Friday, December 29, 2023

Spice Market: The Best Asian Food in San Miguel de Allende

You can go to Live Aqua Urban Resort SMA many times and you’ll always see something new. Every small detail stands out, especially when you’re least expecting it and despite the fact that it was stunningly decorated last week for the holiday season, we loved reading between the lines - you know, seeing the things that have always been there but you finally noticed them for the first time today.
One of the most beautiful hotels in the city, it’s overflowing with SMA chic. One of the most inviting rooms is their Casa Dragones Bar, a spot where you can sink into and never come up for air; not that you ever wanted to. We call it our “leave me there place” with all the necessary toys, bottles, telescopes and games to get you through a long weekend. The bar overlooks the Obraje Dam, where the pool and hot tubs beckon you to take a refreshing winter dip instead of just getting your toes wet. It’s a total experience of the senses. Another one of our favorite locations is the hotel gift shop which is unlike any other place you’ve shopped. The selection is both diverse and affordable with out-of-the-ordinary items from cities in Mexico you’ll really want to visit. We think it’s one of the best places in SMA to buy a different gif and its currently not too late for Kings day. The highlight of our trip however was the Spice Market, where the menu is a gastronomic journey through the diverse cuisines of Asia: India, China, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. At first we thought it was the Buddha, but every time we eat here it’s been a pretty divine experience. Chef Michael Coon is the best Asian chef we know and he raved about every offering too. How’s that for bringing the best palate to the tasting table and getting instant feedback? Every bite was a journey of taste and discovery; every dish a culinary work of art. We love that Chef Ernesto Navarez tries new techniques, like with the Black Pepper Shrimp and pineapple, his most popular dish, where he pulls the liquid out with a vacuum and infuses flavors of herbs and spices into the flesh of the pineapple. In addition to taking advantage of Covid and getting training at the coveted CIA, also Chef Michael Coon’s alma mater, Chef Ernesto Navarez was educated at some of the best hotels: Live Aqua Hotel Mexico City, the Grand Fiesta Americana Queretaro and the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale, AZ. We really liked this chef from the standpoint of his enthusiasm for changing up the menu and experimenting with new flavors. All of them were spot on - from the delicate and delicious orange chicken with kumquats to the Pork Belly Bao buns, with a soft and fluffy texture, topped with jalapeno, Asian pears and Mayonnaise gochujang to the Red Snapper, which was magnificently prepared with a mild but flavorful Asian sauce.
The meal concluded with a spectacular and tasty finish: a fried Bao stuffed with Ice Cream and drizzled with caramel. The Bao buns, both fried and steamed, were different than the others we’ve tasted around town thanks to the texture of the wrapper. One of the best things about Bao is that you can have them any time of day or night but they are most often eaten as a grab-and-go breakfast or as a supporting act to your favorite Asian soup or salad. If you’re a true Asian food lover, this meal was defiantly one for the books. Currently listed at #2 of all the restaurants in SMA, it has an almost perfect 5.0 rating from 756 reviews. Spice Market is currently our favorite Asian restaurant in SMA. If we had to put a Top 10 Restaurant list together for SMA right now, Spice Market would be close to the top of that list. Spice Market Live Aqua Urban Resort San Miguel de Allende Calzada de La Presa #85, Centro San Miguel de Allende 37729 Phone: 415 150 2300 Chef: Ernesto Navarez

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Galette des Rois: One of the Best Desserts We've Ever Had

So what exactly is the first-bite rule? Every bite should taste as good as the first bite and the revered art of French patisserie is alive and well in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Proof in point: Panio’s Galette des Rois - a King Cake, the traditional French pastry associated with the celebration of the Epiphany. At first we thought it was an apple cake and then we took a bite. The cake is made of layers of puff pastry filled with almond cream: frangipane made of almonds. Panio has crafted the perfect puff pastry, a certifiable buttery wonder of physics, that is so good that even Melissa Perry Barnett, who worked for Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and is one of SMA’s most knowledgeable pastry makers, said that it’s the best Puff Pastry she’s ever had as she took her second bite. We could not stop raving about the texture and flavor of this Galette. You can purchase it on either Thursday or Saturday until 1/6/24. The first week of January however, it will be available every day, made from the time honored, Panio family recipe that totally surprised us this Christmas. Is this one of the best desserts we’ve ever had? Yes, she said, counting the hours until Thursday morning. Panio Atelier du Pain WhatsApp order number: 415 101 3003 Salida a Celaya 67-69 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM Doce 18 at Relox 12 9:00 AM – 8:00 PM Panio Correo 29 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM Panio La Luciérnaga 8:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Friday, December 15, 2023

Rustica: One Of The Best Breakfast Restaurant in San Miguel de Allende

How do you start your morning off right? With a life-size hug from Eduardo Pérez Calvo of Rustica, one of the best breakfast restaurants in San Miguel de Allende. It’s amazing what a latte, some really healthy food and a hug can do, all before 9 AM. Eduardo Pérez Calvo debuted as a restaurant owner five years ago. Eduardo worked for his uncles, Jose Maria Calvo (Chema) and Jesus Manuel Calvo (Chus), at La Azotea (Umaran #6) and Atrio (Cuna de Allende #3). His uncles have been in the restaurant business since they opened their first bar in Spain when they were just fifteen years old so you might say it’s in his blood. Eduardo also did a stint in 2013 at the spectacular Burtown House, an early Georgian villa, café and garden in Athy, County Kildare, Ireland. Also with a long line of restaurant owners, chefs and bakers in her family as well, Selva Lampreabe Rosenfeld's culinary inheritance shines as well. Looking back on the past 5 years, we’re not certain what we ever did without Rustica; having eaten breakfast there more times than we can remember. Rustica has always been a second home to us, offering really great food and an ambiance that makes you feel like you’re part of the big, happy family that Eduardo calls his own. When you go there next time, congratulate Eduardo and Selva who be parents for the first time in late March or early April. Here’s a look at just some of the remarkable items on their menu, all prepared and served with healthy ingredients and loads of love. It’s no wonder that for five years now, it’s been one of the top, breakfast spots in the city. And don’t forget to get that gigantic hug on your way out too; it’s Eduardo’s signature dish. Rustica Salida a Celaya #34 Daily: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM Phone: 415 121 1406

