In addition to fine dining options, here are some wonderful casual Mexican restaurants and a growing number of ethnic neighborhood spots to try while in town. My top recommendations include:
Polp S.M.A. Gastrobar: Polp means octopus in Catalan. The Catalan reference is a nod to the time that, San Miguel born, chef and co-owner Patricio Fuentes Alvarez spent in Barcelona, working at the Michelin-starred Restaurante Hofmann. Patricio and his partner, Jose Pablo Diez, have created a small but great menu of Spanish-style tapas along with wines and cocktails. I enjoyed the typical Spanish omelette and the great scallops served on a perfect cauliflower cream. My friend really enjoyed the mushroom risotto. I just went back and enjoyed it for the second time. It is a small spot at Relox #3 just north of the Jardin.
After reading about the recently expanded Inside Cafe at Insurgentes #66, I had to try it. I went for lunch and really enjoyed the experience. The delightful owners are Teu Campbell from New Zealand and David Barajas from San Miguel. They opened it just as a coffee shop, but have expanded to a rooftop restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating. They feature a menu of breakfast and lunch items including sandwiches and salads. I thought the grilled cheese sandwich was one of the best I have had anywhere! I had to go back and have it again. It was so good. They recently added a second upstairs terrace for more seating.
Mercado del Carmen: Zacateros #45. The newest food hall in San Miguel has a very attractive contemporary design. It features Mexican and international cuisine with a number of vendors selling beer, cocktails and more. I recently enjoyed a delicious salad and tacos on a recent trip. There has been some turnover in some of the restaurants.
Another fun spot now in Mercado Del Carmen is Chikitana. I enjoyed lunch with new friends who are buying a house in San Miguel. They feature a menu of Latin and Asian cuisine. I enjoyed the coconut fried rice with shrimp and chicken, plus a tostado with grilled pineapple, plantains and a tamarind salsa. Chef/owner Aleysha Serrato Garfias, is from Mexico, but lived in Berkeley, CA for several years. Here she loved trying Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants with her friends. When she opened the new restaurant in San Miguel, she wanted to focus on the Asian cuisine she loved with Mexican flavors. It was formerly located at Hernandez Macias #68 in the back of a gallery space, but has recently moved.
I heard that a new spot, Mesa Marrakesh recently opened there featuring Morroccan cuisine. I cant wait to try it.
The recently opened TURK, is a new casual spot for Mediterranean street food at Salida a Celaya 16. I enjoyed dinner with a local friend. The owner Ali Sarraf, of Iranian and Mexican descent, grew up in Los Angeles. I was able to share some great dishes including a beet salad, tabouleh, humus and baba ganoush. They are in the process of expanding their menu to add more entrees.
At Salida de Celaya #6 in the rear courtyard is the recently opened Mexicana, featuring breakfast and lunch specialties from Tuesday through Sunday. I had a great omelette on the terrace on my first visit. On my second I had a latte and a perfect flan! It is a small space with an attractive design and delightful staff.
In the same building is Bananas a casual diner-style restaurant featuring salads, soups, asta, pizza, tacos, burgers and sandwiches. I went for the first time for lunch. I had a perfect salad with grilled shrimp and tasty piece of key lime pie! The service was excellent and the atmosphere fun.
A little further south is another new spot for me, Mario’s Mariscos at Salida de Celaya #81. This casual seafood restaurant has been opened almost six years in San Miguel, with four at the current location. The owner Mario Cabrales spent a lot of his life in Mazatlan before moving to San Miguel. He is delightful and adds to the experience as does his mother Josefina who hangs out at the restaurant and can be seen watching Mexican telenovelas! The menu consists of many items including seafood tacos, oysters, ceviche, octopus, lobster tails, shrimp and scallops. I really enjoyed my grilled scallop entree which came with a salad, coconut rice and scallops in a white wine sauce. I can’t wait to go back as I really enjoyed the colorful atmosphere and the food!
