You could eat at a different Mexican restaurant in Barcelona every day for six months and not have to eat at the same place twice. That’s how many Mexican restaurants there are in Barcelona. A lot. There are vegan ones. There are hyper fancy ones with an Adria involved. California style Mexican. Seafood Mexican. The choice is impressive.
Oaxaca Restaurant falls under the ‘authentic’ category. It’s high end but not molecular (go to Hoja Santa for that). The grasshopper on your roast elote is just that. An insect. Not something else made to look like an insect. And it’s supposed to be there. Oaxaca have gone to great trouble to get that grasshopper and accompanying friends to strew atop your plate. Because a grasshopper by another name is a chapuline and is a common snack in Mexico. They are toasted with garlic, lime juice and agave worm leaving a sour-spicy-salty taste. Rather nice it turns out.
Even if you opt out of the bug buffet, there is still plenty of fun in the food. Like with the guacamole. You have to order the guacamole. It comes with a human pushing a trolley. The avocados are selected from a pile and prodded gently. Before being disembowelled into a large Molcajete and blended with flavourings you pick. It’s served with totopos and chicharrón (a fried pork skin).
There is more. The kitchen is visible through a large and smaller window. Fashioned to look like a street stall with it’s shutter up. The chefs inside are in constant motion. There is a hard graft involved in making tortillas and tacos from scratch which is how everything is made at Oaxaca.
The tacos are delicious. Wether it’s the open faced tortillas with deep red tuna and fried leek scattered on top. Or the more traditional al pastor tacos. The latter topped with a rectangular wedge of sweet grilled pineapple.
Besides the theatrics in the kitchen and the plate, the space itself is well considered. There are plenty of kooky nooks and intriguing corners. A trip to the lavatory is a good way to explore the space and see what everyone else is eating.
Next door is the Mezcalería a popular evening and weekend destination. A friend takes her Mexican aunt there and tells me her aunt found the food as good as, if not better than her native country. Which is funny because the chef, Joan Bagur, is originally from Menorca. His origins seem besides the point when eating here. He has gone as far as to cultivate a Mexican garden. He grows Jalapeños, Poblanos, Nopales and more to supply to the restaurant daily.
The only time I found things lost in translation was with the hot cheesecake dessert served with a salty Chamoy sauce. I should have ordered the chocolate mole cake. That’s the one everyone says is the best.
Oaxaca Cuina Mexicana (Oaxaca Restaurant)
Pla de Palau, 19, 08003
More Mexican on Foodie in Barcelona:
Gringa – Californian Mexican
Hoja Santa – Albert Adria & Paco Mendez
I am so happy that barcelona is now full of mexican places! It’s been hard to get good stuff till now!
My fave was niño viejo but oaxaca has filled that spot now after niño viejo is now turned into hoja santa. Dont get me wrong, I still love hoja santa but I prefered the more casual style. Oaxaca is trully a perfect way to get real mexican food. I have been travelling through mexico recently and I could identidy the flavours I had previoulsy had in this restaurant! Their tacos are delicious!!
I still have to try some of the new taco places in town though.
Yes! I haven’t been back to Hoja Santa since the two merged. Although I did think both were great when I went. Oaxaca is something else. Quite special yet still good prices I find.
(And so many Mexican Restaurants in town, will have to do a post just on that!)
Kent Nickell says
I am glad to find your blog. My family and I will be in Barcelona in January. We are excited to visit this city.
Hi Kent. Barcelona is great to visit in January. Very few tourists and usually bright days.