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2012 San Miguel de Allende, Gto, Mexico Restaurant Reviews by ALEDM

  • 6

(exchange rate: M$13.10 = US$1)

NOTE: we always share our meals, typically we order one starter, one main and one dessert for the two of us. That makes a big difference in the cost of our meals and the expansion of our waistlines. We don’t have the kitchen split the meals because Audre (aka: ALE) doesn’t eat as much as Dimitri (aka: DM). We just ask for an extra plate and Audre takes what she thinks she should eat. On our new regime, we rarely have wine or beer with our meals. Frankly, we feel better the next day.

We don’t particularly like or appreciate antojitos. Consequently, we typically don’t go to places that specialize in tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas or the like. We have been trying to find restaurants that serve Alta Cocina Mexicana which we find interesting and sometimes fabulous.

Next item of note: before you go to any restaurant make sure it’s open on the particular day you are going! It’s rare for restaurants in San Miguel to be open every day of the week.

Another item to note, our classifications are sort of arbitary.

Lastly, we have trouble posting photos with our Chow posts. If you want to see the photos that we took of the food we ate, go to: http://travelingloveaffair.blogspot.c...

ALE and DM discussed adding ratings to our restaurant reviews and compromised on the following ratings:
HR: Highly recommended
R: Recommended
NR: Not recommended
A: Awful

1. Alta Cucina Mexicana

1.1 HR: Moxi Restaurant, Hotel Matilda, Aldama 53, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-1015, web: http://moxi.com.mx We went because Moxi was recommended and because we were told that a Mexico City celebrity chef had just come to the restaurant. It turns out that Enrique Olvera had formed a partnership on June 2 and he had arrived in the week just before we first went. Restaurant Magazine had named Olvera’s restaurant in Mexico City called Pujol #36 in its 2012 list of 50 best restaurants in the world. We sat on the terrace below the pool and the waterfall from the pool. It was very pleasant, with soft jazz in the background and the sound of the water flowing over the wall from the pool. Our first server wasn’t to our liking. But our second server, Ugo, was friendly, informative and professional. In short, he has everything we like in a server. We were the only ones there when we arrived (early) but more people did come. We were brought an amuse bouche of gazpacho with basil oil and it was delicious. Then we were brought tomato bread with butter sprinkled with salt and a dusting of ancho chili. We shared everything as usual and started with “Ceviche de pascadol/Fish ceviche, xocanostle, jitomate, cebolla, menta, aguacate y chicharron de pescado/Sour fruit cactus, tomato, onion, mint, avocado, crispy fish skin” (M$130). It was a great dish—not like Peruvian or Chilean ceviche but great nonetheless. There were tiny rolls of fish in a juice that tasted of lime but that was pink. We were told pink was the color given to the juice by the xoconostle fruit (the red prickly pear). The combination of tastes was very, very good and the fish skin was the best we’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Our Principles/Main Course was “Pescado en ceniza, cebolla, horneada, mole verde, verdolagas/Halibut fish in ash, baked onion, green mole sauce, purslane” (M$220). We liked that the mole verde and the juice for the ceviche were brought in pitchers. There was plenty of sauce and more in the pitcher if you wanted it. The halibut was very good and the ash added something. The green mole sauce had just the right amount of spiciness too. The purslane was in a cup made of a layer of onion and it was good. The only thing missing from this dish was a starch so we ate another piece of bread. With our meal we each had a glass of Mexican wine called San Lorenzo Valle de Parras Coahuila (Cabernet Sauvignon/Tempranillo) for M$90 each. We liked it. For dessert we shared the “Buñuelo—Guayabate (which is a local sweet of guava and caramel), miel depiloncillo y helado de canela”(M$80). The cinnamon ice cream was outstanding and if you like brown sugar with guava and caramel, it was a very good dessert. For us, it was a little sweet. We had one decaf coffee that was served in a big cup and was good. We spent M$650 plus tip. Yum!
We had another lovely dinner at Moxi. Sebastian was there and remembered us. Our server was professional and very good. We started with the “Ensalada de nopal” with Jitomate cherry, chicharron de cerdo, lechugas, pico de gallo de apio, vinagreta de oregano (M$95). It was delicious. For our main we shared the “Filete de res al vacio” (M$280), a beef steak, gratin potatoes, mushroom sauce. Yummy. We had two glasses of the house malbec with dinner. For dessert we shared the “Cabra: Jocoque lavanda galleta de salvado bombon de miel” (M$85). Another Yum! Sebastian sent us 2 glasses of champagne after dinner. We had coffee and it was a lovely meal.
We highly recommend this restaurant—we have been back and the food has been outstanding each time (but the service has been spotty sometimes).

1.2 HR: Calenda, Nemesio Diez 10 (Calle Nuevo), San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-7129, e-mail: info@calendarestaurante.com, web: calendarestaurante.com. Lucy is the hostess and is very helpful. We went for lunch and we were the only customers. We ordered the gnocchi but they didn’t have it. As a substitute they suggested a pea dish that had a poached egg on it. Wow, it was delicious. We also ordered the vegetables grilled and served on a bed of a sweet pepper puree. Yummy. With the meal, they served homemade bread that was very good and a dish of pickled garlic and olives. The garlic was wonderfully sweet. Lunch cost about M$200 and was lovely. Our second meal at Calenda was also very good.

When we walked in Lucy at the front of the house remembered us and greeted us warmly (we like that!). We came for a comida/late lunch or early dinner. As usual, we shared everything and ordered 2 starters and one main. We liked our server and sitting outside under an umbrella. Our first starter was the “Cherry Gazpacho with shrimp, campari spheres, orange peel and strawberries” (M$120). It was as delicious as it was beautiful. Our second starter was “Squid: baby grilled squid filled with onion and chorizo over squid sauce and ink” (M$95). This was another pretty dish that was excellent. For our main we had the “Baby Lamb: very slow cooked with sweet potato puree and rosemary” (M$300). It was a large order and the lamb was perfectly cooked. The sweet potato was delicious. Karen, one of the owners came to chat and we congratulated her on the new menu. She said she wanted us to try their “Day of the Dead Dessert” and she sent us one complimentarily. This dessert was described as “Calaverita de Oro rellena de espuma de mango sobre cremoso de citricos y flores”. It was awesome. We were also told of another dessert we wanted to try. It was a flan of zapote negro and it was fabulous. We had 2 limonadas and we were very happy. Our meal cost M$679 plus tip. On the basis of this meal we have decided to promote Calenda to “Highly Recommended”.

1.3 R: The Restaurant, Sollano 16, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto, C.P. 37700, tel. 415-154-7877, web: www.therestaurantsanmiguel.com (Chef from Los Angeles: Donnie Masterton, e-mail: audiochef1@yahoo.com). We loved the space. It’s in a courtyard open to the sky which looked Moorish with a Moorish fountain trickling water (and that had rose petals in it). The columns were Corinthian (go figure). There was a design shop next door with big windows so you could see into it. It was a nice view. We were brought foccacia with an olive that had mashed anchovies in it. Yum—I wouldn’t have thought of doing that myself. The General Manager, Jorge or “Flash” came to chat and told us that bottles of wine were half price. We asked about ½ bottles and he said “yes, they were half price too”. So we had a ½ bottle of Alamos Malbec, one of our favorites (M$130). For our starter we shared the “Raviolis rellenos de costilla braseada en vino con tomillo fresco; (red wine braised short ribs raviolis with fresh thyme)” (M$120). The sauce was great and the raviolis cooked perfectly. We were happy. For our main we had “Trucha al curry con zanahorias glaseadas en miel, coliflor, almendras y mantequila oscura; (curry dusted trout with honey glazed carrots, cauliflower, almonds and brown butter)” (M$230). The curry and cumin mixture on the trout was just great. Chef Donnie Masterton came to talk and we enjoyed him. He is from LA and cooked and catered and executive-chefed there before coming to San Miguel de Allende. He is talented. For dessert we shared one “Tarta de Mango y mora azul con crema batida de albahaca; warm mango and blueberry tart with basil whipped cream” (M$85). The tart and the crust was very good but that whipped cream with silvers of basil was sooooooo good. A very good meal and an enjoyable evening. We spent M$585 plus tip.

Another time when we went, Jorge (“Flash”), the G.M., was at the reception desk, recognized us and greeted us warmly. The courtyard was lovely—the design shop was open and lovely to look at. We had the same server we had before, who was very good. We were the first people to arrive when they opened for Sunday brunch at noon. We ordered one “jugo del dia” which was a delicious watermelon juice and Flash gave us a complimentary second one. We ordered one sopes with poached eggs on a bed of black beans. It was excellent and the poached eggs were perfectly formed and looked like a flower with the white like petals falling off the yolk. We were intrigued as to how they were made and Flash took us back to the kitchen where the staff showed us the method. The other dish we ordered was a Moroccan baked egg dish. The eggs were baked on a bed of vegetables and were over-cooked. The dish needed more Moroccan spices like cumin, coriander and ras el hanout. We asked for and were brought bread. And we had 2 coffees with our meal that were full of flavor. It was a lovely brunch. We spent about M$300 plus tip.

