Monday, June 9, 2014

Let's Eat San Miguel: Savory Bites Under 100 Pesos - Part l: Under 50 Pesos

                                                                                BLT: MiVida bread. El Tucan sandwich.

Prices are on the rise, especially at the restaurants in San Miguel. It use to be that you could get a great lunch for under 100 pesos. Now, you have to hunt for one.

Blame it partially on the VAT which increased to 16% on January 1st of this year.

We consolidated some of our previous posts to make it easier for you and added the prices but we also talked to many of the restaurants in San Miguel over the past month and asked what they had on their menu for under 50 pesos ($3.84) and also for 100 pesos ($7.68) or less.

Over the next few weeks, you'll get 80 places to go for a deal.

You may be surprised that some of the places on the list are ones that people assume are expensive. They're actually not when you consider the quality of the food and also that many portions are big enough to share.

Yes, we like splits and are listing them as an alternative to those places who serve mediocre food or use less than standout ingredients. To us, food quality matters.

Do we have any tips when it comes to keeping within a food budget when eating out?

1.    Eat your meals out during the day instead of at night. Breakfast is a deal and comida is also much less than ordering a dinner. On the average, lunch menus are 25 percent cheaper than dinner menus.

2.    The best way to guarantee a bargain is to cut out the alcohol. Some people I know have at -home cocktail parties before they go out and stick with one glass of wine with their meal. I try to stick to water instead of soda or tea. It's healthier for you.

3.    We also split portions so suddenly a 170 peso meal is just 85 pesos. Good at half the price.

San Miguel doesn't have Michelin-starred restaurants but it does have some great places where owners pay attention to quality, safety, consistency and you, the customer.

You know who they are. You frequent them and although repeat guests account for only 15% of a restaurant's customer base, they usually provide at least one third of the revenue. Isn't it nice to know your pesos matter?

There are plenty of ethnic options in the way of three and four star restaurants, street carts, dives, pop ups, and hole-in-the-walls. We love them all.

Here are our best picks for eating-out-on-a-budget in San Miguel.

If we missed one of yours, send me an email (susan@cupcakesandcrablegs.com) and we'll make sure we visit it before we update this list again.

Next Week: Part ll: STREET AND MARKET EATS and Part lll: UNDER 100 PESOS.

Stay tuned and Buen Apetito!

UNDER 50 PESOS:

FOOD AND WINE FESTIVALS:

Sabores San Miguel
Parque Juarez

Coming up this weekend on June 13, 14 and 15th. Don't miss it. Many of the restaurants in town participate so you'll get to sample their best food.

The festival is very organized. Bites are just 20 pesos each.

Submit your best photo from the festival to me (susan@cupcakesandcrablegs.com) and you can win a lunch at The Restaurant.

Cava Sautto Wine Fest
Hotel Sautto

This event is on my A List of festivals. The cost? A mere 50 pesos considering you got a 200 pesos credit in the liquor store redeemable for products.

Held February.

RESTAURANTS:

El Tucan
Hernandez Marcia's 56

Three plastic tables, a stove at the door, and a long hallway that hasn't been painted in years. This place is your classic dive.

What it does have? Really good food at a fair price. More importantly, everything is cooked fresh. You'll not find any food sitting around here.

Their signature dish is Flautas covered with loads of fresh vegetables. My go-to dish.
5 for 30 pesos.

Alex cooked in Chicago for 11 years and speaks perfect English.

When I told him last year that I wanted to learn how to make mole, he said he did too. Do you know a Mexican chef who doesn't know how to make mole? I didn't. Enter Alex's mom who taught us both and he's been perfecting the recipe ever since.

He'll actually cook anything you want. Last week I brought him a small loaf of Mivida's bread (6 pesos) and for 22 pesos he made me the best over-stuffed-full-of-bacon BLT that I've had since last summer.

No worry about food safety. I've eaten there 30+ times and have never been sick.

I vote this place the Number 1 dive in San Miguel.

Most everything on the menu is under 50 pesos.

La Parada
Recreo 94

At one of San Miguel's best restaurants, Chef Alexandra Gutt creates great Peruvian food with international accents.

Are you surprised that all of the ceviches run 25 pesos for the small portions except the Salmon with snow pods, seaweed and cucumber is 35 pesos? What a deal.

Most menu items are under 100.

Big enough portions to slit are the ribs for 195 pesos or chicken livers 115 pesos. Both are flavorful and cheap at half the price.

Cash only.

La Pozoleria
Calzada de Luz 51A

Now this is real Pozole! Just 38 pesos for red or green. Can't decide which I like better.

You can also get a great tortilla or chicken soup for under 50 pesos.

I ask for a lot of meat in my soup and Dulce and Maria always oblige with a double dose.

They also make an Agua of the Day. Today it was watermelon.


