Thursday, May 8, 2014

San Miguel de Allende: Where to Eat and Drink in Centro

San Miguel de Allende has one thing a lot of other small towns don't...a great food scene.

Coming from Chicago, I was surprised to find with just 160,000 residents, San Miguel has over 238 restaurants. And for every restaurant listed on Trip Advisor, there are at least double the number of cantinas, street carts, dives, tortillerias, snack shacks and well-worn taquerias. Suddenly you're talking a lot of dining options and it seems like a new one is popping up every week.

Downtown San Miguel is laid out so that it's pretty hard to get lost once you know the lay of the land. And no matter what street you wander down, you'll find a great place to feast.

I say feast because dining in Mexico is more than just the experience of eating. A leisurely meal in Mexico is one of the great things about being here.

I don't have to say much about these restaurants. You know them and the pictures tell the story of just how good the food is.

You can access more information on the restaurants by putting the restaurant name in the search box in the left hand column.

If you're looking for an excuse not to cook today, here are 40+ reasons why going out is a good idea.

Another reason? The Surprise Factor. When you go to a restaurant, you never know who you're going to meet...and I've met some of the most intriguing people in the restaurants in San Miguel.

Buen Apetito and Happy Dining!

Calzada de Luz/Aurora:

Hansen's /#12

Consistently excellent food and service. Quality meats and produce.

Beautiful Caparese salad. Expert margaritas. 

Signature dish: Prime Rib.


Dos Casas/#101

Beautiful restaurant and patio in small, luxury hotel. Chef Gustavo Calderon serves contemporary Mexican cuisine. The menus have evolved seasonally to deliver only the freshest ingredients.


La Mesa Grande/#49

Good BLT's and wonderful baked good. The 60 peso lunch = Homemade pizza slice and a Modelo. Signature dish: made-to-order wood-grilled pizza.

Ancha de San Antonio:


Ecléctica cuisine at this bistro where 88 year old Irish Owner Siobhan and her daughter Chef Joanna turn out splendid, delicious dishes. The best kept secret in town. I love all the soups especially the Gazpacho.

Nemesio Diez/Calle Nueva:

Rosewood Hotel /#11 Nemesio Diez

1826 restaurant serves dishes made with the highest quality ingredients. Great Softshell crab and fish tacos. Wonderful fresh and interesting salads.

Luna Rooftop has views of the Parroquia and the city that are legendary. Bring lots of $$$.

La Cava is a reservation-only wine cellar with a first class selection of wines.

Nena Calenda Bar/#10 Calle Nueva

The team of mixologists at Calenda Restaurant and Bar inside Hotel Nena creates the most amazing Margarita. So amazing in fact that it won the CASA 2013 6th Annual Margarita Contest in San Miguel.

It is the perfect blend of sweet, savory and spice and included such things as chipotle, mandarin, pineapple juice, tamarind and an infusion of piloncillo (Azúcar mascabado) and guayaba and then infused with copal.

There is a beautiful, outdoor courtyard to enjoy them in. I say them because it's almost impossible to have just one.

Hernandez Macias:

Lavanda/# 87

One of the best places in SMA for breakfast. Love their French fries too so don't
miss out on lunch. 

Signature dish: Huevos Rancheros. The eggs look like perfect mounds of Oaxaca cheese. The most under-rated restaurant in SMA.

Hotel Sautto' Bacco Restaurant/# 59

I love this San Miguel classic inside a magnificent seventeenth century mansion with decoration reminiscent of the colonial era. Tuscan atmosphere with great Southern Italian food and brick oven baked thin crust Naples style pizzas. Old elegance. Garden seating is a great place to catch up and to sip a wide variety of wines. One of the best Margaritas in town.

El Tucan/ # 56

A cheap dive with great food. Take-out. Signature dish: Flautas. 6 for 30 pesos. Covered with veggies.


Chocolates Johfrej/# 2A

Chocoholics beware. This chocolate shop has an addictive selection of hand crafted chocolates. My favorite is the dark chocolate with a bit of chile. Johfrej uses only cacao nacional from Tabasco and Chiapas.

Signature dish: Hot Chocolate. It's served in an elegant, Mexican chocolate set and gives you two full cups for just 25 pesos.


Hank's/# 12

Popular New Orleans style eatery with Sunday brunch. 

Taco Tuesdays. 2x1 Martini Wednesday. 

Great gumbo and best onion rings in town.


Los Milagros/ # 13

Great plate of fajitas. Live music and transportation home if you've had a bit too much.
Signature dish: Molcajete Specials.


La Posidita/# 13

Exceptional views from this rooftop and only Mexican recommended restaurant by Chef Rick Bayless. Specialty dish: Cochinita Pibil.

Ten Ten Pie/# 53

Best place in town for people watching. Good hamburger and guacamole. On and off for Margaritas depending on who is making them. A specialty: Tacos de Pastor.

Hotel Matilda- Moxi/# 53

High quality, artistically creative dishes. Under direction of Chef Enrique Olivera. Moxi's cheese fries the best. 