1.4 R: Nirvana, Camino Antigua Estacion FFCC11, Centro C.P. 37701, Santuario de Atotonilco, Guanajuato, Mexico, tel. 415-185-2194, web: www.hotelnirvana.mx. The first time we ate at Nirvana it was for lunch and we sat in the garden. It was very pleasant and we liked our server, Rodrigo, very much. We had a delicious salad that came with wonderful bread and we were very happy. We have been back many times and value Juan Carlos’ (chef and “anfitirón”) talent. He has a delicious repertoire and his gardens of organic herbs and vegetables are impressive. Rodrigo is always welcoming and professional. He is another reason why we return.

We had another marvelous meal with a truly great server, Rodrigo, making the meal even better. It was crowded but Ridrigo was attentive and the kitchen kept up with the diners. We started with “Sopa de Frijol Negro y Chipolte con pico de gallo de xoconoxtle” (M$60). It was a very good black bean soup with a red pickly pear salsa on top of a tostada. Our next course was “Brocheta de Portobellini on queso panela, jitomates y aderezo italian” (M$85). The taste of the panela was excellent with the mushroom and tomatoes. The Italian Vinaigrette was very tasty too. For our main we shared the “Costillas de cordero en salsa ajo rostizado” (M$240). They were cooked rare, the way we like lamb chops to be, and the roasted garlic sauce was very good. It was served with a rice and wild rice combination and a mixed squash vegetable accompaniment. For dessert we asked for (not on the menu) the famous Nirvana sorbet made with oranges and basil. It was yummy. We also had one limonada and 2 coffees. We spent M$500 plus tip and were happy.

1.5 R: Bugambilia, Sollano No. 21 (Atras de la Parroquia), tel. 415-152-0127. We sat in the courtyard for dinner and it was lovely. There were 3 other tables being served at the time—two of them with gringos. We enjoyed the meal and our evening there. Our server was friendly, professional and knowledgeable. We asked many questions and he answered them informatively. We wanted to try many dishes of the authentic Mexican cuisine of a higher level than most restaurants so we ordered too much. We took home enough food for another meal! We were brought totopos (chips) and a startlingly spicy green chile salsa. We were also brought bread and butter. We started with “Manita’s de cerdo a las hierbas fin” (M$70) and the marinated pigs’ feet were delicious. They were a little chewy of course but the taste was great. The order was large and we finished it. With that we ordered the “Crema de la coscheca” (M$60) which was a corn and Poblano cream soup. It was very good too but we didn’t finish it. Our first main was “Chile Nogada caliente” the stuffed chile that is well-known in Mexico (M$115) and it was delicious as was the sauce. It had vegetables garnishing the plate and it was more than we could finish so we took the rest home for lunch. Our second main was “Camarones al Mezcal” or a shrimp casserole with the alcohol made from a cactus (M$170). The shrimps were large and tasty in a tomato and onion sauce. We took most of it home. We were told that this restaurant was an “alta cucina Mexicana” restaurant and it is. We spent M$515 plus tip.

2. All Around Restaurants

2.1 R: Carcassonne, Correo 34, Centro, San Miguel de Allend (SMA), Gto., C.P. 37700, tel. 415-552-0053, e-mail: info@carcassonne.com.mx, web: www.carcassonne.com.mx. We had a lovely dinner at Carcassonne. The space is well-designed and the wine cellar adds to the ambiance. There were a few other tables occupied when we arrived which was nice and more arrived while we were there. The chef and owner, Guillermo Terroba was stopping by tables to chat (which we love). He is young and reminded Audre of Mr. Big from Sex in the City. We shared everything as usual and started with “Mejillones en crema de vino blanco” (M$115). The mussels were tasty and tender enough. The cream sauce was delicious. We had another starter called “Tiradito Combinado” (M$115) which we had happily eaten many times in Chile. This was different and very, very good. It was made with Magy Sauce, Worcestershire sauce and cheese. The baguette that was served was very good and we were told it was made at La Maple on Salida de Celaya (but couldn’t find it there—it was actually from Cumpanio). These two starters were more than enough food for the two of us so we didn’t have a main. We drank 2 glasses of Malbec. We ended the meal with a pastel de chocolate. The meal cost M$440 plus tip and we enjoyed it. We went back for Sunday Brunch when Sybil English was performing. It was fun but because it was their first brunch, a little disorganized.

For our third meal at Carcassonne. Pedro, our server (whose first day of work was the day we came for the Sybil English brunch—which was acknowledged as a disaster) entertained us all evening. There were no other customers when we arrived. Because we don’t like the bread that Carcassonne serves from El Maple, we brought our own baguette from Cumpanio. There was a sign board outside that they had “escamoles” which are ant eggs (a once a year event). The price was a hefty M$199 for 100 gr. Well, we had to order them. They were little ovals without much flavor. The kitchen sautéed them with lots of garlic and a little chili. So the taste was in the ingredients other than the eggs and the eggs gave texture. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Next we had the Clam chowder con lagosta y camaron (M$135). There were a few clams and pieces of shrimp and lagosta in a cream soup that didn’t taste of clam at all. It desperately needed clam juice. Our main course was “Trucha Almendrada” (M$130) which came with 2 asparagus spears and rice. The trout had been frozen too long and was smothered in sautéed almond pieces. It was okay. The meal was okay and Pedro, our server was very good.

2.2 R: Food Factory, Fabrica La Aurora, Calzada de la Aurora, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Guanajuato, tel. 415-152-3982. The rooms are very nice and there is a porch area outside too. Our server was very good and the meal was excellent. We shared everything and started with a vegetable tempura and followed that with a filet mignon steak. It was the best steak we’ve had in Mexico so far. With our meal we had 2 glasses of vino tinto. The meal cost M$375 plus tip. The evening was a great success, with the Fabrica La Aurora Friday Art Walk beforehand. We have visited again and also had a lovely meal.

2.3 R: Cumpanio, Correo 29, col. Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), gto., C.P. 37700, Mexico, tel. 415-152-2327, web: www.cumpanio.com. We decided that we wouldn’t call this an ethnic restaurant because it has a contemporary, international menu. We had a lovely dinner in the back room, sitting on the banquette next to each other. There was one other table having dinner on a Monday night. We decided to go because we like the bread and pastries that they make. We shared everything as usual and started with a “Brusccetta de paté de pato y jalea de rojos al rosmero” (M$60). The paté was very good and we enjoyed our starter. We were brought some Cumpanio bread that was warmed and it was, as always, very good. For our main, we chose the “Lomo de pescado al eneldo con juliana de vegetales orgánicos” (M$200). The fish turned out to be our favorite—escolar or oil fish or butterfish—that is bought from Miguel at La Isla (see below). There were 2 large pieces with lots of julienned vegetables. It was a very good dish. With it we had one glass of a Malbec for M$35. For dessert, we shared a “Tarta de Frambuesa” (M$52) and a café (M$32). We talked with the other diners and it was a very pleasant dinner. We spent M$347 plus tip.

2.4 R: Via Organica, Margarito Ledesma #2, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-8042, web: viaorganica.org. We buy food there and it’s a good place. We decided to try their special Greek Dinner on a Wednesday night. The meal was good and the covered courtyard in the back was pleasant. We had 2 special dinners which were called “Greek” but were really Middle Eastern with falafel, hummos and baba ghanoush. The meal came with a spinach salad and a glass of wine, as well as a fruit tart for dessert. It was good but not particularly authentic. M$125 x 2 = M$250 for Greek Dinners plus tip. We’ve been to Via Organica for lunch too and it was good.

2.5 R: La Crêpe, Hospicio 37, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), C.P. 37700, Guanajuato, tel. 415-154-9435, www.letseat.at/lacrepesanmiguel . We had a delicious lunch in the lovely courtyard of La Crêpe. We ordered one Sopa Printemps (M$60) which was a mango soup with cucumber, cilantro and lemon juice, served cold with a dollop of jicama sorbet. It was yummy and refreshing on a hot day. We also ordered one Crepa Ratatouille with jicama, eggplant, sweet pepper, squash, basil, cheese and white wine (M$95). It was very good too. We liked it so much we talked about returning for dinner because they have a pretty dining room inside as well.

2.6 R: Andanza, Casa de Sierra Nevada, Hospicio 35, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-7040. The courtyard is a nice space. We went for dinner so early that we were the only ones there when we started our meal. We shared everything and started with Crema de flor de Calabasa with Flan de Poblano (M$95). It was delicious and the flan was wonderful. For our main, we shared the Cordero Lechal a la Cazuela Marinado en Vino Tinto y Cocinado con Vegetales Organico (M$395). It was very good too. We couldn’t finish it and had enough to take home. We had 2 bottles of water (M$28.58). For dessert we shared the Melon Mousse with Mint Cream (M$75). The mouse was very good and the mint cream was outstanding. It was a lovely meal and we would recommend the restaurant. We spent M$590 plus tip.

