Monday, January 23, 2023

La Lista: The Flavors that Defined San Miguel de Allende in 2022

In 2022, just six years after the course of the culinary landscape in San Miguel de Allende started to change, we don’t think we’ve experienced such an assortment of great food all in one place in a single year. 365 days and 600 meals later, we’ve identified all of the spicy, smoky, salty, sweet, sour, savory, sumptuous and sinful things we ate last year.

We visit a restaurant at least three times before we decide to post it or not so we’ll be hitting up some of the other restaurants we didn’t list because we simply ran out of time, which is easy to do with over 550+ restaurants in SMA. We’ll be going to places like Merken SMA, home of one of our favorite chefs, Pablo Nicacio; El Pavo Real Winery and Vineyard, because owner, April Pedersen, has put a lot of love into the property lately; Casa Nostra SMA, because Chef Marco Massarotti’s Beef Ossobuco is a dish we’ve been salivating over for months; Zumo, because after attending an Indian feast there last year with Chicago chef, Hiram Patel, we want another look and Aperi, with new culinary artist and Executive Chef, Alejandro Lopez Vega, who comes from the kitchens of Pujol and Maximo Bistrot, along with dozens of other restaurants on our list. And speaking of Aperi, former chef, Matteo Salas,came for a visit last year and inspired us in so many ways once again. We miss his cooking every day. Our restaurant choices are based on our own research and comments from a large network of food lovers we’ve developed over a decade. The first thing we do is to study the menus; the main factor in determining whether we eat at a restaurant or not.

Currently, some of the restaurants are strapped for service people; it’s a critical issue so cut them some slack while they look for solutions. Also, January has been very cold and some of the rooftops are experiencing weather related issues. One of the things that Atrio does is to offer their customers fur-lined blankets when they arrive. There’s nothing quite like being sheltered from the elements while sipping on an ice-cold martini. Atrio’s martini is just one of the 300+ items on this best-of list.

Based on the Noche Estrellada dinner we ate at Trazo 1810 late last year, we’ve totally changed our minds about Guanajuato wines. Sommelier, Andres Amor, introduced us to so many beautiful varieties from our home state that we’re going back to all of the wineries in Guanajuato this year for some additional education. Currently, about 300 thousand bottles of wine are produced in the state.

After a series of slowdowns, some of them staffing related, San Burger is open at Recreo 86 and Chef JJ Castaneda is cooking with Chef Jason Malloff - a perfect match - as well as the new pizza place from Chef Donnie Masterton, The Pizzeria, in Meson San Ignacio at Mesones 53, which will open shortly. The owner of Bocaciega, Tostévere and other restaurant properties, Tono Atanda Lav, has another interesting project in the works and the new management of the old Bella Italia space has finally begun its magical transformation for a late February opening. Also, one of our favorite restaurant owners has opened up in Centro and we're headed there tomorrow.

With everything from 5-star dishes to street food and one-of-a-kind, new discoveries to some long standing, classic favorites, here are San Miguel de Allende’s best eats of 2022. It’s a long list so it requires a dedicated reading time.The restaurants are in alphabetical order… because we love them all.

Buen Provecho!

Amatte Wellness Community

Favorites: Floating Grapes and Chocolates with Cream.

There’s a definite high that comes with being on top of the world, among the cactus and the cumulus clouds, surrounded by the bluer-than-blue sky that defines SMA. Baja chef, Drew Decman shares his gastronomic knowledge at Hacmans Amatte; our best escape all year. A cordial host, Manager Mike Espinosa, takes exceptional care of all of his guests. Ice cream tops one of the best drinks in SMA, discovered at the Barra Mexico show in June. It’s made with a mix of Casa Dragones Blanco, Cardamomo with maracuya and Ice Cream of champagne. First stop with no detours, Casa Dragones has their own bar 71 steps up with perhaps the best view in SMA. Try the chocolates with cream filling for dessert; one of the most addictive dishes we ate last year. Salida Real a Queretaro 168.

Andy’s Tacos

Favorites: Tacos al Pastor and Caldo.

Starting out with our favorite street food for nearly a decade, you have two good reasons to go to SMA’s most celebrated food cart: the Tacos Pastor and the Caldo, made with scraps, bones and drippings of the meat. It’s a crowd pleaser, especially when the nighttime highs dip into the fifties. Andy is a celebrity. Written up in the Wall Street Journal, he’s the only street chefs in the “Claroscuro, the art of gastronomy in SMA” exhibit. At the corner of Insurgentes and Hidalgo after dark.

Apolo XI Carnitas

Favorite: Carnita Tortas.

This tiny, hole-in-the-wall on Mesones, Carnitas Apolo XI, makes these porky bites as good as they get; a carnita sandwich with a delicious pile of pickled cabbage, red onions and, for me, a dash of salsa. We ate at Carnitas Apolo XI when we first came to SMA back in 2013 but we don’t remember them ever being this good. With all of the secret, hidden rooftops scattered around town, Apolo’s is one that actually has a view. Mesones 43A between Relox and Juarez.

Aquila Brasa

Favorites: Chorizo, Panecillos, Cecina Tacos with Suckling Pig, Chicharron Tacos with Sweetbreads.

Part of our 2020 Meal of the year, this fresh Chorizo is some of the best and the only place we order it now. Get a small, cast iron fry pan of soft, buttery, homemade rolls and you have the perfect pairing. The Cecina Tacos and Sweetbreads Chicharron Tacos are two of the best in SMA. Cecina was our favorite flavor in 2022. In this case, Aquila made their taco shell with cecina and stuffed it with suckling pig, showcasing the remarkable talents of Chef Arturo Sandoval. Jesus 3.

Atrio

Favorites: Peking Duck Tacos, Vodka MaRice, Caramelized Red Snapper, Softshell Crab Taco, Boa Buns.

Fabulous service, incredible ambiance and the spectacular view have as much to do with Atrio’s success as the food does; it’s truly the total package. Atrio was our pick for the best, new restaurant in 2017 and it still reigns as one of our favorites more than five years later. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve eaten the menu and can recommend pretty much everything, including our favorites listed above. The best ice-cold, naked Martini in SMA is also at ATRIO; made table-side by our favorite waiter, Abraham - shaken not stirred and served bone dry with absolutely no vermouth. Cuna de Allende 3.

Bacanora - Santa Cursivo

Designed for sipping neat, we love the clean yet complex taste of Santo Cuviso Bacanora, made from a wild agave, Agave Angustifolia, grown in the state of Sonora. Of course, we love anything that’s agave based, especially when one of the owners, Gunther Maier, lives is SMA. Take your pick - you can find Santa Cursivo at San Mezcal, Mezcal Art or Alex Galina Gourmet.

Bacco

Favorite: Pasta Amatriciana.

Bacco has a beautiful, old world patio where the Italian tastes Italian and everything else feels local. The owners, waiters and cooks all know me by name. I feel at home when I'm dining at their table; they treat me like part of the family. Without fail, I order the Amatriciana every single time: spaghetti with fresh tomatoes, smoked pancetta, garlic, onion and Italian basil. Their bread, a crispy, Italian cracker, is so addictive you’ll never get away without devouring a second basket. The dinner fills me up in more ways than one. Catch up on world cinema showing at Cine Bacco, adjacent to the restaurant. Hernandez Macias #59 .

Bar at the R

Favorites: Tempura Green Beans, Ramen, and Grilled Skewers.

Savor every element of this bar because owner, Chef Donnie Masterton, put his magic touch on another late night favorite. It’s our #1 bar in the city for so many reasons, starting with the renowned DJ’s on the late night track including the chef himself, who is also an accomplished DJ. A small fireplace provides the perfect spot for cold weather drinking. We love the affordable,, Asian small plates and the Ramen; some of the best in town. Sollano16.

Barra Mexico

Barra Mexico is the most important fine drinking event in Latin America and one of the five most important in the world. With over 15,000 attendees from 41 countries and 500 brands presented, we learned a thing or two about the spirits we consume at Barra Mexico, held in SMA this past year. For cocktail week, various activities took place in more than 30 hotels, restaurants, vineyards, bars and galleries around town. At the show, held at Hacienda Los Picachos, Casa Dragones, along with one of their best, Adrian Garcia-Evans, was full from opening to close. Aruma by Amatte also ruled the day with Mixologist Mike Esposito and his head bartender Daniela. They created, what we thought, was the best drink of the show.

