Monday, July 16, 2018

Part II: Five Years in San Miguel de Allende: 2013 – 2018, The Visuals

Our mission here is to make you hungry. Visuals… we sorted through thousands of images to select what we thought best summarized our first five years in SMA. Some are unpretentious; a more-than-memorable moment, while others will speak to the heart of why we are still here.

In 2013, we went from 8128 restaurants in Chicago to 225 in San Miguel. It was a year of adjustment but then, what were we expecting, when the only Chicago- style hot dog we could find was one topped with BBQ sauce and asparagus. That was SMA back in 2013; now look at it!
In the first few year, we missed Martini Monday's, a perfectly aged-steak, Chocolate Peanut Butter Shakes, Vietnamese Noodle Salads, good Chardonnay, Michigan Avenue beaches and downtown Chicago in general. Then, something miraculous happened. We hit Oaxaca and it took just one plate of dark, rich, wonderfully sweet and spicy mole negro to convince us to never look back. Mexico City followed and what the Wall Street Journal called “the least-appreciated great food city in the world” back then, became our deliverance. Just four hours from our front door, we could find any type of food fix we wanted and took frequent trips there just to eat. By 2015, well-known chefs started moving to SMA to open restaurants, bringing four and five star cuisine to the city. Food festivals honored the summer with a rush of celebrity chefs. Suddenly, SMA was one of the most talked about places in Mexico to eat. Who would have guessed that, in a few short years, a group of chefs, bound together by a common mission, would pull off such a undertaking? Certainly not I, who was in the middle of this perfect storm, writing about it. It had nothing to do with planning and everything to do with luck.  

When I look back on these pictures I remember each and every image like it was yesterday. It was, wasn’t it?

Buen Provecho!

In 2013, Conde Nast Traveler readers named San Miguel de Allende the #1 travel destination in the world; tourism increased more than significantly, especially among nationals, and the demand for high-quality food surfaced.

Here at Luna Rooftop the 360 degree spectacle will take your breath away, especially at sunset.

In May, 2013, Casa Dragones, a handcrafted, small batch, luxury tequila with its spiritual home in San Miguel, was rated by Wine Enthusiast at 96/100 – the magazine’s highest tequila rating.

Sandwiches: this Cemita, made by Cemitas Las Polentas in the Mercado del Carmen, was my favorite dish in Puebla; the Guacamaya sandwich at Hidalgo Market in Guanajuato taught me to appreciate Mexico’s love of Chicharrón.
Chef Michael Coon, the former Travel Director and co-creator of the Culinary Institute of America's World's of Flavor tours, became our lifeline to ethnic food. Here, his Okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake made with cabbage and shallots topped with crispy pork belly, bonito flakes, Japanese mayo, bull dog sauce and toasted nori was one of the best ethnic dishes we had in SMA this year.
We were fascinated with the hand painting processes for many of Dolores Hidalgo’s beautiful ceramics. An easy 40 kms ride from SMA, it’s the first of many day trips we took this year.
As the debate goes on about bullfighting, many in Mexico will continue their centuries-old fascination with death in the afternoonI am one of them. As a photographer, I can’t see beyond the color or the ritual.
On another day trip, an old miner reflects on his memories at the Hacienda Santa Brigidan in Mineral de Pozos, just 60 kms from SMA.
Usually one of the busiest places and the best place to watch people, Ten Ten Pie takes a breath and welcomes another magnificent day in SMA.

One of the most popular dishes among gringos this year was the delicious Prime Rib at Hansen’s. The prime rib ovens remain on the top floor at the space now occupied by Art Print. Any chef want to claim them?
When we first came to SMA we could only drink Mezcal in a Margarita; five years later, we sip it straight up.
We met Mawee Lopez Aguilar (center), a culinary student at UTSMA at Sabores San Miguel and continued to follow her career. She landed a job as one of the chefs at the prestigious Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada when she graduated. She's still one of our favorite chefs.
My first cooking class was with Chef Paco Cardenas of Petit Four Bakery; it’s still one of the best classes today and so is the bakery.
Chef Cynthia Martinez’s cooking school, Zirita, was one of just five in Mexico written up by Saveur magazine. Here, taking lessons in making corundas, at El Charco del Ingenio
A series of Mole lessons; so, how many ingredients are we putting in this one?

