Last week I visited San Miguel de Allende, in Guanajuato state, for a bridge tournament. I wish there had been time to see more of the city, but I saw (and tasted) enough to know I can’t wait to go back.
Unfortunately, a hotel on the outskirts of town hosted our bridge tournament. But we took Uber or taxi to the center of town most nights to enjoy some fabulous dining. So I got a good “taste” (or many good tastes) of San Miguel de Allende!
A little history
Founded in the middle of the sixteenth century, San Miguel was named for Juan de San Miguel, a Franciscan friar who started a mission here. Because of fighting between Spanish colonials and indigenous people, it served also as a military outpost. Then, as silver mining became an important part of the economy, a road connecting Mexico city with Zacatecas passed through San Miguel.
By the mid-eighteenth century, San Miguel reached the pinnacle of its development. Many opulent homes and churches sprung up. The city became one of the most prosperous in New Spain, and was more populous than either Boston or New York.
Ignacio Allende, a hero of the Mexican War of Independence, was born in San Miguel in 1769. The Spanish executed him for treason in 1811, and in 1826 the city acquired its current name.
San Miguel de Allende declined after the war and throughout the nineteen century, first as agriculture suffered and later with the end of mining. But in the 1930s American expats began arriving, and today San Miguel is a thriving multicultural city with about 25,000 foreign residents.
A charming colonial city
Unlike Ajijic, where I live, San Miguel de Allende is chock full of gorgeous colonial architecture. The Zona Central includes an area of pedestrian-only streets. In the evenings the area was crowded with people. Mariachi and other music echoed in the streets.
Not everything was colonial. The attractive Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel dates from the 19th century.
My taste(s) of San Miguel de Allende
My friend and bridge partner, Nicci, and I drove from Ajijic in about four-and-a-half hours on Monday. Since the tournament didn’t start until Tuesday, we had time to head into the center to explore and have lunch. I had some delicious steak fajitas and a frozen tamarind margarita at La Posadita, a delightful rooftop restaurant.
The bridge schedule was two games a day, 10am and 3pm, so we were done by 6:30 each day and had evenings free. We had some recommendations from locals, but even when we picked randomly or by convenience, we had some amazingly good meals.
I can’t wait to go back to San Miguel de Allende, stay in the Zona Centro, and taste more great food!
Oh, and also see more of this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For more photos, check out my online album.