The Best Food In San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende has an amazing selection of dining options. From taco carts in nearly every public space to upscale continental cuisine, you've found the right spot to treat your palate. And with a huge population of international and great Mexican chefs, you can find almost every type of food here: Lebanese, Asian Fusion, classic French, Argentinian, Texas BBQ, Chinese, Peruvian, Thai, 1950's hamburger joints, Italian, the list goes on. For two vegetarians (well one-and-a-half, really) who love international cuisine, eating in this town is pretty much a dream come true. After spending some significant time here, we've found a few places that are absolutely not to be missed, for both vegetarian and meat options.
There's no shortage of upscale restaurants in SMA but Aperi is easily the top spot. With perfectly-executed dishes, a solid wine program, and flawless service, this is our go-to spot when we want to splurge. Chef Matteo Salas cut his teeth at Oca in Mexico City before opening this place, so he's no stranger to bold experimentation. Try the pickled beets with horseradish and provolone crema served in a bath of hickory smoke. Or the baby squid with wood ear mushrooms, brown butter, and grilled foraged desert vegetables. Or go for the tasting menu. Whatever route you choose, it's guaranteed to be phenomenal.
Carmen Comida Casera
This is possibly the best 'local' food in SMA. I could give many reasons why, but the example that really sticks out is their enchiladas verde. I love enchiladas but at nearly every restaurant, the enchiladas have too much something. They're too cheesy, too greasy, too saucy, too big. There's always at least one flaw. Not here. Everything is perfect: the seasoning, portions, balance, heat. Best enchiladas on earth. Really. And it's not limited to enchiladas. Their chalkboard-menu has a dozen or so specialties---all are perfectly-prepared and cheap! The spot is easy to miss, though. It's at Salida Celaya 34, next to Lolita.
La Mesa Grande
There are only three bakeries you need to know about in SMA: Cumpanio, Artesanos Bakery, and this spot. Cumpanio has the best croissants and service while Artesanos is the best overall bakery. But when it comes to the best place to loiter and get great everything, it's La Mesa Grande. The bagels are among the best anywhere... not just SMA. And in a town of terrible-to-mediocre espresso, La Mesa Grande slings a reasonably decent shot. Plus, they have solid wood-fired pizza, beer, sourdough, and tons of other goodies. It's definitely a spot you can easily spend a few hours reading, working, or relaxing with friends.
I really didn't want to include this spot--it caters to tourists and it's in every guidebook and SMA website. But the food and service are just too damn good. In particular, their croissants by far are the best in town. Plus the other baked goods are solid and the staff is truly great. Overhyped? Probably. Overrated? Not one bit. It's an excellent choice for a morning fuel-up if you're in Centro (also great for lunch or in the evenings too!). Hype or not, this place has earned their reputation!
The simple torta has reached nirvana at this locals' favorite. Like many great sandwiches, the perfect torta starts with great bread: crunchy exterior with a chewy, soft interior that's capable of holding together a mass of toppings. From there, Tortitlan offers dozens of different varieties of sandwiches with no skimping on the toppings. Finished with three varieties of salsas, this place serves the best torta in town. At 20-70 pesos each, they're a bit more spendy than tortas offered by street vendors, but the size, variety, and quality more than makes up for it. They also have locations in San Antonio and east of town.
For something a bit different from the normal enchiladas and street tacos, check out Salon Oaxaca. Chef/owner Mario serves up some amazing Oaxacan tlayudas, plus mezcal and chocolate drinks, in this cheery little space. This is one of the few places in town you can satisfy your craving for grilled crickets (above), cochinita pibil, or queso Oaxaca. All are amazing! Bonus points that they also offer cooking classes and mezcal tastings. For the SMA visitor who wants to think outside the taco, Salon Oaxaca is the spot to check out!
Cafe Buen Dia
Street Food! All Of It!
San Miguel de Allende has one of the best street food scenes anywhere. You can find a cart selling something in your neighborhood at almost any time, and almost all of them have both great meat and vegetarian options. Andy's el pastor stand just west of the library, Taco Corner (marked on map), the vendors all around Centro, or the tamale stand in your neighborhood all have amazing stuff. Just ask them what their specialty is. We probably eat a third of all our meals in the streets. The food at most of these spots is every bit as remarkable as the entrees at Aperi but at a fraction the price!
DaMonica Restaurante Italiano
This Italian restaurant is about 45 minutes north of SMA in Dolores Hidalgo and is well worth the trip. This is not just the best Italian food in the Bajio, it could be the best Italian restaurant in all of Mexico. Operated by a family who moved here from Verona, they have some incredible north Italian comfort food, including spinach ravioli with walnut sauce, ridiculously pillowy and rich gnocchi, grilled radicchio salad, plus a ton of incredible meat, game, and fish dishes. Everything from the focaccia to the pasta to the condiments are made from scratch every day by grandma. Seriously. Great. Food.
De Temporada Farm Restaurant
It might not be the most amazing value, but you go to this whimsical, ramshackle restaurant just outside of town more for the experience than anything. Constructed mostly of old shipping pallets and tarps, De Temporada is the truest farm-to-table eatery; the restaurant is literally in the middle of the field with expansive views of the surrounding countryside. The creation of a local woman after spending years abroad, the menu features un-fussy dishes that allow the freshness of the produce to truly shine. No gimmicks, just great ingredients. The unique experience is rounded out with a BYOB alcohol policy, composting toilets, a book exchange, and the best ice cream around.
Baja Fish Taquito
Overcoming the handicap of being hundreds of miles from the ocean, this is one of our favorite stops in town. In fact, these fish tacos are the best we've ever had outside of Ensanada (and yes, they use quality, fresh fish). The octopus and olive tacos are fantastic and the ceviches are better than anybody in SMA. Did we mention the huge selection of hot sauces or the incredibly friendly staff? Plus, the prices are great--you can get a combo that includes a lunch and a beer for about $4US.
This newcomer is head-and-shoulders the best bakery in a town with dozens of solid competitors. They pull off a huge array of different goodies, not just one or two specialties. From perfectly-sweet and light cinnamon rolls to chewy and crusty sourdough loaves to dozens of types of cookies and tarts, literally everything these guys put out is great. Just come early, as they often sell out by mid-day and be prepared to enjoy your goodies on a bench across the street at the church since there's very limited seating. But don't worry; it's well worth it!
While much of the food in SMA is world class, we've found the Asian food to range anywhere from fair to downright off-putting. From sickly sushis to characterless curries, we had written off SMA for Asian food. But then we stumbled into this little Japanese-owned cafe and were thrilled with their tiny (mostly vegetarian) menu that features the best Thai curry in town, a selection of several brightly-flavored Asian salads, and other Japanese staples, including tempura, American-style sushi rolls, miso, and panko-breaded fish cake. All at prices better than the competition in Centro. Nobody comes to SMA for the Asian food, but having this spot as a light, healthy alternative after several straight days of heavy street tacos and fried gorditas is a welcome option. Absolutely worth a visit!