Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Full Picture...

Do you follow us on our other social media? Here’s just a sampling of our recent Facebook posts; a lot of which are never published on this blog. You'll also see a lot more of our photographs that tell the story of why you want to be here.

If you really want to know what’s going on in SMA, to get the full picture, follow us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/susan.york) and Instagram (SUSANMYORK) where we post social media daily on the culinary scene in SMA, along with other things to see and do while you’re here.

We'll be posting another in-depth article next week. In the mean time, savor everything about our city; it's one of the most beautiful in the world.
 
Buen Provecho!
 
 
No other chef has done more to shape the culinary profile of SMA than Chef Donnie Masterton - our chef tribute this week.
The expansion of his culinary reach since 2016 is astonishing: Birdie’s Burgers, Taco Lab, El Vergel Bistro and Market, Cafe Casa Blanca7, Fatima7 and The Bar at the R. The Restaurant is now in its 11th year. It raised the bar to set a standard that did not exist before it opened.
Now a farmer at heart, Chef Masterton planted a rooftop garden at The Restaurant and is now building a sustainable ranch in the country to provide for all of his restaurants.
Chef Masterton was a guest judge for Top Chef and collaborates with some of the best chefs in Mexico, including Enrique Olvera, Javier Placencia and Eduardo Garcia. He was one of the first chefs to work with local farmers, ranchers, cheese makers and vineyards to seek out the highest quality ingredients. He’s a passionate fundraiser and a gifted DJ. He’s recognized for his pop up dinners around the globe including Outstanding in the Field at Coachella.
He's on the team with some of the best chefs in SMA who will participate in SilvestreWild, his latest project on October 12th.
Almost every chef and waiter in SMA has worked for him at one time or another. The amazing thing is that every one of them speak highly of Chef Masterton and the training they received from him to launch their own careers.
He's built an empire in SMA but his obvious joy comes from people not from things.
The thing I learned from Chef Donnie Masterton - Nice guys do finish first!
 
For one of SMA's best loved couples, Chef Alexandra Gutt and Juan Leon De Vivero, the accomplishments have been many: La Parada, San Mezcal and now Casa Cien, a beautiful wedding venue and home to one of the most private hotels in SMA.
We loved this picture of Alexandra taken in "The Necklace" at the gardens at Casa Cien but her original baby, La Prada, was the perfect place to tell of other half of this story. The best is yet to come this November.

Here are some of Lady Zen’s raw emotions from the matinee performance of Aretha Franklin, July 21st at the San Miguel Playhouse.
The performance was epic; one of her best concerts yet. Where else can you get a world class concert and pay $400 peso?

We did a practice run of the Historical Walking Tour through SMA with Sandy Lubin, one of the new tour guides for Patronato Pro Niños.

Sandy is a natural. With her quick wit and humor, she told us things about SMA that none of us knew; so much so that I’m thinking I need to do a repeat again next week
 
The tour is 2 ½ hours in a ten block area of mostly level walking to visit the historical buildings and churches in Centro. The tour was awarded TripAdvisor's Certificate of Excellence. Regularly scheduled tours are every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

I also learned today that my friend Donn Kelly, who is on the board of Patronato Pro Niños, is also a guide; now a seasoned pro for these tours after five years.

Ask for either one because I’m going to leave memorizing all those dates to these two, who are both exceptionally passionate about the history of SMA.

The groups meet in the Jardin across from the Parroquia at 9:45 AM, and leave at 10:00 AM.

The cost is only 300 pesos, The money goes to support the great work that Patronato Pro Niños does in SMA.

Our last visual: The Temple of the Immaculate Conception – Las Monjas. There were so many flowers on the altar, even I forgot to genuflect.

                                                                                                                                                
         
Yesterday, Chef David Jahnke took a little time out from his cooking classes when he was filmed for Australian television by Kristie Mercer, who won The Voice Australia 2019. On the left is Sophie Hallwright who films for KIIS 1065; Australia’s #1 Breakfast show.
 
The TV show is called Meditation and Margaritas. It will be shown in about 8 weeks. Stay tuned for the film clips.

The girls came from Tequila after filming a segment on the best tequila in the world. Who doesn't want that job?
 
If you’re venturing out of SMA, Vinedos de los Sendaros is a top vineyard destination in the countryside; only 15 minutes from Centro SMA.

We LOVED everything about the vineyard, especially the restaurant, Barrica de Fuego Smokehouse and Grill, complete with an Argentinian menu consisting of meats cooked on an open fire by young chef, Jesus Alejandro Gonzalez Malagon (Ale). We shared a meat sampler platter, a fabulous tasting of pulled pork, ribs and brisket. Even the sides were delicious.

Beyond our table, the young vines were loaded down with grapes, definitely looking ready for the harvest.

We enjoyed an afternoon on this estate, surrounded by beautiful vineyards, which were designed with the help of the Nozaleda brothers; Spanish winemakers and creators of the Enate and Aalto labels.
 
There’s nothing like a day in the country to get a new perspective on SMA. We highly recommend all of the wineries. Not only are they drop-dead gorgeous properties but they have boutique hotels on-site with multiple luxury services and spa treatments for guests.

