Where to Eat and Drink in San Miguel de Allende

From the first bite of the generous Mexican breakfast every morning to that final sip of mellow 70-year-old tequila in the evening, you’ll find all your tastes awaken in San Miguel. Buen provecho!

Diez de Sollano y Dávalos 16, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Local chef Donnie Masterton long ago refined the art of matching sensory experience to fine food, and The Restaurant, on Sollano in the Centro, offers thrills on every level. Dinner here is an occasion for shirts with collars for men and shoes otherwise reserved for dancing for the women. (Dancing, by the way, often erupts in the bar in the wee hours, so it’s good to be prepared.) And while every night at Donnie’s proves a visual treat, Thursday nights are the see-and-be-seen scene, when locals stop in for gourmet burgers—available that night alone—with their Chateau Puy Blanquet St. Emilion Grand Cru.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
Peru hotly contested a UNESCO recognition of Mexican food as cultural heritage, arguing its cuisine was equally worthy. While diners wait for that second designation to be made, they can drop in at San Miguel’s La Parada—literally “The Stop”—and enjoy a local taste of the Andean nation. Owner Juanito is best known for his ceviche—seafood cured in citrus juices—but also offers Los Fresquitos, coastal dishes served tapas-style; romantics should order the arroz afrodisiaco, accompanied by an artisanal Peruvian cocktail, such as the most authentic pisco sour in town. Visitors dining in large groups often go for the whole tapas menu.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
The trend of gourmet food courts was slow to arrive in San Miguel, but diners today can sample a plethora of goodies at landmark Dôce 18 Concept House, a collection of high-end boutiques, a winetasting room, champagne bar…and the Kitchen, a food court that looks like nothing you’d find at a normal mall. From Milpa’s delectable, healthy menu to Mac & Soup’s gourmet pasta dishes, or Taco Lab’s weekly creation—a new taco showcased every seven days—offerings from all seven restaurants go great with wines, champagnes, or gourmet chocolate from adjacent shops.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
Much of a restaurant’s appeal can be atmosphere, and no man-made decor beats a natural canopy of stars—a lovely sight made even better when supplemented with a church spire, or three. Locals welcomed the opening of Quince Rooftop, featuring a reach-out-and-touch-it view of the Parroquia, especially dramatic when seen at night. Add to all that chef Gonzalo’s classic recipes; he returned to his native San Miguel after a stint at New York’s Rainbow Room. To mention just a couple of standouts on the menu, there’s the perfectly cooked rack of lamb or a rib eye steak in a sauce of huitlacoche—a tasty, mushroomlike fungus that grows on corn.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
The classic, late-morning Mexican breakfast (quite good for hangovers) is typically spicy, abundant, and sophisticated in ways quite distinct from the brunches that have become synonymous with the urban weekend—think solid, cold beer instead of innovative mimosa iterations. But for one of the town’s signature Mexican breakfasts, in one of its lushest courtyard gardens, try the Yucatecan fare at La Casa del Diezmo. And if you just can’t shake where you came from, the eggs Benedict at Lavanda prove to be artistic creations indeed, akin to lotus-flower sculptures.
Sollano 17, Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
International cuisine proved slow to arrive in San Miguel, but the city now boasts multiple annual international food festivals, leading to more permanent international establishments. French-themed Chamonix (pictured here), which was early on the scene, is a sure bet for any Gallic standard. Berlin Bar & Bistro enjoys long-term status in town—Carlos cooks up a popular bratwurst among other German specialties—and the Lebanese dining room Fenicia has been serving great lamb for an age. Newcomers Bhaji Curry House and Russian bistro Verintort Café have upped the ante for globe-trotting taste buds.