Barrica de Fuego Smokehouse and Grill

Chef Aaron Mizrahi Ardon cooked at Barrica de Fuego Smokehouse and Grill for a large group of SMA chefs. The burger was Black Angus meat – a mix of Rib Eye, Sirloin and smoked Brisket - that had a balsamic reduction on a Pretzel bun with fried leeks and a special dressing. We still dream about this burger and although we can’t run up to Mexico City every time we feel a craving for a hamburger coming on, it’s the standard we use when it comes to critiquing burgers here in SMA, especially for juiciness. Bib please – although this is the sloppiest burger, it’s also the best. Carretera San Miguel de Allende a Dolores Hidalgo, KM 3.5, Col. Miguel Hidalgo 37713

Bastardo

Favorites: the Juicy Lucy and Beet Salad.

Who doesn’t love the Juicy Lucy - a stuffed burger with cheese inside the meat instead of on top, resulting in a melted core of cheese? Two bars in my hometown of Minneapolis claim to be the inventor of this burger: Matt’s and the 5-8 Club, while other bars and restaurants have created their own version of the burger, like Bastardo, who makes it with a blend of chuck and rib; the meat from Sonora. Go Wednesday for the 2x1 special. Chef Jorge Avendano’s Beet Salad is also one of the best in town. 37893 Guanajuato 9.7 km.

Bautista Brothers

Favorites: Carnita Tortas and Gorditas de Migajas.

I was reunited with the original Bautista Brothers restaurant at Guadiana #2, the heart of their operation. The tortas here come straight out of the fryer into your sandwich. Bautista Brothers has pop up stands all over SMA that go late night and two stands at Tianguis de Martes serving carnitas when I get there at 9:00 AM. In a torta or on a fresh, hot tortilla, carnitas are at the top of the list of the best street food in SMA. Now, let’s see if you can resist going back for seconds. I can put myself into a Migajas-induced coma without any effort at all. Migajas is what’s left in the bottom of the pan after cooking carnitas. The crumbs are tucked into a pocket of masa and hand-formed into a neatly-stuffed gordita. It’s also fun to watch them being pulled off the hot comal without even burning a finger. This is a skill that takes plenty of practice to master. One of the most flavorful things to eat in SMA, they are so rich, we can only eat one. Guadiana 2.

Bennu

Favorites: Marinara Pizza with Stracciatella Pizza and Heirloom Tomato

Salad. Our 2022 pizza of the year, it’s authentic with Marinara; a simple yet complex mix with the rich flavor of the Stracciatella. Stracciatella is the inside of the Burrata; our favorite Italian cheese. The pizza is also topped with tomato, garlic, oregano and olive oil. Try any of the 5 delicious ones on the menu. The tomato salad is made from fresh heirlooms - yellow, green and red tomatoes topped with fried garlic chips and black garlic. All of the ingredients are local; selected from the best farms and markets around San Miguel. Chef Pablo Gil is a welcomed addition from Mexico City by way of Hartwood in Tulum, where the cooking was done by open fire within their handmade burning ovens and grills. It’s no wonder he makes a perfect pizza; it’s in his DNA. Jesus 20.

Berlin Bar and Bistro

Favorite: Fish Tacos

Don’t look for fish tacos on the menu. They’re only served at the bar and you have to be a regular to even know they have them; another one of Carlos’s little secrets. A good menu with fair prices, the pours are always heavy handed for a crowd of USA and Canadian regulars. If you want to belly up, get there at least 10 minutes before they open the doors to land a prime seat at the bar. Umaran 19.

Bocaciega

Favorites: Greek Salad with Pink Grapefruit, Black Pasta,Duck, Short Rib, Pistachio Ice Cream, Pluma Vinho Verde Wine, Naan, Roasted beet jam, Jocoque (labneh) and spiced infused olive oil with Pepita Seeds.

You can discover a cuisine by its spice rack so prepare your taste buds for some revelations from the Mediterranean at Bocaciega, one of SMA’s best new restaurants. Bocaciega uses Lebanese spices; an important element in the creation of its menu. Bocaciega offers a small number of dishes and does them all really well. The dishes are centered on the concept of mezze, a dining style that, unlike tapas, composes an entire meal with a spread of small plates. The food is very complex; leaving you with flavor memories that make you want to come back for another round just to figure out what you missed last time. Chef Jose Bazan has some new dishes on the winter menu: Duck and Short Rib cooked to perfection and accompanied by cold weather, comfort sides like Orange Kale; we could have eaten a whole plate of it. A new hamburger is in the works along with a novel shaped, crispy, rolled potato. A cooking lab off property is in progress. Stay tuned for all the details. Quebrada 18A.

Bovine

Favorites: Peach and Tomato Salad, La Costumbre – the SMA Cocktail and Beef Burger.

This picture perfect cocktail with Calle Aldama floating on top is a drink created by Bovine’s Uriel Jonathan Frausto Tabares - the best Mixologist in SMA. The cocktail is made of Pineapple, Agave Cenizo from Durango, Passion Fruit and Lineal Mezcal. Bovine was one of the first restaurant in SMA to come out with a high-end, all beef burger; this one made of silver rated beef from Chihuahua. What makes this burger so special is the pile of caramelized onions as a finish. Also try the fresh peach and tomato salad with dehydrated olives and a balsamic reduction. We’re headed over to Bovine after the New Year to try, what we just found out,is a Berkshire Pork Chop. They’ve also put a Pastrami Sandwich on the menu; an affordable option for lunch. Sorry folks, the onion soup is temporarily off the menu for now but soup is an afterthought when you get service this good. We love the staff, including Chief Concierge, Aaron Garcia Luna. Canal 16.

Buonforno

Favorites: Almond Croissant and Pistachio Cardamom rolls.

If you stroll down Sterling Dickinson, the street that runs parallel next to the market, you’ll find one of the best Italian bakeries in town: Buonforno. Chef Michael Coon is a regular and swears by their French made pastries and the espresso. Their bread is excellent for toasting – also sold at Casa de Café at Hospicio 31 in Centro. The Almond Croissants and Pistachio Cardamom rolls are legendary, along with a morning cup of Joe. Get there when they open; they sell out a lot of their pastries early. Sterling Dickinson #33.

Bulla SMA

Favorites: Lemon cream with berries and Andalusian Gazpacho.

Bulla San Miguel is one of our favorite, new restaurants in 2022. Enjoy the beautiful, outside patio along with all the Spanish preparations on their menu. Our favorites include the ice-cold Gazpacho - the bottom of the bowl is lined with vegetables - and a perfect, lemon cream dessert with berries; our new favorite dessert that feeds our obsession for lemons. This restaurant group, which includes La Unica, creates some of the most satisfying desserts in the city. Chef Francisco Jose Jimenez “Kiko” of Bulla is one of the young, new chefs cooking in SMA.

Cafe Lula

Favorites: Papas Crocantes, Fried Rice Balls,Waffle de Mochi and Monday BBQ.

In 2013, we moved to San Miguel de Allende and there were no ethnic restaurants to be found; you had to fast track it to Mexico City any time you were craving something other than Mexican food. Now, a decade later, Paul Guido has turned Café Lula into the go-to place for ethnic food in SMA. Café Lula is open air and the food is healthy. We love the Papas Crocantes with salsa macha, kewpie mayonnaise and scallions and the Waffle de Mochi - a Gluten free waffle, with charred fruit of the day, candied pecans, honey and saffron whipped cream. Sweet but not too sweet, its Café Lula’s signature dish. Also try the Vietnamese Fried Rice Ball Salad; the dish is meant to be eaten with your hands in Chinaberry’s lettuce wrap cups. Owner, Paul Guido, is currently perfecting the recipes for his Monday night Southern BBQ special; the only one in SMA. We’ve recently tried a second version and the BBQ ribs and think they’re pretty perfect. Bravo to this restaurant owner who insists on nothing but perfection in his food. And speaking of perfection, the Pineapple Martini gets our vote for the best, new Martini in SMA. Café Lula celebrated their one year anniversary this past July. Live music here is often provided by SMA’s favorite son, Johnny Favourite. Jesus 27.

Cafe Muro

Favorites: Cathy’s Breakfast, Chiles en Nogada and Tacos Muro.

Can’t make up your mind if you want an American breakfast or have the taste for something Mexican? Café Muro has an extensive selection of both and don’t blame me when I say I’m stuck on ordering Cathy’s Breakfast – the best American style breakfast in town. I’m not sure what they do to the pancakes here, besides the Amaranth flour, but they’re delicious and the only ones we can eat without syrup. We can think of plenty of reasons to support Café Muro besides the atmosphere, great food and enormous portions. Owners Gerardo and Carlos are two of the nicest people in SMA. San Gabriel 1, El Obraje.

Cafe Umaran

Favorites: Envueltos Guayaba, Carbonara Roll, Corned Beef Sandwich and Margarita on the rocks.

We introduced Café Umaran to SMA last year and it continues to be a very popular café at one of the best locations in town. A great bakery, where else can you find a tree growing in the middle of the dining room or get a lunch for $120 pesos? We like the Carbonara Roll (yes, it tastes like the pasta), the Corned Beef Sandwich (which actually tastes more like smoked brisket) and a rather strong Margarita on the rocks. Also try the Envueltos Guayaba; the best Mexican pastry in SMA. Umaran 6.

