A trip to Mexico’s food capital, Oaxaca

Copal General Manager Brittany Harrison exudes passion for executive chef Ana’s traditional generational Oaxacan cuisine and the bar program headlined by an extensive mezcal selection. The food and drinks are served in a space splashed with a colorful palette and Oaxacan art, set amidst a big city modern Mexico vibe. 

Chapulines, grasshoppers sautéed with chile and lime, are a classic Oaxacan street food and make for an authentic start to a meal. Other appetizer favorites include Molotes (deep-fried chorizo and potato fritters) and Garnachas (bite-size tostadas filled with rich and flavorful beef). Entrée highlights include four types of moles and Tlayuda, another regional street food specialty, an enormous tostada eaten by hand with Oaxacan cheese and topped with chorizo, tasajo (wagyu steak) and cecina (pork adobo). Dessert options include flan and thinly sliced fried plantains with lechera drizzle. Hours are Wednesday-Sunday from 11:30am-8pm (Fri/Sat until 9pm). GT asked Harrison about the origins of Copal and her love for mezcal.

How did Copal come to be?

BRITTANY HARRISON: It started with the owners Noelle and Stuyvie meeting chef Ana while she featured her family’s recipes at different spots in town in pop-ups, competitions and large parties. Stuyvie grew up in Mexico City and traveled to Oaxaca with Noelle and their daughter often, so they wanted to combine their love of mezcal with her recipes and food to truly honor Oaxacan cuisine in Santa Cruz. Copal is a perfect collaboration of what they love and what she creates.

How did your affinity for mezcal develop? 

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I started off as an adult not liking alcohol at all. But through working with the owners and being educated on the origins of mezcal, I grew to realize and appreciate the diversity of flavors and how its history adds to my enjoyment. We have over 250 varieties of mezcal here, and I’m still trying to find my favorite one.

1203 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, 831-201-4418; copalrestaurant.com


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