Tuesday, April 25th 2023

Guide to San Miguel de Allende - Part Two

Written by

Rafael Bracho

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Part II – Guide to San Miguel de Allende

Major Attractions in San Miguel:

– Jardín Allende –

Simply known as El Jardín (or “The Garden” in Spanish), the central square of San Miguel is a wonderful place to begin to get to know this pueblo. The square features lots of restaurants, bars, and vendors selling candy, souvenirs, and cheap plastic trinkets—as well as the town’s tourism office, which has lots of invaluable information (including the ever-elusive bus schedule).

The streets immediately branching out from Jardín Allende are another great beginning to experience San Miguel de Allende. You can find lots of shops and art galleries, as well as bars, restaurants, ice cream shops, and bakeries. You’ll also find a multitude of banks for ATMs. There are even convenience stores and kiosks shaped like small cars that sell all manner of goods and treats in case you need anything on the go.

*At night between Thursday and Sunday (at least during the covid-19 pandemic), there’s a taco stand that sets up with pretty good tacos. Waiting in line for tacos after the bars close is something of a tradition in San Miguel.

– La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel –

In Jardín Allende is La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. This is one of the most iconic churches in all of Mexico. It was built in the 17th century but the Neo-Gothic façade was actually designed by a self-taught architect named Zeferino Gutierrez who spent his days laboring as a bricklayer!

Though he had never been to Europe, Gutierrez claimed to have been inspired by postcards of European churches that he had seen at the time. However, the church seems fantastical—almost as if heralding the surrealist movement that would arise 30 years later. In short, Gutierrez was a genius and ahead of his time.

Gaudí would not begin his work on the Sagrada Família in Barcelona—taking a similarly innovative architectural path—until 3 years after La Parroquia’s new façade was finished.

– Hot Springs Near San Miguel de Allende –

If you’re looking to get out of San Miguel’s city center and experience a relaxing day at a hot springs spa, there are some hot springs roughly 15 minutes away from San Miguel’s city center. You can take a taxi there for about $100 MXN pesos and be back in time for dinner.

Two main spas are situated at the hot springs right next to each other: La Gruta Spa and Escondido Place. We recommend Escondido Place. Though La Gruta Spa has more pools than Escondido Place—all of a different temperature—and it offers more services and amenities, most of us at Expat Insurance prefer the smaller location of Escondido Place.

– Botanical Garden in San Miguel de Allende –

El Charco del Ingenio is a botanical garden and nature preserve here in San Miguel de Allende. The botanical gardens house a variety of plant and animal species. Here you can commune with nature, either still meditating or strolling at your own pace. There are trails to jog and hike as well.

In addition, El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Gardens hold workshops, community activities, house lectures, administer guided tours, run environmental education programs, and also have a lot of youth programs to teach children about sustainability and the environment.

**To see their website, click here. *

**To find the botanical gardens on Google Maps, click here. *

Where to Eat in San Miguel:

The age-old question, “Where should we eat?” Well, the good news is that we’re foodies at Expat Insurance, and boy do we have some advice for you! Personally, I tend to lean toward seafood, so sorry if the recommendations are a little heavy on that, but the places I recommend will try and be varied for all tastes.

Best Burger in San Miguel de Allende

We’ve covered a lot of great burgers in San Miguel de Allende. There’s The Restaurant’s burger night, Choperia has some sweet, cheesy burgers, and Hank’s has a great blue cheese burger with onion rings for those people who really love blue cheese. We even covered Don Taco Tequila’s vegan burger.

Well, we’re taking our friend Dante’s advice for this recommendation. Hacman’s Cocina a la Leña is our taker for the best burger in San Miguel. Hacman’s is located in the prestigious Hotel Amatte, and their specialty is roasting their dishes over real wood logs, so it makes sense that their burger would have that delicious charred flavor.

*To find Hacman’s Cocina a la Leña on Google Maps, click here.

*To see the website for Hacman’s Cocina a la Leña, click here.

*It wouldn’t be a guide to San Miguel without mentioning the burger stands that serve a pretty darn good gut bomb for $50 MXN. There’s probably one on your local corner.

