Wednesday, April 15, 2020

SMA Restaurants: Surviving COVID-19, One Day at a Time

I don’t know about you but I’m having withdrawal from not eating out and it’s only been three weeks.

One of the last chefs I spoke to on my daily walks around town was Gabriela Landin Castro of Kab’an, who is always delightful. She was overjoyed at the time; she just starting cooking at Kab’an, a fairly new restaurant in town and got married a short time later. The excitement showed in her face. A few weeks later, the stay at home order was issued. I think about her often now, as I do all the chefs, as she’s adjusting to a new normal that changes from day to day. 

It use to take me awhile to adjust to change - like when Hansen’s closed and there was no premium Prime Rib in town or when Marchanta shut their doors and we couldn’t get juice blends like the ones Chef Sofia Antillon made or when Chef Matteo Salas left for Europe and Chef Michael Coon moved to Mexico City or when Chef Arturo Sandoval of Atrio ran out of sea urchins and I couldn’t get the cerviche I grew to love. 

It all sounds so foolish now because we we’re use to getting what we want when we wanted it. Little prepared us to accept the fact that things change, as they always do, and somehow we adjust.

Restaurants in SMA are doing everything they can right now to make your quarantine tolerable. In fact, I’m getting produce delivered to my front door every week and I must admit, I’m getting rather spoiled again.

While the level of concern over COVID-19 is growing, you’re likely to see more changes in the weeks ahead. Ride the wave and incorporate them into your daily routine; whatever that is now. Eventually, some of them you’ll see as blessings. 

    Facebook Page: Buenos Aires Bistro
It’s important to check a restaurant’s social media pages now for updates, changes or cut backs they’re required to make, either by choice or necessity. LIKE their posts often because they need those virtual boosts from us right now.

Dining is currently defined as ordering take out for delivery. Determining just how to launch a food delivery service in a restaurant that hasn’t done delivery before is not an easy task but SMA restaurants responded and most of them had delivery service up and running at lightning speed. Good thing for me because after just a few weeks, I’m also sick of my own cooking.

And speaking of trouble, our community has always been generous in their support for people who cannot afford to eat and in SMA, there are many right now. Thousands of people are out of work so it’s important to be generous with your time and money.Give to Amigos al 100 and Feed the Hungry.

This goes hand-in-hand with the restaurants main concern of helping their employees, many who have families to feed and previously held down multiple jobs to do so. The website is where people can go to make donations to help their favorite wait staff get through these difficult times. Be generous - we’re eating while they’re wondering where their next meal is coming from.

Restaurant owners have always been resilient; even now, when they can't see the finish line. When was the last time you ordered out? Now is the time. You have over 60 locations to choose from and if you try them all, you wouldn’t have to eat at the same place for at least two months.

Buen Provecho!

Comfort food is one of the best ways to get through this pandemic, so order from your favorite restaurants often. This cheat sheet tells you which restaurants have delivery service and which ones are closed for now.

We'll be trying Marsala’s and Rustica; they both started delivery service this week. Also, Nomada has a new menu that we will try today. I can't tell you how ready I am for one of Chef Marco Cruz's steaks. 
Chikatana will offer delivery starting on the 24st with bags containing everything to make their dishes including the recipe. I'm loving that idea because their Bibimbap was so authentic and good.

The fastest way to reach a restaurant is to go to their FACEBOOK page and talk with them directly by pressing the message button. They also have their latest delivery menus posted there.

