Oaxaca with Justin Bazdarich
One Departure Only | July 11 - 17, 2020
Mexico in Every Sense
Explore Oaxaca's food, art and culture with chef Justin Bazdarich
July 11 - 17, 2020
One departure only, limited spots
7 Days, 6 Nights
Oaxaca City, Teotitlan del Valle, San Sebastián Teitipac
The plucked notes of a nylon-string guitar drift from a meandering mariachi musician. Colorful carved, hand-painted ornaments hang from the ceiling, dancing along. You’re sitting at a long wooden table feasting family-style on a succulent barbecued goat pit-roasted in your honor. Wash it down with a bit of mezcal and toast to everything ahead: Zapotec culture, traditional flavors, thriving Mexican markets. This is a serenade for the senses, as only Oaxaca can provide.
This journey comes with the perfect companion, Justin Bazdarich. He’s the chef and owner of New York pizza favorite Speedy Romeo, and his personal love letter to Mexican cuisine, Oxomoco. Pizza and Mexican seem wildly divergent, yet for Justin they are both bound by simplicity and a wood-fired oven. Justin is ready to dive deep and explore Oaxaca’s ancient applications of smoke and fire to develop flavor.
If you love exploring new cultures and traditional flavors, this trip is for you. We’ll prep our own farm-to-table lunch at an urban oasis, get familiar with ancient Zapotec traditions, get invited into the homes of local artists, taste mezcal in agave farms where it originated, and relax at a luxurious hacienda in the mountains. This is everything you were searching for in Mexico, and so much more.
Traditional Oaxaca cuisine: rich mole sauces, spiced chocolate, street tacos—even toasted grasshoppers
Colorful food markets and artist workshops, agave farms and ancient pyramids
Cook with Justin and local families, learn to make the best tamales you've ever tasted
With traditional weavers and sculptors, with Oaxaca's vibrant art scene, its ancient cultures and traditions
3 Reasons to Travel with Justin Bazdarich
Justin’s dishes are flavored by his frequent travels. His award-winning Neapolitan pizzas at Speedy Romeo borrow from dishes and ingredients he’s tasted in Italy. And his deeply popular Mexican fare at Oxomoco pulls from the diverse flavors of Mexico, particularly Oaxaca. Put simply, you can bet Justin has something to bring to the table as a travel partner.
Justin lives by the motto, “How can I be better tomorrow than I was today?” It’s the mindset that's put him on the fast track from a garlic-peeling intern to chef/owner of three restaurants.
Justin’s restaurants are as successful as they are different. His first two are Italian-inspired joints (think pizza, steak, fish). His latest serves Oaxaca-inspired fare. The connection? Each uses a wood-fired oven to create a unique smoky flavor.
Justin has a no-nonsense attitude and appreciates simple fare—like a pizza topped with Provel cheese, a staple of his native Missouri. Ask him about the time before he opened his own restaurants, when he’d order a cheese-less Domino’s pizza and top it with Provel goodness...
Day by Day
Oaxaca packs in so much of the complex, fascinating culture of Mexico. We’ll experience it all—at artist studios, ancient ruins, local markets, street-food stands, hacienda hotels.
Day 1 | July 11
Bienvenidos a Mexico! We’ll meet up with the group and get oriented with one of Latin America’s great colonial wonders: Oaxaca City. We’ll walk through the cobblestone streets and snack through its central markets, a feast of the senses where tasajo (dried meats) hang, open fires grill delicious tlayudas (toasted tortillas topped, pizza-style, with Oaxacan string cheese and thin-grilled meats), and vendors scurry past offering chapulines (roasted grasshoppers) and pastry-like pan de yema stacked in woven baskets. Yummy (even those grasshoppers, we promise).
In the evening, we’ll toast the start of our adventure with local mezcal—of course—then have terrace seats overlooking Oaxaca’s flood-lit cathedral domes for an inspired, open-air dinner together.