2.7 R: The Bistro at Los Senderos, Av. Central #101, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., C.P. 37759, tel. 415-153-9571 or 415-155-9594, web: www.bistrolsosenderos.com. We had a lovely comida/lunch in the beautiful atmosphere of the Bistro. The one problem is that the base of the dining table takes up so much room there is little extra for your legs and feet. We suggest new, more comfortable tables! We hosted another couple and we all had a very good time. There was a large group arriving for a picnic in the campo when we walked in. Anders (one of the 2 Swedes and 1 Bolivian in the kitchen who also own the restaurant). He was very charming and welcoming to us even though he was occupied with the big group. We were brought bread with a pesto sauce for it. It was good. Dimitri and I shared everything as usual. We had 2 starters and one main. Our friends recommended we try the Swedish toast with small shrimps and fresh dill from the garden (M$90). It was very good. We also had a grilled asparagus with a salad ( all from their garden). The asparagus were delicious and tender and the greens were very good. For our main, we had the special tilapia fish of the day with saffron (M$160). The kitchen spit the dish for us and it was presented well and the accompaniments were very good. Audre couldn’t eat the whole portion given to her so she gave it to Dimitri who had no trouble finishing it. Our friends had just main courses. One had a marinated salmon (M$175) that he liked and the other had the pasta with shell fish (M$160) that she said was good. For dessert our friends had the lemon-ginger sorbet (M$50) that was too gingery. We had the grape tort of the day (M$70) that was excellent. With coffee and drinks the bill was M$964 for four people and very enjoyable. We hope that the 2 Swedes and 1 Bolivian make it because their restaurant is lovely—the location at Los Senderos is not an asset.

2.8 R: El Pegaso, Corregidora 64, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, P.C. 90276, tel. 415-152-1351 (closed Wednesdays). This is the restaurant we chose for our very first dinner in San Miguel and it made a very good impression on us. It had been recommended and it lived up to the kudos. It’s a cute place with lots of gringos. We shared everything and started with a Scallop Ceviche (M$105) which was described as “sweet bay scallops marinated in lime juice, mixed with Serrano chiles, avocado and tomatoes, served with tortilla chips.” It was very tasty and the scallops were good (but there was no avocado). Our next course was “Filet of Red Snapper, cooked to order with white wine sauce” (M$155). We asked for it under-cooked and it came over-cooked. It was okay but too dry. It was accompanied by rice and mixed, sautéed vegetables. We had 2 beers M$30 x 2. We were brought bread that Dimitri said was good and butter with herbs in it. We were still hungry and so we had a “Mixed Salad” (M$55) with the house vinaigrette. The house vinaigrette was good and so was the salad. It had avocado, beets, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables in it. Dinner cost M$375 plus tip. We would go back.

2.9 R: Cafe Rama, Calle Nueva 7 or Calle Nemesio Diez 7, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 425-154-9655. Atendido por Mario and he was good. We had the special salad “ensalada de sandia y queso de cabra, con menta, pistaches y reduccion de balsamico (watermelon and goat cheese salad with mint, pistachios and balsamic reduction)” for M$70. It was delicious and came with slices of a baguette made at Café Rama that was also very good. Dimitri was still hungry and ordered a side of roasted potatoes (papas asada) for M$40. They were also good. We also had a very good coffee there too M$40. We spent M$375 plus tip for that lunch and would (and have) recommended this restaurant. We have been back for lunch or brunch (on Sunday) and each time we have been happy. We have been told that their dinners are very good and that each night this restaurant has a pre fixe menu for M$200. On August 29, 2012 we were told that the creative chef there had left. We were told that until a new chef arrives we shouldn’t return.

We went back for lunch in the beginning of Sept. 2012 after, Jason, the previous chef, left to return to Canada. We had a very nice lunch. Jaimie, one of the owners, was working in the kitchen with the woman who has worked in the kitchen from the beginning. We had one Jicama Slaw salad and one polenta in a stew with tomatoes. Both were very good. The bread that was served is still made there but is being made with olive oil now. It’s good. Mario and Aileen are still the servers and very good at it too. Jaimie’s art is on the wall and the place is very nicely decorated. There is a new general manager and there will be a new chef arriving and will create a new menu, we were told. The menu that is being used is interesting to us and so we will be back, even before there is a new chef. We spent M$220 plus tip for lunch and were happy. Another time we went Dimitri had the special of the day “jambalaya” and Audre had a polenta. Both were good. The apple and walnut pie for dessert was very good too.

2.10 R: Cafe de la Parroquia Patio Restaurant, Jesus 11, Centro, tel. 415-152-3161 (closed Mondays). We went for lunch and we had a chicken soup and a sopa Azteca. They were both good. The restaurant gave us a juice of prickly pear which was very good. We spent M$140 plus tip and said we’d be back. We actually did go back for dinner at La Brasserie (see below) and had an exceptionally good meal and an unbelievably low price. At another lunch we had a carrot patty and salad that was interesting and tasty along with a tortilla filled with a Poblano cream combination that was also good.

2.11 R: Parador Del Cortijo, Carretara San Miguel de Allende-Dolores Hidalgo km 10, tel. 415-152-1700, e-mail: info@paradordelcortijo.com.mx,or paradordelcortijo@hotmail.com, web: www.paradordelcortijo.com.mx or parador2#prodigy.net.mx. We went because it was close to where we were living at Los Labradores and we needed a quick lunch on the day we moved in. We were the only ones there (besides some hotel guests). We ordered a vegetable soup (M$40) that was not interesting,a nacho-like thing called Nachos Mexicana (M$75) that was terrible and a salad (M$50) that was good. It was called Ensalada Cortijo (M$70) and had pimento, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, ham and queso fresco (ranchero). We spent about M$195 and we would go back but never order the nachos again. Sitting outside was lovely.

2.12 R: el Tomato, Mesones 62, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-6390, e-mail: eltomatosma@gmail.com, web: www.eltomato.com. It’s a pleasant space and we had an okay lunch. We ordered one mushrooms sautéed (M$75) and one vegetarian salad nicoise (M$80). Both were good, not great. We spent M$166 plus tip.

2.13 R: Restaurant at the Villa Rivera Hotel, Cuadrante No. 3, Col. Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-0742, e-mail: ventas@villarivera.com, web: www.villarivera.com. We had a lovely lunch in the lovely garden with a view of the Parroquia and the smell of gardenias. We had one Chile Poblano Cream soup with panela cheese (M$50). It was really delicious. And we had one Minestrone (M$55) which was difficult to eat in the bowl because the noodles in it were so long. For dessert we ordered the Blintzes (crepes filled with cottage cheese, Philadelphia cream cheese with sweet cream and blueberries) for M$60. It was an original rendition, huge and too sweet for us. We spent M$200 plus tip for a (too much food for us) lunch.

2.14 R: Hecho en Mexico, Ancha de San Antonio 8, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., C.P. 37700, tel. 415-154-6383, e-mail: enemer100@hotmail.com. We had avoided Hecho en Mexico because we thought it was a gringo hangout just making hamburgers. We had a nice meal in a lovely courtyard. We shared everything as usual. We had one Pescado Cajun (M$92), described as “blackened tilapia with cajun spices” that was nicely prepared. It comes with 2 sides and we chose sweet potato casserole and jicama salad. We asked for 2 more sides: rice and nopales (each M$12). They were good too. We had one limonada (M$22) and would say the meal was a success. We spent M$138 plus tip.

2.15 R: Tio Lucas, Mesones #103, Centro, C.P. 37700, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-4996, e-mail: tiolucassma@hotmail.com, web: www.portalsanmiguel.com, www.inside-dentro.com. We sat in the courtyard which is beautifully decorated. It was crowded at 6 p.m. late Sunday comida/lunch-eaters. We shared everything as usual. We had their ceviche (M$140) and it was very good. That was followed by their “Cowboy steak” with roasted potatoes and vegetables (M$298). It was excellent and was served the way Audre likes it-red-on the bone (which she likes to gnaw). Dimitri sent his portion back for further cooking and, in the meantime, ate the mixed vegetables, including chayote, zucchini and other interesting vegetables. It was a very good meal with very good service. The food total was M$438 plus tip.

2.16 R: Pescau Del Mar, Jesus 21, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-8800, web: www.pescau.com. We looked at the name “pescau” and thought it would be a Portuguese restaurant. Evidently the word “pescau” is used in the southern part of Mexico and means fish. The style of cooking the fish at Pescau Del Mar is, confusingly, from north Mexico. The place is decorated well and the courtyard is lovely. Unfortunately the design of the tables and chairs is very uncomfortable. After a 2 hour lunch, Audre’s back was killing her. We had 2 dishes which we shared, both of which were original and very good. The first was a fish stew with cheese in a tomato-y base. For our main we had grilled octopus which was fresh and tender enough to be delicious. If it weren’t for the uncomfortable seating, we would return. Maybe you won’t be uncomfortable if you are younger and have a stronger back.