Best Sushi in San Miguel

Having good sushi is a new thing for San Miguel, but in the past few years, San Miguel has had an explosion of sushi that actually compares to American restaurants (because trust me, Mexico isn’t known for its sushi). There are some great new restaurants like Ryoko that has made a name for themselves with their traditional sushi bar.

That said, the best new sushi restaurant in San Miguel is hands-down Sai’Ko Nigiri Lounge. This modern restaurant features fantastic food served among trendy decor. Also, it turns into quite the popping bar at night—especially Thursday nights.

*To find Sai’Ko on Google Maps, click here.

*To view Sai’Ko’s website, click here.

Best Vegan Restaurant in San Miguel

The best vegan restaurant in San Miguel de Allende is Don Taco Tequila. It’s also a pretty cool bar with a trendy atmosphere and great service. If you’re a vegan or just looking for some healthier options, you can’t skip Don Taco Tequila. Be sure to try their burger!

*To find Don Taco Tequila on Google Maps, click here.

*To read reviews of Don Taco Tequila, click here.

For Appetizers, Lunch, and Dinner

– La Azotea –

A trendy rooftop bar with a variety of choices, La Azotea is a staple for locals when they want to go out for a delicious bite and a drink. Situated above Pueblo Viejo (which also has delicious, authentic food if you ever need it), Azotea features modern interpretations of Mexican classics. Their rock shrimp bowl is particularly good, featuring 200g of rock shrimp fried in a beer batter and then coated in a spicy mayo, it’s amazing. It’s definitely a staple of everyone in San Miguel de Allende.

**NOTE: If you’re heading to La Azotea during the busy season or at peak hours, dress nice. They won’t let you in if you look too grubby. *

*To find La Azotea on Google Maps, click here. When walking in, tell the hostess you want to go to Azotea, she’ll direct you instead of Pueblo Viejo. It’s just ahead and to the right.

*To read reviews of La Azotea, click here.

– Baja Fish Tacos –

Continuing our theme of seafood classics, Baja Fish Tacos is another of my favorite locations in San Miguel de Allende. It’s decently priced for the quality, and they have packages—like your choice of one burrito and two tacos—which makes the restaurant more economical. This hole-in-the-wall restaurant features some amazing tacos and burritos. You especially have to try the jaiba (soft-shell crab) burrito, and of course their baja-style fish tacos.

*NOTE: Ask them for their housemade salsa, not the basket of commercial salsas that they bring to the table. They have a habanero one, and a peanut salsa that’s even better in my opinion.

*To find Baja Fish Tacos on Google Maps, click here.

*To view their website, click here.

– Muelle 13 –

Simply put, Muelle 13 doesn’t need our recommendation. Perhaps the freshest Mexican-seafood in San Miguel, Muelle 13 excels for the quality—and quantity!—of their dishes. It’s an absolute classic in San Miguel.

Located on Stirling Dickinson, they don’t serve fancy food, but it’s fresh, delicious, and has very hearty portions. You’ll probably have to wait an hour to get in if you don’t call in advance. It’s that good.

*NOTE: The Playa tostada isn’t to be missed. It has a bit of everything on it, and it isn’t too spicy like some of the other dishes on the menu.

*To find Muelle 13 on Google Maps, click here.

*To read reviews of Muelle 13, click here.

*To call them to make a reservation, click here for a website with their number and hours.

– Pork Belly –

Located on the opposite side of town, on the up-and-coming street: Stirling Dickinson, Pork Belly is a pork-loving, hipster’s paradise. It features amazing pork dishes like pork belly tacos and bacon mac n’ cheese. (OMG, don’t skip the mac n’ cheese—especially if they have a lot of blue cheese in stock.) However, their specialty is probably the pulled pork sandwich, but their slow-cooked Mexican brisket tacos (called “suadero” in Spanish) is another gem in the San Miguel food scene.

*NOTE: It’s not commonly known, but they serve breakfast as well.

*To find Pork Belly on Google Maps, click here.

*To see Pork Belly’s website, click here.

*To read reviews of Pork Belly, click here.

– The Restaurant –

The restaurant is one of the better restaurants in San Miguel. There was a time when it was the best restaurant in town, but San Mike has raised its game in recent years. Still, Thursday night is burger night at The Restaurant, and they have a special menu with about 6 artisan burgers—each one having its own appeal. If burgers aren’t your thing, there’s definitely something for everyone.