Casa de Café

Favorite: Cornbread

Casa de Café is one of the best kept secrets in SMA. The Pan de Elote belongs on a pedestal in a category all by itself. A cross between bread pudding and custard, it’s not as sweet as most of the cornbreads we’ve eaten in Mexico - lighter on the corn with a perfect cornbread texture. Casa de Cafe has made it in-house for over 30 years. Owner, Marisela Garcia de la Soto, is one of SMA’s true pioneers, starting PMC for archeological digs throughout Mexico and was Miss San Miguel de Allende in 1968-1969. Hospicio 31.

Café La Ventana

Favorite: Coffee from Chiapas

At this tiny coffee window that is the epitome of San Miguel slow, grab a cup of morning wake up, compliments of Chiapas, where some of Mexico's best coffee is grown. Walk one block to the Jardin and find a bench so you can watch the morning flight of birds around the church. This beloved icon, the Parroquia, is often used as a reference point when plotting a course through the city. The church changes color throughout the day as the sun moves so come back often to witness the transformation. Morning is one of the best times to take photographs so snap away. Sollano #11

Casa Madero 2V 3V

Go to your favorite rooftop anywhere in SMA and chances are you’ll find wines from the oldest producer in North America, Casa Madero. You can’t go wrong with the entire 2V and 3V series. It’s our go-to when we want a great glass of wine to savor with the sunset. You can also buy a bottle at Cava Sautto at Codo 36 or La Europea at Canal 13.

Cerveceria Dos Aves Taproom: Cerveceria Dos Aves

Dos Aves opens up their taproom and pairs its brews with a local restaurant almost every month. Look for their Facebook posts for the times and dates. Dos Aves serves some of their classic brews on tap: Diablos, Ryeleywine, Imperial stout, Imperial IPA, Saison Jonz and recently, a seasonal Pumpkin Ale. Owner, Francisco Kameko and founder, Mark Taylor, have won over 70 awards worldwide and recently announced the brewery is for sale. Dos Aves Brewery Relampago 4, La Lejona.

Cerveceria Hechicera + Mama Mia Campestre

Wander outside of the city of SMA and you’ll find one of the most beautiful properties around; a pairing of an ideal kind with cold beet brews and good food - much of it grown at Rancho Luna, their organic farm which also has a retail store. Although I expected the dishes made with their local produce to be fabulous, I was surprised and delighted by the flavor of the wood grilled Arrachera, sourced from Sonora. Carretera al Santuario de Atotonilco KM2.180, 37894 Atotonilco, Gto.

Chef Armando Prats Leal

He’s the ultimate chef’s chef. Popular, charismatic, influential and charming, we’ve eaten with him since day one and love his food when he’s here long enough to cook for us. He’s been on the road most of the year, cooking in Saudi Arabia and Bombay for weddings and families – representing Mexico and its gastronomy. What better role model in this wide world of cooking than Chef Armando Prats; one of the most respected chefs in SMA. chefprats@hotmail.com.

Chef JJ Castaneda

We’ll follow Chef JJ Castaneda anywhere because, wherever he ends up cooking, this chef makes one of the best burgers in town. He's now joined Chef Jason Malloff at San Burger/San Mezcal.This former San Francisco chef puts his spin on each and every dish he creates. We know he can cook anything and make it taste great. He also does private events.

Chef Linnea Rufo

Inside and out, this private chef is as beautiful as her food. Known for her long table dinners and special events, Chef Rufo gets high marks for everything New England comfort. No better Chicken Pot pie in SMA, her Chocolate Chip cookies are renowned and her duck, mint and fresh pea appetizer is a delicacy. Try her soups – like this delicious Red Pepper and a beautiful, light Lasagne. She can put a dinner together for dozens of guests and make it seem totally effortless. Considered by many as the best hostess in SMA, every plate that comes out of her kitchen is a total work of art. https://www.linnearuffoevents.com.

Chef Michael Coon

I’ve never come across anyone curious about the world that isn’t just a little bit envious of this chef. He’s traveled over 40 countries to get here. A well-known food and travel expert, Michael Coon is the former Travel Director and Co-Creator of the Culinary Institute of America’s World of Flavor tours. He created culinary adventures that went far beyond the momentary food experience. If you want to know the dishes that will find their way into mainstream dining next year, he’s the chef to ask. A master storyteller, he’s seasoned by his culinary treks throughout the world. He’s also a singer, an actor, a yogi, a photographer and has served as the Master of Ceremonies for the Napa Valley Film Festival. Contact Chef Michael Coon on Facebook or Instagram (cookcoon) or email him at Michaelalbertcoon@gmail.com. He’s back in SMA, and hopefully for good!

Chef Ryan McNab

Chef Ryan McNab came to SMA for a visit from London this year and taught us to master the art of the crumpet, which somehow I crave everyday now. The recipe is on my Facebook page 11/11/2022. He's coming to SMA next year to get married and find a job. If you're interested, you can contact him on Facebook. He will be a great addition to the SMA community of chefs.

Chilli Billy Mx

Favorites: Chili con carne – made with Turkey or Beef, Pay de Limon Casero, Bacon Cheeseburger and French Fries and the Chili Fries.

This tiny gem in the middle of the colorful, Guadalupe neighborhood is a find. The Chili con carne is perfectly spiced – beef or turkey - and the Pay de Limon is creamy; a salty and sweet crust made with ghee that is the perfect dessert to balance out the kick of the chili. The only chili place in SMA, it gets our vote for the spot that feels just like home. C. Margarito Ledesma 2B, Colonia Guadalupe.

Cien Fuegos Pizza and Comfort Food

Favorites: Porcini Mushroom Pizza and the Porcini Mushroom Pasta.

Porcini Mushrooms are a favorite in the culinary world, known for the rich flavors that trigger our palates to taste that sixth flavor: UNAMI. When mushrooms are in-season, we head out to see Chef Davide Giribaldi for pizza and pasta. The pizza is made with four cheeses and is one of the most authentic, Italian pizza’s in SMA. Mexican chef, Esmeralada de la Rosa, is also in the kitchen, making Italian food like she was born to. Cien Fuegos is one of the most underrated restaurants in SMA. When you want authentic Italian, this is the place to go. It’s also a favorite of Gilda Carbonaro of Culinarian Expeditions and Italian pizza maker, Fulvio Carbonaro, who know good, Italian food when they taste it. Carratera San Miguel de Allende – Dolores Hidalgo km 7.5.

City Market

Favorite: the Gelato

New to SMA, City Market is a popular place for high end, hard to find items, liquors and fresh produce. If you’re ever looking for us, check City Market. We spend hours here researching brands; it’s one of our favorite hang outs in SMA for new products and cookware. Our favorite guilty pleasure, we have a scoop of the gelato when we arrive and a different one when we leave. City Market sells 18 unique flavors and combinations of traditional Italian gelato such as their creamy chocolate with hazelnuts. A 100% natural product, the premium and seasonal flavors are some of the best we’ve eaten anywhere. Salida a Celaya 82, La Lejona.

Cooking Classes

Traveling is the best way to immerse in the culture and the quickest short cut we know is to take a cooking class. We posted a new directory of cooking schools in SMA this past August,2022 and receive dozens of emails monthly asking us about classes. Look for a comprehensive listing of all the chefs in SMA who teach cooking classes along with their agendas and pricing. The cooking classes are made-to-order and can be scheduled with a 24-hour advanced notice. Try to sign up for these classes in advance; sometimes there’s only room on a waiting list when SMA is in-season November through March. Enrolling in a cooking class gives you the best souvenir possible: the ability to reproduce incredible Mexican and International dishes in your own kitchen back home. From the former head of the culinary department at the University of Celaya ,Chef David Jahnke, to Alicia Wilson Rivero, the owner of Deli-Q and the go-to chef for everything healthy in SMA to Gaby Green, known as the Alchemist, who also owned Aguamiel; her fifth restaurant and some say her best yet and Kris Rudolph, owner of El Buen Café and Delicious Expeditions who is a recipe developer for Tabasco brand products, all of the cooking instructors listed in this post are extremely talented and have a lot of practical, cooking experience. There is the former chef to the Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger, Kristen West, who also worked for Chef Rick Bayless and Maria Laura Ricaud, whose kitchen is a museum with handwritten family cookbooks from the 1700s.

Corona

Belly up to almost any bar in SMA and you’ll find an ice-cold Corona. Here, Ana Luisa Torres Gastelum, formerly of Grupo Modelo, tips her brew to the fact that you’re never too old for a Corona and you don’t have to be at the beach to drink one. We love Corona, just like we did back in 1966; our first summer in Mexico.

