Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cocktails...with or without the view

Bartenders in San Miguel have been elevating drinks to a new level and nothing sets off a carefully constructed cocktail more than a picturesque view of downtown San Miguel. The combination can’t be beat, even on a gloomy night.

We’ve done all the hard work for you so you’ll know your drink options and your bartenders on a first name basis before you go. Have you ever noticed that when you call someone by their first name, you go from customer to friend in a matter of minutes? Remembering a name is always a game changer. I always go to a bar on an off night just to get to know the staff before I bring guests.

We also added a few places at the finish because their extensive drink choices delight, with or without the view.

Don’t visit all of these bars in one night; we did. After awhile, even I couldn’t keep up with the tequila confessions… and some of them were mine.

Buen Apetito!

Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar
Rosewood Hotel, Nemesio Diez 11

Sprawling views of the city make this rooftop a must see whether you’re thirsty or not; a 360-degree spectacle certain to take your breath away, especially at sunset. Bring lots of pesos; the vista comes with a price but it’s worth it. I would know; I keep going back.

Cocktail Menu: Artisan cocktails inspired by Rosewood’s Sense of Place philosophy with a special focus on organic ingredients found in the region using a wide range of liquors – gin, vodka, whiskey and rum - as a base. No blenders allowed; all the drinks are crafted by hand using a selection of fresh ingredients, herbs and spices.
Try the Mojito Allende with Havana 7 Rum, mint, sugar, lavender flowers, soda water and lemon. We also love their classics like this vodka martini served in an oversized Margarita glass.
Bartenders: Oscar, Daniel, Luis and Jose. Confused with four? You’ll have to go back more often just to keep them all straight.
Cuna de Allende 15

A rooftop restaurant with in-your-face views of the Parroquia. Stylish and casual, you’ll never want to leave, especially in a rainstorm when you can reach to the side of the table and grab one of their beautiful, white umbrellas to keep you dry. We enjoy our drink at the high table facing the Parroquia; it’s got the best views, rain or shine. A throwback from the 40’s, catch the rolling drink cart; she’ll craft your cocktail tableside. One of our favorite bars, and restaurants, it really doesn’t get much better than this.
Cocktail Menu: Original cocktails made with luxury brands; heavy on the Grey Goose. Quince crafts their classic Margarita just like we do with a simple but sophisticated mix of Don Julio blanco, lime, controy and simple syrup. A few standout tastings include the house Margarita: a blend of Don Julio blanco, cucumber, pineapple, lemon, serrano chile and green chili and the Berry Chant: Grey Goose, cinnamon syrup, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry and strawberry finished with cardamom.
Bartender: Guadalupe
Antonia Bistro SMA
San Francisco 57

Toss in this view and I have to admit, a cocktail here is pretty perfect. A feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. You’ll want to grab the high, center table to catch the brilliant colors of a SMA sunset; it’s nothing short of spectacular. Take the elevator down when you can; it’s being newly installed. Even the agave spirits wouldn’t soften the descent after a long night of fiesta.
Cocktail Menu: Choose from their four signature cocktails along with a short but distinctive selection of tequilas and mezcals that play from uplifting to smoky.
Cocktail Antonia:
Prosecco, limoncello, midori, watermelon and mint.
Cocktail Aguachile (pictured)
Mezcal, cucumber, coriander, lemon and chile serrano.

Cocktail Piña Pox
Pox (A traditional liqueur from Chiapas), pinapple, mint and lemon.

Cocktail Violeta
Frangelico, ginebra and strawberry.
Exclusive to Antonia Bistro SMA is the Apellation of Origin drinks made from agave spirits; Pox"Siglo Cero" from Chiapas, Sotol "Coyote" from Chihapas, Bacanora "Pascola" from Sonora and Raicilla "Hacienda el Divisadero" from Jalisco.

Bartender: Lourdes. Give her a big tip just for the honor of being one of the few female bartenders in SMA; she’s earned it.