Friends, Barry and Melissa Barnett, share Tacos al Pastor after dark at Andy’s Taco Cart, written up by the Wall Street Journal in October.
At San Juan de Dios Market, Lupe cleans a Nopal of its spines.
Half the fun of eating Pozole is loading it down with some of the many toppings: chilie peppers, onions, radishes, avocado, shredded cabbage and limes.
Burrata was starting to show up on menus in SMA; this attractive preparation at Cent’anni.
Coffee beans at Café Oso Azul; one of the many, great coffee shops in SMA.
Carnitas should come with a warning label. Simmered in lard until fork tender; these are from Bautista Brothers.
Oaxaca cheese at El Tianguis de los Martes. Several years later, we learned to make it in Oaxaca.
Despite all the claims that Guanajuato is not a food city, we couldn’t figure out why we ate so well when we visited for a week.
Chef Karla Becerra Martinez takes Huevos Rancheros to a revered level; here at Lavanda Café.
What do we do Easter morning? We blow up effigies of Judas, many resembling politicians and much of the town comes out to witness the celebration.
On a splendid, hot air balloon ride, you get a birds-eye view of picturesque SMA.
Rosa Mexicano, it's the color of Mexico; here with a basket of handmade, rosa tortillas from Mercado San Juan de Dios.
The Tlacolula market, penetrating the heart and soul of Oaxaca.
Our love of Mexico is in it's high-spirited children.
The mojiganga is an icon of life in SMA; you can even have one made to look just like you.
A traditional cross mark indicates a buried treasure. Little did we know what a treasure he would become when Chef Matteo Salas arrived on the scene from Mexico City to head up the kitchen at Aperi. He totally changed the course of fine dining in SMA.
At this thatched-roof palapa at the end of Canal Street, Pilar and Jose Luis will convince you there is no better comfort food anywhere in SMA than Mixiotes; one of our favorite foods in Mexico.

The desserts made by El Pegaso Bakery require a playful lick of the spoon.
And why is it Mexicans love mayonnaise and ketchup on their pizza? Here, making an extra-grande at El Tianguis de los Martes. 

Chef Mariano Alvarez of Buenos Aires Bistro introduces us to seriously good steaks.

Fernando Olivera Rocha, the Secretary of Tourism for Guanajuato continues to promote the gastronomy of Guanajuato state, including SMA, with over 140 different gastronomic themed events in 2015; the year that SMA’s culinary star began to rise.

Eating over 600 meals out, we uncovered many restaurants that surprised and delighted us; here at Café Firenze, where the food loves you back.

I love a parade and so did these kids who were peering out the gate at school to watch the Indians from all over Mexico dance.
Antigua, Guatemala: the art of making tortillas in a beautiful, Guatemalan costume.
In the summer of 2015, two major festivals celebrated SMA’s gastronomy: Sabores San Miguel and SMA Food Festival. The Restaurant’s Lamb Shawarma was the best dish and still remains the one to beat.
El Tucan is one of the few places in SMA that serves flautas with an oversized salad on top. When they’re made with flour tortillas instead of corn, they taste just like chicken pot pie.
A child studies the Buñuelos, hot out of the fryer, at the same time we do outside La Merced Church in Antigua, Guatemala. The texture of Buñuelos is similar to one of our favorite foods, popovers.
A mother watches a sleeping child at the market in Chichicastenango. We loved the color at this market; the largest in Central America.

A parade in SMA is not just for weddings or funerals. We’ll do one this November to celebrate a birthday, complete with the tequila donkey, mariachis, and oversized Mojigangas.
We rode the chicken buses in Antigua, Guatemala and yes, we did see feathered travelling companions.
The best pedigree of wine starts with Casa Madero; the oldest winery in Mexico.
Migajas are delicious - what’s left in the bottom of the pan after cooking carnitas; these from Bautista Brothers at Guadiana #2.

A woman sells her prize fowl at the market in Chichicastenango, Guatemala; our favorite photo from the trip.

Chef Victor Palma of The Rosewood Hotel and Chef Matteo Salas of Aperi plate dishes at the SMA Food Festival.
We never miss a St. Patrick’s Day celebration; here at Reilly’s Irish Tavern in Antigua, Guatemala.