Cumpanio

Favorite: the Margarita Pizza

Panio has been perfecting their pizza recipe and selling beautiful, wood boxed pizza kits in their stores; it makes for an ideal gift. The Margarita pizza recently hit all the high notes when we ate at sister restaurant, Cumpanio, for lunch. Our 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 and a dash of Grenadine. Blend and serve over ice. We love to sit in the high-back, blue leather “throne”; the chair at the far table that makes you feel like you’re holding court every time you’re there, especially since a steady stream of people file by and you know half of them. We counted 22 conversations one morning before we even ordered breakfast. It’s the best restaurant seat in SMA. Correo 29.

Culinarian Expeditions

Favorite: Fresh Homemade Baked Bread, Olive and Caper pizza and recipes from Gilda’s cookbook: “A Tiny Kitchen in Florence.”

You can’t have one without the other and the best way to eat great, Italian food in SMA is to sign up for a cooking class with Culinarian Expeditions. Gilda’s cookbook, “A Tiny Kitchen in Florence,” is filled with recipes that cover some of the simple and traditional Italian meals that are often not found in restaurants. If you want to judge how good your pizza or bread is, measure it against husband Fulvio’s baking. A certified Naples pizza maker, we think their food is some of the best Italian cuisine in town. You can also sign up for a Culinarian Expeditions adventure in Italy, where Gilda spends half her year. https://www.culinarianexpeditions.com

Dolphy

Favorite: the USA version of a Chocolate Malt.

In my book, it’s always time for ice cream, no matter what the season is. Recently I taught the girls at Dolphy’s how to make real chocolate malts - not the kind they usually make in Mexico using chocolate ice cream. Sometimes I grab a malt instead of eating lunch. Plaza Principal 24. Dolphy also has a store in La Luciernaga.

Dulce 1810

Favorites: Chocolate Pistachio Croissant, Pan del Dia and the Brioche.

Bakery lovers claim it’s the best croissant in SMA because off the pistachios but we credit the velvety, soft chocolate for its rising popularity. Since we introduced these croissants in January 2022, we’ve lost count of the number we’ve eaten. It’s our #1, along with everything else they bake, including a square Brioche and the Pan Del Dia, stuffed with lemon cream. Pure indulgence, this is one of our new favorite bakeries in SMA by Chef Irving Cano, one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2022. Codo 3.

El Estoril

Favorites: Duck Tacos, Fried Parsley Tacos, Snails, Short Rib, Cesar Salad made at the table, Sweetbreads, Carrot Cake, Matsu Wines and Prime Rib Thursday special.

One of our favorite, new restaurants in 2022, El Estoril was founded in 1971 in Mexico City in the Zona Rosa. There have not been any French restaurants of this quality in SMA since I moved here 10 years ago so the opportunity to eat really great French food on a whim is the ultimate pleasure for food lovers. Over the years, El Estoril has gradually evolved into fusion cuisine at the request of its regular diners, compiling iconic selections such as one of their signature dishes: the Fried Parsley Taco. The Duck Tacos, Snails and the Short Rib go on our list as some of the best food we’ve eaten. We couldn’t think of another restaurant to compare it to and that, in itself, is a reason to celebrate. Prime Rib is served as a special on Thursday nights. Arrive at 6:00 PM before they sell out. Hidalgo 4.

El Pato Barbacoa y Mixiotes

Favorite: the Mixiotes

This tiny palapa dishes up Mixiotes - the Mexican version of your mother’s Sunday pot roast. El Pato is proof that food doesn’t have to be fancy to taste good. There would be lines around the block if this restaurant was located in Centro. Mixiotes is a traditional, pit-barbecued meat dish made of lamb that’s cut with the bone and seasoned with pasilla, guajillo and spices. It’s cooked in the ground every night.

There are dozens of small, family owned businesses that line Canal on your way back up the hill to town. There’s no better way to find out what’s going on in a city, especially where to eat, than talking with the locals. El Pato Barbacoa y Mixiotes is one of our favorite, Mexican eateries. Owner, Pilar Ortiz, is the ultimate host. Calzada de la Estacion 121.

Food Tours

Every day, someone is discovering what we already know: San Miguel is one incredible place to eat! SMA has many great food tours, but for those of us that like to find things on our own, the thrill of the hunt is often half the fun. If you’re craving an authentic, SMA food experience, we’ll make it easy for you. We’ll be posting a new, self-guided food tour this year. What you find on your own is the other part of the magic.

Franklin Terry – Home Cook

Favorites: Cheesy Chicken and Biscuits, Chunky Beef Chili, Potato Soup, Bloody Mary’s (by Jo Mama Thomas) and Margaritas (by Adal Garcia).

SMA resident, Franklin Terry, is a great cook. With one cookbook already under his belt, “Franklin’s Eats,” he’s contemplating a second one. He’s constantly pushing comfort food and I’m always first in line to get it. How do cheesy chicken and biscuits sound after a cold morning walk? We also love his chili and potato soup. Drinks are often the order of the day at this house and no one makes Margaritas like Adal Garcia, the new bartender at Tostevere or Jo Mama Thomas, whose Bloody Mary’s have become somewhat of a prize.

Calling this group my SMA family, their rooftop saved many of us during the Covid pandemic. Forming a quarantine pod - a small, self-contained networks of friends who limited their non-distanced, social interaction to one another – we all survived the virus intact and had some fun while doing it.

Geek and Coffee

We love EVERYTHING about this restaurant, where duck ponds, gardens and shady patios dot the property. It has everything you need - from high speed wifi service to gourmet, baked goods and specialty drinks including coffee and teas. Owner, Nancy Hock, has put a lot of passion into this property lately and it shows. You can order breakfast, lunch and dinner so it’s a great place to hide away for six hours at a stretch and work. The Geek part of the formula is that there’s technical services available to solve your computer, iPad or iPhone problems. Calzada de La Aurora 3.

Grandpa and Son

Favorites: Smash Burger, Blue Cheese Slider and Onion Rings.

A Grandpa and Son burger addiction is what we have but perfecting a now, classic hamburger is nowhere near as easy as it seems. Try getting the Smashburger right on your first try; in under a few minutes, especially since it’s a double. The flavor of this burger comes from what’s called the Maillard reaction - the extreme heat and pressure supercharges a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars - yielding the most amazingly dark, flavor-packed patty that are the trademarks of a true Smashburger. Pair it with a side of crispy, onion rings. You can also order different, mini sliders; a delicious three-bite burger that’s also a customer favorite. Fabrica La Aurora Calz de La Aurora, S/N-Interior 2A.

Isabelle Ortega- Pâtissier, Madame la lune

Favorite: the Caramel Chocolate Tart.

Her quiche and cakes are recognized as some of the best sweet and savory comfort foods in SMA, with the Caramel Chocolate tart her star offering. One of the absolute best pastries in SMA, refrigerate until its ice cold before eating. At the Saturday Organic Market , Mercado Sano, Ancha de San Antonio 123.

Kouyin

You missed: Corean Popcorn Chicken with Blue Cheese Ice Cream.

Having staffing problems finding cooks who were gifted in the Asian arts, we felt the pain when this restaurant closed but the memory of this dish survives. Chef Marcela Bolano, its creator, has the recipe in her head and promises to bring it out on special occasions when you least expect you’re ever going to taste these Asian flavors again. Hands down, this was one of our favorites this past year. Blame it on the Blue Cheese Ice Cream.

La Azotea

Favorites: the Jicama Taco with Shrimp and Margaritas.

Check on the Happy Hour that runs Monday – Thursday but who says your Happy Hour has to start at 5:00 PM? There are no rules so if you want a shot of tequila at noon; manager, Teruyuki Ramirez Guzman says happy hour starts at noon. For more than a decade now, the Shrimp Jicama Taco has ruled as the best taco in SMA. Take yours with a sunset view; the happiest pairing in town. Stop by the magic mirror on the landing for a picture. The mirror makes everyone look gorgeous, especially after a large picture of your favorite Margaritas. Umaran 6.

La Dona

Favorites: the Chamorro, Cauliflower, Chicken with Mole and Chile En Nogada.

It’s always a celebration of great food at SMA’s La Dona, with an unbelievable assortment of dishes prepared by La Dona’s young chef, Juan Manuel Galvan Lopez. La Dona’s menu offers a fresh twist on many of the Mexican classics; always inventing a total surprise for your palate. Try the Pork Chamorro, cooked for four hours over low heat, barbecue style, accompanied with rustic mashed potatoes - it’s one of our favorite dishes in SMA. There’s also a delicious, Chicken breast in the best black mole with fried plantains, homemade red rice and of course the classic favorite, Chilies en Nogada. Try the roasted cauliflower in a wood fire, oven marinated in dehydrated tomato chimichurri with seasoned Gorgonzola cheese dressing. It’s the cauliflower original recipe and still our favorite one.The Bunuelo dessert plate is divine. San Francisco 32.