Orizaba #87, San Antonio

People will tell you that you haven’t really seen San Miguel until you’ve looked at it from the rooftop at Zumo. I call it the restaurant with the million dollar view. Here, both the clouds and SMA are reflected in my wine glass. Twinkle twinkle little star; none brighter than this rooftop at 10 PM sipping a sparkling cocktail.
Cocktail Menu: Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Mezcal and Rum are the heart of Zumo’s exceptional cocktails. A playful break from the classics, you’ll be so curious when you read the menu, you’ll want to try them all. Drink in the view; it’s more than spectacular, it’s perfect…and so are the drinks.
Bartender: Jonathan

Jacinto 1930
Relox 14

No views of SMA here but it’s great to sit in one of SMA’s best restaurants, Jacinto 1930, where the cocktails get the same respect from beverage director Adrian Garcia-Evans as the food does from Chef Matteo Salas, one of Mexico’s Top Chefs.

With one of SMA’s most exciting cocktail menus, it’s hard not to say “one of each, please” after sizing up the menu. Serious cocktail aficionados will want to come back every night; I know we do. Experience the Mole Martini; it’s already a SMA classic.

Cocktail Menu: Cocktail chemistry using high-end tequilas and mezcals. An entire section of the menu is dedicated to Casa Dragones Tequila, a brand whose spiritual home is in SMA. Even the Mocktails are something to celebrate.
Bartenders: Israel and Martin

18 Cocktail Room
Relox No. 18 

Sally and Roy Azar’s tasting room may be small but it takes creative cocktails to a sizeable level with a very impressive menu.

This paint-the-town red lounge is tiny and has a single row of red velvet couches you’ll never want to get up from once you’ve settled in. The best cozy couch bar in SMA, don’t write off this view: a 70’s pair of giant, ruby- red lips that is certain to make you dream at night.

Cocktail Menu: Enjoy innovative pours with a complete selection of house cocktails that strike a balance with the classics; 38 in all. Certain to delight even the most refined drinking palate.

My favorite; the Key Lime Pie of course made with Absolut vanilla vodka, Pina and Limon. Even the glass they serve it in is artistic and dazzling.

Bartenders: Alejandro

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Day of the Dead Preview: Museo de la Katrina SMA

As the Nobel prize-winning Mexican writer Octavio Paz explained in Labyrinth of Solitude: "The Mexican is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it."

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is my favorite holiday. It's a joyful and blessed celebration of both life and death that can be viewed at the beautiful, new Museo de la Katrina SMA at San Francisco 18.

I turned my photographs of the museum into artwork by the magic of a phone app, a further study from my phone photography class, which seemed more fitting for a tribute to eternal life.

Buen Apetito!, back to food.

The Maestras...coming in November

Architect Patricia Merrill Marquez, whose parents Yaya and Don Ricarod, pioneered Mexican culinary tourism as a “vacation with a purpose” back in the late 60’s, is keeping up with Yaya.
Patricia’s daughter, Mónica Navarrete Merrill, has a Diploma in High Cuisine and is a graduate in gastronomy from the Instituto Gastronómico de Estudios Superiores. She’s also attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York City.
Together,this mother-daughter team run The Mexican Cooking Vacations at their B&B, Arcos de Atascadero.
Patricia is the author of The Buen Provecho Book, a collection of traditional and contemporary Mexican recipes that also contains insights into Mexican life.
Patricia tells her story in November, along with all the other Maestras, who led the way for the female chefs of SMA.
Stay tuned and Buen Apetito!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

In Search of the Perfect Taco

National Taco Day was this past week but who needs a reason to stop by your favorite T-joint for a plateful of delicious tacos? Honesty, I could eat them every day.
Single or doubled, flour or corn, complex or simple, fried or just off the grill, there are never-ending possibilities for a perfect taco but we like this one, the Lamb Shawarma taco, available from The Restaurant at Sabores San Miguel.
The catch of this taco tease is that Sabores is an annual event so you have to wait until 2017 rolls around to get another fix.
A taco can be whatever you want it to be and that’s the beauty of it. The simplicity is that you don’t need silverware; tacos fit conveniently in your hand and can be devoured in a single bite or two or three. Need breakfast, lunch or dinner? There’s a taco solution for that.
The holy trinity: the tortilla, the filling, and the salsa; every element of the taco must be perfect. From sunrise to sunset, here are six spots that deliver the perfect taco with a prevailing taste of the motherland. Bring small change and a big appetite.
We’ve been known to eat more than our fair share so when it comes to tacos we only have one rule: never do the math.