20°35′15″N 100°23′34″W: Mexico’s best kept secret, Querétaro, just 63 kms southeast of SMA. Querétaro has the fastest growing economy in both Mexico and Latin America.
The tastiest way to get your greens: the shaved Brussels Sprout and Kale salad from The Restaurant; one of the best salads in SMA.
This 2015 Day of the Dead photograph was the first of many to be published in Mexico.

It took us this long to learn to like enchiladas. Enchiladas Gloria, by Chef Gloria Espinosa Briseno of Tacos Don Felix, is one of the best...and so is her smile.

Chef Gabby Green, we miss your flan! Ever opening another restaurant?

Extended trips to Oaxaca and Lima taught us a lot about food, including the fact that there are some dishes that SMA does better than anywhere else. Here, the Oxtail Ravioli by Chef Matteo Salas of Aperi is one example.
Doce-18, located in the stately Casa Cohen mansion at Relox 18, opened its doors; here with the ever-so fashionable Brenda Sexton.
Blue skies 
Smiling at me 
Nothing but blue skies , do I see!

In SMA, the skies are bluer than blue; the clouds altocumulus cotton candy.

Celebrating MiVida’s 7th anniversary; the pizza was one of the best kept secrets in SMA.

Our best day trip was foraging for mushrooms with local expert, Arif Towns Alonso, in the beautiful little town of Santa Rosa de Lima.

When we interviewed Marene Flores Silva, the Pastry Chef at Jacinto 1930, for an article we wrote, we found out that her family makes cheese; here with her sister at the factory, Quesos Del Rebano, just outside of Queretaro.

The campaign to up the visibility of food in SMA took a big step forward. Mouth-watering photos surfaced everywhere on social media; so much so that the group over at Aperi, Cumpanio and Jacinto 1930 hired a digital media person. Social media became essential for chefs and restaurants in 2016. Here, the Baileys + Hot Chocolate + Cookie Butter + Cajeta Cream at Panio.

Chef Marcela Bolano opens her remarkable Mediterranean restaurant, Marsala cocina con acentos; her caramel pudding is still one of our favorite indulgences.

Discovering that we actually do like the quintessential macaron; here by the Rosewood Hotel at Sabores San Miguel. 

You don’t need Friday as an excuse to have one of the best drinks in town; master Mixologists were popping up everywhere.

We spent the better part of 2016 working on two in-depth articles: The Female Chefs of San Miguel de Allende and The Maestras: San Miguel de Allende’s Culinary Pioneers. We salute these beautiful, passionate, strong, confident, educated, articulate and accomplished women who taught us everything about commitment… and the San Miguel spirit.
At food festivals this year, we discovered some of the bests: the best tequila we’ve ever had, Chula Parranda; the best food; the cuisine of Tabasco, Mexico with chefs Nelly Cordova Morillo and Lupita Vidal Aguilar and some of the best oysters we’ve eaten just about anywhere. We also met some of the best people.

Chef Israel Loyola, born in Oaxaca, collaborates with Chef Matteo Salas of Aperi to open Jacinto 1930; it’s remains one of the top Mexican restaurants in SMA today.

Many people think the legendary Shrimp Jicama Taco at La Azotea is the best taco in Mexico; we’ve eaten so many of them, it gets our vote.
We were a judge at the Lamb and Mezcal Festival, one of the best food festivals in SMA, run by young SMA entrepreneur, Billy Mervin, who is feasting on the lamb chop above.

We attended the largest food festival in Latin America, MISTURA in Lima, Peru and met many top chefs including Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino of Malabar. Known as the jungle chef, he’s been compared to Chef René Redzepi of Noma.

We loved our little hideout in the Miraflores section of Lima for a month. The views overlooking the Pacific ocean were breathtaking.

The best meal we ate outside of SMA last year was at Maido, a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant in Lima owned by Chef Micha Tsumura. In fact, it was the best lunch we’ve ever eaten anywhere in the world; all ten courses.

A culinary rendezvous at Central, then the #4 restaurant in the world and the #1 restaurant in Latin America with Chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz , transporting us from the Pacific ocean to the Amazon and the Andes and feasting on 17 courses that were innovative, thought-provoking, and artistically complex. It was one of our most memorable, dining experiences ever. 