Across the street is one of my favorite new spots, Fit & Pig. It was opened in late 2020 by a young Mexican couple who moved back after working in several resort hotels in the US. I had a laugh when she told me they were Lucia y Ricardo or Lucy and Ricky!! They feature a very fresh menu of salads and baguette sandwiches. I had a wonderful salad on my first visit. On my second, I split a tasty beet salad and loved the grilled cheese sandwich with a perfect roasted tomato soup! Salida a Celaya #64.
Recently, I was introduced to Francesco’s Restaurante Italiano y Pizzeria. This is casual Italian restaurant at Zacateros #85. I went with local friends on a busy Saturday evening in town. I loved the warm atmosphere and thought the food was very good. I enjoyed the pasta with seafood or linguini al frutti di mare with clams, mussels, shrimp, and calamari in a tasty marinara sauce. They have an extensive menu of salads, starters, pastas, pizza, soups along with seafood and chicken entrees.
Also fun for Italian food is the casual Denver’s Los Olivos Restaurante at 20 de Enero Sur 44 in Col. San Antonio. Their menu features appetizers like bruschetta plus pasta, salads and mains like chicken parmesan. I enjoyed my salmon and pasta entree along with red wine.They have indoor dining along with outdoor dining in their garden in the back. I went with local friends who introduced me to Denver who worked for several restaurants in the Chicago area prior to moving to San Miguel.
A new spot in town is Sabroso Taqueria at Zacateros #41. This is a fun, casual and colorful spot that features a large number of tacos made with different preparations. I enjoyed the chicken tacos with cheese. It came with a number of salsas you can add. They also feature a number of sides as well. On nice days, I recommend eating upstairs in the Raffaele rooftop terrace and bar. Next door they also have Chicago’s Stuffed Pizza for those craving this Chicago specialty.
Other favorites include:
Lavanda Cafe: Located at Hernandez Macias 87 at the corner of Umaran, this is great spot for breakfast and lunch with a large number of egg dishes from omelets, eggs benedict and huevos rancheros. I also love the lavender latte! There is a lovely small patio in the rear and upstairs seating on the roof. Thanks to a local friend at Recreo for the introduction. I have to go every time I am back in town. I now recommend going during the week as the waits to get in on weekends can be very long.
Tacos Don Felix, Juan de San Miguel #15, Col. San Rafael, 152 5719: This local’s favorite started as a food cart on Ave. Independencia. Today it is a very attractive restaurant with outdoor spaces and great food. They still have tacos but have wonderful beef and fish entrees as well.
A fun, casual spot is El Manantial at Barranca 78. El Manantial was founded in 1920 as a men’s bar or cantina. The restaurant has great ceviches, tostados and fish tacos. This is now high on my list of small casual spaces in town. The decor is traditional with a contemporary flair. There are amazing new black and white murals that were completed in the last two years. I would call or stop by for a reservation.
El Manatial had been called La Sirena Gorda. After a management split, La Sirena Gorda relocated to Hernandez Macias 85 just down from the Jardin. It is substantially larger and has a similar menu of ceviches, tostados and fish tacos. It has a lovely outdoor terrace plus several colorful indoor dining rooms. I enjoyed dinner with a longtime friend while listening to great music. Reservations are accepted. 152 5019.
Juan’s Cafe Etc: Located at Relox #37, this is a very eclectic cafe and restaurant. It is a great spot for breakfast or lunch on the small patio in the back.
Rincon de Don Thomas Portal de Guadalupe No 2: A good place to grab a quick lunch with friends. It is always a good place for traditional Mexican specialties.
In the Colonia San Antonio neighborhood, my newest find is El Buen Cafe. I was glad to have tried their new location in Col. San Antonio. At San Jorge 26, this is a great spot for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Attending a ceramics class a block away, I enjoyed eating there four times for lunch. Kris Rudolph is a very good chef and offers cooking classes next door. She also does food tours in Europe.
El Rinconcito: This is a fun restaurant in a home in Colonia San Antonio at Refugio Norte 7. There is both indoor and outdoor seating and a great traditional Mexican menu with reasonable prices. I went back again and enjoyed their trout entree, one of their specialties, and a piece of key lime pie.
Not far is El Café Tal at Orizaba 36. This is a fun spot for coffee or for breakfast or lunch. So glad that a local friend suggested it! They also have a lovely terrace in the rear.
