A first class Oaxacan lunch

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La Purísima is a quiet refuge from the busy streets of Oaxaca. It’s 2 p.m. You’ve spent the morning perusing the 20 de Noviembre market, strolling through the lively Zócalo and visiting one of the many museums which dot the historic central district of Oaxaca.

You’re intoxicated by the many sights and lively tempo of Oaxaca. But your feet are tired, you’re hungry and you need respite from the heat. Continue your Oaxacan experience in refreshing comfort with a late lunch at La Purísima.

Located inside the Palacio Bourghese hotel, the small, elegantly decorated dining room is about 10 degrees cooler and much quieter than the busy streets. European artwork combines with white Moorish arches to create a relaxing courtyard atmosphere. Comida (late lunch) is the main meal of the day in Mexico, and this urban oasis is the perfect place to enjoy the multi-course affair.

A traditional Oaxacan meal starts with a Botana Oaxaqueña: a plate of Oaxacan cheese, grilled meats and chapulines (crickets fired with garlic and chilies).

Any combination of these should be wrapped in a freshly made tortilla with refried beans and the ubiquitous guacamole and salsa roja (red sauce). The Botana Oaxaqueña would be a fine light lunch for two, but be mindful of the courses to come.

These appetizers are typically followed by a soup. This reviewer enjoyed a refreshing cream zucchini soup with zucchini flowers, flavoured with epazote (a local herb similar to oregano) and a refreshing hint of mint.

The choices for a main course are rotated daily, but will never disappoint. Whether you enjoy the mole negro, coloradito, ammarillo or verde, the rich complex flavours of classic Oaxacan cuisine offer a unique culinary experience, impossible to truly replicate outside the region.

Finally, no comida is complete without dessert. I’d suggest one of the lighter offerings to round out the richness of the feast.

If you were lucky enough to have booked one of the rooms at the Palacio Bourghese, you are steps away from enjoying another Mexican institution: the siesta. If you haven’t, asking the attentive and courteous staff for an opportunity to see the rooms is highly recommended. Each one is breathtakingly and uniquely decorated in a style that melds classic Italian with traditional Mexican flair.

If you are not in the mood for Oaxacan food or the Mexican schedule, La Purísima also offers a Mediterranean menu. The dining room closes at five, but their rooftop terrace is open from 3-11 p.m.

La Purísima is located at Allende 208, three blocks west of the Santo Domingo church.

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