This was the third San Lucas property we visited this month - the others: Vinedos San Lucas and Vinedos San Francisco. Spending time there was a delicious and peaceful afternoon out of SMA. We’ll visit the fourth property, La Santisima Trinidad, next month.

Barrica de Fuego Smokehouse and Grill
Vinedos de los Sendaros
Carretera 51, A, Dolores Hidalgo - San Miguel De Allende km 3.5, Nuevo Milenio, 37800 San Miguel de Allende, Gto.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 1:00 PM – 10:30 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Two years ago, I went to Mexico City in search of fast casual restaurants and at the suggestion of my friend, Restaurateur Daniel Estebaranz, I ate at Antonio de Livier’s restaurant, Caldos Animo, at Calle Pennsylvania # 205, Nápoles - the original location.

I feel in love with Tono’s cooking so imagine my delight when I got a message from Daniel that Tono was opening a restaurant here in SMA. I was his second customer.

Chef Antonio de Livier (Tono) owns La Panga del Impostor in Guadalajara, has three Caldos Animo in Mexico City and is opening another in Polanco. He’s also done TV cooking shows; his personality larger than life. He’s part of the reason to eat here; his food is one of the best Mexican food experiences you'll have. You’ll also love the light filled space with indoor and outdoor seating; the menu painted on the wall. The restaurant will have a large communal table so you’ll never have to eat alone.

No waiters or white tablecloths; just great Mexican food – mainly soups and tacos. Tono’s famous birriamen is a combination of delicious broth, oriental noodles, beef, lamb and spices.

I remembered just how remarkable Tono’s food was about the time Chef Olivier Deboise of Aperi walked through the door and sat down to join me. He and Tono go way back, to Guadalajara and later, the two of them worked just blocks apart in Mexico City. If I didn’t love the food already, this was the endorsement
In the mean time, we’ll be a passionate regular at Birrieria Jonacho. We can’t remember any other dish we’ve been more excited about. It gets our vote as the best fast casual restaurant opening in SMA this year

If it's Tuesday, it must be Mango Margarita night at Mama Mia.

 
The Italian-Argentine connection has long been in existence but few as strong as the one between Argentinian-born SMA chef, Mariano Alvarez of Buenos Aires Bistro, Buenos Aires de Campo, Buenos Aires de Calle and Patria Sur and Mexican born with an adopted Italian heritage,Chef Greta Ortega Casañas of Mivida.

Besides a friendship and mutual respect for one another, they are joining forces on a number of culinary projects including Silvestre Wild on October 12th, along with SMA chefs Donnie Masterton (The Restaurant, Birdie’s Burgers, Tacolab, El Vergel, Casablanca Café, Fátima), Chef J.J j.j. Castaneda of Fátima 7 and Casablanca Café and Chef Oliver Deboise of Áperi, along with guest chef, Javier Plascencia, of Misión 19, Erizo, Finca Altozano, Caffé Saverios, ¡Lupe!, and Jazamango.

In addition to MiVida, Chef Greta Ortega Casañas is also a wedding planner for a number of prominent weddings in SMA this year
The solid ground that their collaboration with Chef Donnie Masterton is built on is longevity. Chefs Masterton, Ortega and Alvarez each have a restaurant in SMA that’s been operating for over TEN years
Each week, we'll post a tribute honoring chefs in SMA. Thanks to this trio of chefs, whose passion outweighed the statistical odds.
I LOVE going on discovery tours and Chef Magda Elisa Pablos is the perfect person to do an adventure with.

Magda,the former chef at El Vergel, is now at beautiful Casa de los Leones Bed and Breakfast at Faroles, Atascadero 12. In addition to making those fabulous meals for her guest every day, including this not-so-ordinary version of French toast using Hogaza Pan Rustico, ordered from Marulier bakery at Lib. Jose Manuel Zavala 165, Int 31, in Plaza La Luciernaga, Magda does private events and dinners.

After breakfast, it’s daily shopping rounds with this chef and her longtime pals, Martha Garza Fox and Pablo Yturbe.In the La Paz Infonavit area of San Miguel de Allende, Magda shops at a small, friendly fruit and vegetable market where half the family is in the store and the other half works at the ranch in Queretaro where they truck in fresh vegetables and fruit every day. The vegetables are exquisite; so perfect; the kind you wish you could find every day in centro. I wouldn’t tell you the prices; you wouldn’t believe me if I did. They also have a farmers market here every Saturday.
Next, it was off to get flowers. In the states, flowers are a luxury but here in Mexico, they are so inexpensive, you can buy them all the time. Entering Floreria Lupitas, we are hit with a massive burst of color. Every stem is just picked; every flower perfect. The only other time I’ve seen that was at the fresh wholesale flower market in Mexico City.

Now to Marulier bakery at Plaza La Luciernaga where Magda, along with the owner, Sebastian admire the Hogaza Pan Rustico while I go off to check out all the other delicious things they sell. I watched a father and son come in and the little boy insisted that his father spoon feed him the pastry he had just bought straight out of the box before the two of them could even get to the table. Blame all these great bakery items on Sebastian and Jessica, a baker who is responsible for all of the great desserts.

