Itanoní: All Maíz All the Time

I had high expectations for food in Oaxaca and it didn’t disappoint. There was a great mix of old restaurants doing traditional Oaxacan foods and an impressive new wave of modern Mexican cuisine being created by talented young chefs. I had a tough time deciding where to eat everyday, but one of the places I wanted to visit was a small neighborhood restaurant north of the city called Itanoní. I knew the food there was local, organic, and all made from scratch with maíz as its base. It wasn’t until later I found out it was Alice Waters’ favorite restaurant in Mexico (per Travel + Leisure, 2009); given how Itanoní epitomizes “slow food” it makes sense she liked the place.

The first time I visited, I was accompanied by Alix so we were able to try a few different items. The second time I was lucky enough to have Elise with me so again, share-sies!

I tried atole (hot corn and masa based beverage) for the first time at Itanoní. It’s usually served at breakfast but since I’d never had it before, I thought I would give it a go. It was very mild, neither salty nor sweet. It would have been better had it not been 90+ degrees out but I followed it with a cooling agua, so all was good.

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Itanoní had a seriously extensive drinks menu! Not everything was available but you get the idea. Along with the typical tamarindo, papaya, etc aguas, they also had refreshing herb based beverages.

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But the real deal here was the tortillas. The ladies who worked there told us that they get different corn each day. They grind the corn using the traditional metate, make the masa and tortilla all by hand, and then grill them on a giant clay comal.

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That explained why the first time we went I only had white corn tortillas and on my second visit all the tortillas were made from blue corn. It depends on what kind of corn the restaurant gets each day!

With the tortilla of the day, you have a variety of fillings to choose from.

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On top we have the “antojadiza” (ground chicharrón, cream, cheese, and salsa), the bottom one has frijol, hierba santa, cheese, cream, and salsa.

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These tubular things below are what they called “tacos”- not exactly what I typically imagine “tacos” to look like. The left on has chicken (tinga de pollo al chipotle), mushroom taco is on the right (champiñones con cebolla y ajo).

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What was also interesting here were these triangular quesadillas called tetelas.

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Every combination we tried were delicious and I really liked the chill atmosphere. It may not boast the most amazing mole sauce or the spiciest chilies, but Itanoní hit the spot for me.

IMG_4222 I look forward to returning again to this little gem in the Reforma neighborhood.

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Itanoní: Belisario Dominguez 513, Reforma, 68050 Oaxaca, Mexico; www.itanoni.com

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