Monday, October 7, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things in San Miguel… Besides Tequila

Before I tell you my favorite things in San Miguel, I’ve heard yours.

Thanks to all the local readers who have given me the inside track on where to go over the past five months. You have moved me in the right direction.

Many of my favorite picks you’ll agree with but some of them you will not but that’s OK… soft spots are a matter of personal taste. They have convinced me however that the greatest influence of food is its power to move not only those who grew up with it but also those who are tasting it for the very first time.

I’m not pretending to know it all. I came here five months ago on a whim and I’ve hit up just about every restaurant in the city more than once. Quite frankly, I wish I had another six months. 

What should be easy categories - Italian, Pizza, Steak and Seafood - are still open. We’ll see what I discover in my last seven weeks here.

You have your favorites and thanks for sharing them with me.

Now, here are mine.

Buen Apetito!

Arrachera: El Tomato
Mesones 62

From the first time I had this early on at Sabores San Miguel, it remains one of my favorites. Honestly, I judge a restaurant by how they cook their Arrachera.

Art Classed:

Jane Dill’s Mixed Media Texture and Abstract Lettering
The Lab - Hernandez Macias 72
 Photo: Jane Dill's Website

Dee Roper’s Mixed Media Class
Dee Roper Gallery, Fabrica La Aurora, Calzada de la Aurora

I polled a lot of people on this one and got equally rave reviews back on both.

Artist Attraction: Fabrica La Aurora
Calzada de la Aurora

This place gives me divine inspiration. 

A day is simply not enough time to uncover all of the riches.


It’s up the hill to my house. I haven’t found anything here as good as the Asian I make.

Atmosphere: Nirvana
Camino Antigua Estacion FFCC 21-2, El Cortijo, El Santuario

It’s not just the serenity of the place. Their mole is some of the best.

Author: Sandy Baum

He’s the author of seven books on San Miguel and he’s a great chat when it comes to learning about where to travel in Mexico. You’ll find him Saturday mornings at the Organic Market if he’s in town.

Photo from Sandy Baum's website

Bar: La Sirena Gorda
Calle Barranca and Huertas

This place is an institution. Need I say more?

Barbacoa: Family Rodriguez
El TianguisTuesday Market

It was love at first bite but it was the Caldo that really won me over.

Bed and Breakfast:

$ Marica Dolce
Margarito Ledezma #12

One of the most economical Bed and Breakfasts in San Miguel. 

Owner Marcia Dolce gives you your money’s worth… and a few dozen laughs while she’s at it.

$$ Casa de la Cuesta
Cuesta de San Jose #32, Colonia Azteca

The most beautiful Bed and Breakfast in San Miguel houses the renowned Mask Museum. Surprisingly inexpensive for the level of luxury.

BLT: Mesa Grande
Zacateros 49

I would give this one on appearance alone to The Restaurant but the sandwich from Mesa Grande kept me connected to summer. Got me craving the flavor of their bacon on that crunchy wheat bread like a true BLT should.

Bolillos: Panaderia El Maple
Salida a Celaya #51\

Goes on my binge-food list. Eat them while they’re fresh and hot.

Bread: MiVida
Calle Hernandez Macias 97

A lot of good bread around but few with the substance of their Focaccia and miniature 15 peso pizzas.


$ Café Monet
Zacateros #83

$ Moxi at Hotel Matilda
Aldama 53

$$The Sierra Nevada
Hospicio 35

Café Monet has a great 40 peso breakfast. Moxi serves a fruit plate and yogurt for just 55 pesos or order off the menu at Sierra Nevada which has pancakes drowned in toffee-cajeta butter or a remarkable Egg’s Benedict with homemade chorizo.

Burger: Make it At Home

I’ve had some pretty good burgers all over town but none compare to my own. Buy the meat at Carniceria Los Tres Huastecos, Carlos Del Castillo 4, Colonia Guadalupe. They grind flank steak fresh when you ask for Molida Especial.

Cajun: Hank’s
Hidalgo 12

Americanos love Hanks…and what’s not to love about the Soft Shell Crab Sandwich or the gumbo...or the Bull Fights of which Hank’s is a major sponsor.

Carnitas: Bautista Brothers
El TianguisTuesday Market

I can make them at home but they are such an easy pick-up on Tuesday. Many are over done and dry but these are pretty perfect.

Cheese: La Cava

Love Blue Cheese. My favorite addiction and this place turned me into a bona fide cheese aficionada.

Chef: Chef Jose Bossuet Martinez at Café Contento
Hernandez Macias #72

Lots of good chefs in San Miguel but few who have a real passion for authentic Mexican.

Chocolate: Chocolates Johfrej
Calle de Jesus 2A

Addictive Hot Chocolate and the pitcher holds two cups for the price of one.


