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A must try dish for any visit to Oaxaca

Chef Olga Cabrera’s Oaxaca City restaurant Tierra del Sol is a must when visiting Oaxaca City. (hard stop)!

Housed in a beautiful building with gorgeous rooftop dining, serving incredible Oaxaqueños Mixteca recipes (Mixtecs are indigenous peoples, 1 of 16 indigenous communities in the Oaxaca area). We also start with the memelitas, which are masa cakes topped with cheese and the custom table-side salsa is a fan favorite!

But my favorite dish on the menu ~ any of the mole’s!

New to Mole?

Mole (Mo-lay) is made from dry peppers, herbs and spices, seeds - some even use chocolate, peanuts, or breads! And the city of Oaxaca is a great place to get familiar with this exquisite sauce!

A typical recipe will include about 20 ingredients. Preparation of mole for Oaxaqueños is a labor of love, requiring toasting, grinding, sauteing or soaking the various ingredients before they’re ready to mix into the sauce. The result however is worth every bit of effort. What you end up with is a complex and hearty sauce, thats well balanced and deeply satisfying.

Traditional recipes will call for meat, however it's common to start by cooking the meat in a pot with the other components prepared separately before integrating into the meat into sauce. This makes it easy to host both meat-eaters and non-meat eaters from the same batch of mole. Be sure to serve with plenty of warm tortillas to mop of every last drop!

There are literally dozens of varieties of moles. Recipes vary based on region and like you might expect, from family to family. Some are smokey, or sweet, others more aromatic and bright. The different flavors yield a range of colors.

The Mexican state of Oaxaca has declared “siete moles” – “seven moles”, as having originated there

They are;

  • rojo - a red mole

  • verde - a green mole

  • coloradito - a lighter, brownish mole

  • amarillo - a dark yellow color

  • chichilo - a darker brown

  • manchamantel - translates to “tablecloth stainer" due to its deep dark tone

  • negro - black mole, can take up to 3 days to prepare so often a special occasion dish

A large plate with 6 smaller dishes, 5 of them are moles the sixth is filled with rice
A five mole sampler

Tierra del Sol serves over 30 moles on their menu, so show up hungry, and ready to try a few dishes. You'll soon learn which gets your taste buds excited! Fun fact: Chef Olga’s favorite dish, mole ;)

When in Oaxaca City, you can also pop in to the restaurant for their breads and pastries sold in the café on the ground floor. Conscious Travel Collective always includes a dinner at the restaurant, and we've heard often from travelers they like to return on their next visit to the gorgeous, and welcoming city. For more on our trip, visit the Oaxaca page.

No plans to travel to Oaxaca, but hungry for mole?

Below we share a recipe you can try at home with ingredients that can be found easily in North American grocers.

This Mole recipe was shared by Chef Olga, but is not her creation, that honor belongs to her Grandmother, however this one is a favorite in their family.

*the following recipe calls for meat, however pumpkin makes a great vegetarian substitute.

Chileajo Mixteco

Chile-garlic mole from Mixteca


8.75 oz Costeño or Guajilo chile (or any hot dried red chile)

Water for soaking

2 cloves

Pinch oregano

Pinch cumin

5 cloves garlic, whole

Oil, to fry meat

8.75 oz. red or green tomatoes


3 small potatoes

For the meat;

3L water

2 cloves peeled garlic, whole

½ small onion

2.25 lb. pork ribs or loin

1. Boil the water in a large saucepan with two cloves of garlic, onion, salt and pork until cooked (approx. 1 hour)

2. Meanwhile, to make the mole, clean and deseed the chili and cover in a little water to soften for a few minutes.

3. Blend the drained chili with cloves, oregano, cumin and the five cloves of garlic and set aside

4. Remove meat from the saucepan, conserving the liquid in the saucepan, then fry the meat in a little oil until sealed

5. Add the liquefied chili mix to the meat and fry well

6. Liquefy the tomatoes in a food processor or blender, and add to the mole in the pan. Fry for around 10 minutes and add a little salt

7. Cut potatoes into small pieces and add to the mole

8. Add a little of the reserved meat broth until it just covers the meat. Leave until the potatoes are cooked through. The chileajo will thicken (and that’s the consistency you’re after).

Chef Olga Cabrera stirs one of 6 pots of mole, each in a traditional clay pot
Chef Olga Cabrera

If you’re thinking about OAXACA for your next adventure subscribe to our mailing list, and follow Conscious Travel Collective on IG or FB. We craft private travel for those looking for meaningful connection to places and people, so when you are ready to experience for yourself, we are here help make it happen!

The author of this blog is the Founder of Conscious Travel Collective, Tara Busch.

Hey there! I’m Tara, the founder of Conscious Travel Collective. After years in the travel industry and loving the opportunity to connect travelers with the world, I was struggling. Part of what troubled me was the absence of a critical element, one that makes travel so special - which is genuine, reciprocal, authentic connection! Connection with places, through the people that live there. So, with much intention, I started Conscious Travel Collective to offer folks travel that connects. We design luxury experiences at a reasonable price, with sustainable, ethical travel practices leading the way.

For more on our approach to private travel head over to our homepage. We are so happy to welcome you!


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