Great breakfast of Yogurt, fruit and granola for 55 pesos. And who said hotel restaurant dining is expensive?

Posada Corazon/ # 9

Afternoon tea from 3:30-6:30 PM. 75 peso. Special tea with 5 kinds of herbs and raw honey. Nice, quiet grounds. A good place to meet up with an old friend.

La Mansion del Bosque/# 65:

Superb value breakfast for 45 pesos. Small family owned Bed and Breakfast with 22 rooms. Great place after a morning run in Juarez Park.

Juarez Park:

La Antigua Villa Santa Mónica
Fray Jose Guadalupe Mojica # 22

17 century architecture with elaborate gardens and Sunday Brunch. Favorite place to drink wine in front of the fireplace when it's cold outside.


The Restaurant/# 16

Consistently excellent food with Mexican/Asian menu. 

Farm to table with Moorish courtyard. Owner Donnie Masterton is a seasoned LA chef. Hamburger night Thursday. Great appetizers. 

My favorite dessert: Burnt Caramel Ice Cream Sundae.

Chamonix/# 17:

Tiny French restaurant with traditional dishes. Fresh and healthy appetizer ordered as an entree - Vietnamese Rolls 112 pesos.


Muro /# 10B

Frequently Number 1 on Trip Advisor. Classic Mexican dishes. Superb service.


La Parada/# 94

Famous dishes from the Peruvian coast. Flavorful Pisco Sour. I hate chicken livers but love them here Sautéed with Soy Sauce and Chile. Delicious Chinese Pig: Pork Ribs, Mirin and Soy Reduction with Garlic Mashed Potatoes. Ceviche of Salmon with Cucumber, Nori, Chinese Pea, SichimiTogarashi, Sesame Oil. Good service. Cash only.


La Sirena Gorda/ Barranca and Huertas

Oldest cantina in town. Best Ginger margaritas and fresh seafoods. Signature dish: Ceviches.


Andy's Tacos/# 85

Best little taco cart in San Miguel. Cheap. PM only. Lots of regulars so expect to dine standing, especially on the weekends. Don't miss the Tacos Al Pastor.


Petit Four/# 99

A savory selection of European-style baked goods, chocolates and sandwiches. 

Cooking classes. Great desserts.

El Meson Hotel Martinez Bar/# 80

A varied selection of Martinis and other drinks. Mexican wine bar with only Valle de Guadalupe wines. 

Signature drink: The Chilie Martini.

El Tomato/# 62

They serve grilled Argentinos Prime Beef including Arrachera when you get the sudden urge for a really good steak.

Canal/San Francisco:

Cent'anni / # 34 Canal

Unusual pizzas (eg: Caramelized apple pizza) and great pastas, soups and salads. 

Part of a chain out of DF.


Cumpanio/ # 29 Correo

Chic atmosphere with prime seating by the front windows. My favorite place to hang out in the AM.

Best Croissants and other flaky pastries and baked goods. Also love their version of the Conga which is a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink to which you can also add liquor. It's a delicious combination of pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine and grapefruit juice.

La Mezcaleria/# 47 Correo

Heavenly Mezcal Margaritas. The Pepino y Cilantro (Cucumber with Cilantro), the Gengibre y Menta (Ginger and Mint) and the Jamaica are fantastic. They are all made with fresh fruits and vegetables and not with any juices or mixes. Terrific, small Tapas menu.

Camino Silvestre Casa and Nectar Casa de Te/ # 43 Correo

Peaceful surroundings full of beautiful gifts. Great teas and Ambrosia Ice Creams including my favorite: Chai.

Off Correo:

El Pagaso/# 6 Corregidora
A mixed menu and delicious homemade pastries. Signature dish: Any of Ma. Guadalupe Lopez's baked goods.

La Azotea/ # 6 Umarán

Gorgeous rooftop where Tapas make the perfect dinner to share like this tuna on a thick-cut potato chip with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

Signature dish: their famous Jicama Taco. You can order it with shrimp, tuna or tofu. Not too pricy and great service.

Berlin Bar/ #19 Umarán

Their motto is "where first timers feel like regulars". European menu with local sourcing. I like their burgers. They also serve good Schnitzel and Brautwurst.

Orquidea Comida Thai/ #36 Umarán

Fresh, organic ingredients. Strong margaritas. Signature dish: Pad Thai

Mare Nostrum / # 56 Umarán

Great thin crust pizza and pasta made fresh daily. Garden seating.

Pila Seca/Cuadrante/Hospicio:

Andranza Sierra Nevada/# 35 Hospicio

Fresh, quality ingredients make up a varied menu and desserts are worth over-eating for.

Signature breakfast dish: Andanza Benedictine Eggs with Chorizo Sausage and Spinach.

Bhaji/ # 34 Cuadrante

Not Devon Street but good food when you're looking for an Indian fix. Signature dish: Chicken Tikka.