Meet Rosario, owner of Huaringas Bar in Lima, Peru. Her daughter researched and tested ingredients from many different regions in Peru, creating an extraordinary range of cocktails with Pisco and fruits. The bar is known for changing the Pisco culture in Peru. With two locations, don’t miss it when you travel to either Lima or Cuzco.

We were honored to finally meet and cook with Top Chef Mexico, Rodolfo Castellano, of Origen Oaxaca and culinary idol, Susana Trilling, of Seasons of My Heart. Food is the #1 reason we travel.

I don't even like bugs and now I'm eating them!

Nómada cocina de interpretación opened, raising the bar for restaurants in SMA.
Two of SMA best chefs at the opening of Doce 18: Chef Marco Cruz of Nomada cocina de interpretacion and Chef Matteo Salas of Aperi.
The ever delightful Juana sells ceremonial tortillas at Mercado Rural in Colonia Guadalupe the first Sunday of every month; our favorite market in SMA.
Café Muro opens, bringing the outside indoors; the space is full of light, with patios and views that are set off by the curved glass wall in back. It’s one of the most beautiful restaurants in SMA and also one of our favorites.
El Vergel Bistro and Market and Trattoria da Laura a Los Mezquites establish sanctuaries outside SMA to escape our daily routine. The Los Frailes neighborhood also got a restaurant; Chef Armando Pratt’s OMA, where you can find salt crusted prime rib on Wednesday night. And so it goes with many restaurants and private chefs, traveling to the campo for the drop-dead gorgeous views.
                                        Photo: Jeff Phelps
No advertising but always full, the National Wine and Cheese Festival in the colorful town of Tequisquiapan, just 119 km from SMA.

Our tie to the states: seriously good burgers at The Restaurant and Birdie’s Burgers, made from Canada de La Virgen grass-fed beef.

Street food: we discovered many new, inspiring dishes when we explored the streets of SMA for an article. We also savored some of our old favorites, like Andy's Tacos.

                                         Photo: Preston Engebretson

Williams Sonoma, my all-time favorite gourmet store, opens in the Antea mall in Queretaro. Did you know they give free cooking classes?

At San Lucas Fiesta de la Vendimia for the annual grape crush; here in the wine barrel to stomp the grapes.

The “Queen of Mexican cooking”, author Diana Kennedy, took a few minutes out before a flurry of book signings at Camino Silvestre to chat.
Mike Hooper, after a home cooked meal in the campo.
We were featured in Atencion's article on Bloggers in San Miguel ( registered over one million hits back in July, thanks to our loyal readers.
San Miguel de Allende is attracting a different type of visitor today: the food lover. In 2016, SMA took seventh in the Ten Best International Cities for Food from Travel + Leisure magazine. Here, Chef Marco Cruz's ramen; one of the best in SMA.
To get through a semi-annual detox, we let one of the best chefs in town, Chef Marco Cruz, cook for us; three weeks of healthy and delicious eating at Nomada cocina de Interpretacion.
Chicken livers; who would have ever guessed we would learn to love them, just like our mother; here by Chef Alexandra Gutt of La Parada, one of the most popular restaurants in SMA.
We’re seriously addicted to the appetizers at The Restaurant. On second thought, we’re addicted to everything at Chef Donnie Masterton’s restaurants - all four of them.
So thankful for the dreams I don't have to close my eyes anymore to see. And she’s a food lover; she eats everything! Photo: the York’s.

The gastronomic offerings in SMA are now as diverse and vibrant as the city itself. Good news for the #1 City in the World, who first and foremost loves to eat! The fabulous Rib Rice at Atrio; the best dish of 2017. The combination of Chef Arturo Sandoval and the Josper Charcoal Oven from Spain are pure magic.

San Miguel de Allende is named the “Top City in the World” by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. So how did this small, colonial town in the mountains of central Mexico become the #1 city on the planet? One reason: great food, thanks to all of the creative chefs who worked hard to establish the city as a major culinary center in Mexico. Their accomplishment is amazing, considering the short period of time it took them to do it.