Ten Ten Pie al Carbon: This is now the only location for Ten Ten Pie, featuring grilled items, fish, chicken, beef, hamburgers and salads. I love the casualness and the outdoor/open air seating. For lighter fare, I like the fresh spinach salad with pears, goat cheese and freshly grilled chicken. It is located at Sterling Dickinson #5, Col. San Antonio
La Frontera, formerly at 28 Sterling Dickinson is now at Calle Refugio Sur #28. This is a casual spot frequented by gringos. They have a good choice of salads, sandwiches and entrees. They have both interior and outdoor dining. I went to neighborhood friends and we all thought the food and atmosphere on the outdoor patio were great. I loved my mahi mahi and shrimp tacos!!
Just to the south is a fun new find, Cafe Rincon Guanajuato at Sterling Dickinson #31. It is a breakfast and lunch spot with a loverly outdoor terrance and garden. I enjoyed a tasty omelette, carrot bread and a latte for brunch. The back portion becomes Benditto Bocatto for Italian specialties in the evening.
The former Ba-Bite, at Salida a Celaya #51, has been transformed into Mikka, for sushi bowls, rolls plus a teriyaki and a ramen bar. I enjoyed visiting with Joseph, the owner who also has Mikka restaurants in Mexico City and in Guadalajara. He has a passion for this food and features bowls made with tuna, salmon, teriyaki, tofu and shrimp. You can order them spicy or not. His ramen bar will be open shortly. It is a fun, casual spot with outdoor seating, that is a great option when on a weekend or holiday that the restaurants in Centro are jammed with tourists. I enjoyed the tuna bowl made with zucchini noodles and the chicken teriyaki bowl with rice.
Nearby across the street is Café del Sol at Salida de Celaya #34. I had walked by several times on my recent trip and decided to try it. I thought it was a new spot, but turns out it has been there for 16 years, just as long as I have had a home here. It is a casual cafe for breakfast and lunch. I was there around noon, so ordered off the breakfast menu which had a number of omelettes, pancakes, egg and breakfast dishes along with coffee drinks. They have a lunch menu with Mexican specialties. I had a very good omelette, latte and fruit plate. They have inside seating as well as two small patio areas. I enjoyed the service and the experience. It is another good spot to try when Centro is busy on weekends.
Back in Centro is La Alborada for pazole, which is behind La Ventana, the coffee shop and window at Sollano 11. Opening at 1pm, it is perfect for lunch on the small patio with colorful oilcloth tablecloths or in the small dining room on colder days. The pozole is consistent and so, so good.
La 21 Unica Cantina: At Jesus #23, this is an updated, chic version of an old Mexican Cantina. It has a great atmosphere. You can order tapas from their menu or order from their Pescau restaurant menu which is next door. You then have the best of both worlds.
La Cocina: Located at the corner of Pila Seca and Hernandez Macias, this café and coffee shop offers good food at reasonable prices. They have indoor and outdoor seating. I was just back for lunch and enjoyed it again!
Via Organica: This was a popular store featuring organic food items not often found in San Miguel. They also had a cafe for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch items. They recently closed this location at Calle Margarito Ledesma #2 in Colonia Guadalupe and have moved the operation to its organic farm outside of town. Here they have an organic, farm-to-table restaurant and store plus they offer tours, classes, bike tours and horseback riding. There is also a school with a research and education center dedicated to the production of organic food in a regenerative way. I loved being in the country away from town. I had a perfect brunch with an omelette and fruit. It is 20 minutes outside of town at Deviation Camino a Jalpa, km 9.
I also like Los Milagros. It is a fun, casual restaurant serving Mexican specialties including tacos and fajitas. I prefer it for lunch as the music on some nights can be somewhat loud. Relox 17. They opened a second location, Los Milagros Terraza near the Mirador at Salida Real a Querétaro #91. I just went with a local friend for lunch on a Sunday. I loved the colorful space as it has incredible views of Centro. If you can’t go for lunch or dinner, at least go for a margarita and some of their excellent guacamole.
