Sunday, January 5, 2020

Seven Hours and Counting: New Years Eve at Atrio

I don't know about you but our list of much loved restaurants in San Miguel de Allende is long; longer than it should be for a town this size and since we did chef tributes in 2019, we’ll do some to our favorite restaurants in 2020. Atrio is one of them. 

We spent the better part of the final night of 2019 photographing Atrio’s staff as they prepared for a New Year’s party for 135 hungry customers. 

It was our second year of doing it; one of our favorite nights of the year. 

We also dipped into the Casa Dragones; SMA’s favorite tequila.

Atrio’s staff moves in concert to the pace of its exceedingly friendly and experienced leader, Luis Vela. Our choice for the Restaurant Manager of the year, he always gets the very best from each and every one of his people and has earned the respect of every one of Atrio’s loyal customers, and there are many. We think that’s pretty impressive.

We've been to Atrio more than a few times; in fact, we've been there a lot. One of the single best meals in San Miguel de Allende is at Atrio - the caramelized Red Snapper - the dish of the year and one of the many brilliant creations from Chef Arturo Sandoval, who always pushes his cuisine to the next level. This dish alone is worth a trip to the restaurant. Then there's the Spanish rices; perfectly cooked in a Josper charcoal oven from Spain. I finally tasted the seafood rice for the first time a few months ago; I finally went out of my comfort zone and tried something new. Taking chances at the table are extensions of who you are so our New Year’s resolution is to say YES to everything in 2020.

The menu at Atrio is always a work in progress and the best dish on the menu is likely to be the one that Chef Arturo Sandoval recently created; this sushi made with Soft-shell crab - not on the menu yet but certain to be a crowd pleaser in 2020. We heard that Chef Sandoval also made one with lobster toay; we have yet to try it. In fact, since we’ve eaten nearly everything on the menu at Atrio, we can tell you that every dish is astonishing, perfectly prepared and flawlessly seasoned.
You’ll find Atrio located on Cuna de Allende by looking inside for the artistic tree at street level, decked out with exquisite, hand-painted ornaments from Guerrero. Like the restaurant, this tree is also one-of-a-kind; we can hardly wait to see the embellishments once the seasons change.
I remember Atrio when it was being built - climbing the stairs and holding onto the back of nephew, Eduardo Pérez Calvo’s shoulders with high expectations of seeing the ultimate prize when we reached the top: the Parroquia; one of the single most beautiful views in SMA. Even today it took me back to when I saw it for the first time; an icon for which SMA is best known and beloved. And what's also not to love but the brothers, Atrio owners, Jose Maria Calvo (Chema) and Jesus Manuel Calvo (Chus), who have gifted SMA with three of the city’s most popular restaurants.   

You'll never be overwhelmed by the menu at Atrio; this comfort food is genuinely defined. It’s small with unlikely touches - the Tacos Orientales Pan Boa al vapor is one of our favorite appetizers. But that's not our only favorite - a dozen or so main courses are featured, along with a host of exceptional small plates. One of their best desserts is a dish that has been on the menu since day one: the mandarin cheesecake; it’s the original and still one of our favorite desserts in SMA.
The service is so SUPERB, we’ve adopted every one of the staff. Laura Camillo Ariza is our pick for the best waiter in SMA for 2019; her attention to even the smallest detail is simply remarkable. 
Atrio has unforgettable, consistent flavors that hold their own identity, a gorgeous atmosphere with stunning, in-your-face views of the Parroquia and superb service, with waiters who know what you want even before you know you need it yourself.

A home-away-from-home restaurant, what else do you require when you’re dining out, except perhaps an ice cold glass of Wente to make things perfect?

A  special thanks to Abraham, Belen, Manuel, Antonio, Marcela, Carlos, Isai, Jaffna, Valerea, Borje, Joel, Laura and all the staff for a dazzling New Year's Eve. 

Cuna de Allende #3
Daily 1:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Chef Arturo Sandoval

Friday, December 27, 2019

Six Favorite Go-To Spots in San Miguel de Allende

In January 2020, we’ll summarize all the best of 2019. In the mean time, we’re closing out the year with six restaurants; all favorites and regular stops  on our monthly tastings around SMA.

Buen Provecho!

Marsala cocina con acentos
We first met and photographed Marcela Bolaño back in 2016, when she was moving to SMA to open a restaurant. Little did we know back then that Marcela Bolaño and her partner, Ximena De Leon Campomanes, would go on to create one of the best and most popular restaurants in San Miguel de Allende, Marsala cocina con acentos. 

You always get a signature welcome from Marcela when she’s in her kitchen and if she’s not, chances are she’s wandering the world, dreaming up new dishes to bring back to SMA to cook for you. 

We eat with our eyes and one of the most important characteristics of Marcela’s food is that it’s beautiful. I’m not just talking about the plating; I’m talking about the food itself, made from the freshest ingredients using delicate flowers and other tiny accents.

We recently celebrated these two with a late afternoon meal with some of our favorite dishes and a post-meal Sobremesa, not leaving the restaurant until 4 hours later. We love the cultural tradition of Sobremesa; something Marcela told us about recently.

