Food in San Miguel de Allende
Greetings from a Washington DC 'hound. My wife and I will be in SMA in mid-February and of course intend to eat very well. We'll be in town from a Sunday afternoon through and including Thursday dinner. We're staying at Casa Luna, so breakfasts are taken care of (tho' I've listed a few appropriate places anyway).
I've searched this board and a couple of other resources for thoughts about lunches/comidas and dinners. I'd really value any feedback, thoughts, suggestions about the list below. Obviously we have no intention of trying to get everywhere - and to the degree possible we really want to focus on Mexican, both traditional and "modern." I've also tried to group places I've read about into midday as opposed to dinnertimes, but I'm not sure I've done a great job with that, and would be grateful for comments on that score as well. I also still need to spend a little time with the "Falling in Love with San Miguel" website for cheap eats.
Anyplace imprtant I've missed? Particular raves/rants about any of these places? Etc? Thanks so much!
Restaurante Da Andrea (maybe better for comida so we can see property)
Casa de Sierra Nevada (Casa del Parque informal, Andanza fancier)
Bistro Los Senderos
Breakfast or Comida or Snacks:
La Finestra Café
El Ten Ten Pie
San Augustin Café
El Buen Café
Cha Cha Cha
Café la Parroquia
La Media Naranja
I live in Antigua, Guatemala but lived on my boat at anchor at Isla Mujeres for mos. at a time when cruising. I also am fairly well traveled throughout much of Mexico. Based on my experience of living here in Antigua for several years I can tell you restaurants in tourist towns just don't have to try as hard. I also lived/worked on an exclusive resort island off the coast of Ga. (Sea Island/St. Simons). The restaurant food compared with the setting is both places just was not up to par. Antigua, GUatemala has beautiful colonial buildings much like SMA so there are many beautiful settings for restaurants. People go for the ambience. Ex-pats all have their fav. one or two restaurants but mostly eat at home and entertain each other. We have an incredible fresh produce market, deent Pacific shrimp and seafood available. The only edible pork comes from Tecpan which some restuants use. Imported quality beef is HARD to come by here and the local GUatemalans don't like heat in their dishes though they use many other ingredients used in Mexico. It makes for a mostly bland cuisine. Heading off to SMA this week so am not expecting tremendous food. Last stop will be Mexico City and so I'm hoping for goood food there!
I just moved to SMA a couple of months ago from Isla Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun. SMA has many charms, but for some reason at least in my humble opinion, restaurant food is not one of them. Don't get me wrong...the food here is ok, it's just not what is should be for a town of this caliber.
Isla Mujeres is a tiny island...everything has to be ferried in from the mainland...and still the quality of the food was always outstanding. Go to hollyeats.com if you want to learn more. But here in SMA, where fresh local produce is incredibly good, and the organic market is wonderful...the restaurant results are mediocre (to me) at best.
There are plenty of satisfactory places. It's just that none are what I would expect. Perhaps, because it's so designed for expats and tourists, it tries to do too much, and it fails on many levels. I find it sad, as it's such an incredible place to be.
To me, the best eats are at breakfast. Lunch and dinner...so so. In the short time I've been here, I've been to many places on your list, and the best I can offer is "yeah, it's ok."
My advice is: be prepared to be wowed by the town itself. It's gorgeous, the people are friendly, the weather can't be better. But for food...C+, maybe a B- at it's absolute best.. Certainly not anywhere near an A.
Expats who live here may say otherwise, but in comparison to places like Oaxaca and Isla Mujeres, it's just mediocre.
We were in SMA Sunday afternoon, October 3 until early Wednesday morning, October 6. Our first meal, at El Correo, was passable but mediocre. I had chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese in a Salsa Poblana. Sauce was good, chicken was cooked dry. Accompanying vegs mix looked like they were out of a box of frozen vegs. Wife had an o.k. but not great veg stuffed baked potato.
