Thursday, January 17, 2019

Five New Restaurant Openings in San Miguel de Allende

                                  Chef/Owner Marco Bruzzone of Fiamma

If you’re walking around SMA, trying to keep up with the new restaurant openings, we’ll make it easy for you; here’s a short list.

We hit January with an enormous appetite and these restauranrs delivered, along with something extra. Five of them are new. Our number six – Café Casa Blanca – recently introduced a new concept we fell in love with: Wednesday Kebab night.

Here’s a quick look at this delicious mix: Mezcal Art, Le Mexicain Bistro, Fiamma, Silverio Urban Coffee and Mixology Bar, Jose Yanez Pre-Hispanic Cooking and Café Casa Blanca’s Kebab night. These restaurants offer a more casual dining option but best of all, the price is right!

Buen Provecho!

Mezcal Art
This laid-back, outdoor patio is covered in murals is a great platform for trying some of the many brands that Mezcal Art carries. In addition to Mezcal, there are Sotols, Raicillas, Bacanoras, Tequilas and red wines on the menu along with Oaxaca inspired food. Their inventory includes brands from Guanajuato, Michoacan, Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Durango, Zacatecas and Puebla. The house Mezcal, an Espadín that was made by owner Alejandro Vasconcelos’s cousins in Oaxaca, was superb; more so than some of the selections we sipped along the Mezcal trail in Oaxaca. It’s obvious Alejandro Vasconcelos knows his brands - all 142 served at the restaurant and the 80 labels inside the retail store that’s adjacent to the eatery. Although we’re a newbie when it comes to Mezcal, we grow fonder of this elixir with every new brand we try. We also anticipate the cross in the bottom of the glass; a rendezvous left over from our years of Catholic schools. Drink up! Although the spirit can be up to 160 proof, it’s also known to leave you headache free.
The extra? Our bill! Where else is life this good for $2.63 USD a glass?  
Calzada de la Estacion 59
Tuesday – Saturday 1:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Le Mexicain Bistro
The Torta de Chilaquil is a popular dish in Mexico City and it’s our favorite dish on Le Mexicain Bistro’s breakfast menu. A remedy for excessive drinking the night before, don’t count the calories in this sandwich; it’s an overkill of grease and carbs but it’s also pretty delicious. The cost is $49 pesos ($2.58 USD); breakfast for under $3.00 USD.

Another dish, if you’re into healthy eating or doing a January detox, is the fruit plate; an assorted mix of seasonal fruits for just $65 pesos ($3.40 USD).There’s also multiple blends of fresh squeezed juices, served in an oversized glass. They also dish up comida and there’s a high-end burger on with my name on it, so we’ll be back next week.

The extra? An enormous bag of YELLOW onions sitting on the floor. Yes, this restaurant also has a retail market. The owners drive to Central de Abasto in Mexico City every Monday morning to stock up on fresh produce for the restaurant and the market; some of the best we’ve seen in SMA so bring a bolsa and fill up before you leave. You’ll be amazed at the quality.

Salida a Celaya #71
Breakfast Daily 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Comida Daily 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Owner: Mi Bistro 300, Quebrada 18-D

Our pizza appreciation has grown-up this past year since Italian born Maestro, Fulvio Carbonaro of Culinarian Expeditions taught the pizza course he took in Naples to some of the knowledge-thirsty Mexican chefs at OCRE (who opened last year with a wood burning pizza oven and like the other restaurants, use fresh tomatoes and Italian flour when they create their pizzas), Marsala cocina con acientos, Aperi, MiVida and Atrio so when we ran across this off-the-street pizzeria that’s owned by an honest-to-goodness Italian-born chef, we were there. The only other Italian chef we know and love in SMA is Chef Laura Buccheri of Trattoria de Laura a los Mezquites by La Cucina di Afrodita but she’s in the country and with little or no gas in town, we weren’t going anywhere we couldn’t walk to.

Marco hails from Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy and still owns a pizza restaurant on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. He also makes a perfect pie, which took only one sitting to figure out. At $130 pesos ($6.79 USD), it’s a great split for two with a side of the wonderful and fresh tomato salad.
Besides a charming owner and a great pizza, this restaurant also features a spacious Beer Garden where you can waste away an afternoon on Modelo brews and conversation. Marco will be stocking more varieties of artisanal and other beers as he finds them.
Marco didn’t want to complicate matters with an extensive wine list so he personally selected only two labels from Italy; a red and a white. Marco also leaves the desserts to his friends at Buonforno, putting all of his efforts into providing authentic, Italian food. The formula works.
You’ll never have to worry about forgetting a name at Fiamma because Marco’s pizza chef is also named Marco. Marco Palacio, who has always worked for Italians, was previously a chef at La Loggia, a well-known restaurant and pizzeria in the Polanco district of Mexico City.
Fiamma will conduct pizza making classes with spots for up to five students in a kitchen that’s totally dominated by the wood burning pizza oven. It’s a cozy class but its genuine Italian cooking, just the way we like it.

The extra? We know this guy! It turns out that we met Marco Bruzzone when he first came to SMA and was staging for Ricardo Sautto at Bacco Ristorante in Hotel Sautto. Somehow, we knew back then that this chef was destined to have his own restaurant. After all, there can never be too many good Italian chefs in SMA.

