Sunday, January 5, 2020

Seven Hours and Counting: New Years Eve at Atrio

I don't know about you but our list of much loved restaurants in San Miguel de Allende is long; longer than it should be for a town this size and since we did chef tributes in 2019, we’ll do some to our favorite restaurants in 2020. Atrio is one of them. 

We spent the better part of the final night of 2019 photographing Atrio’s staff as they prepared for a New Year’s party for 135 hungry customers. 

It was our second year of doing it; one of our favorite nights of the year. 

We also dipped into the Casa Dragones; SMA’s favorite tequila.

Atrio’s staff moves in concert to the pace of its exceedingly friendly and experienced leader, Luis Vela. Our choice for the Restaurant Manager of the year, he always gets the very best from each and every one of his people and has earned the respect of every one of Atrio’s loyal customers, and there are many. We think that’s pretty impressive.

We've been to Atrio more than a few times; in fact, we've been there a lot. One of the single best meals in San Miguel de Allende is at Atrio - the caramelized Red Snapper - the dish of the year and one of the many brilliant creations from Chef Arturo Sandoval, who always pushes his cuisine to the next level. This dish alone is worth a trip to the restaurant. Then there's the Spanish rices; perfectly cooked in a Josper charcoal oven from Spain. I finally tasted the seafood rice for the first time a few months ago; I finally went out of my comfort zone and tried something new. Taking chances at the table are extensions of who you are so our New Year’s resolution is to say YES to everything in 2020.

The menu at Atrio is always a work in progress and the best dish on the menu is likely to be the one that Chef Arturo Sandoval recently created; this sushi made with Soft-shell crab - not on the menu yet but certain to be a crowd pleaser in 2020. We heard that Chef Sandoval also made one with lobster toay; we have yet to try it. In fact, since we’ve eaten nearly everything on the menu at Atrio, we can tell you that every dish is astonishing, perfectly prepared and flawlessly seasoned.
You’ll find Atrio located on Cuna de Allende by looking inside for the artistic tree at street level, decked out with exquisite, hand-painted ornaments from Guerrero. Like the restaurant, this tree is also one-of-a-kind; we can hardly wait to see the embellishments once the seasons change.
I remember Atrio when it was being built - climbing the stairs and holding onto the back of nephew, Eduardo PĂ©rez Calvo’s shoulders with high expectations of seeing the ultimate prize when we reached the top: the Parroquia; one of the single most beautiful views in SMA. Even today it took me back to when I saw it for the first time; an icon for which SMA is best known and beloved. And what's also not to love but the brothers, Atrio owners, Jose Maria Calvo (Chema) and Jesus Manuel Calvo (Chus), who have gifted SMA with three of the city’s most popular restaurants.   

You'll never be overwhelmed by the menu at Atrio; this comfort food is genuinely defined. It’s small with unlikely touches - the Tacos Orientales Pan Boa al vapor is one of our favorite appetizers. But that's not our only favorite - a dozen or so main courses are featured, along with a host of exceptional small plates. One of their best desserts is a dish that has been on the menu since day one: the mandarin cheesecake; it’s the original and still one of our favorite desserts in SMA.
The service is so SUPERB, we’ve adopted every one of the staff. Laura Camillo Ariza is our pick for the best waiter in SMA for 2019; her attention to even the smallest detail is simply remarkable. 
Atrio has unforgettable, consistent flavors that hold their own identity, a gorgeous atmosphere with stunning, in-your-face views of the Parroquia and superb service, with waiters who know what you want even before you know you need it yourself.

A home-away-from-home restaurant, what else do you require when you’re dining out, except perhaps an ice cold glass of Wente to make things perfect?

A  special thanks to Abraham, Belen, Manuel, Antonio, Marcela, Carlos, Isai, Jaffna, Valerea, Borje, Joel, Laura and all the staff for a dazzling New Year's Eve. 

Cuna de Allende #3
Daily 1:00 PM – 11:00 PM
Chef Arturo Sandoval