Buen Apetito!
Tacos worth getting out of bed for, The Taco Lab (in Doce 18 Concept House at Calle Relox No.18) has a three crispy taco combination listed under appetizers. I get one pork belly, one fish and one short rib taco for one of the best and tastiest taco deals in town. The crunchy shell provides a perfect contrast to the fillings. My go-to place on Sunday morning, the fastest way to size up a taqueria is the salsas. This place has three worth tasting; my favorite: the amarillo (yellow) made with tamarind and habanero chili peppers. You wouldn’t need a cup of coffee after this morning jolt. Messy, sure, but who cares? Daily from 10 AM.
La Azotea, Umaran 6, has the best artisan taco in town. A texturally adventurous bite, the shell is a thin slice of Jicama that is topped with lightly breaded shrimp, chipotle mayo and a tamarind sauce. The fried leek finish put this taco in a class by itself. From 3:00 PM; closed on Sunday.
It’s not a taco expedition in SMA without Arrachera and Muro (Loreto 10B off Insurgentes) has some of the best. The magic here is the flavorful arrachera, melted cheese and caramelized onions; the best combination of ingredients. These next-level tacos are served in something you don’t see every day: flour tortillas. 5 stars for the food AND the service. As Bon Appetit once wrote "in a perfect world, our favorite restaurants would serve flawless food every time but in the real world? Sometimes all you need is to feel like you’re at home...and Muro feels like home. This SMA classic moves to a beautiful, new location before the end of the year, just in time to inaugurate the fireplace. From 9 AM daily; closed on Wednesday.
Ground zero for the taco culture in SMA , you won’t need a map; just follow your nose. What makes these porky bits so addictive is they are simmered in lard until fork tender. Guadiana #2 is the kitchen where all of Bautista Brothers carnitas are cooked, so drop by on Monday, the local market day, when the line at this converted garage is shorter than usual. Their textbook salsas deliver a fiery punch; add a peppering of jalepaños to enhance the experience. From 7 AM, they run out early so skip the Cherrios and make it a breakfast. It’s a revered eating experience you wouldn’t find anywhere else. This Bautista Brothers location is one of the best kept secrets in SMA.
Don Santos Tacos, Clavel 8 off Refugio Sur, earns its accolades with authentic Mexican food; the real deal is their Taco de Res. A Colonia San Antonio tradition, this taco joint claims a devoted following among Mexicans so you know it’s good. Even Matteo Salas, San Miguel’s top chef, dreams of staging here. Thin strips of beef are cooked in a pile of intestines and chorizo; it’s so well flavored and tender you can’t resist the call for a second helping. Heap on a mound of onions, cilantro and their spicy salsas; the kick adds a whole other layer of flavor to this dish. Don’t forget you’re on Mexican time; Don Santos opens at 6:00 PM but time your entrance for 30 minutes later as they are a bit slow at the start. The communal tables are the place to meet the locals. If you run into more than two gringos in a given night, it’s unusual.
Andy's Tacos, on the corner of Insurgentes and Hidalgo, was written up in the Wall Street Journal and owns the show when it comes to Tacos al Pastor in SMA. With both early birds and night owls, this SMA institution caters to enthusiasts of every age. Unlike the other pastor vendors in town, Andy caramelizes the meat to an almost-crunchy texture, shaves the pork off a vertical spit and fries it, adding a splash of red-hot salsa, and kisses it with thin, wide-slices of pineapple. I’ve never found another place in SMA, or Mexico City for that matter, that does better al Pastor. It’s a hard act to follow and if the juices aren’t dripping down your arm by the time you finish, you’d better order another helping. From 7:30 PM to 7:00 AM, Andy's is a favorite of partygoers searching for an after-hours feast. This is one of the best tacos in SMA; we’ve eaten enough of them to know.