La Hija de Manantial/El Manantial

Favorite: the Chamorro Tacos

La Hija del Manantial is next to El Hotel La Morada in Centro. Grab one of the high stools in the window and watch SMA parade by as you savor the delicious flavors of some of the best tacos in town. This gourmet cantina serves some of the same Mexican, seafood dishes as the original El Manantial.

Rally for the Chamorro Tacos to be put back on the menu at La Hija because you can only get them at the original El Manantial. El Manantial, a sister restaurant, celebrated its 100 year anniversary during the pandemic (1920-2020). Barranca 88.

La Mar

Favorites: the Dulce de Leche Waffles,Chinaberry Omelet,Cafe de Ollo and Sandwich Croque Madame.

You like to think it’s you that has the instinct about a restaurant having good food but this was a no brainer when the chef is none other than Arturo Sandoval, the genius behind the kitchens at Atrio, Aquila Brasa, La Azotea and Pueblo Viejo. We loved every dish; all having the wonderful flavors of Mexico with a bit of that Sandoval magic. Both the Dulce de Leche Waffles and a Sandwich Croque Madame were so good, we split and shared them. The omelet with the incredible flavors is called the Chinaberry Omelet; Chinaberry Farms providing many of the fresh ingredients for this dish. The Café de Olla is delicious; no need for milk or more sugar, it’s my new favorite cup of coffee. Brunch on Sunday is from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Sushi is served every day from 12:30 PM – 10:00 PM. Salida a Celaya 6.

La Prada

Favorites: the Chicken Livers and Smashed Potatoes

It’s been 10 years since they opened La Parada, one of the landmark eateries in San Miguel de Allende. I’ll admit I could eat the Papas La Parada by the pound. The secret is to fry them, smash them and fry them again. The chicken livers don’t taste like liver at all; we love both the texture and the taste. They are coated with Anticucho sauce with a base of dried chili, vinegar and oregano. The sauce is also used in a Peruvian street food dish we ate in Lima incorporating beef hearts. Recreo 94.

Lavanda Café

Favorites: Chilaquiles, Juevos Rancheros and the Coffee.

Inside the big, blue door, Chef Karla Becerra Martinez is cooking authentic, Mexican recipes in her tiny kitchen. Locals come here for a great cup of coffee as well. We’ve eaten everything on the menu and it all gets great reviews. Try the Benedictinos, Chilaquiles or Huevos Rancheros. Come early to avoid the lines; it’s one of the most popular breakfast spot in SMA. This picture of the Huevos Rancheros was one of the first we took in SMA. They look different now but taste the same with their hecho en Mexico flavors. Hernandez Macias 87. Also check out their coffee window at Loreto 48A.

Lolita

Favorites: the American Breakfast and the Pastries by Daniela Flores of Charlie’s Sweets

When you can’t decide which pastry you’re having for breakfast, you just order them all. Lolita has seating on the front patio where you can sip coffee from Veracruz and catch up with owner, Lizette Angel who took over Lolita from her Uncle, Dr. Raul Zamora. Dr. Zamora opened Lolita 9 years ago; a very popular breakfast spot, especially with Mexicans on the weekends. Lizette has made a lot of changes to increase the client base. That’s evident when you count the slices of bacon on your plate at breakfast. Lolita serves a great American breakfast but also has a lot of Mexican specialties on the menu too. Salida a Celaya 52.

Luna Tapas Bar

You’ve taken so many people to Luna Rooftop, don’t you think there should at least be a chair with your name on it? Try the Parroquia seats and savor the 360 degree view of SMA - one of the best views in the city. Everything else is an afterthought that we’ll be trying again this year with the arrival of a new chef; the most important feature of any restaurant. Nemesio Diez 11.

Marsala, cocina con acentos

Favorites: the Sunday Brunch, Eggs Benedict, Truffle Penne Carbonara, Duck and Waffles, Pork Tomahawk, Carrot Cake and the Terrina de Cerdo.

There are so many things we LOVE about Marsala, cocina con acentos we quit counting. Chef Marcela Bolaño, a contestant on Top Chef Mexico created one of the best restaurants in SMA and was recently recognized, for the fifth year in a row, as being one of the 250 best restaurants in Mexico. With a wildly popular Sunday brunch and frequent, new additions to the menu, this Mediterranean classic should be at the top of your go-to list. Marsala’s Eggs Benedict are matchless along with the legendary waffle and duck. Hands down, it’s the best duck in SMA. The Carrot cake and Truffle Penne Carbonara are among our favorite dishes on the menu. Try the Terrina de Cerdo because the best things in life come with pickles and mustard. Hernandez Macias 48.

Marulier

Favorites: Canales and Breads.

I take a trip back to Paris every week when I go to buy my Canelés. The striated cylinder, with a heavenly custard center and a dark, thick, caramelized crust, is one of the tastiest pastries in SMA. Chef Magda Elisa Pablos purchases Hogaza Pan Rustico to make French toast. Sebastian, the owner, introduced us to some of the breads which include a heavily, seeded baguette and some of the most amazing bagels, making them fresh every morning. If you like mushrooms, his mile-high Quiche is for you. Plaza la Lucieruaga, Local 31. A new Maulier restaurant just opened next to Mercado Sano at 121 Ancha de San Antonio.

Melissa Perry Barnett – Home Cook

Favorites: the Onion Tart and Pear Champagne.

Normandy’s Answer to Champagne, the region increasingly favors Poiré, the pear-based drink that is more natural, as the production is organic and the use of modern technology is minimal. I adored the taste of Poire; less bubbly than champagne. This picture perfect, onion tart was made and fine-tuned from a recipe by Alice Waters’s of Chez Panisse, who Melissa use to work for.

Mezcal Art

Go ahead, drink your lunch. It’s Mezcal; it cures everything! This laid-back, outdoor patio is covered in murals and is a great platform for trying some of the many brands that Mezcal Art carries. In addition to Mezcal, there are Sotols (getting increasingly more popular), Raicillas, Bacanoras, Tequilas and red wines on the menu, along with Oaxaca inspired food. The house Mezcal, an Espadín, that’s made by the owners cousins in Oaxaca, is a superb, first choice. Calzada de la Estacion 59

Millesime

Both locals and vistors loved Millesime GNP Weekend in SMA; a unique, culinary celebration that took place at The Rosewood, with other events at the Plaza de Toros, Bulla and Tene Kitchen and Bar at Casa 1810 Parque Hotel Boutique. Millesime has been successful since it was created in 2007, as a concept to promote the best cuisine in the world. Unlike the previous editions, Millesime GNP Weekend was more social than corporate and was open to the public with thousands of people coming in from CDMX, Querétaro, Guanajuato , San Luis Potosí and Guadalajara in order to be part of the experience.

To tell you the truth, I never got tired of everyone telling me how great the food is in SMA and how much they love to come here to eat. We especially loved the attention that was given to our local chefs: Marcela Bolaño of Marsala, cocina con acentos; Abel Hernandez of The Rooftop at Selina SMA; Irving Cano of Trazo 1810 and Tene Kitchen and Bar; Omar Henriquez of Aperi; Francisco José Jimenez (KIKO) and Pedro Martin of Bulla, SMA and José (Paco) Francisco González of Restaurant Tarragón.

I am reminded, once again, that SMA needs a food festival. The last one we hosted was in 2017 - way too long for a city whose culinary offerings are some of the best in Mexico.

MiVida

Favorites: Pizza with homemade sausage and Gelato.

Tell me where your ingredients come from and I can tell you, without even tasting, if I'm going to like your food. Pizza: the flour is Italian, imported from Italy, made especially for pizzas; the sausage is made in-house; the Cheese is Pecorino Romano and imported; Arugula from Rancho de Trinidad in SMA;Tomato Sauce is San Mariano from Italy; Organic Basil is from Luc at Mercado Sano and the Extra Virgin Olive Oil is also imported from Italy. There are many pizzas in SMA but Greta’s are still some of the best; it’s a REAL Italian pizza. Also grab some of her homemade gelato; we often eat it straight from the carton. Hernandez Macias 97.

Mizrahi Meats

You have to take a road trip to Mexico City for this one but we had to put it on the list because it was one of the most exceptional burgers we’ve ever eaten anywhere. Mizrahi Meats is dedicated to providing excellent cuts of beef for chefs and restaurants throughout Mexico.

Mui Ramen Bar

Favorites: Lazy Mango, Wontons, Chicken Bao Bun and Shoyu Ramen.

