Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Hottest New Restaurant Openings in San Miguel de Allende

Who said San Miguel de Allende is the place to eat? Well, actually, we did, along with just about everyone else we’ve talked with lately.
 
The best city in the world just got better with an influx of new restaurants and some Sunday brunch menus that we can’t stop talking about. Six hours from the beach, no problem. You can get fresh lobster for brunch at a price that’s less than the cost of a shuttle to the Queretaro airport. And next year, you’ll be able to dine on lobsters from Maine.
 
If you come to SMA for a month, you’ll still not get an across-the-board sampling of the menus and signature dishes created by SMA’s remarkable chefs; you need to stay longer. With popular restaurants like Aperi, Jacinto 1930, The Restaurant, Buenos Aires Bistro, Trazo 1810, El Vergel Bistro and Market, Trattoria da Laura a Los Mezquites, La Prada, MiVida, Quince, ZUMO, Antonia Bistro, Bui Cocina de Campo, along with these restaurants, the dining scene in San Miguel de Allende is hotter than ever.
 
                                            Chef Alan Carias of Trazo 1810
There’s a lot to be said for the variety of food here; you can now find almost every type of cuisine. Even selective Asian dishes are being created by Alan Carias, the incredible, young chef at Trazo 1810, ATRIO’s newest sensation, Chef Arturo Sandoval, and our favorite private chef, Michael Coon, who recently did an all-Asian dinner that sold out in less than ten minutes.
 
                                            Chef Greta Ortega Casanas of MiVida
Some current restaurants are changing up their menus, making them more interesting and affordable. We know of two that will make over their entire menus after the first of the year. Chef Greta Ortega Casanas of MiVida Restaurant recently redid her menu, replacing all but three items.
 
Two things have changed this past year. With a whole new category of fine-casual dining spots emerging, locals are dining out more often. Restaurant owners are also making decisions to improve the quality and consistency of the guest experience; they recognize that good service is a significant part of the equation.
 
                                                Adrian Garcia-Evans
San Miguel de Allende continues to advance its own style. A number of new artisans, an inspiring cocktail culture that includes Mixologists like Adrian Garcia-Evans, a budding wine scene, the influence of knowledgeable sommeliers like Chilean-born Sebastian Acosta Quiroz and a whole new generation of young chefs are all part of the upshot.

                                               Chef Marcela Bolaño, a former Top Chef Mexico contestant
                                                                                    
San Miguel de Allende’s newest restaurants offer many things that other restaurants don’t. We’ve also included two existing restaurants: Nomada cocina de Interpretacion is in a new location at Hernandez Macias 88 and Marsala cocina con acentos celebrates their one year anniversary in December.

                                                                             Erik Figueroa of OCRE
Exciting openings will also take place over the next few months, and these are the ones we can talk about: San Mike’s, a Mexico City style taqueria complete with a sports bar, piano bar, cantina and rooftop restaurant; OCRE, a splendid old house filled with small, intimate spaces along with a Mixology Room that’s dedicated to the innovation and experimentation of drinks and one of the most highly-anticipated openings, FATIMA and Café Casablanca, inside the beautiful Casablanca Hotel.
 
Now don’t you think it’s about time you came down to San Miguel de Allende just to eat?
 
Buen Provecho!
 
ATRIO Restaurant and Lounge
Cuna de Allende #3

La Azotea's new fine-casual restaurant, ATRIO, is one of the best, new openings in 2017.

                                    Owners Jose Maria Calvo (Chema) and Jesus Manuel Calvo (Chus)

                                                              Chef Arturo Sandoval
The kitchen has an oven that chefs would stand in line for, a Josper Charcoal Oven from Spain. Its high operating temperature and unique flavor from the embers are perfect for the Spanish rice dishes that ATRIO put on the menu, along with grilled seafoods and steaks.  