They celebrated their third year anniversary on December 7, 2019 with a special dinner where Chef Marcela Bolaño cooked with two other renowned SMA chefs, Armando Prats Leal and Esmeralda Brinn Bolaños

Thank you Marcela Bolaño and Ximena De Leon Campomanes for three fabulous years at Marsala cocina con acentos. LOVE you two; LOVE your food!

Marsala cocina con acentos
Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias #48
Monday, Wednesday - Saturday: 1 PM - 10 PM
Sunday: 11 AM - 3 PM
Tuesday: Closed

Nomada cocina de interpretacion 
There are TWO Nomada cocina de interpretacion in SMA with a new location opening up in the Yo San Miguel Gallery at Jesus #27 on December 13.

While you can still get the fabulous 5-star creations, Wednesday tasting menus and special dinners at the original Nomada cocina de interpretacion, the new location will feature lighter fare; inspired cuisine from all over Mexico, including dishes that Chefs Marco Cruz and Sofia Sofía Antillón grew up with.

The new Nomada will also feature Chef Sofia Antillon’s healthy juices made with all fruit and no sugar. They are exceptional combinations, fine-tuning the flavors as the seasons change. 
We tried two of the new breakfast dishes including the pancakes with plum and chocolate and they were amazing. The full-blown sensation was the Brioche with cheddar cheese that’s wrapped in bacon and covered with maple syrup. This gets our vote for the most indulgent breakfast dish in town. And maybe if you blink twice, Sofia’s Apple and Brie sandwich will be back on the menu again.

Nomada cocina de interpretacion
Jesus #27
Breakfast: 8:30 AM – 12:00 Noon
Lunch: 12:00 Noon – 7:00 PM

Nomada cocina de interpretacion
Hernandez Macias #88
Monday, Wednesday – Saturday: 12:00 Noon – 10:00 PM  
Tuesday: 12:00 Noon to 8:00 PM
Sunday closing 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

My new favorite dish at Rustica is the spinach frittata - one of the few dishes that has no regionality; it's a true Italian classic.

I'm really particular about how my frittata is cooked - I like it thin, just like it's made at Rustica. It's one of the best things to eat when you're craving healthy with plenty of high-quality protein, incorporating mushrooms and then topping it off with a pile of arugula. Another healthy addiction - the beet smoothie; our favorite smoothie of 2019. 

And when we're not craving healthy - what else but the almond croissant, baked fresh for Rustica by Buonforno. It's the perfect breakfast with a cup of Latte - another Italian classic served with a tiny homemade cookie made by Denise Rosenfeld.

We like so many things at Rustica we may just have to eat the entire menu to determine a winner. For now it's the frittata! Stay tuned.

Salida a Celaya #34
Open: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

With drinks and food on equal playing fields these days, some of the best bars in town have created small but fabulous menus; all three having food offerings that are not your typical bar food of Nachos, wings or Jalapeno poppers.

San Mezcal
Get your Winter Beach on with a bottle of Cerveza Dos Equis and while you’re at it, order two of our favorite bar foods - the 2019 stand outs of Al Pastor French Fries and the BLT sandwich made with both red and green tomatoes and brushed with a smear of chipotle mayo.The menu is packed with unusual and delicious dishes.Try any of the 100+ brands of Mezcal and while you’re at it, give a friendly SMA hello to all the visitors who start their Mezcal tour from this bar. 

San Mezcal
Recreo # 88
Sunday - Monday: 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Wednesday - Saturday: 5:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Tuesday: Closed

The Bar at the R
With delicious STIX, Tempura Green Beans and plenty of homemade Sushi, The Bar at the R is a great place to share Asian small plates and conversation. Order a textbook Margarita; many made with exotic flavors. A great spot for music lovers, there’s an impressive mix of music genres; all perfectly harmonizing with the remarkable food and drinks. 

Our favorite bar in the city, the fireplace makes it perfect to celebrate a cool winter's evening in SMA.

The Bar at the R
Sollano 16
Sunday, Tuesday – Thursday: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Friday – Saturday: 6:00 PM – 12:00 AM
Closed: Monday

Bar Margaret at Hotel Amparo
You’ll find one of the best Mixologists in town, Gabriel Avila, at Bar Margaret, tucked in the front of Hotel Amparo; one of the small, luxury hotels of the world. 

Try one of the Bloody Mary’s, a Green Snapper, made with tomatillos and gin instead of the customary tomato juice and vodka. Also experience Gabriel’s legendary Vesper Martini, made with Vodka, Gin and an infused French vermouth; the smoothest Martini we’ve ever sipped. 

Get into some of the interesting food on the bar menu, made by Chef Kenten Marin, who creates the best Southern comfort food in the city.One surprising appetizer is his panko-coated, fried deviled egg. It gets our vote for one of the best appetizers in SMA.

Bar Margaret recently hosted a Christmas fair where hotel owner, Mariana Barran de Goodall, surprised everyone by decking out the entire hotel in Christmas greens. It’s one of our favorite places in the city to jump into the spirit of the holidays and celebrate SMA. 
Bar Margaret at Hotel Amparo
Mesones #3
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM