Tobaziche (WEBSITE) is a great little find in Oaxaca, just a few blocks from the beautiful Santo Domingo Church, right across the street from the historic Quinta Real hotel at 307 Cinco de Mayo. We stumbled onto this restaurant a year ago after a rousing performance by the Cuban ballet at the Macedonio Alcala Theater. We met the friendly young owner, David Herrera. The name Tobaziche is a slight variation on the name of the rare, wild agave tobasiche (also known as madre cuiche). This agave is native to Oaxaca and the maguey is known as “agave karwinskii.”
It is a common mistake to think that mezcal is made from cactus. It is actually made from agave (maguey), not a cactus but a type of succulent.
Mr. Herrera says he was a consumer before becoming a restaurateur. His vision was to create food unique to Oaxaca that can be found in the home, in the local markets, and on the street. Sadly, Oaxaca like much of Mexico is being taken over by the ubiquitous XOXO corner markets (similar to 7-11 markets in the U.S.) and the smaller family stores are disappearing. Herrera wanted to serve authentic food at a reasonable price in an artistic atmosphere. Happily, he has succeeded at both.
The Mezcales de la Casa are a bargain with Espadin Joven and Repasado at 48 pesos. The Mezcales Silvestres de la Casa (Tobasiche, Arroqueno, Tobala, Cuiche, Madre Cuiche, and Tepaztate) go for 65 pesos. He will also sell bottles of his private label mezcal to those interested.
We have tried the Shrimp tacos, the Aguachile (shrimp ceviche made with the fiery chiltepin chile), the Enchiladas Coloradito and the signature Prime Rib taco and found all of them delicious. The choices of restaurants in Oaxaca vary from the elegant gourmet to the corner coffee shop. Tobaziche is special because it evokes the magic of Oaxaca without being pretentious. The atmosphere is friendly and warm and the staff is well trained. It is, as it was intended to be, like eating at home in Oaxaca.
On the stairs leading to the upstairs bar, kitchen, and bathrooms, I was amused to see a stone sculpture of San Pasqual, the Patron Saint of Cooks. Years ago I purchased an alebrije (painted wooden sculpture) of San Pasqual and the one on the stairs looked nearly identical although it was made of stone and not painted.
The extensive menu can be found onilne HERE. Live music is offered some nights, usually after nine p.m. If you are in Oaxaca looking for a pleasant change with a surprising variety in a small format, Tobaziche is for you. More information and pictures can be found ONLINE HERE.