The Rib Rice, which we ate again last night, is our favorite dish.  ATRIO has an international menu and offers one of our favorite French dishes, Pato al Orange, which is Sous-vided and crisped in the Jasper oven. It’s the best duck we’ve had in Mexico, and we’ve eaten a lot of duck. The menu is small, with unlikely touches: the Burrata served with berries and Tacos Orientales Pan Boa al vapor, the Boas imported from Guadalajara. Ten main courses are featured on the menu, along with a host of incredible small plates. Twelve dishes into the menu, Chef Sandoval’s got a perfect score from our group. In fact, we can't decide which dish is our favorite; we LOVE them all.



The softshell crab taco with pico de gallo and red cabbage; the Ramen with pork belly in a slightly sweet, perfectly flavored broth; and the Argentinean version of Sweetbreads made with bacon, cream, white wine and leeks are all outstanding. The sweetbreads are rich but our favorite version to date. The dessert: a mandarin cheesecake with beet and watermelon radish; a dish that Eduardo Perez Calvo, of sister restaurant La Azotea, brought back from his pastry class in Guadalajara.
 
ATRIO Restaurant and Lounge is dazzling at night but equally beautiful in the daytime with all of its vegetation and Parroquia views.
 
Hours: Monday – Saturday 2:00 PM – 12:45 PM, Sunday 2:00 PM – 1:45 AM. Reservations are recommended. Phone: 415 688 1405
 
BOVINE
Canal #16
 
Las Vegas, London, LA, Miami, Chicago, or New York maybe but SMA?

The elegant design and concept for BOVINE was created by Bruce James and carried out by Architect Juan Pablo Gallegos. It will wow even the most avid food lover. It did me!
 
Upscale shops fill the stunning, downstairs spaces all the while upstairs, Chef Paul Bentley, along with Sous chefs Miguel Nuñez and Raul Partida, are creating remarkable things in the kitchen. From the delicious NY strip steak, with a flavorful sauce made from its own drippings, to the peach and tomato salad, a combination that's beyond delicious and fresh, to the 6-step papas fritas, we loved it all. The menu is delightfully uncomplicated, offering a limited number of selections that are all expertly prepared.
 
                                               Sous Chefs Miguel Nuñez and Raul Partida

In a restaurant this good, you expect great service and Bovine delivered once again. Veracruz born waiter Gabriel provided some of the best. He's part of the reason we'll return, along with the atmosphere, great food and another new, white wine that we LOVED, Casa Magoni 2016 Manaz, made by Italian born Camillo Magoni, who will oversee his 53rd harvest in Mexico this year. For his first 49 years in Mexico, he was the winemaker at L.A. Cetto.

We'll post more pictures of the food when we go back later this week to have lunch. Bovine is pricey but well worth the expense if you’re looking for top-quality food and attractive surroundings; it’s the European-style restaurant that SMA was missing until now. Bovine now has a private dining experience starting at $95.

Hours: Tuesday from 7:00 PM- 11:00 PM and Wednesday - Sunday, 1 PM - 11 PM. Closed Monday. Reservations are recommended. Phone: 415-121-6787.

Casa Buen Viaje
Cuna de Allende #15a

This small Mezcal tasting room and restaurant, from entrepreneurs Martin Lopez and Eugenio Maillerfert, has got a secret: one of the best chefs in SMA, Chef Marco Cruz of Nomada cocina de Interpretacion, develops their menu, which is executed by Sous Chef Juana Pérez Balderas. Don’t pass up the chilaquiles, along with a variety of great-looking tacos.

                                                                  Photo: Casa Buen Viaje
                                            Photo: Casa Buen Viaje
With the superior taste of Mezcal Buen Viaje and a state-of-the-art sound system, you can paint the town red well into the morning hours without craving any late night provisions: food, drink and music.

                                             Photo: Casa Buen Viaje
Buen Viaje also puts on special events in the countryside, complete with a BBQ made by Chef Cruz himself.
 
Hours: Sunday 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Monday and Wednesday – Friday 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM, Saturday 9:00 AM – 11:45 PM, Closed Tuesday.
 