It’s always fun to discover new places in SMA, especially with a chef who knows all the hidden gems you wouldn’t necessarily find on your own. You can reach Magda Elisa Pablos by connecting with her on Facebook.
Who’s your favorite bartender in Mexico? I know who mine are.

Some of the best bartenders are right here in SMA, including Uriel Jonathan Frausto Tabares of Bovine, Adrian Garcia-Evans, Beverage Operations Manager at Cumpanio and Director of Beverages for Levain and Company and Bar Skills Challenge organizer and Director at Tobala, Mike Espinoza.

Don’t miss the Bar Skills Challenge by Tobalá with the final competition today, Sunday, August 4, 2019 from 4:00 PM – 1:00 AM at Hernandez Macias 43B, 37700 San Miguel de Allende. $150 pesos.

Here are a few pics of the guys at work and at last week’s semi-final competition, with a round of applause to Casa Dragones for hosting the event at their beautiful home in Centro.

I guarantee you, nobody in SMA has more fun than this group
For one thing, a new house - the first time that Patsy Dubois has ever entertained in it so I felt honored, cookbook club chatter, therapy self help, laughter and the best baked beans I've ever tasted. Thank you Patsy Dubois for allowing me to crash your summer picnic.
I could only appreciate that all of these women are fabulous cooks when I went home and ate the leftovers.

A magnificent party to celebrate Chef Greta Ortega Casañas and TEN years of MiVida restaurant in SMA.

Greta Ortega Casañas was all smiles the entire night, shown here reflecting on her friendship with other chefs in SMA, including Cecy Alvarez, her sous-chef, who is due any day now and Chefs Mariano Alvarez and J.j. Castaneda who are partners on several culinary projects.

CONGRATS to the chef who sets the standard for many other chefs in SMA.
 
A Perfect Vodka Martini:
Expert bartender.
Tito’s handmade craft Vodka.
No Vermouth.
Iced; shaken not stirred.
3 Olives.
Straight up.
Beautiful glass.


It's Friday.  Life is good.

Where is the best fried chicken in SMA?
We discovered Bar Margaret, inside the new Hotel Amparo, one of the small, luxury hotels of the world, where our good friend, Gabriel Avila, creates beautiful cocktails with selective, Mexican spirits and Chef Kenten Marin has southern comfort food coming from the kitchen, including that Southern fried honey chicken.

See the full story by pressing the link below:


Note: This post begins a series on our blog called "30 Reasons to Love San Miguel de Allende Right Now" which will be published this July. More photographs from Bar Margaret will be included in the article

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

30 Reasons to Love San Miguel de Allende Right Now


We think some of the best things to see in San Miguel de Allende are found on a plate. We hope you’ll tag along as we rediscover our city over the next few months, finding new dishes from chefs who are so talented, you’ll want to try their entire menus.

Whatever your passions are, we’ve got you covered so don’t book your return ticket home just yet. We’ll give you other inspirations worth chasing: shops, classes, galleries and adventures - some that can push you out of your comfort zone; a place we haven’t been to since we moved to San Miguel.

And just as we were catching our breath from the opening of two new restaurants, La Dona (San Francisco 32) and Bar Margaret (Mesones # 3) the increase in activity continues.


After success in the cities of Leon and Querétaro, Bruno Cucina (Mesones #58) opened in SMA. We had our first tasting there this week; impressed with the unusual dishes on the menu, including fabulous Ox Cheek Nuggets and Al Mattone (chicken) cooked on a brick. Alejandro de la Vega is the new young chef and turning out a Tiramisu that was silky and authentically Italian was Maria Guadalupe Suarez Mendez (Lupita). We’ll be back for two more rounds. In the mean time, live music is featured starting Thursdays through the weekend.  

Partners from Mexico City will introduce another new star next month, Santiago & Macarena cocina contemporanea, in the Essentia Hotel at
#63 Mesones. 

Meanwhile, renovations are under way in the space in back of Plaza Colonial (Canal #21) with an added rooftop, bringing a more casual, Mexican restaurant (think exceptional Pozole) to Centro in the next month.

Cent'anni Ristorante got a facelift (Canal 34) and Ruta de la Milpa’s (Canal #18) new chef, Chef Jorge Corcega, brings his philosophy, which is totally focused on the products of the milpa and the Mexican countryside, to SMA. Also, Los Milagros has moved up the hill (Salida Real a Queretaro #91) to offer another gorgeous view of SMA.


Opening in Mercado Sano (Ancha de San Antonio #123, San Antonio) is Boado del Cielo, featuring tastings from Chef Vanessa Romero. We’ve known Chef Romero who has been cooking in Mexico for over 25 years and has been on the food festival fast track for the past 5 years.