*NOTE: Try the tuna tartare, it’s amazing

*To visit The Restaurant’s website, click here.

*To find The Restaurant on Google Maps, click here.

– Luna de Queso –

Luna de Queso is definitely a classic in San Miguel de Allende. They offer great quality food at fairly decent prices (if being a tad expensive, it’s still worth it). They pride themselves on using top-shelf ingredients in their food, and offering tasty dishes that are also on the healthy side. Our company has a sure soft spot for Luna de Queso because our office was located across the street from them for years.

Their new location is on the outskirts of town, and though they offer many items on the menu there that are not available on delivery apps like Uber Eats and Rappi, I recommend just ordering through the apps.

*NOTE: Everything is delicious, but my personal favorite is the Reuben sandwich. If you do order it, get the mac and cheese as your side dish. Also, their shakes are incredible!

*To find Luna de Queso on Google Maps, click here.

*To read reviews of Luna de Queso, click here.

– Hank’s –

This New Orleans themed bar is a staple in San Miguel. Featuring cajun classics, good burgers, and pasta classics, Hank’s is a great place to grab a drink and a meal. If you’re an onion rings fan, I can’t recommend Hank’s enough. They easily have the best onion rings in town.

*To find Hank’s on Google Maps, click here.

*To see Hank’s website, click here.

– La Chopería –

La Chope for short, this restaurant features American bar food classics like cheesy burgers, hot dogs, and wings. However, the place isn’t worth dismissing off the bat. It has amazing interpretations of the American dishes mentioned above, and though they aren’t cheap (maybe even a tad overpriced), they aren’t more expensive than you would find at a great diner in the United States.

And they’re worth it. For example, their pizzas are served on a perfectly thin crust with chunks of real mozzarella (the kind you know has been soaking). Don’t miss out.

*NOTE: I’m not the biggest hot dog guy, but I have to recommend the King of the Bronx. It’s worth it.

*To find La Choperia on Google Maps, click here.

*To read reviews of La Choperia, click here.

– Bhaji –

Indian food is never the best in Mexico, but for being located in a pueblo, Bhaji is solid Indian food, and its google reviews reflect this. The restaurant has certainly been around for years—and it was touch-and-go during the pandemic, but it survived by selling on Uber Eats.

Bhaji is owned by a Brit who knows his curry; thus, their aloo matar is darn good, as is their saag chicken. If I had one complaint, it’s that all their curries use a heavy dose of ghee as the base—so you might as well just order the butter chicken. It’s likely the best thing on the menu.

*To find Bhaji on Google Maps, click here.

*To view Bhaji’s website, click here.

For Breakfast

– Raices –

Raices is probably the best breakfast in San Miguel—a town which, in general, makes a damn fine breakfast. Anthony Bourdain would call this place “a jewel”. Not only does Raices have incredible food, but also a fast and friendly staff—and it has vegan options. This isn’t one restaurant to be missed.

*To find Raices on Google Maps, click here.

*To view Raices’ website, click here.

– Cumpanio –

One of the best breakfasts in San Miguel de Allende is found at Cumpanio. It’s no surprise when the restaurant itself is attached to an affiliated bakery right next door. They have great breakfast classics, like omelets, eggs benedict, and Croque Monsieur or Croque Madame. Also, they’re famous for having the best french toast in San Miguel de Allende.

*NOTE: Try their green juice. It’s probably the best I’ve ever had.

*NOTE: They also serve amazing lunch and dinner.

*To find Cumpanio on Google Maps, click here.

*To view their website, click here.

– Santa Maciza –

Santa Maciza is a small establishment on Barranca that serves carnitas in the morning and early afternoon (until about 2pm when everything runs out). It’s a great little hole-in-the-wall to have some killer carnitas tacos and tortas, and they feature a trio of salsas which are sure to appeal to any palate. My personal favorite is the pork belly torta, and if you can handle spicy food, then try the green salsa. OMG, it’s so good.

*To find Santa Maciza on Google Maps, click here.

*To view their website, click here.

– Hierba Santa - Cocina del Sur –

Hierba Santa features southern cuisine and food from the Yucatan Peninsula. Owned by people from Acapulco, Hierba Santa is known not only for their great food, but also for their artistic plating. Their dishes look like they could be on the cover of a magazine. It’s definitely a foodie’s destination, and not one to miss!