2.17 R: La Burger, Fracc. "El Cortijo", Carr. San Miguel de Allende-Dolores Hidalgo km 7.3 s/n, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-114-0073. It is a phenomenon. Many, many people recommended we try La Burger, saying it was nothing like we might expect. We don’t like hamburgers though. We learned that La Burger has “Cortes” (cuts of meat) cooked on a mesquite grill so we tried it. Fortunately, it wasn’t packed (like it often is). We had a good 400g steak and nice, crispy fries (M$200). We had enough to take home for a lunch. We accompanied our steak with a grilled Portobello mushroom dish that had a great flavor and was huge (M$120). We were impressed with their “formula”. We spent M$400 plus tip.

2.18 R: Socialitte, Correo 45, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4816, e-mail: info@socialitte.com, web: www.socialitte.com. The view from the top terrace (how many flights up?) was magnificent. We were brought bread with a tomato and garlic topping that was good but too salty. We had our antipasti and mussels on the highest terrace with the great view and thern we were able to move downstairs (one floor) for our main courses because there was a deluge. Dimitri and Audre shared one veal scallopini with marsala sauce and one glass of wine. We split the cost of the antipasti with our friends and our bill was M$390. The food was good but too salty. The service was very good and we would recommend the restaurant. We spent M$390 plus tip.

2.19 R: Patsy's Place, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-185-2151, cel: 415-153-5303 Comida on Sunday costs M$300 per person and you eat what is served for the group. It is a very pleasant way to while away Sunday afternoon with the group of people who happen to be there that day. Patsy starts with appetizers and the guests stand around eating the finger food. Then you serve yourself from the buffet table and eat on the porch at a long table. The food was very good and we lucked out with the group we joined. One drink is included in the price.

2.20 R (with caveat): Dos Casas, Quebrada 101, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4073, e-mail: info@doscasa.com.mx, web: www.doscasas.com.mx. There is a new chef, Dina Butterfield, and we had a very nice lunch inside, looking at the unusual art. We were the only ones there at the time and the service was good. We ordered the Marlin Semi Ahumado con aceite de ajo y chile morita (M$95). The semi-smoked marlin is from La Isla in San Miguel and it was delicious. The dish was well presented and well prepared. The other dish we ordered was Pasta with Roasted cauliflower, ricotta cheese, pine nuts and golden raisins (M$95). The ricotta was a bit over-whelming but Dimitri finished the pasta with no problem. The cauliflower was particularly sweet and delicious. We had a mango crumble for dessert that the dessert eater (Dimitri) didn’t like (he doesn’t like crumbles). We spent M$230 and we were happy. (We were also happy to learn that one of our favorite bakeries and restaurants—Cumpanio—is owned by the same people as Dos Casas.
) The second time we went, we went for dinner with 2 other couples and we thought that Dos Casas was disappointing. Our Beef Carpaccio was uninspired. The tuna was okay, but not particularly tasty. The 2 teaspoonfuls of couscous with it were silly. And there should have been a vegetable. On second thought, Dina Butterfield doesn’t “have it”.

2.21 R (with caveat): El Buen Cafe, La Casa Del Diezmo (the House of Tithes), Jesus 36, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-5807 The outdoor space is lovely but they were painting in the courtyard and the smell was not good. We sat inside and didn’t like our server. We ordered one Ensalada Verde with pears, Roquefort and spiced pecans (M$75). We had to ask for bread twice. The salad was fine and on the small-ish side for M$75. It was okay but we think it was a once-in-a-lifetime visit for us.

2.22 NR: 1826 Restaurant Rosewood San Miguel, Calle Nuevo 11 (Nemesio Diez 11), Colonia Centrol, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-9700. The ad in the newspaper said “Executive Chef Carlos Hannon prepares a unique French dinner celebrating the famous French holiday, Bastille Day.” We decided to try Restaurant 1826 and this special meal. We were told that there would be music starting at 8 p.m. so we made our reservation at 7:30 p.m. Our server, Antonio, seemed over-whelmed and probably wouldn’t be good even if he weren’t over-whelmed. There were 4 of us and he brought us 3 pieces of bread in a basket with very hard butter (which we all decided is unforgivable in a restaurant of that caliber). When we asked him for more bread, he never got around to it (someone else we asked did bring us more bread). Three of us had starters. Dimitri had a Tartare of Tuna (M$145) and was impressed. For Audre’s main she had the salmon with a dill sauce (M$219). Unfortunately it was over-cooked. Dimitri had the confit of pork (M$260) and didn’t think it was good (but he doesn’t like confit of anything, actually). Neither of us could finish our mains so we had lots to take home. With our meal we had a Norton Malbec (or actually two for M$480 each) and we liked that. The music started at about 8:30 p.m. and was not even remotely reminiscent of French music. We asked to see the regular dinner menu. The regular dinner menu of Restaurant 1826 had all of the items that the “unique French dinner celebrating the famous French holiday” had so we were all wondering what the hype was about. The consensus of the four of us was that this meal was mediocre. We wouldn’t recommend the restaurant. We split the bill and the share for the two of us was M$1104 plus tip.

One afternoon for lunch at the pool at the Rosewood we had their tiradito from the restaurant called “Agua” and it was very good so we haven’t discarded the food at the Rosewood altogether. The pool server, Leonardo, is a excellent and personable too.

2.23 NR: Cafe Monet, Zacateros 83, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), C.P. 37700, tel. 415-154-8348. The place is decorated eclectically with lots of art and antiques. A French conversation meeting was held there and we thought we should try it. It looks promising until you study the menu. There was really nothing on it that we wanted for dinner. Fortunately we had just been to a reception and so we weren’t hungry. We had a sopa Mexicana, a sopa del dia (which was a vegetable) and one glass of wine. Fortunately it wasn’t expensive. We spent M$95 plus tip and were under-whelmed. We went back with a large group and neither the kitchen nor the wait staff could cope. When we finally got our food, it wasn’t worth waiting for. There are people who go to the movie night at Café Monet, who like the owner and who like the food. We didn’t so we can’t recommend the place.

2.24 A: La Puertecita, Santo Domingo 75, Atsacadero, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-5011, web: www.lapuertecita.com. This was our worst meal in San Miguel. We went with another couple and they agreed with that assessment. We were the only ones in the dining room when we arrived. We placed our order with an inexperienced waiter when we first arrived. We never saw him again. We waited over an hour for our food to arrive. Other tables were being served and no one and nothing came to our table. We flagged down a waiter who was unpleasant as well as terrible. Still we got no food. When our food finally arrived, Dimitri’s pasta with meat ball dish was not edible. It was mush. The other dishes were salmon with a pesto sauce that came with mushy rice and vegetables and a stuffed chicken breast cut in small pieces that was disappointing. What happened to our orders? Did the inexperienced waiter quit before he put in our orders? Did the new Chef Miguel Angel Villafranco quit and the inexperienced server take over for him? Whatever the problem was, we all left very unhappy. The only reason that we had a good time was because our friends were entertaining. Dimitri and Audre spent M$650 (including 4 glasses of wine at M$90 each).

3. Ethnic Mexican

3.1 R: Ladies who cook at the Artesana San Miguel Saturday Organic Market at the Rosewood (Tianguis Orgánico San Miguel de Allende--TOSMA). In the back left corner of the area in which the market is housed, are a group of ladies who make a great lunch. Try it!

3.2 R : La Palapa, Calle Nueva #8, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto, It’s an outside, casual kind of place open for lunch. It was recommended for their fish tacos. Dimitri had 2 and Audre had one (each was $M25). The fish is steamed in tin foil with vegetables and it is good. It is served with a soft taco (otherwise known as a tortilla in Audre’s lexicon). We also had a cole slaw salad that was good (M$20). It was a fine lunch but probably a once in a lifetime experience.

3.3 R: El Correo, Correo 23, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-4951. This restaurant is very small—tables are very close to each other. We ended up talking to Loriann, the person at the next table, which was nice because she was entertaining. We ordered one Sopa de Tortilla (Azteca) that was good (M$64) and one Crema de Cilantro (M$58) that did not have panela cheese in it and it should have. We also shared a Chile de Nogada (M$85) that was served cold in the traditional way. We liked the one that we had served hot at Bugambilia on Sollano. We spent M$207 plus tip and probably will not return. But try it.

3.4 R: Felguera, Hotel Posada Carmina, Cuna de Allende, San Miguel de Allende, tel. 415-152-8888, e-mail: hotel@posadacarmina.com, web: www.posadacarmina.com. The courtyard is lovely with a fountain. For lunch we had one Crema de Chile Poblano (M$50) and one Crepes rellanas de panela en salsa huitlacoche (M$70). It was a nice lunch for M$120 and we would go back.