Day 2 | July 12
Oaxaca’s sense of art is vibrant, ageless—and everywhere. Today we go to its source, artist home-studios in nearby mountain villages. First we’ll drive into the Mixtec Mountains and meet local ceramicists Manuel Reyes and Marisela Gómez. They’ll invite us into their home studio and show how they use local clay and natural fibers to craft their signature figurines. Then the artist couple will sit with us for a home-cooked meal of red mole and mezcal. Next we visit Casa de Arte San Agustin. This cavernous former textile factory was converted into an art space and donated to the rural community by the great Oaxacan artists and philanthropist Francisco Toledo.
Afterwards we return to the city, where the evening is ours to explore Oaxaca’s irresistible food and nightlife: world-class restaurants open for dinner and taco stands set up along the lit-up zocalo, just a few blocks from our hotel.
Day 3 | July 13
Today we get the true Oaxacan farm-to-table experience. Our morning is at Rancho 314 (Tres Catorce to the locals), an urban farm on the edge of the city that supplies the top local restaurants with produce. We’ll break into small groups and take turns making mole, tamales, Oaxacan cheese with top Oaxaca chef, Rodolfo Castellanos of Origen restaurant, and get a hands-on look into the local flavor profiles. We’ll be led in the art of tamale making by Chef Rodolfo’s mother—owner of Rancho 314—before we lunch together al fresco. Savor the feast and enjoy all the local delicacies we had a hand in preparing. Back in the city, we’ll have free time for the rest of the afternoon and evening to enjoy more of the flavors and the vibrant culture.
Day 4 | July 14
Who’s ready for pyramids and mezcal? First, we begin this epic day with a morning to build a hefty thirst. The hilltop ruin of Monte Albán dates from 500 BC, a vast complex of pyramids, a palace, shrines—easily one of Mesoamerica’s grandest sites. We explore its monumental scale and the intricate carvings of bas relief sculptures, with one of Mexico’s great colonial cities sprawling below us.
Next, on the way to the village of Santa Catarina Minas, we’ll stop for lunch in San Martin. Feast on succulent barbecued meat the traditional way—cooked in the ground, generously in our honor as guests. Full from lunch, we take a quick drive by rows of agave plants in the mountain valleys, to meet up with a fourth-generation mezcalero in Santa Catarina Minas. Agave is everywhere here. We’ll learn how these passed-down, timeless techniques turn agave hearts into the smoky cousin-spirit of tequila—one of Oaxaca’s famed exports. After a tasting, or two, of the artisanal mezcal on hand, we’ll return to Oaxaca, where we’ll visit Seasons of My Heart, a cooking school and restaurant owned by iconic Texas chef Susana Trilling. Justin sought advice from Susana’s chef son before starting Oxomoco. He’s excited to toast to this familial connection and the end of our adventure together!
Day 5 | July 15
Today we pack for our country retreat in the mountains, where villages devoted to arts and crafts lurk in valley shadows. We’ll stop at the Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle, a weaving village with about 5,000 people (and 2,000 looms). We’ll meet weavers of a local collective, who’ll demonstrate their intricate craft using natural fibers for dyes (and even a grounded insect for the bright reds), just as they have for the past fourteen generations. Then we’ll drop by a home to learn to make some local recipes and have lunch with a Zapotec family (try to say xtiuzu’u instead of gracias).
In the afternoon, we head to our home for the next two nights. Our own 300-year-old hacienda feels like a private retreat in the mountains. Kick back by the pool or indulge in the on-site spa before the night’s main event. A big meal with live music and more drinks await, as Justin is preparing an unforgettable banquet meal with ingredients sourced from local organic farms and producers.
Day 6 | July 16
Our final day is ours to enjoy. The hacienda can arrange hiking, bike riding or horseback riding across the neighboring mountain vistas, book a message or take part in a guided sweat lodge temazcal experience. These lodges have been used for purification for millennia, so we think they’ll do the trick for the morning.
We meet up in the afternoon for an up-close-and-personal meeting with a local shaman, who’ll share the secrets of a cleansing ritual that’s been in practice here for thousands of years, using smoked copal to bid farewell to negative energies. We’ll leave feeling electric and magical, and toast the results at our huge final dinner as the stars twinkle in the clear Oaxaca night sky.