$Café Cathedral
Canal 88

$$Café Organico de Chiapas
Sollano 11

$$Café Buen Dias
Callejon del Pueblito #3-A

Impossible to pick just one. Café Cathedral does the textbook blends. Café Organico de Chiapas uses the best coffee. Café Buen Dias gives you the best design.

All of them a great AM wake up call.

Cooking Classes: Michael Coons The Inside Route Tour Company.
Casa de Cocinas – San Antonio

This chef offers hands-on classes and tastings in case you want to just sit back and eat. Inspiring food and first-rate company.

Craft Beer: The Beer Company
Ancha de San Antonio 17

So much about The Beer Company, their home-brew Dos Aves and Mark Taylor, the supreme brewmaster, that I loved as a novice. Look for their special Christmas brew and tell me what I missed.

Dessert: Burnt Caramel Ice Cream with Marshmallow Sauce and Salted Spanish Peanuts
The Restaurant, Sollano 16

I’ve tried them all. To die for flavors and a super big helping equals I could eat this for breakfast…like every day. 

Other really good desserts as well.

Dish: 1st: Cemitas 2nd: Mixiotes

I know they don’t make them here but I am still dreaming about Cemitas. Second choice: Mixiotes

Doughnuts: La Buen Vida
Hernández Macías 72

What do they use to make these doughnuts so delicious? Bigger and better than any I’ve had in the states.

Drinks: Tie- Atole and Mezcal

One for breakfast and the other…well, you can sip Mezcal at breakfast too if you like. Both will warm you up.

Event Information: San Miguel Events

A lot of sources here but San Miguel Events gives the most comprehensive review of what’s going on this week…and I always want to know.

Farmers Market: Saturday Organic Market
Corner of Ancha de San Antonio and Cardo on the grounds of Rosewood

I’ve met so many new people when I come here for breakfast that I also call this the social event of the week. Get here early as the best produce goes quickly.

Flautas: El Tucan
Hernando Macias #56

Where can you get a plate of delicious flautas like this for 25 pesos? What Guy calls a dive…but the best dive in San Miguel.

Food Festival: Sabores San Miguel 
Parque Juarez

Can’t wait to see what they come up with for 2014 because the show this year was first-class.

French Fries: Moxi at Hotel Matilda
Aldama 53

Truffled and covered in parmesan cheese. Close your eyes because this is what heaven tastes like.

Gringa Pigout: McDonalds
Plaza La Luciérnaga - Libramiento Manuel Zavala # 165

Sometimes I just crave American and this is just about as American as it gets. This is one place however I never eat at in the states.

Grocery Store: Bonanza
Mesones 43-A

My go -to place when I need some exotic ingredient.

Holiday: Day of the Dead

From the exquisite altars to decorating the graves to partying all night, it’s one celebration I’m going to get to do with my brother and sister this year.

Ice Cream: Thrifty
Celaya #3-A

Lots of discussion on Ice Cream but this brand offers the highest butterfat content and butterfat matters. Just have to do a few laps around Juarez Park before you indulge.

Icon: BVM

I grew up catholic and can safely say that I’ve reconnected. She is everywhere.

Indian: Bhaji
Cuadrante 34

Not Devon Street in Chicago but San Miguel good.

Italian: TBD

Lots of pizza, pasta and parmesan to sample. Stay tuned and make recommendations.  

Local Artist: Anado McLauchlin

Visit the fantasyland at Casa De Las Ranas and find out why Anado is the most resourceful artist in San Miguel.

Local Jeweler: Luna Morn
Artisan Market at Balderas and Colegio

Luna Morn has so many original Virgin de Guadalupe pieces… all at terrific prices.

Margarita: Café Rama
Calle Nueva 7

I tried to find another Margarita I like better but this is still my favorite…despite the 90 peso price tag.

Market: La Pulga Flea Market
Salon Los Pinos, Real Salida a Querétaro #145

Creative food vendors, great treasure hunting and super bargains. The vendors here take great market to another level.

Martini Bar: Martinez Bar
El Meson Hotel, Mesones 80

You’ll be confused when you see the menu. Don’t care about the glass they are served in because all of them deliver a kick and a half.

Meat: La Lonja
Mesones #33

The shop is immaculate and they have good quality meats. That’s reason enough for me.

Mexican Handicrafts: Yaruke
Hernandez Macias 93

Yolanda Varela is one of the nicest shop owners in San Miguel. The quality and price of her treasures are worth a look… and a purchase. 

I always find the unusual here like this Day of the Dead gift.

Mural Artist: Chet Kempczynski

I watched his work in progress all summer and the colors of San Miguel speak to me every morning.

