Years ago I made my first trip to Oaxaca, and I still remember the warmth of the sun-baked cobblestone roads; even now, I can feel the crunch of chapulines in my mouth, chased by biting, local-made mezcal.
I also can’t seem to forget ducking into Criollo, the restaurant from Enrique Olvera (of Pujol fame), chef Luis Arellano, and architect Javier Sanchez. The stark white walls, punctuated by woven chairs and billowing white curtains. The tables, laden with black and tan Oaxacan ceramics that held complex moles and bright seafood tostadas. I remember thinking, I would live here if they let me.
Cut to me, back in New York City, learning that there was, in fact, a home at the back of that restaurant. Better yet: It was listed on Airbnb, and anyone could book it. So, one pandemic later, I did. It did not disappoint.
Casa Criollo, as the home is called, shares a building with its namesake restaurant. To get to the house itself, you rap on the door knocker outside Criollo, walk past the hot comal where tortillas are made, shimmy between tables, and turn a corner to find your private oasis.
It has two bedrooms, sleeps up to four (one bedroom has two twins, while the primary has a king), and has plenty of living space. At the front of the house in the garden, there’s an alfresco lounge area and a long wooden dining table shrouded in cacti and hanging dragonfruit plants. Indoors, you’ll find a living room with books and an always-full bottle of bicuixe mezcal, regularly delivered by a local maestro mezcalero known to the team as Señor Ipólito. In the backyard, a petite pool carved into concrete, with recliners and a fringed hammock hanging over the shallow end. These spaces flow naturally into one another, and I couldn’t help but envy the indoor-outdoor living I’d never be able to have in Brooklyn.
The photos speak for themselves, but the decor is, simply put, straight out of a design magazine. The clean lines, natural materials, and stark elegance of the restaurant continue here with soft touches—think woven pixtle rugs in the bedroom and bathroom, white waffle towels, and a tan palmera hat hanging on a hook.
I imagine most people would want to share beautiful Casa Criollo with loved ones—but I visited alone after a busy weekend in Mexico City. It was a treat to enjoy the surprising quiet of the Airbnb, swaying in the hammock with a fresh mezcal cocktail brought over from the restaurant. And the restaurant is, after all, the real reason to stay here.
Not only is Casa Criollo a beautiful rental, but everything served at Criollo is just a beck and call (well, Whatsapp message) away. The team can whip up rib-eye tacos, or memelitas (masa cakes topped with beans and cheese) and deliver them to your room. You can even enjoy Criollo’s tasting menu at your private table. And best of all, tea or coffee and breakfast—you have your pick of dishes like chilaquiles—is included with your stay. I’ve had many great travel experiences, but having breakfast delivered to my door by a world-famous restaurant was a first.