I have to admit that one of the things I was most excited about when I found out I was going to Mexico was the fact that, as far as I am concerned, margaritas are a national treasure. Also, I like to eat and Mexican food done well is one of my favs. So going to the source was something I knew I would be writing home about. Street food is a bit of a 'no no' for those of us who may be visiting but San Miguel is full of incredible restaurants and delivered some of the best food and drink I have ever had. Here are some of my favorites:
Located just a block from the central jardin, El Pegaso (the pegasus) was where I spent my first night in San Miguel eating probably one of the best meals I had during my visit. It is a casual cafe with a good deal of seating and a fun, bright atmosphere that helpfully caters to the secret gringo population of San Miguel. It isn't obnoxiously obvious, I promise. You'll notice that nothing is very obvious geared towards English-speaking tourists, just hints to help accommodate the population that does exist in the shadows. The walls are covered with miniature shadow boxes with tongue in cheek depictions of pop culture using the ever-loved Day of the Dead skeletons.
Yes, of course my margarita was good. But it was my main course that stole the show. Chiles en Nogada is a Mexican specialty that seems to have slipped through the cracks of the staples which we see probably being butchered by many a Mexican restaurant outside of the motherland. Using the colors of the flag, this version (there are a few) takes large poblano chili and stuffs it with ground beef, spices and sultanas, covers it with a creamy and crunchy walnut sauce and then tops with tart pomegranate seeds. It was INSANE.
La Sirena Gorda
Very literally, The Fat Mermaid, this hidden gem quickly became our favorite haunt. It's tiny with only about 5 tables in it's main seating area, but boasts some excellent outdoor eating (the roof above the dining area is retractable) and a lovely collection of art depicting their patron saint of a chubby mermaid. Very easy to walk by and miss, we found out about this place from a local who told us not to be intimidated by the old saloon style doors because, as everything in San Miguel, you can never judge a book by it's cover. Open any dusty old door in the city and you'll probably be amazed at what you find behind it.
Here's what sold me on the place...GINGER MARGARITAS. And they apparently make ginger martinis too but I had no time for that. I had my fair share of these puppies on my visit and though I may have only had a couple in any one sitting, I must warn they are reasonably strong which is rather rich coming from me. The great news is, the food is just as good as the drinks. They do a great plate of BBQ ribs, an amazing appetizer of a steamed artichoke with a garlic and lemon dip, and delicious tacos of combinations of steak, pork and shrimp. Dessert may leave a bit to be desired but only because you have to giggle at a dessert menu that consists of an offering of cheesecake or coffee :)
It seems almost sacrilegious to say this but I HAVE HAD THE BEST FRENCH PASTRY OF MY LIFE IN CENTRAL MEXICO. Ok, that's out. In all seriousness, the French patisserie (not run by anyone French) Petit Four right near the jardin is absolutely incredible. Most incredible? Their almond croissants. If I knew they were going to be on the table for breakfast, I would get out of bed like it was Christmas.
There is a little cafe which is charming to sit in and take-away is just as easy. From cream puffs the size of your head to delicious mozzarella sandwiches and freshly made baguettes (they sell quickly so smart to reserve one!), this place does it all beautifully. When you are at the counter, a huge window lets you see into the kitchen and watch the head chef himself, Paco, hard at work. Though he makes sure to come out and greet familiar faces and even some new ones. You can visit their website here and learn more. Paco even teaches cooking classes which I will be SURE to take next time I am in San Miguel.