Casa No Name
Hernandez Macias #52
 
Olivia Bar, at Casa No Name, a small, luxury hotel on Hernandez Macias #52, is no longer SMA's best kept secret. Here, you’re in your own little world; call it a safe haven from the tourist mayhem just a few blocks away. Now open to the public, this secret, enchanted garden and rooftop bar makes some of the best Margaritas in town. The décor is chic in an understated way and you wouldn’t be in a hurry to head home once you land. Come after 5:00 PM weekdays; on weekends, it’s populated with out-of-town hotel guests. Like most quiet bars, don’t go at peak periods for the truly peaceful experience. Olivia Bar is my home away from home. If you’ve ever needed a quiet spot for a cocktail, sinking into Olivia’s is the ideal place. 

Downstairs, in the hotel, you can enjoy breakfast every morning, even as an outside guest. Peek in the kitchen; it’s classic Mexican and charming.

                                                                         Chef Sofia Antillon
       Chef Marco Cruz
Nomada cocina de Interpretacion
Hernandez Macias 88, Centro, 37700
 
What keeps us going back to the restaurants we love? That’s simple, the food. It’s always about the food and in the case of Nomada, the food is some of the best in the city.These two chefs, Marco Cruz and Sofia Antillon, poured their heart and soul into their new restaurant, just like they do with their menus. You can choose breakfast, lunch or dinner; every item I've ordered has been fantastic. Chef Marco Cruz recently cooked a different version of Huevos Rancheros with a smoky, charred, tomato sauce and a Spanish egg and potato omelet. Chicken boring? Not Marco’s; just dark meat with loads of butter, salt and seasonings. After enjoying our favorite Pavlova for dessert, we watched Pastry Chef Sofia Antillon create a new dessert of sponge cake made with red beets. For the brunch menu, Chef Cruz grills lobsters as part of a special, multi-course tasting every Sunday.
 
 
Hours: 9 AM – 10 PM Daily/ Closed: Tuesday. Reservations recommended. Phone: 415 121 9163.
 
Marchanta Comedor
Nemesio Diez #2
 
We fell in love with this fine-casual restaurant by Nomada Cocina de Interpretacion the minute we tasted the Ramen. Who doesn’t love a bowl of expertly flavored broth with an oversized piece of impeccably seasoned meat?

Cesar Garcia, the new chef at Marchanta, trained with Chef Marco Cruz at La Estacion in Mexico City, which was started by Daniel Estebaranz of Bui, cocnia de campo, along with Chef-legend Enrique Olvera.
 
Featured on the menu are Pork Belly Tacos, Avocado with Tuna and the Pulpo. Our lunch: Marchanta's Fish and chips are a healthier combination of the Papalo herb from Puebla, in a tempura batter with Lovina whitefish, Zucchini and green beans. The chips are double fried and served with a homemade ketchup. You've got to love a restaurant that makes everything from scratch down to the ketchup and the mayo. The drink is a surprisingly delicious combination of green tea and strawberries.
 
Marchanta offers a street food menu on Monday.
 
Hours: Monday, Tuesday – Saturday 12:00 PM – 9:00 PM. Closed Sunday. Reservations recommended. Phone: 415 121 9163
 
Marsala cocina con acentos
Calle del Dr Ignacio Hernandez Macias 48, Centro, 37700


This restaurant has eleven months under its belt and we’re still talking about it because they change the menu frequently, now offering fall comfort foods like Carbonara, Steak-frites and a Pretzel-crusted Schnitzel with mashed, russet potatoes. We love a chef who travels to eat and Chef Marcela Bolaño just got back from a culinary exploration trip in Europe. We had high expectations for her latest menu additions and, as usual, she did not disappoint.



Her brunch is one of the best you'll find in SMA, especially with the recent addition of stone crab to the menu. Also, don’t forget to drop in on Monday and ask about the Instagram special to receive 50% off your meal the following week.This team (Marcela Bolaño, a former Top Chef Mexico contestant, and Ximena De Leon Campomanes) is a tour-de-force. Together they have worked hard to make Marcela’s one of the best restaurants in SMA...and it is.
 
