Saturday, April 02, 2016

Favorite Restaurants in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Articles written by travel writers always include the most expensive restaurants in town.  Habitually, they are Aperi, Zumo, a relative newcomer, The Restaurant, Moxi and Andanza.  All of these restaurants, I presume,
have publicists and marketing firms to contact writers who come to town for a couple of days and write
something about the town while including some or all of these restaurants in their articles.  Out of over 300 restaurants in San Miguel now, these are continuously mentioned in articles.

Interestingly, however, when it comes time to name the Top Ten Restaurants through DonDay's SMART
awards, seldom are those restaurants in the running.  (See DonDay's blog on the blogroll on the right side of this post)

The locals have a whole other set of criteria and spending a fortune at some of the above mentioned restaurants is for the visitors to town, not the locals.  That is not to say that the ex-pat community does not
have as sophisticated a palate as the visitors, but we've been here longer and no the secret, wonderful places
that provide ambiance, superb food, and excellent service without breaking the bank.

Since I basically live on Social Security, I'm one of those people that watches every peso but still enjoys
dining out from time to time.

While looking back through Picasa for the past year to find photos to share with you of the places that I'm
going to name, it was surprising how often meals out are at friends' homes.  To me, those are always the
most enjoyable.  They allow for plenty of time for great conversation, laughter and delicious food.

The first restaurant I'm going to mention is FIRENZE.  Antonio has moved his location a few times, but never has the food suffered.  Now with a special little place located on Recreo near Solutions, it is my
place to go for, IMHO, the most delicious Italian food in town.  In addition, for lunch there is a prix fixe
menu for 150 pesos.  Which today, with the strength of the US dollar means lunch is around $8USD.
I've written about this restaurant previously.  It's just that darn good.

Second is NECTAR.  Nectar is a whole environment in a courtyard filled with hummingbird feeders and, of course, hummingbirds zipping around.  It is attached to a delightful shop known as Camino Silvestre on
Correo.  This company sells the hummingbird feeders, hence their hanging  in the courtyard cafe.

The menu is unique with many vegetarian selections.  The soups, salads and sandwiches are delicious.
Inevitably if someone allows me to choose where to have lunch, I say "Nectar".

My favorite item is the carrot soup with either the Nectar salad or a half of a sandwich.  Here are a few photos.  Presentation is lovely, always.

This is the shop Camino Silvestre which is adjacent to the courtyard.  Don't miss browsing here when you have time to see all the goodies.

For breakfast, I have two favorites.  Posada Corazon on Aldama, only a few blocks from the jardin and Cafe Monet located on Zacateros down near the V where two or three streets intersect.

To dine at POSADA CORAZON, one must call and make reservations, then ring the bell on the front door to be admitted to the Boutique Bed and Breakfast.  Walking through the gardens one comes to the glass enclosed restaurant which has a lovely living room with a fireplace and other amenities.  Breakfast is cooked to order, which allows for plenty of time to visit with friends while waiting.

CAFE MONET is the "go to" for inexpensive, but absolutely delightful breakfast.  My favorite, the homemade steel cut oatmeal, is what I always order.  It surprises me as I have never found oatmeal to be anything I ever wanted to eat, but with the addition of pecans and cranberries, etc.  this is not ""your Mom's old oatmeal".
The prices will astound you, causing you to wonder how you could possibly eat that inexpensively. The coffee is tasty as well.  Sorry, I have no photos to share, but I will say that the first time I visited the cafe I was pleasantly surprised at the beauty of the paneling, the art and the whole feel of the place.  Still am.

Not far down Ancha de San Antonio is HECHO EN MEXICO.  One of the most well run restaurants for lunch and dinner in the town.  The service and quality of food is impeccable.  Owned by a graduate of one of the leading hotel and restaurant colleges in the USA, this fact shows on a daily basis.  It's a go to place for either indoor or outdoor dining.  I've been dining there for fifteen years and have never had a bad meal - ever. 

Also in this general area, over facing Parque Juarez is the bed and breakfast, VILLA SANTA MONICA.  It is a hidden gem.  Whenever I want to get a taste of how dining in Mexico was twenty-five years ago - calm, not rushed servic, not swarmed with visitors, this is it.  If I want to share with people the beauty of Mexico, my choice is Villa Santa Monica.  The grounds, the courtyard, the waiters, all is extraordinary.  I won't say the food is extraordinary, but with all the other things, the food is satisfying and enjoyable.

