Foods to Try in Puerto Escondido

There’s no better way to dive into a culture than by sampling the local cuisine. Here are a few of the most adventurous foods to try in Puerto Escondido restaurants and around Huatulco,  Mexico.

1. Chapulines

Crunchy, toasted and spiced grasshoppers are delicious in tacos or on their own as a quick snack. Take a food tour with Gina’s Walking Tours for an introduction to these crispy critters or buy some in Benito Juarez Market and experiment with them as topping for your favourite dish.

Toasted chapulines ( grasshoppers) in market in Oaxaca

toasted grasshoppers in Oaxaca market

2. Tamales de Tichinda

These warm tamales are stuffed (and accompanied) by fresh black clam-like mollusks. Look for them near the Colotepec River or try them in the towns surrounding Chacahua Lagoons National Park. You can also see them for sale on Saturdays at the Benito Juarez Market.

Read the Puerto Escondido Travel Essentials Guide for more details on Benito Juarez Market.

3.  Salsa de Chicatanas

At the beginning and end of the rainy season, locals gather baskets full of flying ants as the insects escape from their flooded nests. The black ants are then toasted on a clay grill called a comal and then ground in a molcajete to make salsa de chicatanas, a treasured spring delicacy. The ants are so prized you won’t often find them in the market so your best bet is to search out a salsa cooking class with The Mexykan where you’ll prepare and sample a variety of salsas.

Or, check what’s on the culinary radar for one of the local chefs such as Chef Quetzalcoatl Zurita  who specializes in Oaxacan cuisine at his restaurant Almoraduz on the Rinconada in Puerto Escondido.  You can also find chicatanas adding a boost of flavour and crunch to the risotto served at Hotel Escondido, Grupo Habita’s chic collection of beach bungalows.

Read Michele Peterson’s story in Fodor’s for 10 Reasons to Visit Oaxaca Mexico in 2018

4. Huauzontle

Huauzontle ready to be cooked at Jardin de Rafaela

A stalk of huauzontle ready to be cooked at Jardin de Rafaela

Huauzontle pronounced “wah-zont-lay” is a wild plant that grows high in the Sierra Madre Sur  mountains above Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.  A member of the amaranth family, it’s a power vegetable packed with vitamins and minerals. It’s delivered to Puerto by farmers only on Mondays and Fridays, so it has to be ordered a day or more in advance for preparation in one of the best Puerto Escondido restaurants such as El Jardin de Rafaela.

Read more about Where to Chow Down on Huauzontle in Puerto Escondido 

5. Cuitlacoche

This unique black corn fungus is so revered for its earthy flavour that it’s known as the Mexican truffle. Appearance-wise, the delicacy may be as appetizing as a lump of coal, but the black gold fetches top dollar in local markets. You can sample cuitlacoche at Terra-Cotta Restaurant at Mision de Los Arcos in La Crucecita, Huatulco.

6.  Tinchuiche (river anchovies)

tinchuiche fish in Huatulco Mexico

A bowl of dried and salted tinchuiche fish in Huatulco Mexico

It may look like a worm but tinchuiche is actually a tiny fish that tastes like an anchovy. Sample this seasonal fish gathered from the Zimatan river near Huatulco, in a 4-hour, small-group cooking class at Chiles & Chocolate Cooking School. You’ll get a hands-on opportunity to use the  tiny salted tinchuiche fish in salsas where it adds a boost of flavour. Other regional ingredients you’ll learn to work with include nopal, chapulines (toasted grasshoppers) and Pacific Coast shrimp. Cost for the course includes transportation pick-up/drop-off at Huatulco area hotels as well as lunch, recipe manual, gift bag and more.

Read more about Ultimate Guide To Huatulco Beach Hotels 

7. Mezcal de Pechuga 

There’s a reason that artisanal mescal, tequila’s quirky cousin, is steadily earning its place on bar shelves worldwide. While tequila production is restricted to only one type of agave, skilled Oaxacan mescaleros craft mezcal blends using up to 20 different types, resulting in subtle nuances in flavour ranging from citrusy to smoky. For an adventure in Puerto Escondido, try a shot of Don Franco, a potent local  liqueur.

