In Oaxaca city near the bustling blocks surrounding Santo Domingo church, you'll find a variety of restaurants, cafes, museums and shops. In the days leading up to our first group trip, we felt lucky to stumble upon El Destilado. With their rotating multi-course menu and accompanying variety of mezcals and local craft brews, we knew we needed to bring our travelers back for the El Destilado dining experience.... so we did, and they loved it. From the fresh mole to the ice cream-filled passion fruit for dessert, El Destilado will now be a staple during our Oaxaca trips.
We caught up with chef Julio Aguilera to learn more about what inspires them to make the the food they do and what they love about Oaxaca.
1. What originally brought you to Oaxaca?
The ingredients, chiles, culture, art and being able to finally cook a tasting menu of Mexican cuisine in a place as beautiful as Oaxaca.
2. How was the idea of El Destilado born?
We wanted approach the dining and drinking experience differently than it was being done in Oaxaca. We think our rotating tasting menu offers that.
3. How would you describe the El Destilado menu?
Creative, fun + something for everyone. The true creativity and absolute pleasure is our tasting menu that we offer Tuesday - Saturday 8:00pm - 9:30pm. It's a direct reflection of all the beautiful produce, fruit, ingredients and best products we can find.
4. When exactly does your menu change?
I think the best way to explain it is to say the dishes are constantly progressing. We really strive to give you not only a menu with food and drinks, but an experience. I feel dinner should feel like a movie - I want you to feel things. Our home is a reflection of that.
5. What's your favorite dish on the menu?
Our house-made linguine with a chorizo sauce and our version of huevos con chorizo... amazing flavors and technique!
6. What's your favorite Mexican dish?
It's too tough to choose, so I'll give you a few favorites: mole negro, sopes, tacos de lengua and campechanas.
7. What do you like most about Mexican culture?
How much food has an impact on people who live in Mexico. Food is everywhere in some sort of form... nothing like in the States.
8. What's your favorite thing to do in your spare time in Oaxaca?
9. Favorite Mexican craft beer?
Rey oh Baby made in Oaxaca. Love it.
10. Favorite type of mezcal?
El Destilado is located at Calle 5 de Mayo 409, Oaxaca Centro, close to Santo Domingo church. There's no sign and it can be a bit hard to find - but just look for the orange wall with a photo of a man pouring mezcal through a bamboo straw into a gourd bowl.