Wednesday, December 13, 2023


ANCESTRO is one of San Miguel de Allende’s newest, hidden gems; on our list of the best 5 Mexican restaurants in San Miguel de Allende. There is a Mayan legend, written in the Popol Vuh that says that man was created from corn. Ancestro was born from this legend, honoring the essence of the grain from the root. Ancestro’s style of cooking is slow, just like their ancestors. Remember, all good things take time. Low and slow is the way to prepare food – at least in our book. Slow cooking allows flavors to develop over time, resulting in richer and more complex tastes. Many of the dishes on the menu were named after an ancestor.
Who said SMA is too expensive these days when there are restaurants like this one in town. We love the whole package. First off, the food is great; the essential element in any successful restaurant and believe me, this is going to be one. Chefs Diana Almanza Figueroa and Jonathan Navarrete Sánchez have a lot of experience cooking, not only in Mexico but also abroad for Michelin star chefs and in World and Latin American 50 Best restaurants, which was recently expanded to 100 and features some of the most esteemed dining destinations from around the world. The atmosphere is casual and laid-back, the service first-rate and then there are the prices. I can’t remember the last time I looked at a menu with prices between $45 - $165 pesos. Chef Diana Almanza Figueroa is originally from Durango. She has cooked at Diverxo and StreetXO in Madrid, Eleven Madison Park in New York, Au pied de Cochon in Mexico City, Benazuza, Cancún Kitchen Table in Tulum, Los Danzantes in Oaxaca and at Our Habitas in San Miguel de Allende where she met her partner in this venture, Jonathan Navarrete Sánchez. Her most recent collaboration was as a private chef for the Mexican soccer federation at the U17 World Cup Indonesia 2023. She is inspired by traditional cuisines, discipline and above all, is passionate about experimenting and creating from the heart.
Chef Jonathan Navarrete Sánchez is originally from Cancun, Q.Roo. He started his professional career at the very young age of 18. He worked at The White Box restaurant and since its creation in 2013, it has remained among the top ten best restaurants in Cancun. Chef Jonathan Navarrete was listed as a promising young chef of the Riviera Maya in 2017, being Executive Chef of the Azulik Resort in Tulum. Chef Navarrete has trained with world-class, renowned chefs: Chef Rafael Zafra (2 Michelin stars) at the White Box in Cancun, at NOMA in Tulum with Chef René Redzepi (3 Michelin stars) and worked for Chef Francisco Ruano at Alcalde, one of the World’s Best and Latin América’s 50 Best. Chef Jonathan Navarrete is currently Executive Chef of the Hotel Our Habitas in San Miguel de Allende, Tulum and Bacalar where we first met him. Quintana Roo has allowed him to fully explore and learn from local products over the years to create a concept attached to the flavors of traditional cuisine and respect for the work of local producers. He’s created a simple cuisine that is reflected in each of his projects. Also cooking at Ancestro is Chaac, which coincidentally is the Mayan god of rain; a young man from Guadalajara who showed his cooking skills while we were there. Starting in January, Ancestro will be serving breakfast; offering Chilauiles, Enfrijoladas, Quesabirrias and other traditional, Mexican dishes.
Try some of Ancestro’s drinks: Saka – Corn Hotchara; Tejuono – An ancient beverage of fermented corn with lemon, grain salt, chili powder and lemon sorbet; Tepache – fermented pineapple, prawn and lemon juice along with Lemon Lavender, Jamaica Ginger and Rosemary Orange. Two of the principal dishes from their kitchen are the handmade, blue corn tortillas, which are not only delicious but also balance the spicier elements of Mexican cuisine and the mole Amarillo; one of the seven Oaxaca moles that we can’t seem to get enough of these days.
We tried the following tacos; all which were really good: Pastor: a white corn tortilla with Pastor and roasted pineapple; Taco Norteno: a home-made, flour tortilla with rib eye, pork beans, roasted onions and chilaca and avocado puree - one of Ancestro’s best sellers - and Taqui Queso: White corn tortilla, cheese crust, avocado sauce and Suadero; a thin cut of meat from the middle of the cow, between the lower flank and the sirloin. Our personal favorite was the Suadero.
The two exceptional dishes of our meal were the Maiz Roasted Street Corn with salsa macha, mayonnaise with roasted garlic, grasshoppers, cotija cheese and lemon and the Marquesita, a crepe rolled like a taco and filled with cajeta or chocolate and cheese. This dish goes right up there with Churros and Bunuelos. Both dishes are rumored to be at San Miguel Y Sus Sabores this weekend. Try them both because one is as good as the other. They will definitely be two of the star dishes at the food festival this weekend. See you there!
Ancestro Salida a Celaya #26 – Local 1 San Miguel de Allende Phone: 415 113 5983 Hours: 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM Starting January 1, 2024, the hours will be 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Tuesday – Sunday. Ancestro is located in front of Marios Mariscos, in a beautiful, newly remodeled strip mall next to Sofie’s Bakery.