12 Tips From JourneyWomen
Curated by Evelyn Hannon, Founder, JourneyWoman
San Miguel de Allende is a city located in the far eastern part of the state of Guanajuato in central Mexico. It’s 170 miles from Mexico City and 60 miles from the state capital of Guanajuato. Older adults flock here to escape the cold winter months at home and it is a year-round home for many ex-pat retirees from Canada, USA and parts of Europe. San Miguel boasts a flourishing artist colony. it hosts an annual writers conference, and those who wish can enjoy the many lectures, walking tours and concerts scheduled throughout each week.
Here are some of the tips submitted by JourneyWomen who have spent extended periods of time in San Miguel. If you have tips of your own please send them to us in an email addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Put the words, San Miguel, in the subject line. Thank you, everybody!
✓ La Palapa on Nemesio Diez is known to be one of the best fish tacos places in San Miguel de Allende. This place is only opened from noon to 4 and from the outside looks as though it is part of a Garden Center next door. If you arrive before noon, the heavy metal gate will be padlocked and you may wonder if it is a good place to eat. It is absolutely worth stopping by for tacos, be it fish, chicken or beef. Each is served with a little salad and costs about 35 – 45 pesos, depending on the type you order. I eat here many times during each trip to San Miguel.
✓ One of my favourite restaurants in San Miguel de Allende is called El Rinconita. This family run restaurant is located in Colonia San Antonio on Calle Refugio. In fact, the restaurant is on the main floor and the family lives upstairs. The food is delicious, freshly prepared and the service is friendly, welcoming and very affordable. There are not many tables in the restaurant so making a reservation is advisable. The telephone number is 415-154-4809.
✓ The name of the restaurant I want to tell other members about is Cumpano no IL, their address is Correo, 29, Colonia Centro. This place is similar to a French Bistro. Me and my girlfriend each ordered one different appetizer plate and shared both of them. Our choices were duck tacos which were delicious and an eggplant dish that also was fabulous. Each dish was about $10 and the portions were more than ample. There is also a full menu and one can order hamburgers, tuna steak, salmon, ribs, etc. These main plates are in the $20 range. We returned there often for a tasty and economical shared lunch.
✓ Since I’m often doing soft adventures (hiking, biking, kayaking) on most of my trips, I am not often a shopper. However, I started to think about some of the most useful and memorable items I’ve purchased over the years and it’s an interesting compendium. Under most useful would have to be the sandals that we women purchase in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. They cost about $27US, they have tire-tread soles made for walking on cobblestones and they hold your heel and toes firmly in place. I wear them in every hot country I visit. Keep your eyes open for them.
✓ I grew up in San Miguel and I go back often. Torta Munda at Calle Umaran 29 in San Miguel de Allende is a jewel for visitors. It’s a small place with seven tables run by a warm and charming couple Maria and Luis Chavez. Pick up a torta (sandwich with a variety of fillings made on the grill in front of you) to eat there or to take with you on your walk around town. Fresh drinks like tamarind are made daily. There’s little chance of you getting sick from their food or drinks – lettuce and veggies are sanitized and only bottled water is used. Here’s a chance to enjoy Mexican food without worries!
✓ My number one safety tip for women walking the uneven cobblestone streets and often hazardous sidewalks in San Miguel is Nike Air men’s basketball shoes. They have superb shock absorption so you do not even feel the cobblestones plus they offer excellent ankle support for stability. And, believe it or not, they are also stylish! I bought two pairs my first snowbird winter and they are still going strong.
✓ Finding good restaurants in San Miguel is not difficult and prices will vary. For example, On Monday evening, Le Monet offers a current film and a simple three-course dinner and a glass of wine for about 180 paseo per person (ie approximately $15 or $16 Canadian). Hank’s New Orleans Cafe and Oyster Bar has a Thursday night special when two people order a main meal they also can get a free bottle of wine. The cost is about $60.00 a couple. Hecho en Mexico is a favorite amongst tourist and the food is consistently good. A main plate costs between $12- $15.00. My favorite restaurant is Il Cumpano that houses a wonderful bakery and charming restaurant. Lunch could cost about $20.00 CDN per person.
✓ Use non-stop buses in Mexico. The Mexican bus system is an excellent way to get around the country. Buses are safe, secure, clean, comfortable, inexpensive, run on time, offer water and snacks upon boarding, and some routes even offer free Wifi. I’ve travelled the following routes: Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City and Puebla, Puebla and Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende and Leon (Mexico’s shoe capital) and various destination throughout the State of Chiapas all the way to the Mexico/Guatemala border. I travel during daylight hours and select routes that are direct and non-stop. Check out: www.primeraplus.com.mx/en/web/primerapluspublico/home
✓ La Biblioteca de San Miguel (San Miguel’s library) was started in the private home of a Canadian Expat, Helen Wale. It later grew into the official space it occupies now on Insurgentes #25, Centro. Besides their collection of English and Spanish books it has become a meeting place for concerts and city tours. You can learn more at: bibliotecasma.com
✓ Check out Fabrica La Aurora located in a textile mill (circa 1902 to 1991). It has since become an art-lover’s paradise in northern San Miguel. Just a short walk north from the central El Jardin this diverse complex allows you to browse furniture, jewelry and contemporary art. Some days you can also observe artists at work. For more information click here.
✓ San Miguel is one of my favourite places to spend the winter months. At times I have had to seek medical help and discovered that the care is excellent. The doctor I have seen over the years is wonderful. Dr Ricardo Gordillo Morath speaks English and German. If necessary he even makes house calls. His clinic is located at Hidalgo #28 and the telephone number is 415-154-9976.
On Mexican Time – A new life in San Miguel
An American writer and his wife find a new home-and a new lease on life-in the charming sixteenth-century hill town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. When Los Angeles novelist Tony Cohan and his artist wife, Masako, visited central Mexico one winter they fell under the spell of a place where the pace of life is leisurely, the cobblestone streets and sun-splashed plazas are enchanting, and the sights and sounds of daily fiestas fill the air. Awakened to needs they didn’t know they had, they returned to California, sold their house and cast off for a new life in San Miguel de Allende. On Mexican Time is Cohan’s evocatively written memoir of how he and his wife absorb the town’s sensual ambiance, eventually find and refurbish a crumbling 250-year-old house, and become entwined in the endless drama of Mexican life. Brimming with mystery, joy, and hilarity, On Mexican Time is a stirring, seductive celebration of another way of life-a tale of Americans who, finding a home in Mexico, find themselves anew.