Also at Mercado Sano, one of our favorite chefs, Gabriel Ordonez, is doing a pop up on Saturday; making burgers of Short Rib, Chuck and Top Sirloin. The burger is served on a fresh potato roll baked by Mesa Grande, is piled high with caramelized onions and smothered in his own secret sauce. Go try it; he’s there every weekend. As the juices ran down my chin, I’m reminded that this is how a great buger needs to taste. The meat, purchased from KOE across from Los Frailes, is the carnicería that many food lovers in SMA are raving about. We’ve heard that the steaks are the best in town; a New York Strip so tender you can cut it with a fork, priced at $105 pesos. Koe Sma Boutique de carnes is at Relámpago 1, La Lejona, 37765 San Miguel de Allende, Gto. Hours Daily 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM  
Phone: 415 138 0236
Also, a congratulations to Chef Great Ortega Casanas on the TEN year anniversary of MiVida restaurant today. This is a huge accomplishment which we will be celebrating tonight. 

Now, we’ll dish up 30 more reasons to love San Miguel de Allende right now. Add them to your growing list because, come September, we’ll turn around and feed you 30 more.

Buen Provecho!

David Jahnke Cooking Class Lab
Chef David Jahnke has the #1 cooking school in SMA and now he’s landed on the top again; he’s listed among the best cooking classes in Mexico.


He’s shown us the Tuesday Market, even though we’ve been there a hundred times, sharpened our knife skills, tossed us into the thick of making moles and taught us that we can prepare fish to absolute perfection in a pan we never, ever visualized cooking in.

Congrats to the Maestro, who first appeared in our guide to SMA cooking schools back in April, 2017. His teaching style sets him apart; he’s one of the best instructors we’ve run across in the 50 years we’ve been cooking.
Contact him for a class schedule at david.jahnke@gmail.com. Sign up early as many of the modules sell out.

La Dona
I’ve never met a problem a dessert couldn’t fix so we did a dessert tasting; picking all four on the dessert menu at La Dona – the Chocolate: Esfera de Chocolate de Metate; Corn: Pan de Elote; Rice: Arroz con Leche de La Dona and Sugar: Bunuelos.  Chef Juan Arroyo Pineda's team, neXtia alumni Chef Juan Manuel Galvan Lopez and Pastry Chef, Vichenza Salinas, offer a delicious selection of desserts made from high-quality ingredients, resulting in multiple textures and visuals; some way too beautiful to eat. In fact, we can never decide which our favorite is; we love them all.

What else did we savor at La Dona besides a round of desserts? Arrachera, perfectly cooked in a wood fired oven, a baby corn appetizer with Huitlacoche, and another taste of their remarkable, signature dish, roasted cauliflower with dehydrated tomato.

Make a reservation and go before the rest of SMA finds out that La Dona is one of the best, new restaurants in SMA. We know it; soon, you will too.

La Dona
San Francisco #32, San Miguel de Allende
Hours: Monday – Wednesday: 12:00 Noon - 10:00 PM
Thursday – Sunday: 12:00 Noon - 11:30 PM
Sunday: 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Chef: Juan Arroyo Pineda
Lucky Tuk Tours SMA
Since many of the expats in SMA are without a car by choice, we thought that Tuk-tuks would be a perfect mode of transportation here, especially after a month long trip to Guatemala, where we took them every day.

Tuk-tuks will soon be transporting locals and visitors to cultural and culinary landmarks around the city. You can design your own tours and book a Tuk-tuk for the entire day. We got a preview ride and it was so much fun, Tuk-tuks will be our preferred method of transportation in SMA.

One of our favorite performers, Johnny Favorite, is behind the project and we can’t wait for his new fleet of Tuk-tuks to hit the streets. More information will surface as this project rolls in to SMA this September.


Raspados (pictured above)
Juan’s new street cart in the Jardin serves up Mexican shaved-ice slushies called
Raspados; a fruity ice drink that’s often hit with a sweet, salty, savory and spicy 
condiment with gummies as a garnish. 

You can beat the summer heat and buy the small one, which I mistook for a 
large, for just $25 pesos or get one in a SMA commemorative cup for $95 pesos. 

The cart is located just across the street from Bella Italia restaurant at Portal 
de Guadalupe 12. 

Cafe Casa Blanca 7 and Fatima 7
As you enter the beautiful Hotel Casa Blanca 7, you get the best of two worlds – Café Casa Blanca 7 downstairs and Fatima 7 on the rooftop.

Just last month, we listed 18 sandwiches that convinced us the best meal of the day can be found between two slices of bread. Now we’ve discovered #19, thanks to a little help from Chef Donnie Masterton. We can’t get enough of the smoky Pastrami, tasting it for the first time on a burger that ran as a special at Birdie’s.  Chef J.J. Castenada brines the pastrami for a week, enhances it with an herbal rub for another five days, cooks it on a smoker then puts the meat in a sous vide until it’s textbook perfect. The sauerkraut is also delicious and homemade. Selective breads are now baked in-house at The Restaurant, like this rye bread that gives the sandwich a magnificent and much needed crunch.

Any meal at Café Casa Blanca 7 must be finished with this Budino of chocolate with hazelnut praline. The best dessert in SMA? It’s got our vote.

Happy Hour Friday starts at 4:00 PM; enjoy two for one with special prices on beers, wines, spirits, Mezcalitas and Margaritas. The Margaritas are made with Don Julio Reposado, one of our favorite tequilas. It was so smooth, we had to order a second.
At Fatima, you’ll want to try everything on the menu so the only thing in doubt here is if the table is going to be big enough for all of the food you order.  The menu is a mix of small plates, flatbreads, tagines, grilled meats and fish, Moroccan style vegetables and delicious breads and spreads.

