Many chefs in San Miguel De Allende source ingredients from local farms. // © 2014 San Miguel de Allende Tourism
San Miguel de Allende is known for its well-preserved architecture and quaint cobblestones roads, but its culinary scene is also beginning to demand attention these days.
“Our city is full of young, creative individuals and this is a big change from 10 years ago,” said Juan Leon de Vivero, owner of local restaurant La Parada. “Good quality, creative menus are not just in the fancy hotels any more — and this is a good sign for the future.”
With its diverse range of eateries, from family-run taco shops to five-star restaurants with fluctuating seasonal menus, San Miguel de Allende stands ready to feed every hungry traveler who sets foot in the town. Foodies who prefer to eat local, organic produce are also in luck; the city recently launched Tu San Miguel de Allende, a movement that encourages chefs to utilize organic goods from nearby farms and ranches. A weekly farmer’s market also resulted from the city-wide program.
“San Miguel de Allende is perfect for foodies, offering many delicious dishes from the traditional to the latest in culinary tendencies,” said Maria Jose Garrido, director of tourism of San Miguel de Allende. “We have over 75 restaurants in the 64 blocks that make up downtown, and so many others surrounding the city. One could never be short of a new delicious location to try.”
Though there are dozens of restaurants worthy of a visit, the following five kitchens stand out from the crowd.
Helmed by chef Donnie Materton, The Restaurant is where to go in San Miguel de Allende for fine international comfort food. Materton, who was once the executive chef for the Patina Group at the Hollywood Bowl, moved south in 2005 and opened The Restaurant about three years later. Whenever possible, he and his team source ingredients from organic growers, dairy farmers and ranchers. Seasonal offerings might include spaghetti with sweet corn, roasted mushrooms, pork belly, tomato, basil and local parmesan, or tandoori chicken tacos with cucumber, mint and tahini.
Mexico City restaurant Pujol was recently named the best in the capital by The Wall Street Journal, and the mastermind behind the kitchen, Enrique Olvera, also runs San Miguel de Allende’s Moxi, a restaurant inside the stylish Hotel Matilda. Shrimp burgers with tartar sauce and guacamole and rice with huitlacoche, egg and chili powder are among Olvera’s original menu items. He’s also working with local organic farm Purisimo de Jalpa to put together fruit and cheese pairings unique to Moxi.
For cocktails and Spanish fusion cuisine, plan an evening at La Azoteca, a rooftop restaurant and bar located adjacent to the Parish of St. Michael the Archangel. Don’t miss the crowd-pleasing tacos de jicama, or simply enjoy the view over a cucumber martini, a margarita or a mojito.
Delicious Peruvian eats await at La Parada, a stylish bistro offering creations by Le Cordon Bleu in Lima student Alexandra Gutt. It’s the interesting ceviches that grab a lot of attention here — think fish, corn and sweet potato, for example — but the menu changes so often that it’s not posted online. Arrive ready to feast while enjoying the glowing fireplace or the patio adorned with ivy.
Bhaji is just one of many restaurants bringing international flavors to San Miguel de Allende. British curries with a twist steal the show here, including korma (made with cream, coconut and almonds), kashmiri (made with coconut, pineapple, peaches and cream) and the ultra spicy vindaloo (made with potatoes and numerous chilis). There are also a variety of non-curry house specialties such as biryani and tandoori shrimp kebabs. Another Bhaji location can be found in Queretaro, and both restaurants cook with locally sourced ingredients.