Sampling mezcal in a gourd in Oaxaca Mexico

Sampling mezcal in a gourd in Oaxaca Mexico

Mezcal fans should seek out mezcal de pechuga, crafted by suspending a raw chicken breast over a vat of mezcal. I sampled this delicately floral mezcal in the valleys near Oaxaca City during the Spirit of Oaxaca Mezcal and Beer Lover’s Cultural Tour,. It’s often accompanied by worm salt, used to rim a glass for a mezcal cocktail.

You can also try it in various shops in Pluma Hidalgo coffee country in the mountains above Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.

 

Mezcal production in Oaxaca

Mezcal production in Oaxaca, Mexico

8. Nopal

Visitors are likely to raise an eyebrow when first spotting the prickly plant on the menu, but nopal cactus is one of Mexico’s most iconic ingredients. Try it for yourself at the market, where you can watch Zapotec vendors remove the spiky spines, peel the rind and then stack the shiny paddle-shaped leaves to go. With its delicate, tangy flavour, cactus is versatile.

nopal in Puerto Escondido's Benito Juarez Market

Shop for nopal in Puerto Escondido’s Benito Juarez Market

9. Chocolate Mole

This staple, which can refer to a variety of traditional sauces, takes hours to make and is a must-have at any Mexican celebration and worth a try in Puerto Escondido restaurants. Though Oaxaca is known as the Land of Seven Moles, if you’re forced to choose just one, go for the mole negro: a rich, spicy and smoky-sweet sauce made from tomatoes, almonds, raisins, chocolate, plantain and chilis, including the rare chilhuacle variety, grown only in southern Mexico. It might seem unusual to eat chocolate as a main course but try mole negro once and you’ll soon be a convert.

10. Paletas

Icy paletas, made by freezing purified water with sugar and fruit, offer a quick and delicious way to cool off in the heat. In Puerto Escondido you can expect to find watermelon, guava and mango along with exotic creations like gooseberry or jicama with chili and gardenia petals. It’s even possible to find adult-only, boozy versions of paletas spiked with tequila or mezcal.

Fresh fruit paletas or popsicles in Oaxaca Mexico

Fresh fruit paletas or popsicles in Oaxaca Mexico

 


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And that’s not the end of things to do in Puerto Escondido! Read our Essential Puerto Escondido Travel Guide for more information on hotels, beaches, things to do, day trips and more about Puerto Escondido restaurants. Or go directly to these posts:

9 Tips for a Perfect Romantic Getaway in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca

Day Trip to Untouched Mexico

Beginner’s Guide to Puerto Escondido Beaches

Body and Soul Massage Therapy in Puerto Escondido Mexico 

7 Awesome Natural Wonders in Puerto Escondido 


Michele Peterson
Michele Peterson
Dividing her time between Toronto, Mexico and Guatemala (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is an award-winning writer, blogger, editor and publisher who specializes in travel, cuisine and luxury lifestyles.
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Showing 7 comments
  • Lesley Peterson
    Reply

    Yes to nopal, mezcal and paletas and a huge NO!! to ant sauce and worm salt. Eek! Oaxaca is an adventure in so many ways.

  • Judy Colbert
    Reply

    Thanks for the wonderfully thorough descriptions. Although I try a lot of things, I’m probably going to stay away from the grasshoppers and ants and other things that used to crawl around.
    Great piece!

  • sherel
    Reply

    Like to have a little ole nopal chased with a mexcal round about now!

  • tomaso
    Reply

    I won’t eat them if they don’t eat me but am willing to be pickled in mezcal

  • esperanza
    Reply

    Since I have eaten (inadvertently) a variety of insects in my lifetime I think the nopal would suit me just fine. I’m sure there are many adventurous (with cast iron stomachs) souls out there, though, who would love to try some of these novel taste treats.

  • Wandering Carol
    Reply

    Fun post. Mole, yes. Insects, no. I’m okay with the corn fungus, and I did eat brain for breakfast once in Mexico. Once was enough.

  • Sand In My Suitcase
    Reply

    The mezcal is pretty potent stuff! (We’ve tasted it in Mexico.) The fruit popsicles look more refreshing (and easier on the head).

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