LA FRONTERA is in a small group of shops out on Sterling Dickinson.  The owner is also the chef, and Noren is always there to make sure the food is served promptly and the customer is satisfied.  There are daily specials.  Most are good home cooked food such as meat loaf on Monday and fish tacos on Friday.
It's the go to place for our lunch bunch that usually dines there every Friday.  One does not have to have the daily special because the menu has many things that one cannot find anywhere else in San Miguel.  Her brisket sandwich and home made fries is a favorite with the group along with the fish tacos.
Again, lunch with a drink is usually under $10USD.  They charge no extra for great conversation or if we choose to dine outside on the patio.......Just kidding.

MILAGROS on Relox just down from the jardin,, Chamonix, on Sollano right near the jardin are two other restaurants that I frequent when possible.  Milagros is the choice of the coffee klatch group on Mondays for many reasons.  There is an extensive menu for one.  The waiters all know our names, but best of all the food is delicious.  Somehow, even if we walk in with 12 or 15 people, there is good and prompt service.

CHAMONIX has courtyard dining along with two small dining rooms.  It is a favorite of mine because the menu has items on it that are not found in other places in town.  Always excellent.

Going out of town, somehow, the destination for dining is always NIRVANA.  It has grown from a restaurant to a restaurant and retreat.  The owner/chef of the restaurant originally came from Mexico City and opened a tiny restaurant on Hernandez Macias with about six tables, if that many.  I dined there about 16 years ago.  I've never forgotten that meal.  That's saying a lot, as at that time in my life I was very involved in the culinary world in the USA.  It was an exceptional dining experience, not because of the ambiance or service, but the cuisine itself.  No, I can't tell you what I had to eat, but I've never forgotten that little place.  When I moved to San Miguel, I searched for Nirvana and by then it had moved into larger accommodations on Mesones and eventually found its perfect place in the country.

Again, it is a unique menu with things like huitlacoche and squash blossom soup on the menu.  An arrachera burger.  Unique salads.  Delicious desserts.  All served either inside the restaurant, on a patio under a palapa roof or out on the grounds with grass overlooking a little stream.  What's not to love?

A place  that used to be in the country but is now on the libramento is PIZZA PIG.  A funky, fun place to have home made pizza made with home made Italian sausage or there is a great vegetarian pizza as well and also dessert pizzas.  Tim, the owner, always makes everyone feel welcome.  His new location doesn't have the ambiance of the old place in the country, but we totally overlook that to have the best pizza in town.
Pizza Pig now does home delivery as well.  I can attest to the fact that they get it to you fast, hot and just as delicious as dining at the restaurant.

I could not finish this list without again mentioning lunch on Sunday at MANSION DE MONTITLAN located on Montitlan in Balcones.  This is a huge private home.  In order to dine there, one must ask to be put on the email list, then when wanting to go there, email your reservations with your entree selections and voila, a very unique dining experience.  I've written about "Gayle's place" as locals call it so many times, but it is quite outstanding.  Here are a couple of photos to tempt you.

That's my list.  Hope when you're visiting town, you'll try some of these places.  Or, if you find some other places that you feel are exceptional, please let us know.  Of course as I'm writing this sentence, about ten
more places come to mind.  Buen provecho!


La Tejedora said...

Oh, Barbara, I love every one of your favorites, except I have not yet tried Pizza Pig. I would add Muro to the breakfast list for delicious, inexpensive fare with great service from Gerardo and his team. They also have the best guac I've had in town (survey sample of one ;-) only)

Steve Cotton said...

I agree with you. There are some very adequate restaurants in San Miguel de Allende -- something we are a bit short of here on the coast. With a few expections.

Babs said...

La Tejedora - Muro is a delightful place to eat, anytime. If I had listed every place I thought of the post would have become a book! ha

Steve, I thought the place I went to off the dirt road somewhere near Boca de Iguana was absolutely one of the loveliest and most delicious places that I dined while in your neck of the woods. Had I not been sick for so long, I would have gotten to try several time.

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

A great line-up of excellent eateries. Do stop by "Mare Nostrum" another Itlian gem. We have had the joy of eating at four of your favourites!

Babs said...

Ah yes, Peter. San Miguel and all of Mexico have many good, some great, Italian eateries. It's hard to get to all of them in this town. It's been years since I ate at Mare Nostrum. Thanks.

crynoutloud said...

Paty's mexican table cooking show on PBS was there a few months ago. If I find a link I will post it to you. This was a comment I found, on the show.

"His name is Donnie Masterton and his restaurant is called "The Restaurant". I also recommend you try the rooftop restaurant at Rosewood Hotel and another for breakfast at a B&B called "La Posada del Corazón". You will have a great time!"

Barbara Lane said...

Mil gracias! I am so thankful you posted this!

Babs said...