The Hotel Posada Carmina has a lovely patio restaurant, Maria Xoconostle Cocina Mexicana, for breakfast, lunch or dinner (Wednesday through Saturday) at Cuna de Allende #7. I always enjoyed it, but had not been back for a few years. On my recent trip I went for brunch and loved my omelette with goat cheese, tomatoes and basil. I also liked the atmosphere with a fountain, music, birds singing and colonial architecture. It is a nice respite when Centro is busy.
Pork Belly: Make sure to visit Pork Belly which has a very creative menu by Chef Erik Medina using fresh ingredients. They have a good selection of salads, sandwiches and entrees. I enjoyed the salmon entree for lunch. I went back for dinner and enjoyed the lamb shank with polenta and an arugula salad with tomatoes. They recently moved from Cinco de Mayo #10 to Sterling Dickinson #10. I just went to the new location which is larger. I really liked my omelette for brunch and my friend loved the brisket chilaquiles. I went back for the second time in the new location and had the best pulled pork sandwich! It has two outdoor terraces.
In Col. Guadalupe, I found Neopolitan Brick Oven Pizza at Julian Carillo #4b. This is their second location in town which locals highly recommend. Located on the second floor, they have an indoor dining room and rooftop terrace.
Nearby is Deli Q which several of my neighborhood friends enjoy. They feature deli items to go like pastas, salads, and quiche along with pastries, sandwiches and more in a casual spot at Margarito Ledesma #6A.
Right off the Jardin at Sollano and Correo is Cevicheria La Muy Muy. This is a sleek, casual spot featuring seafood ceviches, tacos and tostadas. I enjoyed lunch with a friend as well the two shrimp tacos. Upstairs is Restaurante Cielo, which is a casual bar and restaurant with great views of the Jardin. I would stop in for a drink prior to dinner in town.
Olé Olé was always one of my favorite casual spots for many years. Having closed following a car accident involving the owners, it has now reopened. It is a fun spot with a bullfight theme. It is know for its meat and large selection of fajitas. Loreto 66A
I recently went on my second food tour through the Taste of San Miguel. The Taco & Tequila is a food tasting and cultural walking tour held in the evenings two days a week. Private tours can be arranged on other nights. Highlights of the tour for me was finding some new casual spots that I had not been to before. These included Don Taco y Tequila at Hernandez Macias #83. This is fun spot with a contemporary design. I really enjoyed trying my first sotol, a cousin of tequila and mezcal.
Baja Fish Taquito, at Mesones #11B, is a casual spot for fish tacos with a newly added rooftop. I also loved trying the agave beer by Cerveceria Allende. I went back recently for a lunch with friends on the rooftop terrace. I had some excellent shrimp tacos and a tasty vanilla flan.
I normally don’t eat street food due to health safety concerns, but if you want to try it, Andy’s Tacos near the corner of Insurgentes and Hidalgo is considered one of the best in town. The owners went to culinary school and the are very clean in their preparation. The tacos al pastor were very good! Our last stop was the Cantina el Cucu, Insurgentes #39, which has been a popular San Miguel casual bar since 1953. The tequila we tried there was very good. Vail, our guide was excellent. I highly recommend that you request her and try one of their tours.
On a recent trip I went back to the casual El Correo for Mexican specialities at Correo 21-23. I had not been in several years, but enjoyed my meal with a local friend.
Berlin Bar & Bistro at Umaran #19 is a small bar and restaurant that is popular with the gringos in town. They often feature art exhibitions by local artists. You can go early and enjoy drink specials. I went on my last trip and enjoyed eating some great fish tacos at the bar with a group of local friends.
While on a recent art walk at Fabrica La Aurora, I went to El Gandpa & Son Burgers just near the front entrance. It is a fun, casual spot with great burgers, sliders and salads along with cocktails and wine. My artist friend loved the hamburger while I had a yummy shrimp burger and great salad. Calz. de La Aurora 8. I will definitely go back.
After a great meal at Kab’an in San Miguel at Ignacio Hernandez Macias 43B, I went upstairs to check out Crow Cantina Contemporánea. This is a new attractive, casual bar and restaurant where you can eat Mexican specialties along having with a beer, tequila or mezcal. I am anxious to go back and try it.