La Felguera Fusion Restaurante
Cuna de Allende #7
Hotel Posada Carmina

This courtyard has beautiful white lace umbrellas and is usually loaded with tourists.

Just standing outside you want to go in. Birds roam freely and there is also a bubbling fountain that makes this space very calming.

My family loved this place for the atmosphere, the margaritas and the bacon.

Happy hour daily with 2x1 Margaritas. 50 pesos.

They are known for their Breakfast where most items are under 100 pesos. I had a plate with 2 fried eggs, bacon and beans for 50 pesos.

Most breakfasts come with Bolillos. Skip the butter.

Delica Mitsu
Calzada de la Luz 49

It's amazing what really fresh ingredients can create. I've been back three times now and have selected the Bento - 2 Selections: 45 pesos all three times.

Menu changes up.

3 dishes for 65 pesos.

El Zaguan Bed and Art
Zacateros 12

This cute little Bed and Breakfast makes a thin like-I-like-it cheese and spinach omelet. 40 pesos. Most breakfast items under 50 pesos.

Really nice courtyard experience.

Tamales Oaxaquenes
Calle Ancha de San Antonio

Wrapped in a banana leaf Chicken and Mole Oaxaca style tamale. 15 pesos. Friends who have eaten here give it a two thumbs up.

La Mansion del Bosque
# 65 Aldama

Great value breakfast was just increased from 45 pesos. Still a deal at 55 pesos. This is a full breakfast with fruit, eggs or pancakes or French toast.

Great place to hang out after a morning run in Juarez Park.

La Mesa Grande
# 49 Zacateros

What's not to love about these tasty English Muffins for only 6 pesos each?

They will surprise you every day with something different in their selection of baked goods. Wish they would offer a baking class.

The 60 peso lunch = Homemade thin crust pizza slice and your favorite Mexican beer.

Baja Fish Taquito
Calle Mesones #11-B

This little place has been getting a lot of good press lately and is now Number 2 on Trip Advisor.

He gets all of his fish from Celaya. Tacos 15-25 pesos.

Medium Shrimp Cocktail 90 pesos. Another eat for under 100 pesos.

Muro
# 10B Loreto

As advertised, this soup is the best in town. Azteca just 50 pesos.

They also have a lunch special and for 99 pesos you can get soup, an entrée, drink and dessert.

Cumpanio
Correo 29

Better than the ones you've eaten in Paris Crossiants for just 14 pesos. Pair it with a Conga for 50 pesos. A Conga is a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink to which you can also add liquor. It's a combination of pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine and grapefruit juice. I'm addicted to both.

Many other bakery items for under 50 pesos and breakfast for under 100.

I always sit in the coveted seats near the window and greet my neighbors as they go by.

Great staff and friendly place to just hang out with no specific agenda.

Cafe Monet
Zacateros 83

Coffee + pancakes, French toast or steel-cut oatmeal for just 40 pesos.

Ask them to soak the bread in the egg mixture a bit longer when you order the French toast.

Good place for both meeting and watching people.

Carmen's
Two doors down from Cafe del Sol on Ancha de San Antonio.

Good food with vegetables, rice and beans or salad for 45 pesos. Agua Fresca just 5 pesos. Fish or Arrachera for 50 pesos.

Mexican soul food and so inexpensive.

Petit Four
Mesones 99-1

Plenty of sweet treats for under 50 pesos. They also serve coffee drinks and sandwiches made with the house-baked baguettes.

This one, made with tomato, buffalo mozzarella and olive oil is just 40 pesos.

Mivida
Hernández Macias 97

Yes, we've already established that we can live on bread alone.

So who can beat these prices for the best bread in town?

Focaccia 30 pesos
Ciabattita 6 pesos
Baguette 22 Pesos
Mini-Baguette 6 pesos

chao ban
Pila Seca 16

This 3 week old restaurant deserves high praise for it's healthy food made from the freshest ingredients.

I had the Jitomate Mozzarella, a Tomato, balsamic, mozzarella, basil, olive oil cold soup for 38 pesos.

Many items priced under 100 pesos including this Vietnamita Summer Roll for only 68 pesos.

Interesting and charming owner from Mexico City.


The Jardin…

There are the restaurants around the Jardin that most of our out-of-town guests love but go just for a beverage and the Mariachi music.

Don Tomas Restaurante
Cerveza 42-48 pesos
Lemonade or Naranjada 31pesos
Cappuccino 37-42 pesos with Ice Cream

Bella Italia Restaurante
Lemonade 30 pesos
Beer 35 pesos
Vino 65 pesos
Coffee 30 pesos
Cappuccino 35 pesos

Restaurante Del Jardin
Beer 40 pesos
Tequila 70 pesos

TUESDAY MARKET:

Note: There are 3 sections to Tuesday Market. Section 1 is located closest to the old Gigante, Section 2 is in the center and my favorite place to explore for hidden treasures, Section 3, is at the very end where the buses enter the market.

