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Gastro Obscura
food & drink • 7 days, 6 nights

Oaxaca: Tastes of Past & Present

Gastro Obscura
food & drink • 7 days, 6 nights

Oaxaca: Tastes of Past & Present

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  • Group Size 12 People Maximum
  • Activity Level
  • Travel Style
    Communities Up Close
from $3,480 USD per person
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Trip Overview

In Oaxaca, a tortilla isn’t just a tortilla. Corn is the basis of life, chiles exist in a variety of colors and shapes, and sauces like mole can have more than 30 ingredients—and take three days to prepare. With a largely indigenous population, Oaxaca has held tight to many of its longstanding traditions in the face of modernity. The mountainous region is the most ethnically diverse state in Mexico—as well as the nation’s most biodiverse—and nowhere is this more apparent than in its cuisine, which marries indigenous ingredients and techniques with those that arrived with the Spaniards in the 1500s. Join us as we explore Oaxaca’s exquisite epicurean offerings alongside a seasoned chef and cultural anthropologist mother-daughter-duo, mindfully munching our way through the city’s bustling markets and fine dining establishments. We’ll trace the rich history behind each culinary tradition we encounter, learning how to incorporate it into our own cooking as we go. Between bites of crispy tlayudas and suckling pig tacos, we’ll explore the city and its surrounding villages—chatting with local artisans, visiting baroque churches, and traversing ancient archaeological sites.

Gastro Obscura Trips: inspiring wonder and curiosity about the world through food and drink.

  • Artisanal mezcal distillery tour
  • Hands-on cooking workshops
  • Conversations with chefs, artists, and artisans
  • Home-cooked meals with women cooks
  • Wool rugs, alebrijes, and traditional crafts
  • Zapotec archaeological sites


Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.

Trip Leaders

Iliana de la Vega
Iliana de la Vega grew up in Mexico City at a time when only European cuisines were seen as worthy of being served at restaurants. Her mother was from Oaxaca and cooked traditional dishes from the region, and Iliana found the flavors of Mexico to be complex, diverse, and soulful. Wishing to share how elegant—and worthy of fine-dining establishments—Mexican food can be, she moved to Oaxaca and opened El Naranjo, a restaurant and cooking school featured in The New York Times and Bon Appetit. A period of political unrest forced her family out of Mexico in 2006, but she reopened El Naranjo in Austin in 2012. A passionate teacher, Iliana has served as the Mexican/Latin Cuisines Specialist for The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) for five years. She’s a three-time nominee of the James Beard Award for Best Chef, winning Best Chef Texas in 2022. Through El Naranjo and the culinary trips she runs, Iliana keeps her dream of sharing the food and culture of Mexico with the world alive.
Isabel Torrealba
It’s here in mountainous, colorful Oaxaca where all of Isabel’s childhood memories take place. As the youngest daughter of Chef Iliana de la Vega, Isabel was fortunate to spend her days hiding under the restaurant’s tables and learning to cook (and eat) Mexican food. Though Isabel always imagined she too would be a chef one day, she came to realize that her food-related talents lay more with eating than cooking, so she became a cultural anthropologist and journalist instead. Food always finds its way back into her mind, prompting her to focus a significant portion of her research and writing on gastronomy. Isabel believes food cannot be fully understood without proper context and likes to think of it—the ingredients, the rituals of eating—in relation to place, people, and the history and circumstances that led to its creation. Her approach to travel as well as food writing is shaped by this idea. Isabel’s work has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Food52, Slate Magazine, LA Review of Books, The Art of Eating, Edible Austin, and Eater, among others.

Additional Info


The cost of this trip is based on double occupancy.

Traveling Solo?

You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the core of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you: 

(1) Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You’ll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender. (Note: Shared rooms not available at the hotels we are using for the February 16, 2022 departure.)

(2) Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost. After booking your trip, please request a private room when you fill out your traveler information form and we’ll add the option to your booking and final balance. 

Private Room Supplemental Costs:

2022 departures: $620 per person

2022 November departures: $650 per person

2023 departures: $675 per person

Arrival & Departure

Our trip begins with a welcome dinner in Oaxaca City on Day 1. We recommend you arrive in Oaxaca City by 3 p.m. that day so you can settle into your accommodations and meet our guide and group in time for dinner. Our trip concludes in the morning on Day 7. If leaving Oaxaca City directly after our trip, we recommend departing any time that day.

Airport transfers are included.  If arriving early or departing late, airport transfers are included only if you've booked at the trip hotel through our team.

Activity Level

Travelers should feel comfortable walking two to three miles over the course of each day in warm weather, and occasionally going up and down stairs.

Dietary Restrictions

Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated, though in most cases ingredients can't be substituted or omitted from particular dishes.If you have a severe allergy, please contact us to find out if this is the right trip for you.

  • Accommodation throughout the trip at a boutique hotel in Oaxaca
  • All meals as described in the itinerary
  • Transportation throughout the trip 
  • Arrival and departure airport transfers 
  • Experienced local guides (a mother-daughter team!) throughout the trip, including a James Beard Award nominated chef, as well as special guests throughout
  • Admission to all proposed activities, locations, and events
  • A curious group of fellow Atlas Obscura travelers!
  • 24/7 emergency assistance during your trip, provided by Global Rescue (terms apply)
  • Special access to unique places and extraordinary experiences
  • Transportation and flights to and from Oaxaca City
  • Pre- and post-trip accommodations
  • Travel insurance (recommended)
  • Passport and visa fees, if applicable
  • Customary gratuities for Trip Leaders
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Trip FAQ

Your participation in the trip helps to support farmers, cooks, producers, and artisans in communities typically excluded from traditional tourism. You can increase your impact by sharing the stories of these artisans, farmers, and communities with family and friends, and, if you wish, by purchasing their artwork or products during the trip. Additionally, a portion of your trip fees will go directly to Espacio de Encuentro de las Culturas Originarias (EECO). EECO, which translates to “meeting space for indigenous cultures,” is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting vulnerable or low-income people and communities, particularly those with indigenous roots. The organization works with communities across the state of Oaxaca to create projects that address their specific concerns, which include promoting gender equality and the inclusion of women in the workforce, health and environmental security, addressing poverty, and tackling racial discrimination.

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Upcoming Departures

Choose your own private trip dates
Inquire now about a private departure for friends and family. Trip cost may vary based on group size and travel dates.

Choose your own private trip dates

Inquire now about a private departure for friends and family.

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