What’s your motivation, besides the great food, for making a reservation right now? Early-birds get the best views, with so many temples in your initial sighting. SMA’s would-be historian, Jose Yanez, pointed out all TEN: Templo de Nuestra Senora de la Salud; Templo del Oratorio de San Felipe Neri; San Columbano; Nuestra Señora de Loreto; Iglesia de San Francisco; Tercera Orden; Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel; Church of the Immaculate Conception of Las Monjas; La Santa Escuela de Cristo (San Raphael) and La Ermita.

Café Casa Blanca 7 (downstairs) Fatima Rooftop (upstairs)
Juares #8
Café Casa Blanca 7 Hours: Breakfast: 8:00 AM – 11:00 AM/Comida: 11:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Fatima Hours: Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday: 7:00 PM -10:00 PM. Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 7:00 PM - 11:30 PM.
Closed: Monday 
Chefs: Donnie Masterton and J.J. Castaneda

Cervecería Dos Aves 
It’s amazing that we have one of the best microbreweries in Mexico right up the hill and I had never been there until today. Take advantage of the proximity and visit the tap room, now open every Friday from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM. You’ll love their flight; ours was six beers: Pale Ale, IPA, Rye, Triple Belgian, Saison and Stout. The Triple Belgian was the one that may make a beer drinker out of me; having more noticeable malt sweetness.

Also, once a month on a Saturday, they bring in a restaurant around town to do food and beer pairings. The next one is August 10th when Dos Aves pairs up with Taco Lab (Relox 18 at Doce 18), starting at 1:00 PM.

Mark Taylor and Francisco Kameko have established Dos Aves as one of the premier craft beers in the world; taking it International when they won a gold medal for their Stout Imperial at the 2018 International Beer Cup in Yokohama Japan. In fact, they’ve won so many awards since they started in 2012, we quit counting.  

Ceveceria Dos Aves
Relampago 4 La Lejona, Second Section, 37765
Tap Room Hours: Friday 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Food Tours
When I first came to SMA back in June, 2013, the food scene was owned by a few chefs and a handful of restaurants. 2016 changed all that with new restaurants opening almost every week. 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’re posting a self-guided food tour next month that highlights all of the best food to eat in SMA. What you find on your own is the other half of the magic.
Art Leap Adventures
Happy Art owner, Marti McGinnis, conducts ongoing paper mache classes with Meagan Burns through Art Leap Adventures. Here, Sarah Martin shows off the spirit mask she created in Marti’s “Spirit Mask Paper Mache” workshop. Marti’s classes are some of the most popular in SMA so sign up early as they frequently sell out.
Go to https://www.artleapadventures.com/papermachelevel1.html for a list of all the classes that Meagan Burns offers through Art Leap Adventures.

Also connect with Marti on her website http://www.happyart.com/. You’ll see our favorite project; the Less is More Comic Project, documenting her commitment to consuming less in 2019.

Café Sombra
We loved this cozy, new coffee bar in Colonia Guadalupe where meeting your neighbor is easy; there are only 7 stools and most of them are occupied by devoted regulars.

Café Sombra serves some of the best coffee in the city, along with a carrot cake that’s made by the owners’ mother. Order Patricio’s signature drink, a Pinguica, made with Tonic water, Pinguica and Expresso. We’re told it cures everything, including too much tequila the night before.  

Café Sombra
Esquina con, Calzada de la Aurora, Mario Talavera 8, Guadalupe
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM – Closed Wednesdays

Mariachi Music
Mariachi music is the soundtrack of the rich life here in Mexico so we couldn’t resist catching some of SMA's best musicians offering their rendition of the songs we’ve been in love with for over 50 years.

Besides, we can think of at least a million and one reasons to give you a midnight serenade.
La Unica
On the advice of Chef Lucy Noriega, we went to La Unica to taste the
Chamorro. It was superb; a split for two+ that’s mixed with an Adobo chili mole sauce. This is the best main courses we’ve eaten at La Unica so it has got us wondering about all the other meat cut options on the menu, like Rib Eye and Arrachera. We also fell in love with the lava cheesecake; not your standard cheesecake by any means.

Make a reservation for the rooftop. The view from our favorite table, #5, is the most spectacular. It puts you on the “other side” of the Parroquia and it’s exquisite. Go at 5:00 PM to avoid the crowds.

La Unica
Sollano #14
Sunday - Wednesday: 1 PM - 11 PM
Thursday - Saturday: 1 PM - 2 AM

Lamb and Mezcal Festival
This past year, the 9th Annual Lamb and Mezcal festival was the best year for food; every chef pushed it over the top. It was exciting to have new chefs in the competition. Participants included Chef Armando Pratz; Birdie’s Burgers; Mio Bistrock; Mama Mia; Los Milagros; La Única; Mama Mia Campestre; Mezcal-Art; Live Aqua Urban Resort San Miguel de Allende; San Miguel Gourmet and Tupinamba. Congrats to Lorelai Cordova of Mio Bistrock food truck, who took home the FIRST prize, preparing a delicious dish of Lamb Kafta with a Greek Salad that was served with three sauces: Greek Tsatziki, Harissa and Morita with Mezcal.

