Eating Through San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

“The world stretches out before me, the vast world of the big, the little, and the medium.”

– Octavio Paz, from The Clerk’s Vision

I had planned for three days in San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage Site almost 200 miles outside Mexico City, because I had wanted to eat, drink, and relax in the picturesque town. That plan was scuttled, however, as I came down with a case of food poisoning about 14 hours before I boarded the bus for my destination. I spent the first day in this colorful town doing nothing but sleeping and drinking Electrolit and water.

San Miguel de Allende is possibly the worst town in which to have food poisoning. As there isn’t much to see and do in town, there’s the constant temptation to eat and drink all day. This is one reason it’s a retirement haven for Americans.

casa luna hotel mexico
I had planned to drink and read in the hotel courtyard

There is a chance that what I ate was not the smartest thing to order on a weakened stomach, but I took the chance on food that sounded safe for my recovery. It could’ve also been the combination of the following evening’s meal — a few hours after that one I suffered a relapse.

It wasn’t until dinnertime the following day that I attempted to eat a real meal. After wandering around to see the few sights around town, I came across La Mezcaleria, a Oaxacan restaurant with an inviting modern decor. I had wanted to drink my share of mezcal, particularly as I had a beautiful courtyard in which to relax at my hotel. So, while I couldn’t risk drinking any alcohol, I couldn’t pass up this attractive restaurant.

la mezcaleria san miguel
That’s a lot of cheese with the crickets

As an appetizer, I ordered Oaxacan cheese, orange slices, fried crickets, and worm salt (which is a mixture of salt and chili with lime and meant for adding to the orange slices). The orange was refreshing, especially as the cheese and fried crickets were salty. I have to admit that I wasn’t sure about eating crickets, but they were good — just a little too salty for my taste.

mezcal gravlax
This was even better than anticipated

For the entree, I ordered mezcal-cured gravlax. How could I pass up a dish made with the restaurant’s own mezcal? I don’t care what my uneasy stomach thought; this was amazing. The gravlax melted in my mouth and had a hint of mezcal.

la mezcaleria san miguel
The dining room at La Mezcaleria

The following morning, I risked most of the hotel breakfast — eggs with chorizo (though I skipped the beans and coffee to avoid upsetting my stomach). Even with some lemongrass tea, water, and yogurt, I didn’t feel too well walking around afterwards. But the feeling passed and I stopped for a light lunch.

When in Mexico, why not have more tacos? I came across Sabroso Taqueria, and it looked like an enjoyable no-frills spot. It wasn’t as good as the tacos I had in Mexico City, but it was good enough to get me through the rest of the day. Plus, the restaurant’s decor was fun with a lot of Mexican wrestler memorabilia (including toys).

sabroso san miguel
A stop for midday tacos

I still wasn’t feeling 100% after walking around in the sun in San Miguel de Allende — it’s a beautiful town, but it can get tiring if you’re walking everywhere and not stopping off for coffee, drinks, or food every hour or so.

It was still a while until dinner, so I stopped in a beautiful little cafe called Lavanda. This quaint cafe just off the main street through the center of San Miguel de Allende has a relaxing atmosphere with semi-open-air seating. As I still couldn’t drink coffee (a nightmare for a coffee addict such as myself), I opted for a lavender blossom tea, which was soothing. It gave me some time to reflect on the beauty of the town and everything I had missed out on.

lavanda san miguel
A relaxing spot for tea

Had I not been sick, this would have been a great breakfast/brunch spot. I wish I had found it a day earlier so I could’ve enjoyed more tea.

I felt much better after relaxing at Lavanda with tea. I was prepared to indulge my neglected stomach with a decent meal. That’s when I came across La Sirena Gorda not far from the park in the center of town. I couldn’t pass up a restaurant called the Fat Mermaid featuring numerous paintings of fat mermaids. Plus, the menu looked good.

sirena gorda san miguel
The bar at the Fat Mermaid

La Sirena Gorda seems like it’d be a fun place for a drink, but I was not fortunate enough to sample that part of the menu.

This may have been my downfall. I over-ordered and tempted fate all at once at the Fat Mermaid. I started with a ceviche embarkadero tostada, which was much larger than expected and difficult to eat (it definitely requires a fork). I also did not expect it to be topped with half an avocado — I’m not complaining, but I had expected a small dish that I could eat with one hand.

ceviche embarkadero tostada
Ceviche embarkadero tostada at the Fat Mermaid

For a main course, I had grilled cheese with seafood chorizo. It was not what I had expected. It was a pan full of melted cheese and mostly octopus in a thick sauce that resembled a chorizo flavor. It would have been better had the sauce been spicier, but that would’ve been even worse for my stomach at the time.

la sirena gorda
Seafood chorizo at La Sirena Gorda was good, but the wrong choice for a weak stomach

The next morning, I skipped breakfast at the hotel and drank plenty of water. I bought another bottle of Electrolit before boarding the bus back to Mexico City, where I’d suffer another day of bland food before attempting to a full meal again. It may not have gone as planned, but at least I managed a couple good meals in San Miguel de Allende while battling food poisoning.

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