SMA RESTAURANTS AND GROCERY – Status and Delivery Options
Antonia Bistro - Closed Temporarily
Antigua Trattoria Romano - Delivery
Aperi - Closed Temporarily - Delivery service starting in May
Atrio - Closed Temporarily
Bacco – Delivery
Bhaji Curry House – Delivery
Bar Margaret - Closed Temporarily
Bella Italia – Uber Eats Delivery
Birdies Burgers – Uber Eats Delivery
Berlin - Delivery
Bonanza Grocery- Delivery
Bovine - Closed Temporarily
Buenos Aires Bistro - Delivery
Bui - Open to Otomi residents- Delivery
Cafe Casa Blanca 7 - Closed Temporarily- See The Restaurant listing
Cal’eh – Delivery
Café Monet - Delivery
Cafe Muro – Closed Temporarily
Café Verintort – Delivery
Canada de la Virgen - Delivery
Casa Nostra - Closed Temporarily
Casa Secretos- Delivery
Chef David Jahnke – Offering online cooking classes soon
Chef Gabriel Ordonez – Delivery
Chikatana - Closed Temporarily Delivery service starting April 24th
Chiquita’s Food Delivery – Delivery
Chocolates Johfrej - Delivery area. Call
Cumpanio - Closed Temporarily. Delivery service starting in May
Curry A Domicilio - Delivery
DeliQ – Delivery
Denise Rosenfeld@Postres Artesanales- Delivery
Denver’s Los Olivos - Delivery
Dilas - Delivery
Don Lupe Grill - Delivery
El Mantanial – Delivery
El Pato –Piick up
El Pegaso - Closed Temporarily
El Vergel – Delivery
Enamota – te – Uber Eats Delivery
Fat Boys - Closed
Fatima 7 -Closed Temporarily. See listing for The Restaurant
Firenze – Closed through April 29
Greece on Wheels - Delivery
Grille Torres- Closed
Hand to Hand Fresh Market – Delivery
Hecho en Mexico – Closed for the month of April
Inside Cafe - Delivery
KFC - Kenten’s Fried Chicken - Delivery
La Azotea - Closed Temporarily
La Choperia – Uber Eats Delivery
La Cucina do Afrodita - Delivery
La Comer Grocery Store - Delivery
La Dona - Closed Temporarily
La Frontera - Delivery
La Lonja Carnicería - Delivery
La Mezcaleria – Open. Delivery
La Pezcadeldia Fish Market - Delivery
La Prada - Closed Temporarily
La Sabina - Delivery
La Unica - Closed Temporarily
Lavanda - Closed Temporarily
Lima502- Delivery
Live Aqua - All restaurants closed temporarily
Lolita Cocina Mexicana -Delivery
Luna de Queso - Delivery
Mama Mia Express - Delivery
Marsala – Delivery starts this Thursday
Mercado Sano – Delivery
Merken Campestre - Delivery
MiBistro 300 – Open. Delivery
MiVida - Closed Temporarily
Mío Bistrock - Delivery
Mon Bistro - Delivery
Moxi - Closed Temporarily
Nectar - Delivery
Nomada - Delivery
Ocre - Closed Temporarily - Delivery service soon from Chef Xavier
Ojo de Agua – Uber Eats Delivery
Ole Ole - Delivery
Orquidea Thai - Delivery
Panaderia la Buena Vida – Delivery
Panio - Delivery
Petit Four - Order 48 hours in advance
Polp - Closed Temporarily
Querencia - Delivery
Quince - Closed Temporarily
Rosewood - Closed Temporarily
Ruby Joy - Delivery
Rustica - Delivery starting 4/15
Soriana Grocery – Delivery
Soul Kitchen Delivers - Delivery
Starbucks – Delivery
The Restaurant – Delivery, Produce Baskets and Holiday Meals
The Soup Lady - Delivery
Tacos Don Felix - Closed Temporarily
Taco Lab – Uber Eats Delivery
Tostévere - Delivery
Trazo 1810 - Closed Temporarily
Turk - Delivery
Zenteno – Coffee Delivery

Zumo - Closed Temporarily

Melissa Sumner of Panadería La Buena Vida, who also delivers, said that the TOSMA organic food vendors have been selling every Saturday behind Mercado Sano and will continue to do so until otherwise instructed by government authorities.  The fresh produce vendors (including Trinidad) are there as well as fresh fish, chicken, breads and pastries. They only ask that the public and vendors take the necessary, personal hygiene precautions and be vigilant with maintaining community safe distance. 

How we survived the week? Delivery from some of our favorite restaurants…

We’re mixing it up; cooking and trying out delivery from different restaurants. Here are some of the restaurants that got us through this past week:

Produce Baskets and Holiday Dinner@The Restaurant
I like getting my bag of fresh vegetables every Friday from Chef Donnie Masterton at The Restaurant. I especially love the surprise of what's in the bag every week; always a little different and freshly picked. The Restaurant is offering this service in order to support its workers and the local farms. I have a standing order every Friday. It's a great way to start out planning your menu for the week when you find out what's in the bag. 