3.5 R: Posidita (Cuna de Allende 13--upstairs, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-8862) is “cocina tradicional Mexicana” and is good. We ordered too much and shared everything as usual. We started with “Nopal asado con queso ranchero” (M$55). Every item on the plate had been nicely grilled and it was a good dish—even the ranchero cheese which we usually don’t like. Next we shared the “Sopa Oaxaqueña” de frijol negro con queso fresco, crema, aguadate toque de chipotle’ (M$65). It was very good too and filling. By the time our main course arrived we were full. We ordered “Chamorro adobado con adobo de chile guajillo y especias” for M$155 and described as “lo dejamos reposar y se hornea lentamente para mantener sus jugos y suavidad. Se sirve con guacamole y frijoles.” The meat was indeed tender and tasty. Too bad we were so full we couldn’t finish it! The service was good and the view from our table of the Parroquia was excellent. We spent M$275 plus tip.

3.6 R: Kuni Doni, Sustainable Living Restaurant, Salida a Celaya #24, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-185-8314, e-mail: kunidonirestaurante@gmail.com, web: www.facebook.com/kunidonirestaurante. The space inside Kuni Doni is very pleasant. Kuni Doni means “flor de cocina” in the Otomi language. We had an order of “Portobello al ajillo” (M$65), a jugo de zanahoria (M$22) and a San Miguel juice made of Naranja, papaya, plantano y fresas (M$25). All was very good and the service was good too.

3.7 R: Casa de los Milagros, Relox 17, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. . 415-152-0097. It’s a fine courtyard although nothing special. It has a big screen TV on one wall like it’s a bar for sports fans. We ordered one seafood soup and one limonada. We were brought totopo and 2 salsas. One was a cubed tomato that was not too spicy. The other was a traditional salsa and hot. The seafood soup was, by far, better than any other we’ve had in the central highlands. Even though the seafood was frozen, it was tender and tasty. The broth was very good and it came with garlic bread. The accompaniments of onion, cilantro and limon were just right.

3.8 R: We had comida/a late lunch or early dinner on a Saturday afternoon at Mezzanine Bistro (Cuna de Allende 11, Nivel Mezzanine Dentro del Hotel Vista Hermosa, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-2799, web: www.mezzaninebistro.wordpress.com). We went to the top terrace and we were the only customers at the time. The view south, with the mountains in the background, was spectacular. Our table had an especially good view of the Parroquia. Our server was professional, friendly and good. We shared everything as usual and ordered a starter, a main and a dessert. For our starter we ordered the “Berenjena Rostizada con queso de cabra, arugala, almendra, moron y jitomate” (M$75). The dish was very good. For our main we ordered the “Carne de porco a alentejana” (M$140) which was described in English as Portuguese pork and clams in garlic, white wine and paprika. It was a very good dish and the pork was very tender. For guarniciones we ordered “Salteado de espinacas y hungos” (M$25) and “Gratin dauphinois” (M$30). Both were very good. The portion was big enough for two and we were happy. For dessert we ordered the “pastel de almendras” (M$50) and a coffee (M$30). The pastel was surprisingly moist and delicious. We spent M$350 plus tip and we recommend this restaurant.

3.9 R (with a caveat): Tacos Don Felix, Calle Fray Juan de San Miguel #15, Col. San Rafael, tel. 415-152-5719, e-mail: felix@tacosdonfelix.com, Only open Fri. and Sat. nights and Sun. from 2 to 9:30 p.m. People love this restaurant and highly recommend it. It was far from the center of town in a residential neighborhood. We called a taxi from the restaurant to take us back to our hotel, El Molino from Don Felix on the Salida Real de Queretaro, and it cost M$50, M$20 more than usual. It’s a cute place and it seemed well run. Don Felix was everywhere and quite charming. His young son or nephew, Emillio, in a waiter’s outfit, was adorable, serving dessert. There were lots of gringos there. We were served an amuse bouche of a taco with green chili sauce. We shared everything and ordered a bone marrow soup to start (“medulla”) for M$35. The bone marrow was delicious and there was lots of it. The tomato soup base it was in was uninspired. Our next course was “Enchiladas huitlacoche y salsa verde;” huitlachoche is the special fungus that people rave about (M$135). We couldn’t taste anything unusual or special about the sauce. We decided that evening that we really don’t appreciate standard Mexican fare—we like Alta Cucina Mexicana. We spent about M$200 plus tip.

3.10 NR: El Manatial--La Sirena Gorda, Barranca #78, C.P. 37700, tel. 415-110-2007. This place was recommended by the chef of The Restaurant and his other recommendations were excellent. We didn’t like the look of the place…too much like a bar. The menu wasn’t interesting so we tried one a tostada de camaron that was a joke for M$60 (and left to find a better place for lunch).

3.11 NR: Pueblo Viejo, Umaran 6, (just off the Jardin), San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, tel. 415-152-4977. It has a nice interior design and we were told that what we ordered is not typically on menus. Since we weren’t impressed we won’t recommend the restaurant. We shared everything and ordered one “Dried Noodle” described as “traditional dried noodle by ‘Dona Anita’ served with avocado, pork rinds, cream, chipotle, chile and fresh cheese” or “Fideos secos, tradicionales fideos secos de Dona Anita con guarnicion de aguacate, chicharron, crema, chipotle, queso fresco” (M$50). The noodles were thin and short with a tomato sauce—not too tasty. Around the noodles was the avocado and the chicharron. The cream was on top. This is not a dish that is going to get much press. For our main we had a dish from the farm (or yo ni pio)—the Poblano Mole Chicken Breast (M$150) served with rice and corn tortillas (“Pechuga con Mole Poblano acompañada con arroz y tortillas de maiz”). The mole was more chocolaty than most. It was good. However the chicken breast was thin and dry and very difficult to cut with the dull knife we had. We also ordered Grilled Vegetables (M$45) or Verduras a la parilla. They were very tough and dry (how can you grill a carrot and turn it into wood?) This was not a memorable meal.

3.12 NR: Flash Fish (de Miguel Kegel), Salida Celaya #71A, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), cel. 415-104-2193, e-mail: flashfishom@gmail.com, web: www.flashfishrestaurant.com. Much as we liked Miguel Kegel when we met him, this restaurant is not our kind of place so we can’t recommend it. It is like a crab shack—very down-market. The menu has only the following categories: Tacos y Quekas (short for Quesadillas), Coctels y Tostadas, Sopas, Ensaladas, Fish + Chips, and Sushi. We talked to our friendly waiter and asked if we could get a filet of fresh fish grilled. He said that they could prepare a plate of grilled sea bass with rice and salad. We ordered one and they charged us M$60. We also ordered one fish ceviche (M$50) that was well-prepared and was brought with 2 tostatas. We were brought amuse bouche of caldo/broth of camarones that was very tasty. We had one limonada con chia (M$25) and one agua de Jamacia (hibiscus) for M$20. The dinner was good but this is not our kind of place.

3.13 NR: El Rinconcito, Refugio # 7 North, Col. San Antonio, P.C. 37750, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4809. This restaurant was recommended and we went with friends who suggested it. It is not our kind of place. We would rather not eat antojito-like food. We shared the shrimp and spinach quesadillas and a trout sautéed in garlic and butter. We didn’t like the quesadillas; the trout was okay, fortunately not overcooked. We had a side order of nopales (M$28) and two waters (M$28) and weren’t impressed. Our bill was M$254 plus tip.

4. Other Ethnic

4.1 HR: La Cartuja, Hernandez Macias No. 107, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-2057. We recommend this Spanish-inspired restaurant even though it is expensive. The rooms are atmospheric and pleasant. On every surface (not otherwise occupied) are jars of pickling this or that. We were greeted by Jesus, the owner who has been running the restaurant since 1968--for 44 years. The building is also his family home. The name of the restaurant comes from a Spanish monastery but it also means the “royal seal” or something like the Egyptian cartouche. Jesus was the server and at the time we arrived there were 2 other occupied tables and he told us he had 2 more reservations for that night. We were brought what Jesus called Spanish tapas—a serano ham, a queso de cabre with olive oil, pickled mushrooms, a cow cheese and warm bread. Jesus said that they cook traditional Spanish food. There was no menu—Jesus told us what we could choose from: a stew with favas, Serrano ham, blood sausage and chorizo, a rabbit dish in a red wine sauce, a paella, or a cod dish. We chose the fava bean stew and it was creamy and delicious. The other main we chose was the rabbit. The sauce was delicious. Unfortunately the rabbit was dry. After our mains, we were brought a digestivo de manzana. For dessert we chose an arroz con leche that Dimitri thought was good and a Natilla Catalana con arroz. It had a crispy top and it was good. With dinner we drank 1 ½ carafe of house wine (that was fine). Our food bill was M$1100 and our wine bill was M$330. It was expense but very good and entertaining.