Ultimately, we grow to love tongue; this dish by Chef, Israel Loyola of Jacinto 1930, peppered with cauliflower, one of our favorite vegetables.
One perfect meal deserves another round of applause: our best meal with Chefs Matteo Salas at Aperi and Chef Eduardo Garcia of Maximo Bistro and Lalo!. We didn't love one dish better than another; we loved all eleven of them.
Master mixologist, Adrian Garcia Evans mole martini is legendary; here he is at Barra Mexico in Mexico City to catch one of his award-winning performances.
From the first serenade under our window in 1966 to the performance by this female mariachi in the Jardin, mariachi music still gives us the chills.
So what do you eat at the biggest Pic-Nic of the year? Everything! At B'UI - cocina de campo with Chefs Benito Molina, Javier Plascencia, and Dante Ferrero.  

Sunshine + Bougainvilleas: a prescription for a Chardonnay with supreme floral notes; here at La Azotea.

Sad to learn of the passing of a SMA treasure, Toni Cherry. She was a force; the woman who introduced SMA to ethnic cuisine. 

If it’s Sunday, it must be Home Sweet Home at Bacco in Hotel Sautto.   

I was the first customer at Nomada when they opened in 2016 and was the first customer again at their new restaurant, complete with an open kitchen. Here with son Leon, serving up a 5-star dish for this hungry food writer.
Girl talk: I wish I had all of the photos I've taken in the world of two women hashing over their day; this one in front of Johnny’s piano bar on Insurgentes.
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’ll wow even the most avid food lover; it did me. Here, Chef Miguel Nunez and Sous chef Raul Partida.

At this little hole-in-the-wall, El Tucan, the American BLT comes with an overly generous serving of bacon; we provided the bread.
Because not all the great views of Mexico are beaches or sunsets, some of them come in a glass; this taken on Cinco de Mayo from the picturesque rooftop at Qunice.
Sofia, daughter of neighbor’s Ricardo Sautto and Marcela Rodriguez Padilla, steps out to greet us when this state-of-the-art bakery, Panio, opened. 
At the SMA food festival in 2017, Chef Donovan Correa created a salad that nearly danced off the plate.

Pancakes with ice cream? We’re in, at one of our favorite restaurants, Nicasio Comedor Mexicano.

We’ve never tasted anything quite like this lasagna, made by Chef Laura Buccheri of Trattoria da Laura a Los Mezquites. This was our favorite Italian dish; the hit of the summer food festival season. 

Our sweet tooth was satisfied while making the rounds to sample the desserts for an article we did on pastry. We love SMA’s pastry chefs, every one of them.
Where do we go for the holidays? Casa Linnea, where else! Chef Linnea Rufo makes a 5 star dinner for her SMA family.
Dia de los Muertos: Mexico celebrates life instead of mourning death. Rose Ruiz, PR Director of Consejo Turistico de SMA and Laura Rorres Septien, President of The Food Bank of SMA, in the Jardin for the night parade.
Our creative project, The Necklace, is a work in progress. We’ve done forty-four SMA icons with two hundred seventy nine more signed up to be photographed in it. Well-known Mexico City jewelry designer, Dana Ponticiello, designed the centerpiece, this beautiful necklace, for the project. Here, SMA artist, Marti McGinnis, at the blessing of the horses.

It took an earthquake in Mexico City to get my son and daughter-in-law to come to SMA for their first visit. They loved SMA and are coming back next year.

The beautiful Daniela Doig runs Octoberfest; a highly successful, new festival in SMA.
Much to the delight of readers, we spent a month in Mexico City, discovering fine casual restaurants, including Caldos Animo by Chef Antonio de Livier, where birriamen, a fusion of Jalisciense Birria and Japanese Ramen noodles, made us fall in love with soup again. Fine casual restaurants are breaking out big this year.
Seafood caught on the coast of Mexico in the morning, is flown into the Queretaro airport, picked up by Chef Alan Carias later that afternoon, cooked and served at Trazo 1810 that night. Seafood in inland Mexico just can’t get any fresher than this.
The 2017 SMA Food festivals gave us an opportunity to meet some of the new, young chefs in SMA including aspiring chef Santi Aleck Pirsch, the youngest chef in the festival and Juan Manuel Galvan Lopez of neXtia.

Chef Armando Prats Leal invents the most creative cooking equipment, always getting our vote for the most imaginative chef in town.

The food just keeps getting better...