We ordered the Lazy Mango, made with Sake, homemade mango calpi, sherry and chamomile syrup; it’s one of our favorite summer drinks. Try the Gyozos de cerdo: Wontons with pork, bittersweet sauce, spring onions and sesame seeds. They’re pan fried then steamed; the bittersweet sauce is the flavor standout in the dish. Try the Bao Pollo Frito; a steamed Bao bun with fried chicken, pickled carrot and cucumber, hoisin sauce and shiracha. We got our fried chicken fix for the week. Dig into the Shoyu Ramen with pork and chicken broth, a perfect spice blend, ramen noodles, belly chashu, soy marinated egg, nori seaweed and garlic oil. Surprisingly, because it often isn’t, the egg was perfectly cooked. This is our favorite place to eat Asian and hide out to embrace yet another perfect day in SMA. Hotel Matilda, Aldama 53.

Nirvana

Nirvana is a sanctuary – a hotel, spa and restaurant, set in the beautiful countryside just minutes from SMA, near Atotonilco. Owner, Juan Carlos Escalante, is more than the perfect host; he’s the head chef and one of the pioneering chefs in the development of fusion cuisine. Much of the organic food comes from his garden or farm. Order an Arrachera Burger; one of our Mexican favorites. We suggest an overnight stay for the perfect, total package. Calle Antigua Via FF.CC. No 21, Colonia El Cortijo, Atotonilco.

The Monkey Bar at Hotel Matilda

Here’s where you go to sip Casa Dragones Tequila in a flute - it’s the only way to drink really exceptional tequila these days. The smallest bar in SMA, enjoy some of your favorite spirits poolside. Featuring a constant stream of guest Mixologists, it’s still one of the hottest bars in SMA. Hotel Matilda at Aldama 53.

Nómada Cocina de Interpretación

You missed: Crispy Heirloom Tomatoes with Seaweed, Tamarind and Chintextle sauce.

These crispy, Heirloom Tomatoes was one of the best dishes we had all year. Food is ultimately about flavor and Chef Marco Cruz has the ability to build incredible flavor profiles that carry you to one of the many places he’s traveled or to a field in the campo, where native ingredients speak to the chef as simply as we talk to each other. What makes each meal is the flavors of his sauces. We eat with our eyes first so I am, as a rule, impressed with presentation. Everything that comes out of the kitchen at Nomada is visually picture-perfect. Chef Marco Cruz guides a well orchestrated team, using ingredients in ground-breaking ways, like a slice of cecina in place of an ordinary tostada. After 7 years, Chef Marco Cruz is still at the top of his game. If you travel to eat like we do, you’ll find him this year in Valle de Guadalupe.

Outstanding in the Field by Chef Donnie Masterton

You missed: El Sargazo’s grilled octopus with Aguachile, all-day Barbacoa with Ceremonial Tortillas and the Lemon Doughnuts.

Outstanding in the Field connects people to the farmers who grow their food and the land that it comes from. No one understands that relationship more than Chef Donnie Masterton who, since coming to SMA years ago to open The Restaurant, has always been an advocate of using locally sourced, high-quality ingredients and has worked with area farmers, ranchers, vineyards and other purveyors to consistently achieve that principle. At Ranchito El Garbanzo, the ranch that he built in SMA and the site of the 2022 Outstanding in the Field event, he’s a farmer; one of the few chefs who is growing all the produce for his own restaurants.

The next Outstanding in the Field event in SMA will be on Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 2:00 PM and is hosted by Alex Trapp of Canada de la Virgin. The property’s archeological site is believed to have been built around 530 AD by the Otomi people; dedicated celestial observers who studied the star cycles and their relation to the timing of key agricultural events such as seeding and harvesting. The long table for this comida will be set above Cañada de la Virgen, where a spectacular canyon cuts through central Mexico’s high-elevation plateau. We can’t think of a better chef and farmer than Donnie Masterton to headline this gathering of food lovers from around the world.

https://outstandinginthefield.com/event-details/canadadelavirgen/

Panaderia La Buen Vida

Favorites: Pan del Sol, Orange and Chocolate Doughnuts and the fresh Empanadas.

Practice makes perfect and we think Melissa Sumner has made at least a million doughnuts and empanadas. There’s not one ordinary flavor on the list. One of the best breads in SMA, Pan del Sol also makes delicious French Toast. The legendary, orange doughnuts have been a guilty pleasure since day one and many say it’s the best doughnut in SMA. We second that vote. Hernandez Macias 72.

Panina

Favorites: Cruffin, Shakshuka, Coffee and Lemon Doughnuts.

Guadalajara chef, Paulina Carreno, worked her way through famous kitchens across Europe and Mexico, launching Panina in San Miguel de Allende in the middle of the pandemic last year. The bakery has been popular since they opened; famous for their sourdough products and their specialty coffee from Veracruz, Puebla and Oaxaca. We are crazy about lemon so ordering the lemon, cream filled doughnut with Pistachios was a given. Go in the morning to enjoy the pastry at its peak freshness while it’s still warm. They have a limited breakfast menu including the Shakshuka with a thin layer of potatoes and some pretty incredible flavors. For the best thing on the menu, try the Cruffin - rich and creamy with a deep, dark chocolate flavor and a generous dose of caramel. It tops of our list as one of the best new pastries in SMA last year. Stirling Dickinson 3.

Panio Atelier du Pain

Favorites: Lemon Cruffin, Sourdough Bread, Kouign Amann, Truffles with whiskey and tequila, Lemon Ice Cream, Quiche Lorraine, fresh Squeezed Orange Juice and roasted Tomato Soup.

There are so many great bakeries in SMA, it’s hard to choose. One way is to ask yourself what your pastry tastes like the day after you buy it? Modern and state-of-the-art, despite the fact that a Franco-Italian family brought it to Mexico over 100 years ago, I’ve always been in love with Chef Alberto Laposse’s breads. No matter how you slice it, Maula is one of the best breads we've eaten. Panio’s menu changes; coming out with new things every week. Don’t miss the Cruffin de Lemon; one of the best pastries in SMA. Load up on croissants or brioche; they’re the best this side of Paris. The pastry that dethroned the Croissant and the New York Times called the fattiest pastry in all of Europe, the Kouign Amann, is also an all time favorite. There’s free delivery service, thanks to a very portable Christian on his motorbike. We order the Quiche Lorraine, a salad and fresh squeezed orange juice every Saturday morning for breakfast. With a full menu, we also dote on the roasted, tomato soup. And just when we almost gave up trying to find the same, delicious flavor of the Flan de Lemon Ice Cream we ate every day at Bing’s Helados in Guadalajara after school in the late 60’s, Panio came out with a new lemon ice cream that’s almost identical. And about those chocolate truffles that incorporate tequila and whisky – please tell me I just didn’t eat the entire box.

WhatsApp order number: 415 101 3003 Salida a Celaya 67-69 Doce 18 at Relox 12 Panio Correo 29 La Luciérnaga

Patsy Dubois, formerly of Patsy’s Place

Favorites: Cold Fruit Gazpacho and Stuffed Squash Blossoms.

Patsy Dubois is one of SMA’s culinary pioneers who’s been cooking and entertaining at Patsy’s Place in San Miguel de Allende for over 50 years. Her stuffed Squash Blossoms are made to the sheer delight of her guests and the cold, melon gazpacho is refreshingly satisfying; our favorite cold soup in SMA. Prior to life in SMA, Patsy worked for the family of Mexican President, Miguel de la Madrid, at Los Pinos in Mexico City. In a recent filming session with documentary filmmakers, Rick Thompson and Ginny Martin, she’ll close out this chapter of her life but will continue to teach and cater. Watch for the film on her life later this year. patsydubois@gmail.com.

Petit Four

Chef Paco Cardenas and Norma Guerrero are celebrating their 24th anniversary of Petit Four, the oldest Restaurant/Patisserie in SMA. We haven’t had a thing in this bakery that we didn’t love so the list is longer than we have room for. We especially love their cakes, like the lemon and champagne. The first cooking class I took when I moved to San Miguel de Allende in 2013 was from Chef Paco Cardenas. His cooking school, located in the picturesque Atascadero neighborhood of San Miguel de Allende, has been the subject of many newspaper and magazine articles. Truth be told, Paco’s true passion has always been teaching. Jesus 2-B.

Pork Belly

Favorites: Mac and Cheese with bacon and the Brisket Burger.

Pork Belly scores big for its burger, using a blend of both brisket and shoulder. Their special pink mayo is made from scratch, along with a soft, brioche bun. Even the French fries are impressive; sprinkled with malt vinegar and topped with Parmesan cheese. The best side dish in SMA, Pork Belly’s Mac and Cheese is to die for; made with Manchego, cheddar and those two magical ingredients: blue cheese and bacon. Stirling Dickinson 10.Tacos and Cocktails are made-to-order at their restaurant in Centro. Cuna de Allende 15.