*To find Hierba Santa - Cocina del Sur on Google Maps, click here.

*To read reviews of Hierba Santa - Cocina del Sur, click here.

– El Pato Barbacoa y Mixiotes –

Barbacoa tacos are a breakfast tradition in Central Mexico—especially if you’re hungover. El Pato Barbacoa y Mixiotes tacos are some of the best that you can find anywhere. Barbacoa tacos are made from sheep that has been slow-cooked for days, hence why it’s only available on the weekends. Also, order them early on Uber Eats, because by noon they’ll be sold out.

*They feature 3 different cuts from the sheep, which can be picked on the Uber Eats application. For my taste, falda, (or skirt) is the best. It’s the softest and most supple. They also make sheep's brains quesadillas in case you're the adventurous type.

*To find El Pato Barbacoa y Mixiotes on Google Maps, click here.

*To read reviews of El Pato Barbacoa y Mixiotes, click here.

Late Night Eats

– Carrito de Tacos –

There aren’t many options in San Miguel if you’re trying to eat late night Thursday through Sunday. As mentioned elsewhere in this article, this taco stand is an institution in San Miguel de Allende. If the bars or clubs are getting out and you want a bite to eat, waiting in line for these tacos can be an experience.

Mingle with the locals while you eat street tacos. They set up at about 19:00 and they go until they run out of food—which is every night.

*NOTE: To find where the Carrito de Tacos is situated on Google Maps, click here. It’s right next to La Iglesia de San Francisco.

– Centanni –

For late-night delivery, I recommend Centanni—which is one of the few late-night delivery places available on Uber Eats. They go until 23:30 and they have pretty decent pizzas and really good pasta. They’re overpriced, but the food is tasty and their pasta is very high quality. I recommend the carbonara and the pizzas are damn good.

*NOTE: They have an apple pizza and a potato/rosemary pizza (that’s a bit better) for those adventurous types.

*I wouldn’t necessarily go there but would depend on it for Uber Eats if you’re trying to order late at night.

*To read reviews of Centanni, click here.

*To find Centanni on Google Maps, click here.

Dessert in San Miguel

– Helados Dolphy –

Helados Dolphy is a locally sourced ice cream shop in the heart of El Jardín. They have some amazing flavors for a great price—less than half the price of the Santa Clara right down the street. They have a promotion for two liters of ice cream and ten cones that I often get, but their flavors for this deal are limited. You can order them on Uber Eats and Rappi.

*NOTE: I highly recommend the mamey ice cream. My other favorites are cajeta, chocochip, and pecan (nuez pacana in Spanish). I found the Oreo cookie to be disappointing by the way. I think they use off-brand cookies, not Oreo cookies, and it detracts from the flavor.

**To find Dolphy on Google Maps, click here. *

– San Agustín Chocolates y Churros –

I won’t lie, I’ve never had the churros at San Agustín Chocolates y Churros. I’m not a massive fan of churros. However, what I will tell you is that it is practically an institution here in San Miguel de Allende. The line will often be down the block—and sometimes even around the corner. Therefore, no guide to San Miguel de Allende would be complete without mentioning their churros.

*To find San Agustín Chocolates y Churros on Google Maps, click here.

**To read reviews of San Agustín Chocolates y Churros, click here. *

– Pedos de Monja –

Meaning “nun’s farts” in Spanish, Pedos de Monja is a local sweet that is only found in San Miguel de Allende. They are delicious chocolates that are filled with a cajeta nougat. They are delicious. If you want to try them, you will inevitably find souvenir shops and candy shops with signs out front saying “Sí hay Pedos de Monja!” indicating they have the treats.

Where to Drink and Party in San Miguel:

There’s no need to sugarcoat it, San Miguel de Allende is a party town. There are places to party for any age and demographic. For this guide, we’ll divide the locales into those for everybody, for an older crowd, and those for a younger crowd.

For Everybody

*Note: La Azotea is a great place to grab drinks and commune with the locals. Find it in the Appetizers, Lunch, and Dinner section of Where to Eat located above in this guide.

– La Coronela –

First and foremost, I have to recommend La Coronela to everyone! It is one of the most authentic cantinas I have ever been to (and I’ve traveled throughout a lot Mexico). Located right in El Jardín, it’s safe, clean, and the service is impeccable.