Another great way to back The Restaurants efforts to help their staff is to order meals – in this case the Easter feast last Sunday; a delicious ham with all the extras that actually fed me twice. A holiday meal was the perfect reminder that home sweet home is here in SMA.

Call 415.154.7877 to order.

Postres Artesanales@Denise Rosenfeld
I haven’t had a single sweet in my house since we started this quarantine so Denise Rosenfeld at Postres Artesanales surprised me last week with a bag of her sea salt and peanut butter cookies and brownies. I can do without a lot of things right now but peanut butter cookies aren’t one of them. I’m not exactly sure what Denise does to make them taste so good; I’m thinking less flour and more peanut butter. Whatever the formula, they’re the best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever eaten and with so much peanut butter in them, it’s the perfect excuse to eat them for breakfast.

To order, call Denise at 415-113-9679.

KFC@Kenten’s Fried Chicken
Fried chicken deserves a bit of culinary reverence because people who agree on almost nothing agree that fried chicken is pretty fabulous.

When I first came to SMA almost eight years ago, the only really good fried chicken was the one you made at home. But last year, Chef Kenten Marin of Bar Margaret, changed all that when he started serving a fried chicken dinner every Sunday until the restaurant closed last month due to COVID-19. Being a great Southern cook, fried chicken is his specialty.

At Chef Marin’s new business, Kenten’s Fried Chicken (KFC) you place an order 24 hours in advance; time for brining and marinating. I got my delivery last Thursday; the first order out of the fryer. I savored every delightful flavor and got my fix of fried chicken for the week. Many people ordered from KFC last week and we heard nothing but raves about Chef Marin's chicken.

Each meal consists of: 2 pieces of free range chicken - choice of white or dark meat, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and fresh baked bread. He's working on changing up the sides shortly, which would include his famous Mac and Cheese.

KFC is available for delivery 7 days a week, from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM. The cost is $350 pesos + a $50 peso delivery charge. Tip generously. I got 2 meals from my order.

To place an order: Private message him on Facebook; email him at; or send a WhatsApp message to +52(415)1517505. He will reply with a confirmation once he gets your message.

Ruby Joy’s
Ruby Joy is the only delivery restaurant in SMA making any of their dishes Gluten-Free, Vegan, or Vegetarian. They have their own delivery service; usually Ruby’s partner, Derek Gerardo Ruiz. I’ve used them three times and the service has been on time and the food is always hot.

Everything I’ve ordered from Ruby Joy has been really good. We especially loved the chopped salad; something to order when you feel like your body needs more vegetables. I’m getting my share of vegetables; make it a priority right now. 

Contact Ruby Joy to order at 415-690-7829, Monday – Friday, from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM or order online at
It’s one of the easiest systems to order online.

Bridie’s Burgers: our Last Supper and Rustica: one of the last restaurants to close is opening for delivery this week…
From chefs feeding us to the bitter end to refusing to eat another can of tuna after eating it twice last week, this is a test of our ability to survive.

We had our “last supper” at Birdies Burgers three Fridays back and got take-out from Ruby Joy’s that night. Finally, we’re eating some good food again. It took a few weeks but delivery is a gift from the food gods right now, especially for anyone who’s use to eating out.
We’ll miss seeing the staff from one of our favorite restaurants, Rustica, in the morning but their delivery service starts this week on April 15th, from 12:00 noon – 7:00 PM.

Despite the empty streets and many restaurants shuttering, SMA is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to be sheltering in this magical place we call home. Don’t forget to savor that, too!

Online Cooking Classes and Cooking At Home…
So, you’ve stocked up on food but how about recipes? Good news - some of the cooking instructors will switch to online classes soon in order to keep us from getting bored with our own cooking. One of them, Chef David Jahnke, is getting ready to launch his online classes soon.

My recipe contributions this week are all easy and good:

-              A mini pizza recipe – because you have no one to split a pizza with.

-              A vegetable antipasto - because you have vegetables to use up before your next basket arrives from The Restaurant on Friday.