4.2 R: Sicilia in Bocca, Salida a Queretaro #91 (Corner of Piedras Chinas), San Miguel de Allende, Gto.,Tel. 415-152-0406. After the rain stopped we drove over to Sicilia in Bocca and parked in the free parking at the Mirador. We had a wonderful meal but we were worried. There was a table with 30 people at it that hadn’t ordered yet. The kitchen assured us that they would serve us first (and we didn’t have much choice at that point) so we stayed. We ordered a antipasto for one person and shared it. It was huge and had delicious items. A rolled and stuffed eggplant, an eggplant sautéed in garlic, a slice of pizza, 1 crunchy balls that we have never had before and several other things that we can’t remember. We also had one order of spaghetti with vegetables—eggplant, zucchini, capers and other good ingredients in a tomato sauce. It was very good. We had 3 glasses of the house red wine and we were impressed. We were glad we went. The bill was around M$350 plus tip.

4.3 R: Bhaji, comida hindu, Cuadrante #34-A, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-6439 or cell 442-186-5611, e-mail: bhaji.qro@hotmail.com, web: www.bhaji.com.mx. This restaurant opened in August 2012-ish and is tiny. Reservations are mandatory. The server, Frank, is good, professional and friendly. We started with Bhaji (M$34) described as slices of onion and spices friend in a crispy batter. With that was brought 3 salsas that were good. We ordered 2 mains; one was the Kashmiri in an exotic sauce of coconut, pineapple, peaches and cream (M$98) with chicken. It was very tasty but without the peaches Audre thinks. The other main we ordered was the Ceylon with vegetables (M$98). It too had a creamy sauce and we asked for the spiciness to be tempered. Both mains came with rice. We also ordered one Tarka Dahl (M$38) of lentils, onion and tomato, one Raita (M$40) with cucumber, tomato in a mint and cumin yogurt and two Naan bread (M$20 each). With our meal we had one salty lassi. Everything was very tasty and good. We enjoyed our meal. We spent M$400 plus tip.

They have another Bhaji Restaurant in Queretaro at Independencia #72, Centro (a una cuadra de Plaza de Armas), Queretaro, tel. 212-5821 or 442-322-5606.

4.4 R: Barushi, Fabrica La Aurora, Loc. 2A, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-0149, e-mail: barushi-sma@hotmail.com. We have only had lunch at Barushi. Each time we have had a miso soup (M$35) or a tempura dish and a stir-fried udon noodle dish (M$85) and each dish was good. We’ve been back a number of times for lunch and we typically spend M$131 plus tip.

4.5 R: Vivoli Cafe Trattoria & Bar, Hernandez Macias #66, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-0045, web: www.vivolicafe.com. We ate dinner with a huge group at this restaurant and the kitchen and wait staff did a great job. The space for a big group was good too. We had one Eggplant Parmigiano (M$69.50) and one Linguine con vongole (M$119). Both dishes were well-prepared and well served. The restaurant serves good bread with a good pesto sauce. With dinner we had two glasses of Malbec (M$119). Our total was M$328 plus tip and well worth it.

4.6 R: Mivida or Mi Vida, Hernandez Macias 97, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-7482, e-mail: info@mividarestaurant.com, web: www.mividarestaurant.com. We went because we had heard good things and looking into the restaurant, it looked nice. Unfortunately the main room was being used for a special wine pairing dinner (and the service later in the evening suffered). We sat near the street. We had three dishes: one of us had the Ravioli filled with spinach (M$160), one had the osobuco made with pork (M$190) and one had an appetizer of quail with sweet potato and spinach sautéed with cubed tomatoes and pine nuts (M$150). The osobuco was the stand-out favorite, with the quail and the side of spinach as the next best. We shared a Carmenere (M$460) that was good. For dessert we had the trio of chocolate (M$100) that was wonderful and an ice cream (M$85). It was a very nice meal and we spent M$1135 plus tip. Davide from Genova, who owns the restaurant, thanked us for coming. We like that!

We had a nice dinner the second time we went, but didn’t like any of the servers working that night—really unpleasant with attitude. Piero, one of the owner/chefs, was working, not Davide. He was charming. The food was good. The bread, made and sold there, is very good, as are the crackers and crostini. We had one ravioli with spinach and ricotta and one quail starter that was enough for a main course. We sat in the main dining room on comfortable chairs this time. The music was nice but a noisy exhaust fan from the kitchen was annoying. The restaurant isn’t perfect.

4.7 R: Cafe Firenze, San Antonio #2 (near the Parroquia de San Antonio), San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., P.C. 37750, tel. 415-121-0763, web: cafefirenzesanmiguel.com. The first time we ate there, we were with 6 other people. The restaurant has beautiful views and a nice terrace. Inside it is nicely decorated but very noisy. The food was very good, the house wine not so good. The service was very good too. The second time we went, there were 4 of us. It was lovely sitting outside on the terrace. The noise level was high, however. We had a very good meal and excellent service. We shared the octopus and it was delicious. Then we shared the risotto with mushrooms. It was also very good. Each couple shared an order of grouper fish that was nicely cooked and served with mashed potatoes and vegetables. We all enjoyed the meal. We spent about M$600 a couple with a M$90 corkage fee and 2 extra glasses of wine.

4.8 R: Restaurante Italiano (de Andrea), Carretara San Miguel de Allende a Dolores Hidalgo km 7.4, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-120-3481. The purpose-built restaurant is pleasant although there isn’t art on the wall yet. The view of the campo is lovely. The service was excellent and our meal was very good. We had pasta with basil and tomato that was very good and cordero that was very good too. We spent M$390 plus M$60 tip. We would recommend this restaurant.

We went again on a Sunday night and had a fine meal. We had had a big Sunday brunch so we just wanted a light dinner. Our waiter this time was laconic but Juan, the server we had had the first time we visited, recognized us and greeted us warmly, making up for the current waiter. There were other diners there, including a big group. Our service didn’t suffer. We ordered one green salad (M$80) and one Fettuccine with mariscos (M$160). Both were very good and the clams in the fettuccine were the size Dimitri likes and he said they were tasty. The space still had not been decorated, it was noisy (with nothing to absorb the sound) and there were too many dead flies all over (why didn’t the servers sweep them off the window sills? And why didn’t they have candles to discourage flies?) Otherwise we liked the meal.

Another time we went, we hosted 5 of us. Andrea was there and we had his attention. He brought us salads with sliced meat, a risotto, a fish and our favorite, zabaglione, for dessert. It was really fun but the food was just okay. We spent M$2435 plus tip.

4.9 R: Pizza Pig, Carratera San Miguel de Allende Dolores Hidalgo km 5.5 (entroque a Taboada), San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-110-2153 (or 415-213-3145?). Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/PizzaPigRe.... We spent M$145 for medium pizza plus tip. It was very good.

4.10 R: Chamonix, Sollano 17, San Miguel de Allenda (SMA), Gto. tel. 415-154-8363. The patio of this restaurant that bills itself as French is lovely and there was a little breeze. We thought the inside was well designed too. We ordered too much but everything was good. We started with the red snapper with stuffed mushroom (M$195). It was a very large and thick steak that was cooked perfectly. The mushroom was served with a little lettuce. It was a very nice dish and enough for a main course. However, we also ordered the Roasted Free Range Chicken with orange sauce and mashed sweet potato (M$155). The chicken looked more like the size of a cornish hen but it was good and so were the accompaniments. We took half of it home. There wasn’t anything for dessert that Dimitri wanted. It was a nice meal. We spent M$350 plus tip. At another dinner we had a very good meal with very good service.

4.11 R: La Basserie at Cafe de la Parroquia (La Basserie is open for dinner on Tuesday to Saturdays), Jesus 11, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-3161. We had been to Café de la Parroquia for lunch and it was good. It was recommended that we try La Brasserie (when it would be open for dinner). It was an excellent meal and it cost M$240/US$18 (without wine). There were specials and those were what we chose. We started with Clams in White Wine Sauce. The clams were the perfect size and delicious, as was the wine broth. It had celery in it too that added a bit of crunch. The clams came with either fries or pasta. We chose linguini with a tomato sauce that was very good. Then we ordered the salmon special that had a mango sauce and came with rice and asparagus with mushrooms. The salmon was beautifully cooked and the fresh mangos were sweet and delicious in the sauce. We were very happy and would recommend this restaurant.

4.12 R: Casa Payo, Parrilla Argentina, Zacateros #26, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-7277, web: www.casapayo.com. There were 14 people attending the Social Newcomers Club dinner at Casa Payo (Parrilla Argentina, Zacateros #26, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-7277, web: www.casapayo.com) and the owner, Juan Paulo, did a great job serving, making sure that the kitchen was keeping up and that we were all happy. We were impressed with both the food and the service! The courtyard was very nice and there was a guitar player and singer entertaining. Juan Paulo provided everyone with a free tequila and allowed everyone to bring wine without corkage. He served good bread with a chimichurri sauce that was very good and a salsa that he said was spicy. Dimitri and Audre shared everything and started with the veal sweetbreads which came with grilled onion. For our main, we ordered lamb kabobs rare with grilled vegetables and rice. We ordered an additional side of spinach. The grilled vegetables were actually steamed and the spinach took a long time to arrive. The kabobs were very good—cooked the way we asked for them. Juan Paulo brought everyone a Mexican after dinner drink that was a coffee liquor and good. Everyone had a great time and the restaurant did a terrific job. We spent about M$350.