Raices

Favorite: Stuffed Chilaquiles.

The food is authentically Mexican, prepared by Chef Vanessa Romero, who spent most of her time in her grandmother’s kitchen when she was young. The cooking comes naturally; the recipes are in her head and she could cook them all with her eyes closed if she had to. Don’t miss the stuffed Chilaquiles; one of the uncommon, Mexican dishes made of fresh corn dough with pressed pork rinds, Morita sauce and black chili ash. It’s Oaxaca-style cooking at its best. Salida a Celaya S/N frente a gasolinera.

Rodriquez Barbacoa

Part of the large and delightful family Rodriquez, the barbacoa is slow-cooked until it falls off the bone. Tender, seasoned and infused with flavors, the broth is made with the drippings from the roasted meat. Talk about the perfect breakfast. Order a half a cup of Caldo and toss in a side of the meat. Pile on the chopped onions, cilantro and squeeze in a lime or two. There are many locations around town including Calzada de la Estacion 52, Calle Libramiento Jose Manual Zavala, Av. Principal la Luz 3, and Tianguis de los Martes.

Ruby Joy

Favorites: Amaze Bowl, Cakes including Cheesecakes and all the sides.

Ruby Joy has evolved over the years and turned out to be the best delivery restaurants in SMA. This Peanut Butter Cheesecake was good when it was delivered but even better the next morning after spending the night in the refrigerator – an accidental discovery since we usually eat her desserts first. Ruby Joy is the only delivery restaurant in SMA that makes any of their dishes Gluten-Free, Vegan, or Vegetarian. We have a hard time deciding what to eat; especially when she runs her daily specials. Her menu is peppered with healthy dishes but we also love all of the desserts created in Ruby Joy’s kitchen this year, including her cheesecakes and the chocolate, blueberry cake. The generous portions give some eaters two meals. Ruby Joy’s Amaze Bowl is the most colorful, power meal in SMA. http://www.rubyjoys.com.mx/

Rustica

Favorites: Turkish Eggs, Frittata, Latte Frio, Chilaquiles, Chicken Milanesa, Peanut Butter Cookies and Beet Up Smoothie.

How to start your morning off right? With a big hug from Eduardo Pérez Calvo of Rustica, one of the best breakfast restaurants in San Miguel de Allende. It’s amazing what an iced latte, some healthy food and a hug can do; all before 9 AM. We love some of their choices including the Turkish Eggs. Back in 2018, we wrote about 33 restaurants in SMA to get breakfast. Rustica is still our #1. Salida a Celaya 34.

Salvajes Brassiere

Favorites: Coq Au Vin, Berkshire Pork Chop, Braised Short Rib, Gnocchi with Baked Clams, homemade, smoked Ice Cream.

Salvajes Brassiere, Chef Jorge Avendaño’s new restaurant, is in an old house with small, intimate rooms and has a 5-star menu. On the second floor, there’s a cozy, private room for ten and a no-odd-man-out chefs table for 3 that looks straight into the kitchen; the only chefs table these days besides Aperi. I felt totally at home the minute I walked in the door. We’ve always been a huge fan of Chef Avendaño’s cooking and every dish is beautifully presented; a signature of this chef. Cooking contemporary French with Italian elements, he’s very selective about his ingredients. We loved the Berkshire Pork Chop - the Kobe beef of pork. It’s juicy, dark, and heavily marbled. The Coq Au Vin, one of our long-time favorites, is a timeless stew that’s filled with intense, classic French flavors. Then there’s the Braised Short Rib: this is the chef’s secret weapon for wooing diners. It’s superbly prepared with creamy, russet potatoes – something that’s been MIA in the SMA grocery stores lately. The serving plates are eye-catching; complimenting every dish that comes out of the kitchen. The Gnocchi with Clams - Gnocchi Parisienne - is a French spin on rustic, Italian gnocchi. In this preparation, the texture is much lighter; sautéed in butter for that browned, crunchy exterior to contrast the baked clams. Our top choice, we loved this dish and the homemade ice cream: smoked cream over cedar wood and a 70% cacao with white truffle oil. Hidalgo 92

San Agustín Chocolates and Churros

Favorites: Hot Chocolate and Churros.

I’m not giving up sugar any time soon after tasting this – a Churro drizzled with sweet, warm cajeta. They’re on the street everywhere now but we can’t dismiss the taste of San Agustín’s, especially when they’re sided with a cup of hot Mexican hot chocolate. Don’t get discouraged when you see the long lines; they move fast. A few dozen people also happen to be at the restaurant hoping to meet owner, actress Margarita Gralia. San Francisco #21

San Lucas Winery

We celebrated the wine harvest at a private party with friends. In prior years, there are hundreds of people at the Vendimia at San Lucas; one of the wineries of La Santisima Trinidad. No matter how you choose to celebrate – with or without the crowd - savor the harvest and the fantastic wines of La Santisima Trinidad; they’re some of the best in SMA and one of our personal favorites for every day drinking. Carretera Queretaro – San Miguel de Allende km 26.

San Mezcal

If you haven’t been in San Mezcal lately, you really need to go. Juan Leon de Vivero has turned San Mezcal into a real, honest to goodness Mezcal bar, complete with an altar and items that pay homage to the elements of the drink. There is a full menu of wonderful selections including this amazing Spinach Salad by Chef Jason Malloff. You can also do a Mezcal tasting with Julio Hernandez; he’s the only Master Mezcalier in SMA and one of two in Guanajuato. Calle Recreo 88

Santiago Toca Uriaete - Home Cook

Favorite: Bucatini all’amatriciana

We were amazed to discover Bucatini again when we had a meal with friend, Santiago Toca Uriaete. It reminded us how much we love Bucatini and how much we want to cook this meal again after a 10 year absence. We make it almost every week now and it’s one of the easiest things we cook. The recipe is from a MasterClass session in cooking.

https://www.masterclass.com/

2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt

½ cup crushed San Marzano Tomatoes, canned

8 ounces guanciale or pancetta

½ cup diced onions

3 minced cloves garlic

¼ cup dry white wine

½ teaspoon black pepper

red pepper flakes to taste

1 pound bucatini pasta

Romano cheese, grated or parmesan

Bring a large pot of water to a boil on high hear. Season with kosher salt. Crush San Marzano tomatoes in a separate bowl.

Preheat a sauté pan over medium heat and sauté the guanciale until crispy; about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

Add onions and sauté 3 – 5 minutes.

Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.

Add white wine and stir to pick up the flavors from the sautéed onions and garlic. Cook 3 minutes then add black pepper and red pepper flakes. Add the bucatini to the boiling water and cook for 8-9 minutes until al dente.

Add guaciale back into the sauté pan as well as the crushed tomatoes and juice and cook with the garlic and onions on low heat until cooked – 8 to 10 minutes.Reserve ½ cup cooking water and drain the rest.

Increase the heat to medium and add the bucatini to the tomato sauce. Toss with tongs and add pasta water as needed to create a sauce. Cook for 5 minutes.

Taste for seasoning , adding salt if necessary.

Sprinkle with cheese and serve with tongs.

Selina Rooftop SMA

The chef, Abel Hernandez, who won the 2022 Tacos and Esquites championship at Tene Kitchen and Bar, recently opened the beautiful rooftop located in the Hotel Selina with one of the best views in SMA. A newcomer from Mexico City, he created three of Mexico City’s most popular restaurants including Eloise Chic Cuisine in San Ángel. The hotel also has an outdoor cinema where movies are shown almost every night. Chef Abel Hernandez’s menu changes seasonally. Cuna de Allende 11.

Simbiosis - Alianzas de Mutuo Beneficio

In 2016, Preston Engebretson and I went foraging for mushrooms and hooked up with local expert, Arif Towns Alonso, who was selling them to most of the major chefs in SMA. It was the first mushroom tour that Arif did. In 2021, Arif partnered with Chef David Jahnke and also did mushroom tours; this one the most sought after food tour in SMA. Arif opened Simbiosis – Alianzas de Mutuo Beneficio in 2022 in Mercado Sano, much to the delight of every mushroom lover in SMA. They also offer a beautiful selection at the TOSMA Mercado Organico in Mercado Sano on Saturday. Ancha de San Antonio 123.

Sollano 18 by Vicente

Favorites: Short Rib Soup, Chicken and Vegetables,Cesar Salad and White Chongos Ice Cream with Campechanas and Caramel.