-              No knead bread - because we guarantee this is the best bread you’ll ever make.

-              Crepes; as easy as making pancakes and a celebration of what’s sometimes, simple French cooking.

-              Marinara sauce – because 24 heads are better than one.

Mini Pizzas
I first saw this recipe in the Tulsa Tribune years ago. It’s been one of my standby recipes. If you’re living in Mexico right now, you’re certain to have all the ingredients in your kitchen.

The trick is to crisp the tortilla BEFORE you place the ingredients on top and put it under the broiler.

12” Flour Tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese – Cheddar and/or Jack Cheese
Salsa Verde

Place tortilla in a fry pan – preferably cast iron - over medium heat and crisp on both sides.

Place the tortilla on a cookie sheet and top with cheese.

Place under the broiler and cook until the cheese melts and it is a little brown around the edges.

You can also put other toppings on these little Pizzas but I like it just with cheese. Serve with salsa verde and a dash of salt.

Vegetable Antipasto
Although there are many different vegetables you can use, these are my favorites:

Put in a bowl:
8 Oz Sliced Mushrooms, Sliced
8 Oz Can Artichoke Hearts, Chopped
Small Jar Spanish Olives, Drained and Sliced
¼ cup Chopped Bell Pepper
½ cup Chopped Celery

Combine in a saucepan and boil:
1/3 Cup White Vinegar
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1/8 Cup Dry Onion
1 ¼ tsp Italian Spice

add ½ teaspoon each of:
Garlic Salt

Pour the liquid over vegetables and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve with crusty bread rounds or crackers.

No-Knead Bread
It looks complicated but it isn’t. This crusty surface is something I have never been able to achieve until I made this recipe. The trick is a cast iron covered pot.

I’ve looked at dozens of French and Sourdough bread recipes and even had a lesson or two in my pastry classes but this one is the best. When you taste this bread you’ll never buy a loaf of bread again and first time around, you’ll probably eat the whole thing all by yourself. Go ahead; I did!

3 cups bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
1 3/4 Cups water

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.

Add water unless you dilute the yeast - then you can skip ¼ cup. Stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest about 18 hours at warm room temperature.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot in the oven as it heats.

When dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from your oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.

Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Mine was perfect in 15.

Cool on a rack. Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Easy Crepes
In the blender:
1 cup milk (whole/organic)
1 cup water
4 eggs
Juice from half of a lime

2 cups flour (white - organic - Bob's Mill)
1/2 teaspoon salt (you can add a bit more if the butter is unsalted)

Add :
1 Tablespoon melted butter (organic from Bove).

Use crepe size cast iron skillet (no Teflon)

Melt about a teaspoon of butter in the skillet until it is bubbly (not burned).

Add 1/8 - 1/4 cup of the batter while twisting the skillet so the batter covers the bottom of the pan.

Turn over after about 30 seconds. Only turn once. Leave the second side down and slowly count to 20.

Spread thinly with your favorite jam. Here, we used apricot.

The recipe makes 20 and I felt like I could eat all 20 after not having a hot breakfast for a week.

Marinara Sauce

This recipe started out in the test kitchens at Byerlys, a high-end grocery store in Minneapolis, who was known for their chandeliers in the frozen food section.

The original recipe was passed around between 24 people who love to cook and ultimately came up with this list of ingredients to simmer all day on top of the stove. Add plenty of wine while cooking and serve over spaghetti or Penne with grated Parmesan Romano. Every time, it turns out a little different, depending on the wine I use but it's always so good because the flavor is amazing.

4 cups chopped Roma tomatoes
1 ½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup lemon juice
½ medium size banana pepper
1 TBSP Sugar
½ Tsp Salt
1 Tsp pepper
1 TBSP Italian Seasoning
1 Tsp Oregano
2 TBSP crushed Garlic
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 TBSP Olive Oil
1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 cups red wine
Note: The key, for me, is to use nearly a bottle of good, red wine; adding it throughout the cooking process.

Who says Happy Hour starts at 5:00?
What time does happy hour start? These days, anytime you’d like it to. There are no rules anymore so if you want a shot of tequila at noon, we say happy hour starts at noon.