Chef Marco Cruz of Nomada cocina de interpretacion, Chef Matteo Salas of Aperi, Chef Donnie Masterton of The Restaurant, Chef Mariano Alvarez of Buenos Aires Bistro, Chef Arturo Sandoval of Atrio, Chef Alan Carias of Trazo 1810, Chef Israel Loyola Espinosa of Jacinto 1930, Chef Pablo Nicacio of Nicasio Comedor Mexicano, Chef Marcela Bolano of Marsala cocina con acentos, Chef Greta Ortega Casanas of MiVida Restaurant and Chef Sofia Antillon of Marchanta Comedor are just some of SMA’s culinary talent; SMA has many.

To celebrate 50 years of traveling in Mexico, we took a hot air balloon ride over the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico City and walked all 248 stairs to the top. It was a life changing moment..

Our most recent breakfast obsession: Molletes from Nicasio Comedor.
The street is an important aspect of Mexican culture; here with delicious street food and a street parade taking center stage. What we love about SMA the most is that you never know what you’re going to see when you turn a street corner.
The King has left the house: Chef Matteo Salas of Aperi.  

How close was this hot air balloon to our balcony? The photo was taken with a 50 mm lens, not a telephoto.

Chef Paco Cardenas and partner, Chef Norma Guerrero, celebrate the 20 year anniversary of Petit Four, one of the best bakeries in SMA.

The Faces of San Miguel de Allende: a historical project by this beautiful SMA author, Daniela Doig.
Follow her on Instagram as people are added this year to make up the list of 101 people that will ultimately be featured in the book. We were honored to be listed.

Chef Israel Loyola Espinosa celebrated his 2nd Anniversary at Jacinto 1930 with renowned Chef Alex Ruiz of Casa Oaxaca. Photo: Jacinto 1930.

A delicious cooking class with Chef Ruben Yanez Hernandez of Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada at Sazon Cooking School.

When the weather is too hot for a full meal, a deliciously flavored, light salads by Chef Xavier Piñero Moreno at OCRE got us through: charred endives with apple, caramelized peaches, mustard seeds, goat cheese and nasturium with peach dressing. Chef Xavier Piñero Moreno is one of the hot, new chefs in SMA.
Chef Alexandra Gutt and her husband, Juan Leon de Vivero, open a Mezcal bar, San Mezcal, just a few doors down from their restaurant, La Parada, one of the best places to eat in SMA. They also have a surprise project in store for you.

The Vasquez family makes outstanding Carnitas and Barbacoa at Mercado Rural in Colonia Guadalupe the first Sunday of every month. It's a grand, Mexican feast every time it's held.
Chef Joanna Bryne of Provecho Restaurant, passed away April 21st.  A celebration of life was held at Casa de la Noche where her family gave guests some of her recipes; her delicious Gazpacho was one of them. Miss this amazing chef.

Have you eaten your 16 courses of lamb and had your 22 glasses of Mezcal today? Another great 8th Annual Lamb and Mezcal Festival in the books. Chef Magda Elisa Pablos of El Vergel Bistro and Market with her winning dish. And speaking of El Vergel, why is it desserts are always on the top of our list?
I recently popped in for something light and true to the Thai flavors that Chef Alan Carias is an expert at creating. We were surprised when the waiter delivered this beautiful presentation, fresh flowers and all. Way too pretty to eat!

In Italy, chocoholics are known as ciocco-dipendenti. I'm definately one after this dessert. On a scale of 1-10, it's a 12 at MiVida Restaurant. Chef Cecy Alvarez always surprises us with the best desserts.                                            
Thanks to all eight chefs who participated in the pizza classes taught by Culinarian Expeditions in SMA, great pizza in SMA is a reality.

Sebastian Acosta Quiroz of Panio is all about home grown food. Seated next to Luc Monzies of Bodega Organica at Rancho Luna Escondida, during the Outstanding in the Field dinner back in January, they engage in a passionate discussion on organic food. We love restaurants that use good ingredients; Panio is one of them.

Breakfast at Lavanda is as good as it gets. The long lines down the block every day but Tuesday are a testimony to Chef Karla Becerra Martinez's cooking.
Leave it to a chef, Chef Sofía Antillón of Marchanta Comedor, to know how to make juice taste so good.  Amarillo is our favorite: orange, pineapple, mango, passion fruit, and turmeric. We love a lot of other dishes on the menu at her new bakery too.