Aisle 1 is the bus side. There are 9 aisles not counting the outside aisle which you should definitely not skip. There are some fun and lively vendors on those outside aisles.

Rodriquez Family Barbacoa
Section 3, Aisle 3

I love Barbacoa for breakfast so The Rodriguez Family Barbacoa stand is usually my first stop. I get a half cup of the caldo without vegetables and extra Barbacoa and then load up with the just chopped cilantro, onions and of course lime. 20 pesos.

Ceci Gorditas
Section 2, Aisle 8

Gorditas Tradicionales Colon or Ceci has some of the best Gorditas at the market. Stuff them full with any one of the 14 fillings they have on the menu. 13 Pesos.

Tacos Lupita Tacos
Section 3, Aisle 2

At Tacos Lupita, just look for the cabeza and grab a seat. At this point you have to specify which part of the head you want to try.

The last time I was there, it was cheeks, brains and eyes. Quite a tasty combination for 8 Pesos each.

Bautista Brothers Carnitas
Section 2, Aisle 1

More often than not someone is bringing out a fresh tray of Carnitas or I have a perfect sense of timing. Whatever it is, I always get the ribs.

This place to me is carnita perfection. They offer them in a torta or a just made tortilla.

Ribs 38 Pesos. Torta 26 Pesos. Taco 9 Pesos

Don Santos Bistec Tacos
Section 2, Aisle 1

You'll always be fighting the crowds at this taco stand where beef is the standard breakfast fare.

I had them last week and was amazed at just how flavorful they are. 8 Pesos.

Cecina
Section 3, Aisle 3

You have to prepare this dish on a sunny day which is almost every day in San Miguel.

These thin strips of beef are cooked with salt and hung out to dry in the sun. They are served in a tortilla with fried onions and topped with French fries. The combination cuts some of the salt and they can be totally addictive. I didn't love them actually until I ate them for the third time. Third time’s a charm.14 Pesos.

Also at this stand? Some of the best green sausage you've ever eaten.

Fried Fish Dinner
Section 2, Aisle 1
70 Pesos

Section 1,Aisle 6
40 Pesos.

There are a couple of places to get a great fried fish. One is not necessarily better than the other so check them first before you buy.

HEALTHY OR YUMMY:

Fresh Squeezed Juice
Section 2, Aisle 8

This is the freshest just-squeezed juice around. A wide variety of fruits are used but my favorite is the pineapple. You can have them made in any combination you like.

20 Pesos the first time. Last week they charged me just 10 pesos.

Did they decide I'm finally a regular?

Aguas Frescas

These flavored waters are loaded with fresh fruit and are so refreshing.

A bargain at just 15 Pesos.

Potato Chips
Section 2, Aisle 7

The girls give them to me just out of their fryer too but you have to ask for them that way. I always give them tip.

Sprinkle liberally with salt and you have your portable snack ready to explore the rest of the market. 20 pesos a bag.

Churros
Section 2, Aisle 7

This is one of my favorite vendors at the market and his sales effort is always rewarded as I rarely pass him by without buying something. 20 pesos a bag.

IF YOU WANT TO DRINK YOUR DINNER:

Hacienda de Guadalupe
Hildago #4

After a great dinner at home, you can go for the 2 x 1 Margaritas at 60 pesos or 30 pesos each.

Dance lessons Thursday night at 6 PM. 2 hours for 50 pesos.That will burn off the calories.

Have a Mexican Beer
Most Restaurants Around San Miguel

9 months ago, I was not a beer drinker but now, there is not one Mexican beer I don't like.

Quench your thirst at 25-30 pesos in almost every restaurant in town.

Give me a choice on a hot sunny day and I will pick a cold brew over just about anything else.

Come to think of it, do we have hot days in San Miguel?

Gato Negro
Mesones 12

My perfect introduction to San Miguel was the classic bar Gato Negro, where the landmark cantina dates back to 1921.

You can get plenty here for under 50 pesos.

It's a classic but you'll be drinking instead of eating...and we've been known to do that.

IF YOU JUST WANT DESSERT:

La Buena Vida
Hernández Macías 72, C

Want dessert only? For under 50 pesos you can get Brownies,doughnuts, and cinnamon rolls.

The best in town? The brownies are so delicious, I'm good on a chocolate fix for at least a week.

Thrifty Ice Cream
Celaya #3-A

OK. Just ice cream? 

When it comes to sweet treats, I will always choose ice cream first. Why? I grew up with high quality ice cream.

This scoop is just 27 pesos for a single. 49 pesos if you're double dipping. 

Or better yet, a half pint of Ambrosia from Bonanza. Split just 26 pesos.


Buen Apetito!