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM/Friday and Saturday:1:00 PM – 11:00 PM/Sunday: 1 PM – 5 PM/ Closed Tuesday 
Reservations recommended. Phone: 415 152 0080
 
Nicasio Comedor Mexicano
Hidalgo #28

If you try one new restaurant this week, make it Nicasio Comedor Mexicano at Hidalgo #28. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best restaurants to open this year.
 
Nicasio Comedor Mexicano creates traditional, Mexican food; very HIGH QUALITY Mexican but the cost of all the dishes are priced under 120 pesos, with a few exceptions. Truly a down home experience, you’ll feel like you’re sitting in your own kitchen by the time you eat.
 
Chef Pablo Nicacio was the sous-chef at Nómada cocina de interpretación before he started Nicasio along with Chef Hugo Tepichin, a former chef at the Michelin 3 star restaurant Quique Dacosta in Dénia, Alicante, Spain. You’ll recognize partner Manny Flores from Nómada cocina de interpretación. All three partners also worked together at B’ui Cocina de Campo, in Otomi.

While we’re inside trying some of Nicasio’s newest dishes, Manny Flores was outside tending to their thriving garden. Using only the best ingredients available, Nicasio grows what they can on a small balcony just outside their back window.
 
Bite into the Torta de Lengua and you’re likely to get a big surprise. For someone who doesn’t like tongue, it was actually, really good. It’s boiled in a pan with secret spices and broth, then breaded and deep fried. For a Mexican breakfast, try the Chilaquiles with cecina, an egg and a spicy red sauce or if you have a taste for an American plate, dig into a stack of pancakes topped with a fried egg, flavorful bacon and ice cream. Yes, we did say ice cream and for us, anything that includes a scoop of ice cream, is at the top of our list.
 
Hours: Daily 9:00 AM – 7:30 PM. Closed Tuesday and Sunday. Phone: 415 145 9455
 
Panio Atelier Du Pain
Salida a Celaya 69, San Miguel de Allende

 
The new home of one of the best bakeries in Mexico, Panio Atelier Du Pain
is state-of-the-art. What's there to eat at the new restaurant inside this delightful bakery? Well, if you’re looking for the best Eggs Benedict in town, look no further. On top of two thin slices of Brioche is Canadian bacon, spinach, two poached eggs and the perfect amount of hollandaise sauce containing a small touch of vinegar. The signature Burnt bread soup is delicious with smoked bacon, cream, crispy bacon and toasted bread. We’ve also had the chicken Panini sandwich with caramelized red onions and a to-die-for spread of almond pesto, rumored to be Chef Matteo Salas’s recipe. The
prosciutto with green tomatoes is both unusual and addictive. Many of the items on the menu are around $100 pesos. We like dishes that are made with imagination and Panio’s menu is full of them. For dessert, there are so many great breads and pastries; you'll want to get one of everything. The only thing we think that Panio Atelier Du Pain needs is bigger trays.

Hours: Daily 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Phone: 415 152 2327.

These new restaurants are opening soon:

                                              Owners Antonio Marron and Eduardo Lopez Rivera
SAN MIKE Restaurante
Canal #18

Enter another fine casual dining spot to SMA’s growing restaurant scene: San Mike Restaurante. Developed by Mexico City restaurant entrepreneurs, Antonio Marron and Eduardo Lopez Rivera. This Mexico City style taqueria, sports bar, piano bar, cantina and rooftop restaurant are housed in a refurbished, 18th century house, recently completed by renowned architect Robero Burillo. The house has been under construction for over a year.

The principal players include owners Antonio Marron and Eduardo Lopez Rivera, Chef Jose Luis Vazquez, Sous Chef Jose Cruz, Manager Ana Rivera, Captain Waiter Aldo Moreno and Head of Bar Carlos Mendez.
 