Owners Gerardo Arteaga and Carlos Muro of Café Muro know how to make their customers feel at home. Their lengthy list of regulars pays tribute to the terrific food and service.

Duck dumplings served with a delicious Ahi amarillo sauce made from Peruvian peppers. The dumplings will be on the menu at Atrio soon, along with nine other new dishes. We love a restaurant that changes up their menu often, giving us another excuse to eat out.

A renewed love affair with Luna de Queso; not sure how they ever got off our radar.

A close up of the Master himself, talented SMA designer Jose Yanez, at his new studio, ASTERIA, across from the Rosewood Hotel. Jose is also a master at cooking Pre-Hispanic food.

The new chef at Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada is Mariel Beiza, who previously cooked in Riviera Maya with Chef Alan Carias, the chef at Trazo 1810. She is the first female to head up a kitchen at a Belmond hotel; kudos to General Manager, John Freudenthaler, for bringing her to SMA. Here with Chef Inez Paez (Chef Tita), the Ambassador of new Dominican Cuisine to the world.
Chef Esmeralda Brinn Bolanos of Querencia recently gave us her philosophy on sourcing. We like a restaurant that's selective about the products they use but also have a higher purpose than their own for buying from local it a single mother or a small, local supermarket.

The best seat in the house was the chefs table; Matteo Salas's chef table. A tribute to dinner at Aperi with Chef Matteo Salas and Chef Oswaldo Oliva of Lorea. Photos in the dark from my phone.

A cooking class with Chef Kirsten West; one of the best classes we’ve taken in SMA, I was fascinated with her hands.

Chef Professor David Jahnke’s Paella Valencia. The best part of every class is eating.

Lucky enough to score some of the best breakfast food in town: a Mediterranean pizza made of Mana'esh; Zaatar flatbread with labneh cheese, tomato and mint with fried egg by Chef JJ Castaneda at Café Casa Blanca
Meet Pascal; the newest celebrity in town. You'll find him hanging out at Marsala's with his new owners, Chef Marcela Bolaño and Ximena De Leon Campomanes. We like a restaurant that's dog friendly.

Jacinto 1930: Cochinita Pibil Ahogada Sandwich with pickled onion and habanero chili in a bean bolillo with avocado leaf and bean mayonnaise. Hands down, the best drowned sandwich in SMA.
La Alborada: Red pozole: peppery, spicy, loaded with chicken, pork or beef, and served with eight different toppings and spices. Why is it that it took five years to discover this restaurant?$50 pesos a bowl.
Death by Chocolate: Cordelion: chocolate brownie, chocolate mousse, caramelized acorn, vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce. The best dessert in SMA? If you love chocolate, it's a yes! At new restaurant, La Unica.

San Miguel de Allende is one of the top cities in Mexico to dine. Just ask restaurant owners Mary Nguyen Aregoni and Theresa Nguyen of Saigon Sisters and Bang Chop Thai Kitchen who flew in from Chicago just to eat. Here with Chef Marcela Bolaño.

It’s difficult not to be passionate about the source of your food after celebrating Outstanding in the Field with Chefs Donnie Masterton and Eduardo Garcia.
Chef Juan Jose (J.J.) Castaneda, the new chef at Fatima, in front of the long table at Outstanding in the Field.
Chef Sofía Antillón of Marchanta Comedor put's the finishing touches on one of her famous desserts.

Signs of life from the window at Mineral de Pozos.

Moon over Atrio; one of SMA’s best restaurants.

It's not so much the beautiful sunset every night but the aerial ballet of the birds out the back window at La Azotea that makes us happy to be in SMA.

Chef Olivier Deboise, the new chef at Aperi, personally goes every morning to select the ingredients he will use that day. Great reports on this new, young chef.
With three new hotels in the works, Billy Mervin is one busy guy. One of the hotels is a project near and dear to his heart, a labor of love, located in the home his mother use to live in. The mix includes two new restaurants.
2013 - 2018: Five remarkable years in San Miguel de Allende. Whimsical drawing by one of SMA’s favorite sketchers, Meagan Burns.