Dining En Aire Fresco in Oaxaca With Chef TJ Steele

In the city of Oaxaca in souther Mexico, one just doesn’t know where to begin with the region’s endless mezcal and mole lists—we narrow it down with the help of a chef. TJ Steele is the Executive Chef  Claro, a Oaxacan-influenced restaurant in Gowanus that specializes in corn, barbacoa, consommé and an endless list of mezcal. Steele was the youngest executive Sous Chef at Union Square Cafe before a stint at Tia Pol. A chance trip years ago to Oaxaca inspired Steele’s affair with the city and ultimately led to him launching El Buho Mezcal. Steele continues to live in Oaxaca part-time, has taco-inspired tattoos, and knows the city inside-out as a local. In 2017, Steele opened the doors to his own restaurant focused on food from his favorite Mexican region. 

JT Steele

Photo: Courtesy of Gabi Porter

Oaxacan food scene – you really can’t go wrong eating in Oaxaca, says TJ Steele. There’s everything from street food to middle-of-the-road and high end dining options all with local cuisine. In a country with such favorable weather, who wants to stay inside? (unless it’s for a lucha libre) TJ Steele shares his favorite outside dining spots in Oaxaca City– BUEN PROVECHO!

Casa Oaxaca El Restaurante – Calle de La Constitución #104-A, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca


Photo via Pinterest

“This is definitely one of the quintessential restaurants in Oaxaca. Chef Alejandro Ruiz Olmedo puts together a great collection of elevated Oaxacan classics and the majority of the dining room is on a beautiful rooftop right next to Catedral Santo Domingo.”

Sirilo – Calle Amapolas 400, Reforma, 68050 Oaxaca


Photo: Courtesy of Sirilo

“In the city center, but Sirilo gives off great beach vibes. The outdoor seating matched with the all seafood menu make it the perfect spot to throw back some oyster shooters or a shrimp cocktail.”

La Cosecha Oaxaca – Calle Macedonio Alcalá 806, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca

“This literally translates to the harvest market and I love coming here in the mornings for a quiet breakfast outside. It’s a fully organic market with vendors making all different Oaxacan dishes to choose from. I like to go around and order dishes from as many as possible to try as much as I can.”