All the music is played from a jukebox. The Mexican locals will put on songs and then the whole bar begins to sing to them. It’s actually quite moving. If you’re looking for a real Mexican experience, you can’t go wrong!

**NOTE: On Friday and Saturday, if you show up at 19:00 hours, a full mariachi band shows up and plays songs on request. Songs by request aren't cheap. Each one goes for about $200 MXN (divided between the band), but it's worth it. One song—that you’ll only find in this guide—is called “Chinga tu Madre”. In this song, the band ad-libs insults about you in a jovial manner. *

*To find La Coronela on Google Maps, click here.

– Selina –

There are some amazing locations in San Miguel where you can get a great view of the valley and the Parroquia, however, Selina is one of the hidden gems in San Miguel de Allende. Their rooftop bar has great service, top-shelf cocktails, and an Instagram-worthy view.

**NOTE: You can also stay here in their hotel/hostel. They have nice and affordable rooms. *

**To view Selina’s website, click here. *

*To find Selina on Google Maps, click here.

– El Manantial –

This 100-year-old bar is practically an institution in San Miguel de Allende. It could have easily fallen under the <u>Where to Eat in San Miguel</u> section above because it has amazing food.

They have a second location, but I don’t recommend that establishment. The prices can be slightly higher and the ambiance is lacking. That said, the original bar is something worth experiencing in San Miguel.

*NOTE: They’re known for their tuna tostada among other things. On Tuesday, the original establishment has a 2 x 1 deal and the bar fills up. They are delicious.

*NOTE: Don’t let them seat you on the roof, depending on the time of year, you will either be roasting or getting rained on, and the service is lacking up top.

*To find El Manantial on Google Maps, click here.

– La Doña –

Located right in the heart of the center of San Miguel, La Doña is a wonderful place to mingle with all types of people—especially if you catch a good night. They have a rooftop bar where some of the top DJs in San Miguel play all week long. (Last I knew, Wednesday nights was really when locals gather there). The drinks are affordable and they often have promotions such as a beer and a shot of mezcal for $100 MXN.

**To find La Doña on Google Maps, click here. *

For an Older Crowd

– Hank’s –

A New Orleans-themed bar right off El Jardín, Hank’s has become known as a place for an older, retiree crowd to mingle. It’s specifically known for appealing to the expat community. They also make an excellent burger and cajun fries!

*To find Hank’s on Google Maps, click here.

– El Palomar Hotel –

If you want to know a secret, El Palomar Hotel has the best view in all of San Miguel de Allende. This chic rooftop bar/restaurant sets a great mood without the ruckus found in other bars with good views. Their service is unparalleled, and the view is one to enjoy with friends and family for an extended period while having a few cocktails over dinner.

*To find El Palomar Hotel on Google Maps, click here.

For a Younger Crowd

– La Pila –

Over the years, this bar/club has changed names and owners, but it’s never stopped being a staple for San Miguel’s nightlife. La Pila is certainly no exception. The newest incarnation, La Pila, features some of the best music in San Miguel de Allende and it draws a great crowd. If you go, you’ll meet some really amazing people.

*NOTE: Tuesday night is karaoke night.

*To find La Pila on Google Maps, click here.

– La Oficina –

This is a great bar with a wonderful vibe and staff that welcomes people of all types. If you want a trendy bar in San Miguel that's still Mexican then this is the bar for you.

*To find La Oficina on Google Maps, click here.

– Kenny’s Place –

Kenny’s Place is a fun bar in San Miguel de Allende. With a good selection of beers and a decent menu, it’s a fun place to meet up with friends and have a laugh.

*To find Kenny’s Place on Google Maps, click here.

– Amapola Café –

Amapola Café is a nice coffee shop during the day, but at night it occasionally hosts rooftop parties. Though they are largely invite-only, I bet if you go during the day and ask the staff nicely, they’ll inform you when there’s an event and add you to the list. It’s a great way to get into the local scene in a beautiful space.

**To find Amapola Café on Google Maps, click here. *

To see Part One of our Guide to San Miguel and learn the history, climate, and how to get there, click here.

To see Part Three of our Guide to San Miguel and learn where are the best places to live and work, click here.

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