She liked the unobtrusive service. I thought it was very impersonal. No bread, no nothing until our main courses arrived. Cost was under $500 MXN for two, if I recall correctly.
Best breakfast and good coffee "Europeo" at Monte Negro, across the street. Good service, warm atmosphere, decent Machaca con Huevo and Huevos Albañil.
Later, I found Casa Cafe, a small, individually owned place with a warmly personable owner, Maricela. Hospico #31, corner of Recreo. Best espresso and cafe espresso cortado I had in SMA. Does sandwiches, but didn't try them.
Breakfast at a fonda, Las Rositas. in the Mercado Nigromonte was underwhelming. We had menudo, which was skimpy on the meaty parts. Not bad, not great, not worth a return. I am accustomed to better.
Went to Cafe Contento, (mentioned elsewhwere on CH in connection with Buena Vida Bakery) in the same mini mall as the American Consulate. O.k, nice touches, free wi-fi, very skimpy on the potatoes. Bread was dry, jams were good. Moderate prices.
Casa Payo, Zacateros at Pila Seca. Nice, casual, terraced setting. My wife and I shared Queso fundido verde. Not bad, but undistinguished. and not worth $70 MXN IMO.
She had a Bife de Chorizo, wasn't that great a quality, lacked char. Vegs were nice, and *real*.
I had Asado de Cordero (lamb), very simple and good, accompanied only by some roasted onions and (UGH!) Mint Jelly! I put that aside. The chimichurrí sauce and the salsa roja went well with the lamb. Service was o.k. but variable. We had to ask for the glasses of wine we'd ordered, after our main course had come. But the waiter was helpful in arranging the shade without us asking. Free wi-fi there, also, plus free phone calls to the U.S. We didn't avail ourselves of the latter.
Noted but untried: both the famed tacos behind the church on Mesones, and any of the shiny hamburger stands seen both on Mesones and near el Jardin. Might be SMA's favorite street food, other than elotes. We did see the taco stand on Sunday niight, and customers were lined up several deep, waiting.
Tuesday, I went for a "snack" at Tortitlán, Júarez 16, across from the side of the church. The Torta Vegetariana Especial turned out to be hot, tast, and almost more than I could eat. It's easy to understand why Tortitlán is so popular. Cheap, tasty, clean and fast service.
Tuesday evening we made a nostalgic return to La Grotta, Cuadrantes # 5, near the corner of Cuna de Allende (around the corner from El en Ten Pie.). We'd eaten there 19 years ago, on our first visit.
We were brought o.k. warm bread right away, plus a salsa de la casa in a bottle. It resembles an emulsified chimichurrí rojo. It was muy picante, but I couldn't stop dabbing it on my bread and pizza.
We had two excellent salads; the first a Monte Bianco, with greens, nuts, bacon, pink grapefruit and goat cheese, plus "Fantasia Dressing". I had a very well made Caesar Salad. They are expensive, at $80 MXN each.
Noted, but not tried: appetizers, all $95 each, and tempting pastas, averaging about $120, if I recall correctly.
We split a large pizza, base price $150 MXN but extra $ with more than two ingredients. Our choice was garlic, eggplant and black olive. A large pitcher of limonada completed our dinner, and the final bill was about $432 MXN. We agree that it was the best dinner meal we had in in SMA. Service was friendly without being obtrusive. For me, it's a near perfect place.
(Some may wonder why we'd choose to eat pizza in a Mexican city. The reason is that we live full time near Pátzcuaro and have ready access to Mexican food, so a well made pizza —very hard to find—is a real treat.)
On our next visit we'll be sure to dine at La Posadita on the recommendation of may, and that taco stand on Mesones will be a must stop.