While you’re in quarantine, go online to Instagram and make new cocktails, with one of SMA’s best Mixologists, Mike Espinosa of Bovary:

New cocktail recipes are also posted by Bovine’s Mixologist, Uriel Johathan Frausto Tabares

When it’s all over, do you suppose we can get these guys to lead an online, city wide toast? I know we’ll all be ready.

Also, just for fun, follow local artist, Jane Dill, on Facebook. Every day, she and her husband Roger, are creating what they call Quarantine Cocktails. #4 was a Mezcal Paloma and #6 was the Birthday Mango Mango with Mango, frozen strawberries, lime, run and Controy with a garnish of mint. Birthday girl, Jane Dill, said it was a brain freeze. 

My drink of choice these days is juice; this healthy mix is a Conga:

6 Oz Orange Juice
4 Oz Pineapple Juice
1 Oz Grapefruit Juice
Dash Grenadine

Blend and serve over ice.

     Photo: The San Miguel Virtual Table
Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Getting tired of eating alone? Organize an online dinner party through a new site, recently created by SMA food lover, Carol Jackson and a few of her friends, called The San Miguel Virtual Table.

Wouldn’t it be fun to organize a dinner party and have surprise guests pop in for the feast?

What We Ate in 2019: A Tribute

With so much bad news out there lately, we figured you needed a positive take on things and a whole lot of pictures to drool over.

Call them SMA moments; a love letter to all the chefs and restaurants who fed us in 2019. If your favorite restaurant isn’t listed here, that’s OK. This is a heartfelt tribute to all of the chefs and restaurants in SMA.


The next community cap was scheduled for Monday, April 6th at 6 PM but was postponed until we work through the process to bring the full community of SMA on board. Although a number of expats did their part to make the first clap happen, this round of applause cannot be executed or have true meaning without our friends and neighbors in the Mexican community. A very important voice in the Mexican community was excited about the project and it’s now in the planning stages so our work is done.

When it does happen, it will be a true celebration of all the doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, grocery store workers, restaurant workers, truck drivers, sanitation workers, personal shoppers and delivery people, airline workers, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and whoever else deserves a round of applause for keeping us safe through these tough times and the saying “we’re all in this together” has true meaning. Stay tuned.

The View from the Top…

Well, it may not be as good as this garden in a glass at La Azotea but sheltering in place is not a bad thing, especially when all you see is this magical garden every day.

The New Accessory: Face Masks…

The CDC recommends that all Americans wear face masks in public to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Because the N95 face masks are in short supply, Patrice Wynne of Abrazos and SMA Fashion Designer, Jose Yanez stepped in to create face masks that are actually stylish. Originally, I bought mine from Abrazos back in January, when I had topical, chemotherapy on my face and wanted to cover it up so I had already been wearing it for awhile before the CDC recommendation came out.

In a matter of months, face masks have also become a form of self-expression. I now have a wardrobe of six; each with a different design. One complaint that I’ve heard people say about wearing face masks is that no one can tell if you’re smiling. Just check out the eyes; it’s a dead giveaway.

For the Abrazos masks, reference the contact information above. Jose’s are available at Calle Alonso Esparza Oteo # 5. Col. Guadalupe, between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

Reading Cookbooks…
You read novels and thrillers, we read cookbooks; we even read cookbooks in bed. To get a sense of the history of Mexican cooking, the University of Texas at San Antonio’s has a collection of Mexican Cookbooks; 2,000 of them dating back from 1789 to the present, many that are starting to be digitized and are available free online, including manuscript cookbooks from the collection.

We haven’t seen manuscripts like this since 2016, when we interviewed Maesta Maria Laura Ricaud, who preserves the traditions of Mexican ancestry cooking and is the keeper of her family’s historical cookbooks; one of them from 1798.

Staying current on COVID-19 in SMA…

Early on, I was in overload with information and reading far too much on the virus; much of which was just bad information. Now, I look at two pages to get my updates:

The Covid-19 SMA page on Facebook. 
This page is put out by medical professionals in SMA so you can count on the information to be accurate and up-to-date.

Also, the San Miguel de Allende Covid- 19 Community Comunidad page on Facebook has the latest community discussion along with up-to-date articles and general information.

All photographs ©Susan Knight York unless noted.