Guide to San Miguel de Allende - Part Two

    Where to stay, where to eat, what to do

    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 to eat?” Well, the good news is that I’m a foodie and I have some advice! 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.

    For Appetizers, Lunch, and Dinner

    – Kenten’s –

    Chef Kenten Marin, who has studied under some of the best chefs in Europe (moonlighting in Michelin Star restaurants in cities like San Sebastian, Spain; Lima, Peru; and Houston, Texas), has established a name for himself cooking innovative, contemporary takes on American southern cuisine classics. This restaurant has quickly become one of the top locations for locals in San Miguel.

    *NOTE: Try the fried chicken with the white barbecue sauce. You won’t regret it.

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

    **To see Kenten’s website, click here. *

    – 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. For example, their tuna tacos are possibly the best thing to eat in San Miguel. Made with tuna tartare in a fried wonton wrapper, they are a staple in my life and worth savoring time and time again.

    **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.

    – La Muy Muy –

    Continuing our theme of modern, trendy seafood classics, La Muy Muy is another of my favorite locations in San Miguel de Allende. It’s not the cheapest place, but the prices are not out-of-this-world.

    This modern beach-style bistro features some amazing ceviche plates, but my favorites are the popcorn shrimp, the China Latina tostada (which is to die for—marinated tuna sashimi on grilled watermelon to give it a hint of sweetness, but not too fruity), and the marlin burrito is a classic.

    *NOTE: Ask them for their trio of housemade salsas, not the basket of commercial salsas that they bring to the table.

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

    – La Chopería –

    La Chope for short, this restaurant features American bar food classics like 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 a 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. *

    – The Restaurant –

    This was one of my favorite restaurants on Uber Eats. Though it features a variety of cuisines from all around the world, it has undoubtedly the best sushi (realistically, the only good sushi) in San Miguel de Allende. They have since come off Uber Eats, and during the pandemic, I’m not sure what their situation is so you might want to call first. We’ll put the information below.

    **NOTE: The unagi and hamachi rolls are killer. Easily the best rolls in San Miguel de Allende. *

    **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 tiny bit expensive, it’s still worth it). They pride themselves on using top-shelf ingredients in their food, while 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.

    – 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.

    – Muelle 13 –

    Don’t think for a second that I was disregarding Muelle 13 by putting them at the end of this part of the food section. Simply put, Muelle 13 doesn’t need our recommendation. Perhaps the freshest seafood diner in San Miguel, Muelle 13 excels for the quality—and quantity!—of their dishes.

    Also 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.

    For Breakfast

    – Cumpanio –

    In my opinion, the best breakfast 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. Personally, they are 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. *

    – El Pato Barbacoa y Mixiotes –

    Barbacoa tacos are a 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 goat 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 goat, 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. *

    *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 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 Where to Eat in San Miguel 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

    – Gamma –

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

    *NOTE: If I recall, Wednesday is karaoke night.

    *To find Gamma on Google Maps, click here.

    – El Tupinamba –

    Commonly shortened to “Tupi”, El Tupinamba has a really cool location that almost seems like a multi-room treehouse. This is another great location to catch top-tier DJs while hanging out with a younger crowd.

    *To find El Tupinamba 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. *

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    Meet the writer

    Raf Bracho

    For several years, Rafael has been crafting articles to help expats and nomads in their journey abroad. He takes great pride in meticulously researching the ins-and-outs of bureaucratic processes in different countries around the world. A digital nomad for almost a decade, Rafael also enjoys exploring cultural phenomena in his articles to better help expats and nomads assimilate. If you have any questions or issues with the content of an article, he’s the one to contact for further information.