San Miguel De Allende & Guanajuato
We decided to visit two towns in the Northern Central Highlands, San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato, two very different colonial towns. They are best reached by bus from Mexico City as the nearest airports are Internacional de Bajio, near to Guanajuato, and Querataro. We took the ETN luxury bus from Terminal Norte to San Miguel and then on to Guanajuato and they were both very comfortable journies. The bus stations were well appointed and felt very safe. The most complicated thing is buying the tickets, this is not possible on-line unless you have a Mexican Credit Card. We bought ours from the ETN desk at the Hotel Benidorm in Roma, very simple to do and there are other offices around Mexico City.
San Miguel de Allende, is often described as almost “Disneyland” like, it is beautiful, nothing out of place and has attracted many Americans who live there permanently or part of the year. The town is lovely, there are excellent restaurants, shops and bars and it is perfect, if hilly, for strolling around.
Guanajuato, a world heritage site, is very different, a lively student town with mariachi musicians everywhere and surrounded by hills with coloured houses and an underground road system, it is fascinating and I really enjoyed the time we spent there.
San Miguel de Allende
Check out the usual booking sites such as www.booking.com or www.hotels.com we stayed at the Hacienda el Santuario, www.haciendaelsantuario.com which was a gem of a hotel, lovely rooms, fabulous staff and a great location ten minutes from the main square.
Check out the usual booking sites such as www.booking.com or www.hotels.com I can’t recommend where we stayed, it was at a very busy time and hotels were limited. Look for hotels close to the Jardin de la Union.
San Miguel de Allende
Cumpanio, Correo 29, was recommended by a lovely American lady we met on our first afternoon and we had an excellent lunch there and also dinner on our last night. It does not open late for dinner so worth checking on times. Food and service were good on both occasions.
El Mantial, Barranca 78, is a steep climb from the centre but well worth it as you will realise as soon as you enter through the saloon type doors. Very popular for drinks and food it had a great atmosphere and excellent food.
Local 67, Jesus 8, is run by Alfonso an excellent host who is incredibly enthusiastic about his food and drink selection. We only popped in for drinks but loved the selection and his hospitality and there are excellent reports about the food.
Luna de Queso, Jesus 2, is a deli and gourmet shop which also does excellent sandwiches and salads, perfect at lunchtime with a glass or two of their excellent wines.
Mezcaleria, Correo 47, is a cool bar to try mezcal, cocktails, beers or wine, the food also gets good reports, sadly we didn’t get a chance to try as we only popped in after dinner.
MamaMia, Umara 8, is the only bar in the “Bar Street” that we tried, it is a vast place with a restaurant, a roof top terrace and other bars but we always sat at the small bar just after the entrance. The friendly bar man was great as were the drinks and it was open for a late night refreshment.
Los Campos, 4A de la Alameda, off Plaza Baratillo, was a real gem, we booked a table during the day which was wise as it was full in the evening. The service and food were excellent and the price s were amazingly reasonable for the quality.
Casa Valadez, Jardines de Union 3, is a Guanajuato institution and while we had already highlighted this as a must a further recommendation from someone we met in San Miguel made it a definite must. We were unable to book as it was Independence Weekend but managed to get a table without too long a wait. The service was to a very high level as was the food, the wine prices were on the high side but well worth it for the total experience.
La Santurrona, Callejon del Potrero 2, we were exploring this interesting area towards the Don Quixote Museum when we spotted this corner bar & restaurant, initially just intending to have a beer we were taken by the amazing looking burgers being served and decided on lunch as well. A really good find, excellent food and drink and lovely service.
Dada, Calle del Campanero 6, this was also on our explore of the area above, it was early afternoon but the bar looked fun and there is another venue in the same building which looked interesting.
La Inundacion de 1905, Plaza de San Fernando, is in a great area for wandering, they have two bars specialising in beers but also do good food. This is a lovely square for sitting out and the market is nearby they also have a bar near the Jardines de Union.
Foro Indunacion, behind the Teatro Juarez is worth a visit, good staff and a cool place for a drink.
La Carreta, Avenida Benito Juarez 96, spit roast chicken is the main thing and very good it was, that and a beer at a table shared with the locals, lunch sorted.
There are a number of restaurants in the Jardines de Union, and the outside tables are very popular with queues at night we used two Van Gogh at No 4, does not get great reports about food but for a drink is very good, we were given a complimentary plate of cheese one night. We also used Luna next door at No 6 during the day for a Michelada, they give you complimentary local snacks with your drink.
Tequila is probably what springs to mind when you think of Mexico and there is certainly a lot drunk with meals and in bars. A relation of Tequila is Mezcal as both come from the Agave plant although are produced in different ways and from different areas of the country. Mezcal has a smoky flavour and is richer and sweeter than Tequila. To confuse matter a third drink is also produced from Agave called Pulque, it is a creamy, yeast type drink, low in alcohol content but almost died out when beer became popular. There has been a revival and flavoured pulque, called curado is becoming “trendy” and the flavoured varieties are very enjoyable.
Beer is very popular, many of the main brands like Corona, Sol, Modelo and Pacifico are owned by the big breweries but they are still worth trying and craft beer is becoming very popular.
Frequently drunk are Micheladas, beer with lime, ice, spice and clamato juice or similar. Made with the right proportion of beer to juice it is actually a really enjoyable drink.
Wine in Mexico is gaining popularity and there are of course imported wines readily available, prices seem to vary hugely. Mexico has also become more a producer of wine in recent years, we tried both white and red and in general I liked the whites we tried the reds I found less successful.
San Miguel de Allende
Wandering around the town is fun but try and visit the Bellas Artes, not mentioned much the building is lovely and there are some good exhibitions. There is a small tour bus which is well worth doing as it climbs up to the miradoura for fantastic views of the town below, you can get off there and walk down to El Mantial, a steep downhill climb but worth it.
The Teatro Juarez is a must to visit, the outside of the theatre is impressive but the interior is very worth seeing, there is a small entrance fee.
Funicular, behind the Teatro Juarez is another must as the views of the town below from the top are wonderful. We went mid morning and walked straight onto the car, by the afternoon the queues were enormous.
One popular thing to do is a night time explore of the town with a mariachi band, there are people trying to sign you up all the time, these seem to involve lots of people and lots of hills, we just watched them from a convenient bar.