Salida a Celaya #6
Open 12 Noon – 10:00 PM daily except Thursday closed
Chef/Owner: Marco Bruzzone

Silverio Urban Coffee and Mixology Bar
                                                          Photo: Silverio
Owned by brothers Luis and Angel Aguilar, their friend, Carlos Torres and a couple of other silent partners, these restaurant owners, all from Queretaro, gave me the grand tour where the rooftop bar offers yet another view of the Paroquia.

Silverio Urban Coffee and Mixology Bar is their sixth restaurant/bar – all the others in Queretaro - and with its prime location on San Francisco, they draw a mix of tourists and locals as well. David Torres is the young chef; he’s been cooking since he was 14. David is also the younger brother of owner Carlos Torres, who is also a chef. We went for breakfast and ultimately selected the Motulenos: a dish of sunny-side up eggs over fried tortillas with platanos covered in panela, avocado, cilantro and a generous helping of Arrachera. It was accompanied by a tomato sauce that was spicy, not hot and served on the side. The most expensive thing on the breakfast menu was $1.49 pesos. The food was good; so was the service. Open just 3 weeks, doing a New Years Eve dinner for $600 pesos was a great start. Like many casual restaurants in SMA, the prices are affordable for the quality of food they serve.

We like the story of how Silverio unearthed their coffee. Owners Luis and Angel Aguilar’s sister, a Biologist, met the coffee plantation owner when she was out trekking around Veracruz studying a species of monkeys that are no bigger than the size of your thumb. Six degrees of separation on that one and perhaps it’s the narrative that makes this brew so special. It’s also very strong so if you’re looking for an instant morning wake-up, this is your place.

Between the restaurant and the rooftop bar is a cozy Mixology bar on the second floor. Every Friday night, they celebrate TGIF with half price drinks; not early, like most bars, but after 8:00 PM. Silverio brings in their DJ’s from Queretaro, who could be any of the 14 DJ’s they use on a regular basis; all of them with a reputation and a following. At Silverio, it’s all about the music; electronic music at that.

The extras? “Adults Are Kids With Money” is the neon sign that sets the tone for this rooftop bar. As George Bernard Shaw once said “we don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing. A venue for instant play, this restaurant has something we’ve only seen at the beach: a set of swings at the rooftop bar.

We assuming it’s always warm here by the number of heaters they have on the roof so count us in, especially since we can get a strong cup of coffee or a half priced Margarita on the side.

San Francisco #12
Daily 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM/Bar open 7:00 PM - 2:00 AM

Jose Yanez Pre-Hispanic Cooking
With continuing discussions on how to make classic, Mexican dishes, Jose Yanez did an impromptu breakfast featuring his own version of Chilaquiles. Interestingly, this passionate, pre-Hispanic cook is also a Paris-trained fashion designer, an opera singer and a historian,who named every President of Mexico, along with his term in office in the order that they served. Needless to say, Jose has a remarkable memory as well.

We savored many dishes – he’s done meals with up to 22 courses - including fried Sopitos with crunchy pork noodles (my favorite) served with a simple tomato, Aporreadillo: a memorable Michoacan recipe with dried meat, egg, puya chile sauce and guajillo chiles, Frilojes Chinitos and the classic Chilaquiles made with two day old tortillas cooked in a casserole with a sauce of chipotle, guajillo, chili de aebol and pasillas.
The extra? We continue to be amazed by the number of exceptional and unusual dishes that are generated by this cook who is now offering pre-Hispanic cooking to curious eaters in SMA. Most of the recipes are from his family, composed of an inconceivable number of ingredients that result in precisely balanced flavors. We’re never quite sure how he always pulls it off but he does.
Club Luna, a private dining group organized by Franklin Terry and Rick Thompson, has already booked him for their monthly dinner in March.
Contact Jose Yanez to book your own Pre-Hispanic feast at:

Cafe Casa Blanca
There are many excellent, Mediterranean dishes on the menu at this year-old restaurant. We’re adding Café Casa Blanca to our list because Chef J.J. Castaneda started something new: Kebab night every Wednesday at 5:00 PM. Priced under $200 pesos, you get two generous kebabs, along with sides of cous cous, yogurt and pita bread.

We always settle in on the outdoor patio at Café Casa Blanca to soak up what’s left of the late afternoon sun. It’s one of the few alfresco eating spots in SMA where you can also get a more casual ambiance.   

The Lamb served with pomegranates and walnuts was our top pick. What we LOVE most about Café Casa Blanca is their lamb; the meat thermometer is always set to perfect. The Chicken with preserved lemon, feta cheese and pickled onion is also impressive. There’s magic in the sauces that accompany these kebabs; they unquestionably defined both dishes. Just like in the Mediterranean, count on feasting for at least two hours; you’ll want to savor the food because the flavors are remarkable. There’s also Eggplant, Pork and Blue fin tuna kebabs on the menu. The pork will be our next draw; we’ve always liked Café Casa Blanca’s pork as well.
The extra? Take a deep breath. Fatima, the long awaited rooftop restaurant at Hotel Casa Blanca 7, is rumored to open in February. Stay tuned and on this news; we’re already celebrating.  

Juarez #8
Breakfast: 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM 
Comida: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM Closed: Monday 
Chefs: Donnie Masterton and J.J. Castaneda
Don’t miss Chefs Donnie Masterton and J.J. Castaneda on the winter tour at Outstanding in the Field, hosted by Vintner Allessio Bellafiore of Viñedo San Miguel on Saturday, January 26 at 1:00 PM.

Go to this link for reservations: Outstanding In The Field Winter Tour