OK guys, we just returned to San Miguel after being gone 3 years. You have to try Cafe Rama on Neuva, built into a little niche on the side of the Instituto. Great chef from Vancouver has carved out his niche in this little place located at the back of an organic food market called Natural. On Fridays he does an outstanding 5 course tasting menu for 400 pesos not including wine. Flavorful, fresh, creative!!! YUM!!! Do not miss it!! It blows the pants off of Tio Lucas, Sierra Nevada, etc
L'Invito closed a few months ago, but there is a place just behind it named Fellini that I think is even better. They feature organic/local ingrediantrs and wine made on the ranch.
Fellini's website: http://www.fellini-restaurant.com/
Map to Fellini's: http://tiny.cc/fellini
The only two places I would add to your list are:
- 'The Restaurant' at Sollano 16. They are now open for lunch and dinner.
- La Puestcita is a gordita stand on the road to Dolores Hidalgo at the turn-off for Taboada. Stop there on your way to or from the hot springs one day. Open every day but Tuesday. They make their own masa for their gordita and tortillas from corn they buy from a farmer just up the road.
All of the other placed you mentioned can be found on SMAmap - http://SMAmap.com
I'm in SMA now, just finishing up a lovely visit. Looks like you have done some good research. Here's my 2 cents
- La Posadita has a lovely rooftop setting, don't miss it. We went about 2 p.m. and enjoyed comida there. Tasty cactus salad, aztec soup, pibil, margaritas all good.
- Tio Lucas was my least favorite--okay, but wouldn't return.
- Bugambilia has nice courtyard for a leisurely comida or dinner - I tried chiles en nogada and enjoyed them
- Comida at El Ten Ten Pie - keep on your list - was my favorite! 100 pesos.
- San Augustin Cafe - chocolate & churros a must. Never had a churro like that before.
- El Correro - liked the sopes, soup.
- El Buen Cafe & Cafe La Parroquia - both were great. The avena (oatmeal) with berries at El Buen really hit the spot one morning, as did the scrambled eggs in tortilla w/bean sauce another morning.
- Tuesday Market--yum. We hit the fried fish place.
- El Pegaso - very pleasant. Good if you are in the mood for a salad or sandwich. Or shark tacos.
Anything missing? I would add:
- Ole Ole for fajitas. The Arrachera (flank steak) were my fav.
- Now let's get on to the important info. After 7 pm there is a taco truck that sets up on Mesones, behind the San Francisco church. We had a few of the tacos al pastor and, at about 50 cents each, they were the BEST bites of the entire trip. Belly up to the bar with the locals until you make eye contact. So many people eating there you can feel just fine about it. I shall attempt to attach my photo!
- In the mercado that is behind the civic plaza you will find a row of fondas - at Fonda Rosarita I had an amazing chili relleno--simple, hot, not smothered in heavy sauce and covered with cheese. I watched the cook stuff the chili with cheese, dip in flour & egg white batter, and fry it right there. Some they pre-cook and reheat but it does not suffer for it. Also tried the chilaquiles there--wow!!! And with a can of cervaza...I was in heaven. No other gringos in sight.
Thanks so much for feedback on places i mentioned, and definitely will get to the other two places. Frankly, if I could hit a quality taco truck for every meal I'd be a happy guy! except for when i'd of course have to take a break for churros!
Question: I was last in SMA in 2000. If memory serves me, Ole Ole was in a little house, bascially a few tables next to the owners' living room. Is/was this correct?
Ole Ole doesn't appear to me to be in a little house - it's at Loreta 66, about 3 blocks north of the Jardin. There's a little black bull you can see hanging above the doorway, and the place is covered in bullfighting posters.
Ah, enjoy those taco stands...we are going to miss them back in Seattle.
We went back to the taco truck on Mesones three times! It was amazing. We ate the al pastor with pineapple slice and onions, and the carne y chorizo tacos. My husband also loved the quesadillas. Thanks for the recommendation!
We also enjoyed Pescau and Pueblo Viejo for drinks. St. Augustin was a lovely place to sit for lunch and we also enjoyed the chocolate drinks and churros.