Crynoutloud - We don't receive that PBS show here on Shaw. The stations we receive are Detroit and Seattle......on Canadian TV. I've been to The Restaurant and I've been to the Rosewood for Sunday brunch but still, after all these years have not been to the roof for drinks and appetizers. The 150 pesos (about $8USD) for a drink is a deterrent for me and my friends. Glad that the show did get to Posada del Corazon. It is unique, IMHO.

Glad you liked the post Barbara. Of course as I said before, this list hardly scratches the surface.

Retired Teacher said...

I was just starting to lose the weight I gained on my last trip to Mexico. Next week I will be returning, and once again I will be tempted by all the wonderful restaurants in Mexico City. It's hard not to indulge in all the great food there!

Babs said...

Bill, I've always thought that Mexico City is equal to Paris in the inventive, savory dishes that are prepared by top flight chefs and cooks. It would never work for me to
live in Mexico City! I would have to diet all the time........

Anonymous said...

The food. The setting. Nirvana truly is heavenly.

Babs said...

I agree PC from SA. Had lunch there again today. Not many people now that most have left........lovely as always.

Billie Mercer said...

Barbara, it is a fabulous list and I agree with you on everyone of the restaurants. Great photos too.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that I've been silently reading your blog for awhile now but this column prompted me to stop lurking and say thanks. A friend and I drove down to Mexico City recently from New Mexico and on the way back we stopped in San Miguel for a few days. I've been considering leaving the US for several years and had about decided on another country entirely but reading your blog and others there are so *real* they persuaded me to explore San Miguel. It was enough of a taste that I'm coming back in late summer to find a place to live. Funny how that happens :-) So thanks again!

Babs said...

Hi Mountain Woman - I'm thrilled that my blog caused you to some degree to decide to stop in San Miguel. It IS a very unique place! Stay in touch. Let me know if you need any info.........if you are looking for a place to lease, or to buy, I might be able to direct you to people who have rentals or are selling houses.....

Whatever, I'm glad you stopped lurking and wrote! It has been my pleasure to have you as a reader, even though I did not know you were there......ha

Babs said...

Billie, I wrote down the first places that came to mind, because that way I would get the ones that I use the most..........but, of course, since writing that list, I've thought of a bunch more.

Glad you liked it and agree!

Anonymous said...

Gracias, Babs. When my schedule is more settled, I'll be in touch - without making a pest of myself :-) Meanwhile, I'll keep reading and learning!

Wishing you all the best....

Babs said...

Thanks Mountain Woman Arts -

Lynne (WinnieViews) said...

oh, YUM! I'm bookmarking this post for next Fall's visit. Perhaps we can meet up at one of these fine establishments and chat away the afternoon!

Babs said...

I look forward to that Lynne. Meeting after all these years would
be delightful!

sylvia said...

I have been following your blog and really appreciate this list ! I have family in Mexico City and hope to visit your area this summer!
What secret places do you recommend in Mexico City!?

Babs said...

Thanks Sylvia for your coment. I do have many secret places that I adore in Mexico City......but I'll have to dig the folder out of a big basket. Right now I don't have time........hopefully before summer!

sylvia said...

No worries! Thank you!

Unknown said...

Hi Babs,
I have been reading your blog for a while and as someone considering moving to San Miguel Allende, I appreciate the information you have provided. I wondered if you know of any group of ex pats who would be available, for a fee, to help newcomers from the U.S. learn the ins and outs of living in SMA and navigating the beaucracy there.

Also, I am going to be in SMA from June 9-14 and would love to meet with you for a cup of coffee. Would that be possible? I'd love to meet you.


Babs said...

Maureen, it is SO easy to live here and no bureaucracy except if you have gotten your temporary visa in the USA and need to go to Immigration for the local part. If that is the case, I have a facilitator I can recommend who speaks English.

If you have rented a house, typically there is a maid who can pay your utilities, etc. I guess I need to have an idea of what you need help with........I came here not knowing anyone. Sat in the jardin, met some people and asked questions.

Unfortunately, I'll be gone from mid-May til mid-June. In fact, I return the day you leave. So sorry.

I did a series of blogs in 2013 on healthcare, day to day living, driving to Mexico, etc. If you have not read back that far, you might try those.

Buen suerte.

sylvia said...

Coming at the end of month but only for 2 days so what would you recommend we not miss?
Looking for reasonable good food!
Thank you!

Babs said...

Sylvia, there are over 300 restaurants in San Miguel, so it would be hard to not have
a wonderful time and delicious food. Any of those in this post would be good.

If you can, the Atencion newspaper comes out on Friday with all the activities going on. Try to get one in the jardin if ppossible from the paper seller. There is a House and Garden tour on Sundays at the Bibliotecha that people enjoy and please take time to sit in the jardin and enjoy the passing of people and activities.......


sylvia said...

We will be there on a Tuesday/Wednesday ....
Thank you for your suggestions!