An authentic, Mexico City style taqueria will be on the ground floor. From the large windows opening to Canal Street, you can watch the show every night from 8:00 PM until late night to accommodate partygoers who are looking for an after-hours feast after the magic of the fiesta. Surprisingly, tacos al pastor are $18 pesos each; a salted steak taco will run you $40 pesos. You can also opt for specialty tacos – short rib mole, pork belly, and baja shrimp are $190 pesos. Most items on the main course menu – from Chicken with Mole to Breaded Tenderloin run around $300 pesos along with Salmon, Octopus and Tuna. A steak – a Sonora style Ribeye Steak - peaks at $480 pesos. There are also a variety of great Tortas - from Proscuitto to Pork Belly – that are all about $150 pesos.

Whether it’s World Cup soccer or a Cubs baseball game, the ground floor will be the place to watch sports. There are TV’s on every floor, providing a wide variety of sports options.

On the second floor, a beautiful, black piano will be the heart of the Cantina Saloon, seating ten lucky clients who will get an up-close-and- personal with the Bohemian style piano music every Thursday through Sunday.

The Terraza, on the top floor, has magnificent views and sunsets to complement a dinner under the stars or gather a group of friends to cozy around the fire pit to sip premium spirits.

Every floor has its own bar service with original and classic cocktails. San Mike favors the regional wine bodegas, plus a variety of labels with an excellent cost to quality balance. A refreshing surprise for those who love their cocktails: a 2x1 offering of selected spirits that will run all day long, 24/7. San Mike will serve Mexican wines and also carry brands from Spain, Argentina, and Italy. They have a sommelier that will be doing tastings and dinners during the year.

You will be able to order anything off the menu on all three floors. Some of the things San Mike’s will offer are family style botanas to start your meals, complete with a cart that offers eight different chiles for made-at-your-table salsas of various heats and flavors. Much to the delight of beer drinkers, San Mike’s will offer the beer bucket, filled with 6 pony size, ice cold Coronas and other Mexican beers, reminiscent of the pails you get at a beach resort in Mexico.

We’re excited about San Mike’s, an entirely new concept for SMA. With items on the menu from $18 pesos (Tacos al Pastor) to $890 pesos (roasted beef rib to share), it’s a restaurant for every budget.

San Mike’s will open December 1st.

Hours: Mon-Fri  1:00 PM – 1:00 AM  / Sat 10:00 AM – 2:00 AM  /  Sun  10:00 AM – 10:00 PM. The Taqueria will be open until 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday.
 
OCRE
Hidalgo #5
                                                    Partners Erik Figueroa and Jorge Levario

OCRE, a new, Mexican fine casual restaurant, will open at Hidalgo #5, above Artesanías Alcatráz, which will also be remodeled as part of the project and will be connected to the restaurant. OCRE is a gem among the fine casual restaurants that continue to give rise to a SMA restaurant scene that gets more interesting by the day.

You’ll fall in love with the small, intimate spaces that will make your eating and drinking experience here remarkably personal. Ocher: Artists in SMA will know its definition; it has traditionally been used as a pigment for artistic and body painting and dates back to prehistoric times. A base color that gives different shades to other colors, that’s what partners Erik Figueroa and Jorge Levario seek for the flavors in their kitchen, under the creative direction of San Luis Potosí chef Xavier Pinero, who will explore different styles and techniques from numerous parts of the world. It will be a kitchen connected to the land; to Mexico’s roots with local, natural and organic products.

Chef Xavier Piñero says of his cooking “I have never been a person who follows the rules; I never liked it. I find it more appealing to do my own thing. I do not like to complicate my life; my motto is “less is more.” My kitchen, as my person, is straightforward.” I’m in love with the kitchen, which includes a fireplace that’s been converted to a pizza oven. It looks like an old farmhouse kitchen with large, white archways defining the space. I can totally visualize my own grandmother cooking in it.