Birdie’s Burgers offered a Lamb burger with a Mezcal and Tamarind sauce. We thought the flavors were superb. Lucky for us, it was featured at Birdie’s in Doce 18 as a special the following week.

In all the years we’ve known Chef Armando Pratz, we don’t think he’s used the same grill or recipe twice. This year, he made an amazing Lamb Seekh Kabab with roasted green, white and red cabbage and a magical mix of peppercorn, allspice, anis, cinnamon and other spices. A sauce of hierba santa was added when the lamb was cooked in the sous vide. We loved the variety of textures in this dish. 

Mama Mia Campestre scored points when Chef Cecy introduced their entry; Lamb with camote amarillo y gremolata. A trip to their organic garden and restaurant in Atotonilco is on our calendar for this Thursday. Adal, one of our favorite bartenders in SMA, was also part of the Mama Mia staff.

La Única, Mezcal-Art and the other restaurants did an amazing job creating dishes that were both original and flavorful. Los Milagros took second place with a traditional barbecue taco cooked with guajillo, onion and garlic and Live Aqua Urban Resort San Miguel de Allende was third with a Lamb BBQ bun with reduction sauce; much like the Bao buns, now in many of the restaurants around SMA.
One of the highlights of the festival was a round table discussion featuring four Mezcal experts including one of our favorite personalities and the Queen of Mezcal, Lala Noguera. We were delighted to see Chef Lucy Noriega, Karla Fernandez from Living and Travel and Chef Marcela Bolano of Marsala, cocina con acentos at the festival. SMA’s Martin Lopez, of Mezcal Buen Vieje, was one of the experts on the panel. We know the discussion will continue as the Mezcal culture is experiencing rapid growth in both Mexico and around the world.
Hats off to organizer, Billy Mervin, for preserving the festival’s status as one of the best food festivals in SMA; it’s also the longest running.

We think the best thing about food festivals is that they introduce you to so many new chefs and restaurants. Most everyone we know ate more than the required six entrées to vote. The Mezcal? Well, the festival was on a Saturday and you know what we do on our day off! See you next year.

Globo San Miguel
To commemorate our 50 years in Mexico, we took a hot air balloon ride over the Pyramid of the Sun. In fact, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate a town than to get a birds-eye view of the magnificent landscape that made you fall in love with the city in the first place.

Globo San Miguel Tours
San Antonio 14, San Antonio, 37750
Daily flights over San Miguel de Allende and the surrounding countryside
Phone: 415 114 2174
Email: reserva@globosanmiguel.com

Casa Parque
Casa Parque is a place that we recommend to out- of -town visitors looking for that authentic taste of Mexico. Owned by Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada, the setting is such that you feel like you’re eating outdoors. We love its casual atmosphere almost as much as the food, created and prepared by Chef Mariel Beiza and Pastry Chef Ruben Yanez Hernandez, who also teaches cooking classes at Belmond Casa Sierra Nevada’s Sazon Cooking School. The chefs introduce new recipes often and the flavors always surprise us, like the Amuse-bouche, an Esquites (corn) with mayonnaise, lime, and seasonings; Chicken broth with squash blossom, Poblano chile, Panela cheese and fresh corn; a local tomato salad with grilled panela cheese, cactus leaf and guajillo vinaigrette; Soft shell crab taco with purple cabbage, pico de gallo and chipotle sauce; Banana crust empanada stuffed with chocolate ganache, vanilla cream and local chocolate ice cream and Bunuelos “de viento” covered with sugar, cinnamon on peppermint sauce with ice cream.  

Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada Casa Parque
Santa Elena #2, Centro San Miguel de Allende
Daily 7:00 AM - 10:30 PM
Chef: Mariel Beiza
Pastry Chef: Ruben Yanez Hernandez



Atrio
Our list of great food goes on and on and the only thing better than the Boa Bun is two of them, not to mention the Rib Rice and Red Snapper.

Atrio’s one restaurant where we’ve eaten the entire menu and turned around and did it all over again. Now, there are many new things to try, including all of the Spring, 2019 specials. That’s one thing we love about this restaurant – they change the menu often.

With Chef Arturo Sandoval in the kitchen, Atrio captures a top spot among the best restaurants in SMA.
Snag a reservation for this rooftop because those in-your-face views of the Parroquia will render you speechless. It’s unquestionably the best view of SMA’s most iconic church.

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

Mercado Rural
Because nothing is better than having breakfast the first Sunday of every month with this pint-sized entrepreneur and my two, want-to-be grandmothers.

This small but intimate mercado is a real Mexican market experience. Don’t try to bargain; you’re getting incredible prices to begin with.

Mercado Rural
In front of Via Organica
Calle Margarito Ledesma # 2 | Col. Guadalupe, San Miguel de Allende 37710
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

We Love A Parade…
If there’s one thing SMA knows how to do, it’s to throw a parade, complete with elaborate costumes, bands and plenty of dancing. We love the mini- parades and practices held in the neighborhoods that lead up to the big day in June, Dia de los Locos, where this year, 15,000 people were in the procession and another 100,000+ were watching.