Sollano 18 by Vicente is one of SMA’s newest restaurants, opening in the house that Sofia built. The architectural conversion is beautiful and the food, service and view are some of the best in town. Sollano 18 by Vicente is known for its grilled meats; the quality of the beef is silver from Canada and the Waygu is from Australia. A Tomahawk will set you back $3100 pesos but don’t ever let the prices stop you from trying a new restaurant. My advice: get online and study the menu BEFORE you go. The soup is short rib and the rest of the preparation - sherry, cilantro, onion, Serrano pepper, black sauce, lemon juice, pepper spices and other condiments – is done tableside, unlike the Cesar Salad, which is prepared in the kitchen. Tucked under the Cesar Salad is a large slice of cheese chicharrón, made in their Josper oven. Practically everything is made in-house, including the fresh, Ranchero cheese topped with mushrooms and pumpkin flowers; the amuse-bouche they give you at the start of the meal. Also try the White Chongos ice cream with Campechanas and caramel; feeds 4-6 people or a hungry group of waiters. They also offer a healthy lunch of char grilled chicken and vegetables. When was the last time you had food this good for $10 plus a tip? See, Sollano 18 by Vicente wasn’t so pricey after all. Sollano 18.

Sommelier Andres Amor

We first met sommelier, Andres Amor, at the Noche Estrellada dinner at Trazo 1810 and are convinced that he’s going to be the Sommelier in demand this year. A professor at CESSA Universidad in Mexico City, he developed the wine pairings for the dinner and much to our surprise, every one of the wines were from Guanajuato. Although Ruta de Vino is not as established and well known as Valle de Guadalupe, after tasting these wines, we’re convinced that will change. Every wine selection was exceptional; all from the wineries in our own back yard.

Starbucks

Favorites: Yogurt and Chocolate Cake.

One of our best spots for working, the restaurant now opens at 6:30 AM and just took a hefty, 25% increase but it has heat and air conditioning, the coffee is strong and the yogurt is the best we’ve eaten; made especially for Starbucks by Lala so you can’t buy it in any grocery store. Thick but not Greek, it’s bottomed up with red fruits. On your birthday, a chocolate cake is the order of the day with ripples of fudge running through it. We’ve had every chocolate cake in SMA over the years and it’s one of the best. Canal 3.

Tacos Don Felix

Favorite: Enchiladas Gloria

Reigning as the King and Queen of Mexican food in SMA, Don Felix and his wife Gloria began cooking at the street cart just three blocks from their house in Colonia San Rafael in 2005 and the rest is history. We could live off the Enchiladas Gloria and we do - half beef and half pork with equal portions of red and green sauce. The salsas are exceptional. One of the nicest chefs in SMA, we love Chef Gloria as much as her food. Fray Juan de San Miguel 15.

Tacos Don Santos

Favorites: Beef Tacos and Costillo Tacos.

Don Santos earned its accolades with authentic Mexican food and you’ll get a bonus these days because it seems like the Tacos de Costillo are double stuffed with an overly generous amount of rib. The meat is cooked in a pile of intestines and chorizo and is so well flavored and tender that you can’t stop at just one. The peppery salsas have a kick that adds a whole other layer of flavor to the tacos. Don Santos Taco de Res is the best beef taco in San Miguel. Bring a $100 peso note and you’ll go home with a pocketful of change. Located in an unmarked, cobblestone alley in San Antonio, we get our weekly fix at the Tuesday Market. Clavel 8 off Refugio Sur.

Tene Kitchen and Bar

Favorites: Grilled Bone Marrow, Costillas BBQ and the Tene Burger.

Tene has one phenomenal building block in its arsenal of weapons: Chef Irving Cano, one of Food and Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2022. We’ve never been disappointed in anything he’s cooked at Tene Kitchen and Bar or Trazo 1810; another property in the Casa 1810 Collection. Possibly the best bone marrow we’ve eaten, it’s beautifully browned and candy to food lovers who eat it plain or dress up one of his many tacos. When it comes to burgers, there’s beef and then there’s Wagyu, according to Chef Irving Cano, who only uses the best ingredients when he cooks. Wagyu, the beef from Japan, is considered the best beef on the planet because it’s highly marbled. Also try his amazing Costillas BBQ with a sauce that tastes like a mole. Codo #3.

The Kitchen Project - Jana Koplen, Franklin Terry and Susan Knight York

Popovers

The Popover Project… A group of home cooks started a test kitchen early last year in an effort to perfect some of the recipes that were less than perfect – in this case a high altitude, popover recipe. We read over 100 recipes and picked five. Four were a failure and one was a success. The problem was the popovers were sticking to the bottom of the pan. If you use either cooking spray or butter to grease the popover pan, it will stick. We ended up using GHEE to solve that problem. We used a similar recipe to my Mother’s original one with an extra egg and bread flour, instead of regular flour, to get the additional protein to compensate for high altitude baking. Jana Kolpen’s oven was a dream for cooking; Franklin Terry and I both went away with oven envy.

High Altitude Popovers

1 1/2 cups of bread flour- sifted

1 1/2 cups milk

4 eggs

1 tsp salt

2 tbs butter

Pulse blend mixture until thin - do not over-blend.

Prepare the pan: Do NOT preheat the pan. Grease the pan generously with GHEE. Use a circle of parchment paper in the bottom of each cup and then add a little butter to the cup before you fill them 2/3 full of batter.

Cooking: Cook 15 minutes at 425 degrees F and 15 minutes at 350 degrees F depending on how dark you want them. Watch them carefully.

Apply Kerry Gold to the popovers the minute they come out of the oven so they are hot, eggy and buttery; just like a popover is suppose to taste.

Neiman Marcus serves their popovers with Strawberry butter. There are recipes on the internet that call for either fresh strawberries or strawberry jam; you make the choice if you want your popover a little sweeter.

The Restaurant

Favorites: Brussels sprout and Kale salad, all the Asian Appetizers, Fig Cake,Burger Night and the Green Pozole.

Chef Donnie Masterton has been one of the area’s top chefs since opening in 2008, serving global, comfort food in an eighteenth century courtyard with an elegant dining salon, just steps away from the Jardin. Thursday’s Burger night has been an institution for over fourteen years. Go for non-stop fun at the Drag Brunch on Sunday. A longtime, favorite classic, try the shaved Brussel Sprout and Kale Salad or the grilled Pork Chop. The chef is opening another restaurant in SMA in early 2023. The Bar at the R, connected to The Restaurant, is one of the most popular spots in SMA, serving Asian small plates with guest DJ’s spinning nightly. Donnie made the best Pozole at his Christmas Posada this past year. Also try the fig cake; it’s latent with delicious flavors and one of his best,winter desserts.

Tostévere

Favorites: Short Rib Tostada and Sweet Potato Fries.

With a fried, flour tortilla base topped with a bed of seasoned arugula and baby spinach, bits of pickled red onions and plenty of braised short rib, this braised tostada is topped with a grilled slice of provolone cheese from Remos; our favorite Italian grocery on the road to Queretaro. One of the best bartenders in SMA, Adal Garcia is tending bar there most days, serving delicious, ice cold Margaritas and other wines and spirits. A recent college graduate, one of his greatest passions is spoiling all his customers. Codo 4

Trazo 1810

Favorites: Pear Risotto, Guanajuato wines and the Cecina Taco.

From the minute he steps into the kitchen, Chef Irving Cano creates pure magic. One meal in and we were his biggest fan. Try his Pear Risotto with Prosciutto; our second favorite dish of the year. We had the pleasure of his cooking at a fabulous dinner with chefs Oscar Segundo of Xokol in Guadalajara – one of Food and Wine en Espanol’s Best New Chefs of 2019 and Daniel Nates of Maizal in Puebla - Mexico’s S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2016, where each course was a masterpiece with pairings of exceptional, Guanajuato wines by sommelier, Andres Amor.

Chef Irving Cano held a very spirited Taco and Esquites competition for the chefs in SMA at Tene Kitchen and Bar in 2022. We think he should have been the winner of his own competition with his Cecina Taco, made with roasted and fried Cecina, hoja santa and horseradish with fermented Jalapeno green tomato jam. It was the best taco we had all year.

Tuesday market

Favorites: Oaxaca cheese, Flour tortillas, Churros and fresh Squeezed Juices.

Cheese, Sausage and Flour Tortillas - Section 2

This is some of the most beautiful Oaxaca cheese we’ve seen. They also make other, local cheeses. The homemade, flour tortillas are laced with lard; a delicious base for a mini pizza.

Fresh Squeezed Juice - Section 2

This is some of the freshest, just-squeezed juice around. A wide variety of fruits are used but my favorite is the pineapple. You can have them squeezed in any combination you like. I often bring jugs for them to fill up for the week. Fresh squeezed juice is my number one, especially since it’s so expensive in the states.

Churros - Section 2, opposite the juice bar

Churros Bonfi is one of my favorite vendors at the Tuesday market. After 10 years of exceptional service, they know I love the Churros hot and always load me down with samples while I wait.