 The vistas from the rooftop are extensive, as are the views from the oversized window inside a handsome, black and white bar that seats a cozy number of eight. Tacos, Tostadas and Tamales pepper the menu of entrees with organic vegetables, fresh seafood, aguachile and meats. I love figs so I’m most anxious to try the Tartine of figs: peasant bread made in a wood oven with ricotta cheese, caramelized figs, smoked bacon and roasted tomato jam. If that sounds good, just look to the Wood and Fire section of the menu which includes Gizzard, Pizzas and Oysters, including Ostión kumamoto of Laguna Manuela smoked with hot sauce and fresh dill. A perfect entrée to life on the half shell, a kumamoto is defined by its small size and incredibly smooth flavor. Oyster heads consider them to be one of the best oysters around.From the garden section, you’ll find a fresh salads that include wood roasted and caramelized organic fruits and vegetables; notably black truffles. The specials consist of free grazing beefs, BBQ Muscovy duck from Ajijic (know for great-tasting lean meat, most often compared to veal or a roast beef) and Sea Bass. I was also particularly attracted to the main courses, which includes Oxtail, Suckling pig, Octopus from Ensenada, Striped Sea Bass and Rancho 17’s Rib eye.

The Mixology Room by Diageo is a private room with a unique menu created by Diageo's best Bartenders and Mixologist from Mexico and around the world. Diageo Reserve brands, the luxury portfolio of Diageo, are the best-performing collection of spirit brands in the Drink’s International Bar Report 2017 for the second year in a row.The space will be dedicated to the innovation and experimentation of drinks. On the weekends, OCRE will feature DJs from different cities in Mexico, as well as guest Mixologists.

Intimate and inviting, OCRE will be the perfect setting for celebrating your New Years Eve. The opening is scheduled for December, 2017.
 
FATIMA and Café Casablanca

             The ever casual Chef Donnie Masterton in his University of Marrakech T-shirt
 
 
Inside the stunningly beautiful Casablanca Hotel, Chef Donnie Masterton will launch his newest restaurant, FATIMA, along with Cafe Casablanca, in February 1, 2018. This sensational, new complex, is one of the most highly-anticipated openings in SMA. The restaurant and cafe will be #5 and #6 in Chef Masterton's culinary crown, along with The Restaurant, El Vergel Bistro and Market, Birdie's Burgers and Taco Lab.

The experience of seeing the 300 year old hacienda for the first time was transcendental; everything the mere mention of Morocco brings to mind. I saw it in the daylight and can only imagine how magical it's going to be at night, under the stars, awash in candlelight. The renovation to the hacienda revealed tunnels connecting to the nearby San Francisco church along with some centuries-old architectural treasures. Custom made in Marrakech, much of the furniture, art, lighting and textiles were transported to SMA and promise to make the transformation of the hacienda worth the wait when it opens in 2018.

I went back again last week for a second look. The chef was excited as construction crews have started to install his kitchens; the heart and soul of the restaurant. One of the many exciting features of the new restaurant will be a raw bar, with an assortment of seafood from Baja. He will eventually bring in live lobster from Maine.
On this rooftop, you're surrounded by the city's nearby churches; six of them to be exact. The views are breathtaking; we think some of the best in the city considering you can see so many of the domes and towers.

The Mediterranean menu will follow the Moorish trail - Greece, Italy, Turkey, Lebanon, Tunisia and all the rest - incorporating the use of a custom built tagine stove, a deck oven for flat breads and pita, a wood burning grill and a rotisserie. Chef Masterton's Lamb Shawarma Tacos, a dish that everyone fell in love with at Sabores San Miguel, will be on the menu.

Chef Masterton has hired a new head chef who is highly experienced in Mediterranean cuisine; one he previously worked with in San Francisco. Jorge Flores from The Restaurant, who is currently managing Birdies Burgers and Taco Lab, will assume the position of Manager of FATIMA and Cafe Casablanca.

Chef Masterton continues to staff for positions at both FATIMA and Café Casablanca.