Our favorite time for annual celebrations are: The Processions during Semana Santa (Easter); El Senor de la Conquista (the first Friday in March); Las Fiestas Patrias (September 16th – Mexico’s Independence Day); Dia de los Muertos (November 1st  – November 2nd) and Las Posadas – celebrated the nine days before Navidad (Christmas). There are many festivities surrounding these holidays. Above, Rogelio Bautista, the captain of the Voladores de Papantla, marches in the parade on Mexico’s Independence Day, September 16th. The ritual of the Voladores is a astonishing dance; the participants climb a 30-meter pole. Tied to rope, they launch themselves to descend to the ground. It’s one of our favorite holiday rituals.  

If you want to throw a street parade like we did last November, call Maeirza Gonzalez Celaya at the Mojiganga office at San Francisco #62 and they will plan everything for you: the city permit, the tequila donkey, waiters, mariachis, and you can even have a Mojiganga made to look exactly like someone you love. Call 415 152 4566/cell 415 117 1863 or email hermesa012@yahoo.com.mx

Birdie's Burgers and Taco Lab
We hit up Birdie’s Burgers for a quick lunch and the special of the week was a burger with smoked pastrami and sauerkraut. The smoky, thick cut pastrami made this burger one our favorites and the best special that Birdie’s has done this year. On a scale of one to ten, we can’t give you a number because this one was off the charts. If you love homemade pastrami like I do, you’ll not be forgetting this burger any time soon.

And while we were there, we had to make sure that Birdie’s legendary hamburger, made of Canada de la Virgen beef and colossal chicken sandwich, along with Taco Lab’s Crispy Taco Trio and Marina Girl Salad didn’t feel neglected. We want to write home about these four favorites as well.

There’s nothing we loved more than having an excuse to eat French fries in the morning. You can now go for a two-for-one breakfast on Friday using your VIP card. Besides, where else can you fill up for $50 pesos?

Birdie’s Burgers and Taco Lab changed the culinary landscape in SMA with their arrival back in 2016. In the land of upscale fast food, these are two of the best.

Birdies Burgers/ Taco Lab
Doce 18 Concept House at Relox 18
Daily: 10:00 AM – 10:00 PM
Chef: Donnie Masterton
Panio
Just when we thought there was nothing more heavenly than this would-be-croissant, the Cruffin de Limon, we discovered a new favorite: a Kouign- amann. This Breton cake was described by the New York Times as the fattiest pastry in all of Europe; all the more reason to order it. And you haven’t lived large until you’ve devoured a Kouign-amann piled high with homemade, vanilla ice cream.

We’ll be posting a list of the best pastries in SMA this fall; these are two of our favorites.

Panio Atelier du Pain
Salida a Celaya 69
Doce 18 at Relox 18
Daily: 8 AM - 10 PM

Nicasio comedor mexicano
Chef Pablo Nicacio has always owned it when it comes to authentic Mexican cooking. Both the Hot Cakes and the French toast are like eating your favorite dessert for breakfast, only better. The Hot Cakes come with generous slices of the most flavorful pancetta. It’s so good in fact, we’re usually back the very next day to do it all over again.

We’ve had so many fabulous, Mexican dishes at Nicasio, you’ll not be disappointed in anything you order.

Nicasio comedor mexicano 
Hidalgo 28
Sunday 9AM–5PM
Monday - Saturday 9AM–7:30PM except Tuesday closed
Chefs: Pablo Nicacio and Hugo Tepichin

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 view of Centro. We guarantee that you’ll never want to go home.

Make reservations as there is frequently a wait now, especially on the weekends.

Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at The Rosewood Hotel
Nemesio Diez #11, Centro, San Miguel de Allende 37700
Monday – Saturday: 2:00 PM – 11:00 PM 

                                                     Photo: Ki'bok
Ki'bok Movie Night
Every Wednesday night at 7:30 PM, Ki’bok coffee offers a movie night,
that comes with a glass of red or white wine, popcorn and chips for a token $100 pesos. They announce the movie the Monday or Tuesday before on their social media pages. https://www.facebook.com/Kiboksma/

This past week,The Last of the Mohicans, a 1992 American epic historical film set in 1757 during the French and Indian War was shown. In the series, they have also shown Molly’s Game and Bohemian Rhapsody.

Ki'bok
Diez de Sollano y Dávalos #25
Daily 8 AM - 6 PM

Mama Mia
Adal Garcia, the head bartender at Mama Mia in San Miguel de Allende, will tell you that Mama Mia makes the best Margaritas in town. We know it’s the strongest and the hundreds of visitors who walk through the door every day will agree.

Don't forget to bring your posse, although with Adal, you never need an excuse, a holiday or a companion to have that perfect SMA fiesta.

Mama Mia
Umaran #8
Daily: 8:00 AM – 12:00 Midnight except Friday – Sunday closes at 3:00 AM

La Sacristia Café and Café Zenteno at Bellas Artes
This café is in a small, garden setting, with most of its seating outside. Despite a limited breakfast menu, there are plenty of good juice blends and smoothies to keep you healthy. Our morning spread included a delicious green juice blend with pepino, spinach, pineapple, parsley, ginger, coconut water and orange for $45 pesos and Huevos a la Flamenca; their signature breakfast casserole with eggs, chorizo and ham for $120 pesos. For anyone who likes a more lightly spiced tomato sauce, this is your dish.