Museum: Mask Museum
Casa de la Cuesta - Cuesta de San Jose #32, Colonia Azteca

Impressive collection of ceremonial masks. If you call, they give you a personal tour. One of the most attention-grabbing places in San Miguel.

Nighlife: Hacienda de Guadalupe
Hidalgo #4

Reserve Table 34. We had a great time here every Thursday night dancing to the Cuban sound. Ask of the 2 for 1.

Pastry Chef:

$$Paco Cardenas Baez, Petit Four Bakery
Mesones 99

$Ma. Guadalupe Lopez, Reposterio Pegaso
Corregidora 6

To die for chocolate indulgences at Petit Four and good quality pastry from the chef whose son religiously licks her spoon every Saturday morning.

People Watching: The outdoor seating at Ten Ten Pie
Cuna de Allende and Cuadrante

So many wonderful people watching moments at this corner I quit counting. I’ve seen just about everything from this table… just not my prince.

Place to Explore: The Campo

There’s a lot of land to explore in the campo…most a very short distance from San Miguel. Check out the San Miguel Hiking Club to see it all.

Photographer: Jo Sanders, Javier Barras and Barry Weiss
Academia de Fotographia, Mesones 57 Interior #B

From their gallery meet-ups every Thursday to field trips around Mexico, Jo and Javier deliver a long-lasting educational experience.

San Miguel photographer Barry Weiss will show you what chasing your dreams and pursuing a passion is all about. 

Pizza: TBD

Haven’t quite nailed this down yet. Chicago pizza is hard to do a one-up on.

Produce: Vegetable Guy from Celaya
Salida a Celaya # 51 in front of El Maple

He’s not there every day but when he is he’s got exquisite produce at a great price. Last trip I got a huge bag of beautiful baby tomatoes for 10 pesos.

Queso Fundito: La Posadita
13 Cuna de Allende

Rick Bayless’s go-to Mexican in San Miguel. Mine too!


Quiche: Isabelle Ortega
Corner of Ancha de San Antonio and Cardo on the grounds of Rosewood

Isabelle’s pies are authentically French and C'est Delicieux!

Ribs: The Restaurant
Sollano 16

Since I didn’t have a BBQ this summer, the Restaurant helped me curb my cravings by providing the best rib stack drowned in Teriyaki sauce for just 100 pesos.

Restaurant: The Restaurant
Sollano 16

No matter how many times you debate it, Chef Donnie Masterton delivers. When I want a great meal, this is where I always land. They are consistent and rarely miss the mark.

Rooftop: Tie:

$$$ Luna Rooftop at the Rosewood
Nemesio Diez 11

$$ La Azotea
Umaran 6

I love rooftops and these are two of the best. Weather perfect moments that serve small plates and healthy size drinks…not to mention the views.

Rugs: Margarito Jimenez M.
Sterling Dickinson #15, San Antonio

These rugs are so beautiful and thick you’ll sink into them…and the prices will surprise you. You can custom order. His loom is in his shop which makes it an interesting trip.

Seafood – TBD

Being this far from the coast I’m skeptical. Open to some additional recommendations but so far a no-go for me.

Service: Muro
Loreto 10B

Not only do they have great food, but the service here is the unsurpassed and that’s why guests have voted this place number one on Trip Advisor.

Shopping - Women:

Calle Juárez #15 across from San Francisco Church

$$Sofia Collection
Jesus #5

$$ Black and White Botique
Margarito Ledezma #12 – Colonia Guadalupe

Hernandez Macias #72

From low end to high…these are the top women’s clothing shops to browse and buy. All four have impressive selections.

Shopping: Calle Loreto

Plenty of little Mexican handicraft shops on this street to explore. In many cases, prices are really hard to beat.

Sombreros: Mercado Ignacio Ramirez 

I’ve gotten into hats since I came to San Miguel. Do I need another one? Don’t even have to think about that question.

Steak  –TBD

So many places recommended to me but none of them have captured the enormous flavor of the just- off- the- grill steak. I’m from Chicago so I’m kind of picky.

Taco: La Azotea’s Jicama Taco
Umaran 6

Delicious, atypical and hands down the best at 45 pesos a pop.

Tequila: Too many great brands to pick a favorite

I’m a tequila girl from way back and after so many tastings, it’s hard to say which tequila is my favorite. I like them all.

Photo by  Cupcakes and Crablegs Tequila Expert Cesar Mascorro Perez 

Wine Store: La Europa
Canal 13

Best prices in San Miguel. Friends have turned me on to XA Vinos DOMECQ Blanc de Blancs (White) and the L.A Cetto Petit Shiraz (Red). Both are under 90 pesos a bottle and delicious.