Day 7 | July 17
All great things come to an end, alas. We’ll have a big farewell breakfast at the hacienda: hot chocolate (not too sweet, not too rich), hand-patted just-made tortillas, huevos rancheros blanketed in a richly flavorful mole. Then we’ll bid farewell to Justin and to Oaxaca, and pack our things for a short drive back to Oaxaca City for wherever your journey next takes you. Buen viaje!
El CallejonOaxaca City
Off a central side street, a few blocks from the zocalo and central shops and eateries, a street gate opens into a breathtaking oasis that’s our Oaxaca City home: a boutique hotel with a dozen spacious rooms blending the city’s distinctive styles. Serenity reigns in its thoughtful garden spaces, with palm trees, covered walkways and an outdoor patio bar.
Ex Hacienda San AntonioSan Sebastián Teitipac
A 300-year-old hacienda tucked away in the mountains, just 45 minutes’ drive south of Oaxaca City. Mountains press on the cacti-filled premises, where arched walkways look in toward an open, interior courtyard and bell tower. Each of the 16 rooms has been lovingly restored in a mix of traditional and contemporary designs. There are two pools (one inside, one out) and an on-site spa, plus hiking, horseback riding and biking options. The hacienda is relaxing and private, the ideal place to soak in the golden dusk with a cocktail.
Book Oaxaca with Justin Bazdarich
That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below. Or text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018 to speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.
What does the price include?
Six nights at unique four- and five-star accommodations; private travel for all day trips and excursions; private tours with local guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings; guided activities, adventures and expeditions; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners; local beverages with meals.
What does the price not include?
International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; transportation to the trip’s starting point; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; food and beverages not included in itinerary; gratuity for tour leader.
Where does this trip start and end?
Our adventure begins at 10:00am on Saturday, July 11, 2020 at the El Callejon Hotel in Oaxaca, Mexico. The closest airport is the Oaxaca International Airport (OAX). We recommend arriving on or before July 10 to ensure you’re at our starting point on time.
Our last day is Friday, July 17, 2020. The closest airport is the Oaxaca International Airport (OAX) in Oaxaca, Mexico approximately a one hour drive from the hacienda. Your flight home should be scheduled to depart at 1:00pm or later from here.
What travel documents are needed?
US citizens are not required to have a visa for tourist visits to Mexico, but are required to show a valid US passport. It is recommended that your passport is valid for six months after your travels are over. On arrival in the airport, you will be issued a visitor’s permit, known as a FMM (Forma Migratoria Multiple). For citizens of other countries, please check with the Mexico Embassy or Consulate for information and requirements.
Do I need to pay a solo traveler supplement?
For solo travelers, there is a $1,200 single-supplement fee—paid at the time of booking to secure a private room. If you would like us to pair you with a roommate, that option may be available upon checkout—these spots are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Who is going on this trip?
Our adventures typically have between 10 and 20 guests, and our Modern Adventure Team. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests—including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. This adventure is for travelers age 18 and above.
Who is leading this trip?
This trip is led by an expert Modern Adventure Trip Leader. They’re an experienced travel guide, a representative of Modern Adventure and your go-to person for questions or concerns on the trip. We’ll be joined throughout our adventure by local, expert guides who are deeply knowledgeable with respect to local cultures, customs and history and are passionate about sharing that with us.
What is the cancellation policy?
You may cancel on or before April 6, 2020 and receive a full refund minus a $500 per-person service fee. If you cancel between April 7 and May 11, there is a 50% cancellation fee; on or after May 12 there is a 100% cancellation fee. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance as we are not able to make exceptions to this policy in cases of family/medical emergency or of the trip being canceled (see our Terms and Conditions for full details).
HOW DO I RESERVE A COMPLIMENTARY PRE-NIGHT?
Book any Mexico trip between September 6-30, 2019 and enjoy an extra day on us. Enter promo code MOADMEXICO at checkout to receive complimentary pre-night accommodations. Promotion is only applicable to new, online bookings for a maximum of 2 guests. There is a limit of 5 pre-night rooms per trip and is based on double-occupancy. Singles will be placed with other singles.
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Speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.
Text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018