Chowing down on huauzontle at Jardin de Rafaela

Huauzontle — I couldn’t pronounce  it  but  knew I wanted to eat it.  Had I not been accompanied by dining companion and enthusiastic eater Gina Machorro,  it would have been easy to walk right past my culinary objective el Jardin de Rafaela. The  humble Puerto Escondido restaurant is hidden behind such a dense screen of palm trees across from Blater Hotel, it doesn’t even look as though there’s a kitchen there, let alone a complete collection of dining tables, hammocks and loungers. 

Learn more about what else to do on Zicatela Beach in our Essential Guide to Puerto Escondido 

El Jardin de Rafaela, Puerto Escondido Oaxaca

Gateway to goodness at El Jardin de Rafaela

It would have been a shame to miss El Jardin de Rafaela. For more than 20 years, Señora Rafaela Pineda Pineda  has been cooking up authentic traditional Mexican dishes. And because her cuisine reflect her roots in the state of Guerrero, she prepares regional dishes  you won’t find many other places in Puerto Escondido –like huauzontle. 

Rafaela and her huauzontle

Señora Rafaela and her huauzontle

Huauzontle pronounced “wah-zont-lay” is a wild plant that grows high in the Sierra Madre Sur  mountains above Puerto Escondido and Huatulco. It’s delivered to Puerto by farmers only on Mondays and Fridays, so it has to be ordered a day or more in advance. But fortunately for me, Gina  had done her homework, made the required phone calls and Rafaela and her staff were waiting for us when we arrived.

huauzontle

huauzontle – herb or  vegetable? .

After a rather lengthy discussion about bee sting therapy (Rafaela’s other specialty is apiterapia, the medical use of bee venom for  healing neurological disorders, MS and chronic pain) which I wasn’t at all tempted to try, we dug into our platters of huauhuzontle. 

A dish of huauzontle with rice

A dish of huauzontle with rice

Rafaela explained that she had prepared the vegetable by stuffing it with a stick of Oaxaca queso panel cheese, then  dipped the vegetable and cheese mixture in a light egg batter, fried it and then topped  it with a lightly spiced tomato sauce fragrant with cinnamon. It was served on a very large platter with a side of rice and black beans. It sounded a bit similar to my recipe for Guatemalan green bean fritters. 

Huauzontle prepared Guerrero style

Huauzontle  – yum!

Eating huauzontle looked a bit daunting at first glance. But I decided to follow Gina’s lead which basically involved using your teeth to scrape the greenery off a stalk the size and shape of an enormous baby bottle brush.

How to eat huauzontle.

Go for it! Gina shows how to eat huauzontle

The taste of huauzontle was delicious, somewhat akin to spinach or rapini. But because huauzontle is  a member of the quinoa family it’s  also got a slightly hint of grain flavour. Later I learned that the scientific name for huauzontle is chenopodium nuttalliae and that it’s also known as goosefoot in America.  That information didn’t help me remember how to pronounce the word huazontle, but even if it’s unpronounceable, trust me eat it once and you’ll want it again and again.

While we ate, I discovered that Rafaela has a treasure trove of other dishes that aren’t on  the menu. She even makes my all-time fave dish– chile rellenos, which are poblano peppers stuffed with chicken, cheese, potato or beef picadillo. 

I’ll definitely be returning to el Jardin de Rafaela for more off the menu adventures. Hold the bee sting therapy. 

Travel Planner

The scoop: You won’t find huauzontle on the menu so you need to call a day in advance to place your order. it’s delivered by farmers only on Mondays and Fridays so place your order in advance of those days. Plan to spend a few hours relaxing overlooking the Mexican pipeline surf or book a bee sting treatment. 

Location: Located oceanside on Calle del Morro in Colonia Santa Maria next to the Hotel Blater Beach Club past Azucenas.

Phone: 954 109-2512

Cost: The menu items at el Jardin de Rafaela cost from 50 pesos to 130 pesos for main courses ( $5 – $10 USD). My meal  was  around 120 pesos ( including the beer).

Hours: 8:00 am- 11:00 pm daily

Food Adventures: Contact Gina Machorro (GinainPuerto@yahoo.com) for more culinary adventures, such as her delicious walking tour of Puerto Escondido. Book in advance for her market tour.

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 11 comments
  • andrea
    Reply

    Looks delicious. I think I need to take a to Mexico..#IBN

  • esperanza
    Reply

    What a pretty setting for a restaurant and the stuffed huahuzontle look delicious and fun to eat

  • Culture Tripper
    Reply

    Rafaela’s garden looks amazing and the huahuzontle delicious. Thank you for posting these rare and wonderful examples of Mexico’s varied cuisine. This is sure not something one will find on resort buffets!

  • Nancy
    Reply

    I love making new food discoveries, Michel! Never heard of huahuzontle but your post definitely makes me want to try it ~

  • Donna Janke
    Reply

    I’ve never heard of huahuzontle, but I would certainly try it after reading your post. And other items at el Jardin de Rafaela too. Chile rellenos is also my husband’s favourite.

  • Elaine J. Masters
    Reply

    Mexico continues to amaze me with its diversity of cuisines,spices and preparations. So enjoyed your description, and how to eat, this un-pronouncable treat.

  • Leigh
    Reply

    Sounds absolutely delicious though I can’t really imagine the flavour. What a treat to try something completely new.

  • A Cook Not Mad (Nat)
    Reply

    That looks amazing! Always nice to discover new foods.

  • Karen Warren
    Reply

    That looks fabulous. And nothing at all like the “Mexican” food we get here in the UK!

  • Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    Reply

    Uh Oh… you’ve got me craving chile rellenos which is also one of my favorie dishes. And I’d be game to try huauzontle – it sounds interesting and it’s always fun to try a new dish!

  • Carole Terwilliger Meyers
    Reply

    I’ll definitely look for huauzontle next time I’m in Mexico. And that bee sting therapy sounds interesting to me!

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