SMA Second Best Food City in Mexico?


enchiladas at El Tucan

Food Republic declares San Miguel de Allende the second best food city in Mexico, and then goes on to list their picks for best “high and low” eats. I’m not sure I agree that SMA trumps Oaxaca (Mercado 20 de Noviembre anyone?), but I was excited to read this article because I adore eating in San Miguel, and the town is certainly one of the best in Mexico, foodwise.

While I enjoyed Johnson’s writing, I thought the article was a bit skewed toward high-end food, which may explain why I have never eaten at any of these restaurants besides Tortitlan.

And Tortitlan? Really? The sandwich shop is perfectly decent, but our highly scientific survey of tortas gives Tortitlan the low score of 7, and the ambiance has a hint of gringo-style fast food. Tortitlan tortas are not bad, but if you find yourself in San Miguel and craving a crispy bit of milanesa, lush with avocado and cradled by crusty bolillo, I highly recommend El Tucan (across the street from the Bellas Artes and a couple of blocks north) or Torta Mundo (Umaran Street).

As for high-end restaurants…My number one pick for fancier San Miguel dining is currently Mare Nostrum (Umaran 56), which was not mentioned in the article. Tender homemade pastas, delicate sauces, charming outdoor seating in a ferny patio, unpretentious yet swift service, and really amazing deals on wine and food. I feel a little weird choosing an Italian place as my favorite dinner spot, but, then again, San Miguel’s international aspect has long been part of the town’s appeal.

My ignorance of the author’s swankier recommendations doesn’t make me think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, it just makes me think:

a) San Miguel obviously has a lot to offer food-wise. (and otherwise)

b) I need a bigger budget.




4 Responses to “SMA Second Best Food City in Mexico?”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Rich says:

    Mmmm . . . El Tucan . . .

  2. -el codo- says:

    Never in my long life would I stick my neck out and give an ordinal to Mexican cities and towns for quality of food. This is as sensitive as telling your sons, daughters, nieces and nephews you have “favorites”. A few favorites; in order. A list.

    Personally the best food I have ever enjoyed was prepared in a traditional cocinera or cocinero, the old-fashioned way, from scratch, by hand, from the garden or orchard. When I saw Brenda, Maria, Flacca, and Perla spend an aggregate two dozen hours preparing mole for Dia de Los Reyes, I knew then no restaurant in Mexico would stand a candle’s chance in a F5 hurricane of matching the delight of such a food.

    La planta segunda in Mazatlan had a comedor with the best chicken soup I have ever tasted. Then there’s restaurant Tulúc in San Cristobal de Las Casas – offering one of the best value “upscale” comidas in the country. Or El Taco de Huitzilopochtli in Ensenada? Authentic Aztec fare at Mexican prices. Or the roadside restaurant near San Marcos Guerrero? That regionally famous carnitas place in Todos Santos? Or the roadside restaurant just north of Mazatlan where they use rancho gallenas and honest to god mesquite firewood. The owner sneers at the thought of Bachoco chicken and briquettes.

    Next, will they be rating “playas” or stretches of scenic roadway?

    The Very Idea!

  3. Don Cuevas says:

    We ate at Mare Nostrum a few years ago, and although the chef was charming, the food was mostly disappointing. But maybe we should give it another try.

    The best food we’ve had in SMA has been a salad and a pizza at La Grotta. Tortitlán was o.k . for convenience and speed.

    A good friend just spent a week or too in SMA and she reports Hansens is among her current favorites. Also a small Chiapanecan restaurant, of all things. Another friend really likes Fenicia.

    I have a general dislike for high end restaurants.

    We don’t get to SMA very often. Last time was in October, 2009, to renew our U.S. passports.

    Don Cuevas

    • churpa says:

      I like La Grotta. They have good pizza an good salads, both rarities in Mexico. I also ate at an excellent hole-in-the-wall Argentinean place in SMA, and I wish I could remember the name of it. Reasonable prices for excellent meat. I would def. check out Mare Nostrum again if you get the chance–maybe you were there on an off night.

      High-end restaurants can be fun occasionally, but in Mexico I tend to have better luck with taco stands and comedors. I find that mid-range restaurants in Mexico tend to be mediocre more often than not and it’s annoying to pay 100 pesos for something OK when the torta shops and fondas serve such reliably good food for a quarter of that.