It is easy to indulge yourself without too much guilt in San Miguel—walking the town’s hills burns up plenty of calories. The restaurant Cumpanio operates three local bakeries, each called Panio (pictured here), which make out-of-this-world croissants, tarts, and cakes. San Miguel’s longtime stalwart bakery Petit Four serves many more tasty options than the namesake sweets. Enjoy baked goods served family-style at a large community table at Robin’s La Mesa Grande. Don’t worry when La Buena Vida sells out of its famous orange doughnuts, because more are made throughout the day. You can find a couple of the best purveyors of sweets with your eyes: Panadería El Maple is known by its Canadian maple leaf sign, while everyone calls La Colmena “The Blue Door Bakery,” for its impossible-to-miss entry.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
Mexico is the birthplace of one of the world’s most delectable indulgences, chocolate, and it abounds in San Miguel. For unbeatable souvenirs, consider the gourmet sweets from JOHFREJ C&V chocolate shop: like the hand-hammered metal-plate boxes of pralines (in walnut, almond, or hazelnut), truffles (don’t miss the chili-tinged ones), or enjambres (chocolate and nut clusters; the pine nut variety is obscenely good). If it’s hot chocolate you’re after, though, line up for the churros and hot chocolate at Café San Agustín.
If the romance of a vineyard sounds appealing, several wineries offer you the chance to dine among the vines. Locals choose the Vega Manchón Winery (pictured here), where former Rosewood chef Carlos Segura pairs entrées with the vineyard’s wines. Restaurante de la Santísima Trinidad, nestled within the grounds of its namesake vineyard, is open only on weekends but can provide a relaxing daylong respite, especially if combined with the winery’s other diversions like polo matches (and polo lessons for all levels of expertise), yoga, or massages. For best romantic results, follow the recipe of poet Omar Khayyam, “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou….”
Shakespeare said it best: “If music be the food of love, play on.” He’d be impressed by the dining options in San Miguel that foster romance through live music. Mama Mía hosts music on several stages in its sprawling complex. For great jazz served with a Caesar salad prepared tableside, diners pop into Tío Lucas. Ask owner Max for a prime spot. The place may be jammed primarily with Canadians and Americans, but its lineup still elevates San Miguel to one of Mexico’s best jazz towns.
Sto. Domingo S/N, Arcos, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Husband and wife Gil and Rebecca Gutiérrez run the ranch known as Zandunga, some twenty minutes from central San Miguel. Every Sunday—and only on Sunday—the family-friendly ranch opens its gates to visitors and guarantees fun, in everything from live jazz and blues to outdoor dining and dancing, plus impressive country-style buffets groaning beneath grilled meats, tacos and other regional delights. The gringos love it, but you’ll see locals and Mexican tourists there, too. A day in the country that won’t bust your budget.
Cuna de Allende 3, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
Seems like every San Miguel restaurant claims a view of the Parroquia’s quaint “gothic” spires, but the terrace at Atrio is surely one to beat, putting the gorgeous church practically at arm’s length. At that, the restaurant boasts other virtues such as an ample menu of international dishes, easily shared, and served in a chic realm of varnished woods and kicky potted plants. Crank it all up with a delicious artisanal cocktail: parroquianos (“parishioners,” i.e., regulars) love the tequila with fresh cucumber.
Aldama 53, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico
As more and more sophisticated travelers have turned up in San Miguel de Allende, the culinary scene has evolved apace. The jewel-box-like Moxi, inside the edgy Hotel Matilda, is a mandatory for foodies (and delicious even if you just like eating) with dazzling takes on Mexican recipes by Chef Pancho Ibáñez, who relies on organic, locally-sourced ingredients. Fun fact: moxi is the Otomí word for “craving;” adventurous diners get it right away. Swing out for the tasting menu and its near-impossible dazzle.
Relox 18, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende, Gto., México
Once known as Casa Cohen, Dôce 18’s eighteenth-century structure has been painstakingly restored and is now the city’s chicest forum for fashion, design, art, hotel-going and fine dining. Shopaholics go nuts, especially for the delicate, enigmatic bijoux at Sangre de Mi Sangre; fair-trade fashion at Amor y Rosas or the fabulous artisanal tablewares at Estanzuela. The on-site hostelry, L’Ôtel, is a claque of just ten impeccable habitats, exquisitely furnished, complete with rooftop pool. Restaurant Jacinto 1930 by Oaxacan chef Israel Loyola is the top table at this writing. Or kick the evening off with a tequila—we’re talking the good stuff—in the sleek Casa Dragones tasting room.
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