4.13 R (with caveat): Fenicia, Zacateros #73, San Miguel de Allende, tel. 415-154-7874, e-mail:feniciasm@yahoo.com. This restaurant bills itself as Lebanese. We ordered one “Zahle with hummos, babagganugh, falafel (2), tabbule and kafta” (M$75) and it each item was good and tasty. The service was pleasant and the place was nice enough but it is only marginally Lebanese and we probably won’t return.

4.14 NR: Venus Lounge for Thai Food, Mesones 74, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4120, e-mail: venusloungesm@gmail.com. The space is kind of nice (we sat near a water feature), it was full and there were live musicians playing. We had high hopes but were disappointed. We started with a Tom Yum soup for M$130 (described as tangy lemon grass with shrimp). It had no lemon grass in it, no kafir lime and nothing authentic about it. Our next dish was Thai Red Curry with chicken served with steamed rice (M$120). It too was disappointing. For dessert we ordered a sticky rice with mango (M$65). It was too sweet with sweetened condensed milk on it. The owner, Sam, came to talk (which we like) but he was kind of a disheveled kid who we didn’t relate to. When we didn’t eat the dessert, he took it off the bill which was nice. The restaurant has been open for 1 ½ years and it is obviously pleasing some people (but not us). BTW, at Luna de Queso (Salida a Celaya 51a, 4120, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto), we saw dried kafir lime and at the Ignacio Ramirez market in San Miguel Centro we saw fresh lemongrass. Go figure…

4.15 NR: Orquidea Restaurant & Bar, Umaran 36, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-150-7606, cell: 415-100-8845, e-mail: orquideasanmiguel@gmail.com. We went because it was just opened in August 2012 and we wanted to try what their card says is authentic Thai food in San Miguel. We went with friends and sat in the back at a table (away from the bar). Unfortunately there was a loud group of young people drinking in the same area who made it difficult for us to hear each other. We were very disappointed in the food. It turns out the same Asian woman whose food we experienced at Venus Lounge is cooking at Orquidea (and is an owner as well). We shared everything and ordered Vietnamese rolls which were stuffed with lettuce and had no mint, cilantro, vermicelli and had only one tiny shrimp. A peanut sauce was served with it that was too gloppy. We also ordered dumplings that were fried and served with a sweet sauce. They were okay but tasteless. For our mains, we ordered one baked fish and one salmon. The sauces for both fish were the same and had almost no flavor. All of our criticisms of our meal at Venus are applicable to Orquidea. The service and the servers were fine.

4.16 NR: China Palace, Mesones 57 (at Relox), San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto, tel. 415-154-5360. We felt like trying this restaurant and now that we have, we wouldn’t recommend it. The courtyard is not lovely and the food is not very good. We had a hot and sour soup that was good. We also had steamed dumplings and a cold noodle dish. Both weren’t good. We spent M$160 plus tip.

4.17 NR: Oko Noodle Bar, Plaza Alhondiga, Carr. San Miguel-Celaya, Km. 1, Loc. 7, La Lejona 2da Secc., San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-110-3283, cel: 415-114-2293, e-mail: cggavito@gmail.com, web: okonoodlebar.com. We went because it was recommended. The space is nice although the seating is uncomfortable. Carlos Gavito is one of the owners (and hardly ever smiles) and does his Asian wife. Neither is particularly personable or good with customers. We had one Vietnamese Cold Roll (M$45) with peanut sauce and sweet chili sauce. It also had wasabi on the plate. The roll was over-filled with vermicelli and had few other ingredients: a couple of shreds of carrot, cabbage and lettuce. There was no mint, no basil, no cilantro, no shrimp. It was practically tasteless and fell apart when trying to eat it. We ordered on Pho Bo Vietnamese (M$80?) described as a beef soup with wide rice noodles that had Thai basil, cilantro and bean sprouts accompanying it. The broth was good although lacked an authentic taste. It had duck in it, not meat. Dimitri thought it was good. We also ordered a Phad Thai (M$120) with chicken. It was only okay; it did not have enough herbs or taste to be interesting. During the meal we were bothered by constant low the sound of a motor. We wouldn’t return. We spent about M$255.

4.18 A: Casablanca, Hidalgo 34, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-6070, e-mail: restacasablanca@yahoo.com.mx. We went with the Social Newcomers Club and it was awful. There were 15 people at our table and the kitchen coul

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      1. Great list, many thanks, but it stops in mid sentence at, "We went with the Social Newcomers Club and it was awful. There were 15 people at our table and the kitchen coul".

        By the way, our expereince at Casa Payo was mixed. Service was intermittently inattentive, one main dish was good, the other poorly done.

        From my blog, http://tinyurl.com/MexKitchSMA
        "Casa Payo, Zacateros at Pila Seca. Nice, casual, terraced setting. My wife and I shared Queso Fundido Verde. Not bad, but undistinguished, certainly not worth $70 MXN. She had a Bife de Chorizo, wasn't that great a quality, lacked char. Vegs were nice, and *real*.

        I had Asado de Cordero, very simple and good, accompanied only by some roasted onions and (UGH!) Mint Jelly! I put that aside. It came with a cute basket of skinny French fres which were pretty good. The chimichurrí sauce and the salsa roja went well with the lamb. Service was decent 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.
        I think it can be a very enjoyable dining spot, with careful choice from the menu and a bit of luck."

        1. Thanks for the head ups Anonimo. It looks like our restaurant reviews were chopped off before they were finished. Here is the rest of the review of Casablanca and the rest of all of our reviews:

          4.18 A: Casablanca, Hidalgo 34, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-6070, e-mail: restacasablanca@yahoo.com.mx. We went with the Social Newcomers Club and it was awful. There were 15 people at our table and the kitchen couldn’t keep up. We had one soup of the countryside (that was basically tomato soup with vegetables in it) which we waited 45 minutes for. We also ordered one spaghetti with mariscos that we waited almost 2 hours for. Everyone else in our group had been fed and had left. The spaghetti was not worth waiting for. It was a disaster and we would not return.

          5. Cafe or Other

          5.1 R: Cafe de la Aurora, Prolg. Calzada de la Aurora s/n (Fabrica La Aurora), San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., It’s a very pleasant space and the coffee and sweets are good. We had 2 coffees and a sweet and spent M$130 plus tip.

          5.2 R: Petit Four, Patisserie & Confiserie, Mesones 99-1, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), C.P. 37700, Gto., Tel. 415-154-4010, e-mail: pacopos3@yahoo.com, web: elpetitfour.com.mx. Dimitri likes the Danish pastries at this shop—he thinks that they might be the best in town.

          5.3 R: Casa de Café, Hospicio #31 (corner of Recreo), tel. 415-152-0121. It’s a nice space and the coffee was good. The server was nice too.

          5.4 R: Ice Cream Vender on the corner of Hidalgo and Insurgentes, San Miguel de Allende, Gto.The flavors of the ice cream are varied and most are very good. We’ve had the rose pedals, guava, mango, nuez, and a few others. They also have cheese, tequila and more ordinary ones too. The woman and her little girl are nice. A scoop in a very crunchy and delicious cone is M$25. We sit in the Plaza San Felipe de Neri park (around the corner on Mesones) to eat our ice cream.

          5.5 R (with caveat): Bella Italia, De Guadaloupe 12 in the Portal de Allende (east side of Jardin), San Miguel de Allende, tel. 415-152-4989. The location is great the juice we had was only okay.

          6. Food Stores

          6.1 HR: La Isla (de Miguel), Maria Greever #5, Guadalupe, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-2202, (Miguel’s cell phone for special orders: 415-101-0061), e-mail: naturalygourmet@gmail.com. Not only is the owner, Miguel, charming but he delivers on his special orders. He has special ordered Escolar fish (aka: oil fish or butter fish) as well as oysters (which Alesandra opens for us at the shop) and sea urchins for us. Every week Chef David sends an e-mail with the names of the fresh fish they have received. It’s a first class operation. (BTW, Miguel’s wife is French and sells homemade quiche at the Saturday Organic Market at Artesana.)

          6.2 R: Natura SMA, Ancha de San Antonio 39, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-8629, e-mail: naturasma@gmail.com (Mario) open 9-6:30 pm closed Sundays. This is a good shop and the owners, Jorge and his wife are delightful. While this is a new-ish location, they have been in the organic food business for 8 years. Try the cardamom ice cream. It was outstanding.

