San Miguel de Allende is a colonial gem in the high desert of Mexico. If you were to twirl Mexico on your finger, the tip would be touching San Miguel. Historically preserved since 1926, the town is famous for its artists, who began coming here when an American-accredicted fine arts school, the Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes, opened in 1938, and by 1948 it attracted so many former WWII soldiers on the GI Bill that Life Magazine ran a three-page spread on the place, “GI Paradise: Veterans go to Mexico to study art, live cheaply and have a good time.”
The magazine reported that apartments were $10 a month, maids $8, and rum, sixty-five cents a quart. Prices have gone up, but the artistic atmosphere of San Miguel de Allende remains. The town has also attracted a number of creative retirees, who realize that with its excellent gringo infrastructure, all of San Miguel amounts to assisted living, with better food. Almost no one in town tires of sitting in the central jardin and staring up at the towering pink Parroquia church.
The town is feast for the eyes, the spirit, and the soul. On any day there’s an art opening, a lecture, a film, a gathering of interesting people, a new cactus blooming in the arboretum.
To get here you can either fly to Leon, Mexico, and take a shuttle, www.viajessanmiguel.com, or you can go to Mexico City and take a bus from the airport to Queretaro, and then a taxi or bus from there.
Some of my favorite things to do in town:
- Visit the artisan market, just up the street from Casita Laurita on Calle Loreto
- Take a cooking class and market tour with Paco Cardenas–ask at the Petit Four baker on Mesones.
- Visit the Biblioteca on Insurgentes and Reloj
- Go to the Charco arboretum by taxi and take a hike through the canyon, then walk back downhill through town
- Go to Zumba dance classes in the park at 8:30 on Saturday mornings
- Visit the Sanctuario Atotonilco outside of town, and then go to the Galeria Atotonilco, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Walk around Landetta park
- Sit in the jardin
- Take a day trip to Guanajuato
- Take a day trip to Mineral de Pozos
Laurita’s Favorite Places to Eat in San Miguel
- The taco stands outside the Biblioteca or on Mesones at night.
- Cafe Rama
- Cafe Muro for breakfast and lunch on Calle Loreto
- El Correo at 23 Correo for tortilla soup
- Hecho en Mexico for a nice, big salad that won’t make you ill, near the Instituto. Ancho de San Antonio #8.
- The Restaurant, Sollano 16. Elegant, expensive, great also for appetizers at the bar or lunch.
- The Factory restaurant and D’Vino wine bar in the Aurora design center.
- Tacos Don Felix, in the Independencia. Take a cab.
- Casa de Aves, Restaurante Las Terrazas, lovely place outside of town for weekend brunch. Transportation free, call 415-155-9610
- Posada Corazon, beautiful garden breakfast, Aldama 9, reservations 152-0182
- For breakfast and lunch, Café Etc., on #37 Reloj, near the library; also movie nights.
- WineStyles, San Francisco #44. Taste Mexican wines and other Latin American favorites.
- Ole Ole, on my street, for the best fajitas in town (get the arrachera) and great bullfighting lore. Turn right on Loreto and walk down the street to #66.
- Bistro Los Senderos, pricey, but a lovely place out in the country with an organic garden right by the restaurant. Take a cab. Reservations only (415) 155 9594.
- La Landetta, run by Italian Andrea, lovely country estate, long waits, dicey service, expensive, but good authentic Italian food. Take a cab.
- Market Bistro, great place for steak frites and French bistro food, Hernando Macias #95.
- I don’t recommend touristy spots: Bugambilia, Tio Lucas, La Capella (expensive), Mamma Mias
- Berlin, great bar atmosphere, wonderful hamburger, other German specialties you may like if you are German, otherwise maybe not. Umaron 19.
- Taco Don Felix –Best Mexican- 15th Fray Juan de San Miguel St., Col. San Rafael, tel: 152-5719
- La Posadita at 13 Cuna de Allende (right off the jardin) for Mexican food
- Longhorn Smokehouse BBBQ :Great BBQ, full bar. – Salida de Celaya #6
- El Tomato, Mesones #62, Tel. 151-6057, All natural food restaurant, mostly vegetarian dishes and sandwiches, salads fruits and vegetable juices.