With 4 locations, including a spot inside Bellas Artes, where they make the most divine smoothie called a Armonia, Zenteno’s take a nod for some of the best breakfast smoothies in town…not to mention the coffee.


Canal #36 Corner Zacateros
Hours: Sunday – Tuesday and Thursday – Friday 8:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Wednesday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday: 8:30 AM – 7:30 PM

Café Zenteno at Bellas Artes
Hernández Macías Street # 75
Hours: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday: 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Fat Boys
So, who took this burger off the backyard BBQ? Seriously good USA meat; grilled and smoked, then served on a fresh bun with a pile of ultra-thin French fries.

Manager, Ulises, is doing the cooking until they find a new chef. We say don’t bother because Ulises cooked this one to perfection.

Make your own party; bikers and tango dancers take center stage.

Fat Boys
Calle Cinco de Mayo #5, San Miguel de Allende
Hours: Thursday 1:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Friday – Saturday 1:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Sunday 12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Galeria Puerta Abierta
Can you think of places in SMA where you can buy a small gift? We don’t know of many. Here at Galeria Puerta Abierta, you’ll always find well-priced, unusual items that you don’t see at other stores in SMA. We love the many painting techniques used by the owner, Juan Luis Flores. There are works by various Mexican artists including one-of-a-kind designs by the mother and daughter team of Rochelle Rodea and Maylen Pirsch.
Inquire about Juan’s art classes at juanluis65@live.com.mx

Inside La Sacristia Café

Zacateros and Canal
Owner:  Juan Luis Flores
Opens: 11:00 AM

Lima502
After staying in Lima, Peru for a month and falling for those Peruvian-Japanese fusions, who knew there would be a restaurant in our own back yard that would offer a parallel fix.

We tried a fried rice dish, Arroz Chaufa, that combines chicken, steak, egg and vegetables with soy sauce, sesame oil, ostion and other flavors fast fired in a wok.

Many of the dishes, including the ceviches, Linguini, Nikkei and other favorites, are between $100 - $220 pesos. Wash them down with another Peruvian choice - a potent, slightly mind-altering, Pisco Sour. 

Lima 502
Mercado Del Carmen
Pila Seca #19
Delivery: 415 566 4782
Monday - Thursday 1:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Friday - Saturday 1:00 PM - 11:00 PM
Sunday 12:00 Noon - 7:00 PM
$150 peso Lunch Special with drink of the day
12:30 PM - 3:30 PM Monday - Friday

Street Art Mural Walks
If you thought that SMA was perfect just wait; these murals make the city even more attractive and colorful. The street art, painted by local, national and international artists, runs the gamut and are all part of a project, Muros en Blanco, started by local, mixed media artist, Colleen Sorenson.

Every Monday, Thursday and Friday morning, Colleen conducts a walk to highlight the history of all the frescos in the Guadalupe neighborhood. Meet on the street in front of Via Organica at Calle Margarito Ledesma 2, Colonia Guadalupe. No advanced reservations are required; you just show up. The tour is from 10:00 AM-12:30 PM. The cost is $300 pesos. The money goes to fund the Muros en Blanco project.

Bar Margaret at Hotel Amparo
If the photos from our last post weren’t convincing enough, try these on from Chef Kenten Marin’s Fourth of July feast, complete with slow-smoked ribs, grilled chicken thighs with white sauce, potato salad, Texas toast, cole slaw and fruit cobbler.  I’ve always looked forward to meaty, smoked ribs on the Fourth of July but it was the chicken with white BBQ sauce that won me over this year. It’s my favorite dish in 2019 so far.

There’s some pretty remarkable French toast and a selection of fruit for breakfast. You’re also on with some of the best coffee in town; it’s the only place with a La Marzocco machine that serves Buna coffee.

Don’t forget to stop by Bar Margaret, where bartender, Gabriel Avila, builds his magical, liquid remedies. We can’t think of any better way to end our week.

Hotel Amparo Bar and Restaurant Margaret
Mesones #3
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 5:00 PM to 9:30 PM
Breakfast and coffee: Daily starting at 7:30 AM
Sunday Comida and Chicken Dinner: starting at 1:00 PM
Chef: Kenten Marin

Vinedos San Lucas
Paradise found! We were here just four years ago for the grape harvest and it’s amazing how much Vinedos San Lucas has grown up, including the lush grape vines that pepper this stunning property. With magnificent restaurants and invincible, natural beauty, this is the place to fall in love with SMA all over again.

Mark your calendar for Vinedos San Lucas’s Beer Festival on October 12th and the annual grape harvest - the Fiesta de la Vendimia - on October 19th.  

Check their website, www.vinedossanlucas.com, for updated information.

Vinedos San Lucas
 Km 26 Carr. Querétaro -San Miguel de Allende, Pie de Gallo, Gto.

Remember to look for the rest of the list - thirty more - in September.

All photographs ©Susan Knight York unless noted.