A Perfect Saturday in San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is truly a movie town. Quaint, neo-classical architecture that flanks its meticulously cobbled streets and laneways, along with majestic parks and plazas dotted around a breathtaking pink limestone centrepiece, La Parroquia. Many locals and expats living in this World Heritage pueblo, also feel the same way, with the Centro in particular, an authentically Mexican, ready made filmset. Just ask big time movie producer, Robert Rodriguez.
In 2002, Rodriguez assured San Miguel's place in movie folklore, utilising the town's mystical imagery for the filming of several awe-inspiring scenes for his twisted blockbuster, Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Remember that scene of a brooding Antonio Banderas, fully immersed in his Spanish guitar serenade, leaning on a corner pillar with a jaw-dropping Parroquia dominating the background. Romantic, no?
I'm certain that anyone who has visited SMA's centro district will agree just how mind-blowingly beautiful it really is. But it's not just the Centro that holds SMA on the shoulders of architectural genius; there are also many surrounding colonias skirting the centre that carry more than their fair share of the load. So, come with me to a very accessible place of fantasy and intrigue, and let us spend the perfect weekend together in this wonderful town.
Good morning. Sleep well? Of course you did. Hop to it, no time to waste. Firstly, it's compulsory viewing to visit the Jardin Principal and watch the shifting hues of the Parroquia as the early morning sun does its dance. It's modifying shades of pinks and oranges will leave you breathless. First though, I need a coffee. Luckily for us, my love, there is a cute little coffee window just around the corner called La Ventana. That's the window in Spanish. They do the most amazing Latte Doble. Now, let's stroll back and sit on one of the benches beneath the lush green of the jardin's ficus hedge. Good coffee, yeah? Look at this cathedral's marvellous colour transformation. Surely there is a higher power.
Are you hungry? Excellent. Just two blocks from here is a superb little cafe called Lavanda. They don't open until 8:30am, so we still have a few minutes. You really must try their Eggs Benedict. It will knock your socks clean off! Two poached eggs, crispy bacon, avocado and baby asparagus bathing in the richest, creamiest Hollandaise Sauce, all served on the most delectable brioche toast. Can't imagine the Paleos ever having eaten that back in the day! They have one of the best coffees in town too, an excellent tea selection, and plenty of other dishes to choose from should eggs not take your fancy today. Eat up! You're going to need the protein.
Now that you have an assortment of slow release carbs powering your engine, how about we take a short walk to immerse ourselves in some culture? May I suggest Galeria Nudo on Calle Recreo? There is such an eclectic assortment of contemporary art, including paintings, sculptures, jewellery, lithographs and more; something for everyone really. I'm truly glad that we're arriving at 10am though; it can become quite crowded later in the day. At this time, we should have the place all to ourselves.
It's a nice feeling to be cultured up, isn't it? Hey, are you up for an overload of adorable playfulness?! Let's take the bus down Canal towards Central de Autobuses for some fun and frivolity with dozens of bundles of rescue dogs. It's not far, just on Los Pinos in Lindavista, and the bus only costs five pesos! Once again, our timing is perfect, as Sociedad Protectora de Animales will encourage us to provide the animals with some much needed playtime and exercise. It's after 11am, so we should be good to go. We have to visit today though, they're not open on Sundays.
That was so much fun! You've surely got to be hungry again, yeah? I'm famished! I know a magic little place situated in the rough and tumble Colonia of San Rafael. Don't worry, the locals are super friendly, plus it's a great little area to visit and has such a fun, local vibe. It's so Mexican! The beauty of this little excursion is that the restaurant we're going to is somewhat of an oasis. Grille Torres is relatively new to SMA and not too many people seem to know of its existence. It's their loss though, they don't know what they're missing. Mauro, the owner and chef, is such a nice guy and is most certainly passionate about his work. He speaks excellent English too, so there's no need to worry about the awkward hilarity that couples with language barriers. He does all his cooking out front, so we can sit and watch him as he salsas in unison with his grill. His hospitable family will treat us like house guests too. Everything on the menu is mouth-watering, but my favourites are the Shrimp Po' Boy and the Shrimp and Octopus Stuffed Avocado. Even though we're inland, the seafood is still less than 24 hours out of the ocean, so you know it's fresh. We may even strike it lucky and have his industrious little boy organise our bill for us. A budding entrepreneur that one.
Phew! I need a walk. I'm stuffed! Why don't we check out that market across the road? It's an excellent local source of clothing and fresh food, and you'll find items slightly cheaper there than in Centro. After that, we can stroll up calles San Rafael and San Antonio Abad. There are some impeccable streets in that area, with uniquely coloured houses and charming cobblestoned streets. From there, on our way back to Centro, there is an entire section of unique street art in colonia Guadalupe. Are we able to deviate slightly after that? I have to show you Callejon del Pueblito. It may just be the most picturesque street in SMA.
Are you tired? I am. Let's hail a taxi and head to the hot springs. It's not too far and only about an 80 peso ride. That's cheap! Even less if you feel like negotiating. Once there, we can rest our weary bones, and if you feel like it, we can partake in an alcoholic beverage or two. Personally, I think we should splurge a little; after all, we're only here for the weekend. Let's have the wait staff bring our drinks to us while we melt away in the soothing, natural hot water. Such great service!
I don't particularly feel like drinking too much tonight, but there is a swinging little place back in Centro on Hidalgo, where we can kick off our evening's festivities. It's called Hank's. We need to be quick though; happy hour begins at five, and if we're too late, all the tables will be gone. It's a shame that we won't be here on Tuesday because that's Taco Tuesday. The locals and expats alike love it! Cheap drinks and even cheaper tacos and burritos. How can you go wrong? It's a big weekly social occasion here. Well, maybe next time. By the way, the margaritas are 2 for 1, all day, every day.
Mmmm. Those margaritas made me hungry again. Shall we dine? There's a restaurant that many locals recommend that's only a fifteen minute stroll away. We're sure to have quite the appetite once we arrive. It's located in a different part of SMA than we've visited, so we can explore the area on the way if you like. It's your weekend, darling. The place is called Hecho en Mexico, and it's owned and operated by a very friendly guy named Eric. He's from Alabama, so you know that there's bound to be hints of that ol' southern hospitality. The dining area and bar are so nurturing and relaxing. Hanging on the walls is some of the finest and most inspiring local art, while the mood lighting creates such a soothing ambience. I think I'll get the steak. Hecho en Mexico is famous for their twist on the traditional steak, so let's give it a go. If steak's not your bag, and if you're not yet sick of seafood, may I recommend the bacon wrapped shrimp with cream cheese? We can swap halfway through if you like. No? Okay, then I guess the shrimp is all yours.
My favourite thing to do when travelling is to bookend a perfect day; and let's face it, today was absolutely perfect. We started the day viewing the magical Parroquia, we should finish the day viewing the magical Parroquia. Let's have a nightcap. I know just the place. The bar is called Cielo and for me, it has the best view in town. The rooftop terrace will take great pleasure in allowing us to witness the Parroquia and Jardin Principal from a completely different perspective and light. Notice the different shade of pink in this light compared to this morning?
This is such a magical town.
*If you enjoyed your Saturday in San Miguel de Allende, keep a lookout for Sunday. Rolling around quicker than you think.