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El Mirador Serves Up More Than A Spectacular View

Where the locals dine ... a review of Restaurante El Mirador in Oaxaca by author Arlene Starkman of Casa Machaya
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Since 1978 El Mirador has been catering to almost exclusively Oaxacans, without help from the tourist dollar. It must be doing something right! There's the breathtaking cliffside open air view of the city below and surrounding mountains, just up the road and across from the Auditorio Guelaguetza. Perhaps more important is the consistency of its food (I've been dining there for about ten years.)
Descending the staircase from the parking area you enter the main level with a relaxed mixed décor of rustica pine tables and chairs in the interior, and PVC Coke chairs with linen covered tables on the patio. There's a juke box, glass case filled with stuffed animals which muchachos can purchase to impress their señoritas, and multicolored cut-out tissue banners. The lower level has a club style modern ambience, with ceiling-high picture windows to assure the same exquisite vista, lengthy bar, raised band platform and big-screen TV. Here in the evenings you can enjoy the sounds of a guitar strumming troubadour, and Thursday through Saturday dance salsa and cumbia to the beat of a local band. Depending on the hour and day, patrons consist of friends out for an evening, work colleagues, young lovers, fiesta celebrants, and invariable during Guelaguetza, groups of dancers from throughout the state. On a Thursday evening in June, by the time we left at 11 PM both levels were at 75% capacity.
Service is reliable with a surprisingly good complement of waiters. Drinks from an extensive bar menu arrive promptly. If you haven't tried a michelada, beer mixed with a spicy chili/lime concoction, experience it here. Salads and soups are reliable staples to begin, but for the former, stick to the green or mixed salad, since the "chef" is mainly meats and cheese atop a mound of iceberg. My daughter's shrimp soup was light, deliciously tomato based, containing a good count of fresh camarones. For a botaña I would avoid the cold cheese and meat platter, unless you're a head cheese fan. However, both the Botañas Mirador and Oaxaqueña are scrumptious, arriving hot with samplings of traditional meats, and additional appetizers in the case of the latter. If you're out for a light meal, consider skipping the entrée since portions are healthy. I nevertheless went for the skewered meat plate (alambre)...tender beef, tomato, yellow pepper and onion, over a bed of rice, accompanied by fries with a welcomed medley of steamed veggies.
The tlayudas and parrilladas are highly recommended. Tlayudas are oversized tortillas. They are served crunchy with a light layer of requisite asiento and refried beans, then topped with lettuce and both traditional Oaxacan cheeses. Try ordering with your choice of beef (tasajo), chili seasoned pork (cecina), or sausage (chorizo.) The tlayudas at El Mirador are among the best I've had. The parrillada: a hibachi-type BBQ arrives at your table, coals still aflame so as to complete the grilling of an impressive array of Oaxacan meats and vegetables including nopal and long green scallion onions, sizzling with quesillo. It's accompanied by tortillas, guacamole, salsa, black beans and a saucy bean and salchicha side dish known as charros. If you opt for this meal, go easy on the appetizers.
El Mirador offers casual, moderately priced dining…or an opportunity to get out for a cappuccino or drinks with light snacks. Downstairs there's a 25 peso cover when the band plays.

Carr. Internacional KM. 3 S/N, Cerro del Fortín, Oaxaca. Tel: (915) 516-5820

Arlene Starkman, a resident of Oaxaca, gives private cooking lessons with Esperanza Chavarria, a native chef who has been winning national competitions representing Oaxacan cuisine for 30 years. Arlene and her husband Alvin operate Casa Machaya Oaxaca Bed & Breakfast.

View from the Restaurante Mirador outdoor dining area

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