          6.3 R: Cumpanio, Correo 29, Col Centro, San Miguel de Allende, 37700, Gto., tel. 415-152-2327, www.cumanio.com. We love the bread and sweets from this shop. They sell specialty food items too. We also had a very good dinner at Cumpanio (see review above). Miguel (in the kitchen) is delightful and will do special orders too.

          6.4 R: Restaurant y tiende Bove a Plaza Alhondiga, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), C.P. Code 37700, Fracc. La Lejona 2a Secc. 37765, tel. 415-120 0981 web: www.bove.com.mx. We had juice there that was good and our waiter, Gerald, was wonderful. They told us they sold raw cow’s milk and we kept trying to buy it from them but whenever we went in and asked for it, they looked at us like we were crazy.

          6.5 R: Via Organica, Margarito Ledesma #2, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-152-8042, web: viaorganica.org. This is a wonderful store where we even found turkey eggs!

          6.6 R: Bonanza, Mesones 43, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-152-1260. Whatever we wanted and couldn’t find elsewhere we have found at Bonanza. We found maple syrup there as well as dried mango and dried figs, for instance.

          6.7 R: Luna de Queso, Salida a Celaya 51a, 4120, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-8122, e-mail : maper2000@yahoo.com. This store has great cheese and an assortment of Asian products that is impressive. It also has maple syrup.

          6.8 R: Mesa Grande Bakery, Zacateros 49, San Miguel de Allende, Gto.,tel. 415-154-0838, cell: 415-154-0838, e-mail: lamesagrandesma@gmail.com, Facebook: www.facebook.com/lmgsanmiguel, We spent M$35 for a sourdough boule. It was good. We have also had lunch there but would not recommend the Greek Salad for M$80.

          6.9 R: Los Rehiletes Cheese Shop, Ancha San Antonio 57 at the corner of Callejon de la Bayoneta, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-152-1307, e-mail: losrehiletes@gmail.com and rehiletes@prodigy.net.mx. They put out a sign when they have fresh Jocoque or Nata and we bought some. Jocoque is a clabbered (raw milk) cheese that was delicious. Nata takes like a buttery heavy cream.

          6.10 R: Ignacio Ramirez Market, Colegio, San Miguel de Allende, Gto. This is a wonderful food, flower, clothes and everything else market. In the front near Colegio are the fruit and vegetable stands that get their produce from Mexico City. In the back, on the way to the big Artesanias Market off Loreto, are the vendors with local San Miguel produce.

          6.11 R: Dulce Arnelo (de Peggy Guzman), Salida a Celaya 19, San Miguel de Allende. A new pastry shop (opened in August 2012). We didn’t love the cookies we bought but you might.

          6.12 R: "Las Quatro Mupas" Barranca #42, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., e-mail: dulce2j@gmail.com (Dulce Sanchez). They sell tea at the Artesana San Miguel Saturday Organic Market at the Rosewood. Tea Rooibos Tiramisu was outstanding.

          6.13 R: Moonrise Health, Organos 29, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-4076, web: moonrise@mindspring.com. It was recommended to us for supplements and herbs. We went and bought rooibos tea and Himalayan rock salt. It’s a nice shop.

          6.14 R: Mega, Carr. a Celaya #2 esq. Libramiento Manuel Zavala Zavala, Fracc. Lejona, C.P. 37765, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., The range of products sold at Mega is pretty amazing. They don’t always have the same items, so if you see it and think you might use it, buy it when you first see it!
          6.15 R: Polleria Brenda, Colegio 15, San Miguel de Allende, Gto. When we wanted to make chopped liver we got the mat this small chicken store on Colegio at Mesones. They were good.

          6.16 NR: San Juan de Dios Market and the loncheria Dona Raquel Loc. #3, San Miguel de Allende, Gto. There was nothing special about this market or about the place where we had lunch.

          7. Chocolate

          7.1 HR: Johfrej, Jesus 2A, Centro Historico, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto, Mexico, tel. 415-152-3139, e-mail: rpatino@johfrej.com, web: www.johfrej.com Ramon, one of the members of the Johfrej family is in San Miguel and works at the shop (the grandson of the originator (in 1920) of Johfrej in DF). Their chocolate is, in our opinion, the best in town. They use cacao nacional de Tabasco y Chiapas. We love dark chocolate and Johfrej has a huge selection of delicious morsels. Additionally, the M$35 special price for one cappuccino and 2 chocolate truffles/truffas has got to be the best deal in the world! The space is lovely and the classical music being played was wonderful. We’ve had the Mayan hot chocolate with spices and the dark hot chocolate. Both are good but we like the dark hot chocolate best. We returned many times and brought reasonably priced boxes of chocolates as gifts for hostesses. Ramon is charming and personable. This is our kind of shop and we recommend it.

          7.2 R: Restaurant Bar Donovan, Chocolates & Churros, a Churreria, Hidalgo #15, Centro, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), Gto., tel. 415-154-7708. This is an adorable churreria that also has a complete menu. We had Mexican Chocolate (M$10) that comes with 3 warm and crisp churros. Wonderful!

          7.3 R: Embruyo, Calle 28 de Abril Norte 12, int. 1, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., cell : 415-114-8843, e-mail : trufa.ahuja@gmail.com. We bought this chocolate at the Artesana San Miguel Saturday Organic Market at the Rosewood (Tianguis Orgánico San Miguel de Allende--TOSMA). It was very good chocolate.

          7.4 R: Ananda Natural de Andrea Usher, e-mail: andreaushe@yahoo.com, tel. 415-152-1957. We bought the no calorie chocolate (that also has no sugar, no gluten, no dairy and blissful nutrition) at the Artesana San Miguel Saturday Organic Market at the Rosewood (Tianguis Orgánico San Miguel de Allende--TOSMA). It was unique and very much worth trying.

          7.5 NR : San Augustin Chocolates & Churros, San Francisco No. 21, San Miguel de Allende (SMA), tel. 415-154-9102. This restaurant, started by the actress Margarita Gralia, is an institution. We had one order of “Chocolate Espaol mas espeso y no tan dolce”--hot chocolate that comes with 3 churros. The hot chocolate was good (not great and not thick enough to impress us). The churros were not made at the moment and were only okay. We spent M$38 and will look for another place for our chocolate and churros in the future.

          8. Cooking School
          8.1 HR: Sazon, Correo 22, Centro, San Miguel de Allende, Gto., tel. 415-154-7671, e-mail: ventas@sazon.com or cmoreno@casasn.com. Our Chef was Emanuel Cervantes. He was engaging, enthusiastic and knowledgeable. We started with a walk down Colegio stopping to buy some cooked chicken and some cooked pork. The market tour of Ignacio Ramirez Market on Colegio was next. It was instructive and we had lots of tastes. We started tasting a drink called Atole made with maiz that was delicious. At the same vendor we tasted a tamale with cheese and Poblano that was good. Then we went to another vendor and for the first time in our lives we saw fresh garbanzo beans. We tasted a fruit combination of coconut, jicama and cucumber that had chile and lime juice. It was delicious too. Next we tasted Pulca made with aguamiel and pulca alcohol. It was okay. Lastly we tasted Emanuel’s favorite tortilla at a shop he recommended.

          Then we went back to the state of the art kitchen at Sazón. It has a TV screen showing the stove burners and mirrors showing them as well. Emanuel cooks in pottery, seasoned the way his grandmother taught him (garlic rubbed on the outside, sea salt and water on the bottom of the pot and boil until the water evaporates). Emanuel was truly stellar in organizing the 9 people in the kitchen. He had each person who wanted to doing some chopping or stirring and had everything under control. We made 7 dishes and then ate. He gave us recipes in English for all of the dishes. It was really fun and everything tasted delicious. Probably our favorite was the Guajillo (a kind of pepper) Sauce that was over the enchiladas. It had a great flavor and was not too spicy. We would recommend this class. It cost M$690 pp x 2 (US$105).

          1. Excellent reviews. Thanks for printing recommendations, addresses and service descriptions. Here are a few we have found that fit in with your recommendation guidelines:

            HR. ToroRojo in Dolores Hidalgo on the main road into town. They cook on a red industrial sized parilla They bring your food to the table on a hot fajita grill that hooks onto hibachi style table grill. It comes loaded with chicken, aracherra beef, nopalita, a chile, a hot sausage, and more with side sauces that range from green salsa verde to something green that just keeps heating and heating. Choice of beers and sodas. No "to-go" boxes. Then you can shop for tile and ceramics.

            R. Berlin. Umran 19 at Zacateros, SM Allende. Eclectic fare. Ranges from hamburgers to beet carpaccio. Some are highly successful and some not as much but the atmosphere is excellent. The staff is charming and the restaurant is filled with local expats many of whom know each other and the owner who purchased the restaurant a year ago and is making changes to keep what works. If food is your only criteria and you are looking for food that is related to the locales, this place is not for you. If you are looking for a total package that is enjoyable and has something for everyone, Berlin is perfect.