Cobbled streets with brightly painted houses, bells swaying atop Spanish colonial churches and shady garden plazas – San Miguel de Allende is one of the prettiest towns in Central Mexico. And, since David Siqueiros taught here in the 1940s (you can see one of his unfinished murals in the Fine Arts Museum), it’s been a pilgrimage center for Mexico’s fashionable, who flock in on weekend visits. The town is replete with boutique hotels as well as modish restaurants and bars, many of them with a view over the Instagram-friendly skyline.
The premier tequila tasting bar in San Miguel is an intimate, six-seater, obsidian-black space (designed by star interior architects Meyer Davis and Gloria Cortina), housed in a historic building in the exclusive Dôce 18 arcade. The tequilas – which come in hand-etched crystal bottles that ooze opulence – are as smooth as cream. Sample them, and then order a cocktail: the casa has rotating residencies for top Mexican mixologists, who craft exquisite drinks bursting with surprising flavors.
Not merely a rooftop bar with gorgeous views over the terracotta roofs and bell towers in San Miguel, Quince is a casual-chic restaurant (serving catch-all international comfort food, from pasta and sushi to burgers) and lounge space with luxe low sofas and candlelit lamps, not to mention a thumping after-hours club. Add to this sumptuous views and mezcal margaritas, and Quince is among the elite of San Miguel nightlife options.
In the courtyard of the swish Matilda boutique hotel in San Miguel, this small al fresco bar, surrounded by lush banana plants and palms, serves superior cocktails to a smart set. House specialties include the Summer Tonic – a refreshing tequila and tonic made with Casa Dragones Blanco (the brand’s blue agave silver tequila) and juiced red berries. There are bar snacks, too, but most drinkers dine post-cocktail at Moxi, also in the hotel. It’s one of the best restaurants in San Miguel.
Sitting in an old colonial house, this family-run sidewalk cantina feels like a genuine local haunt next to the slick rooftop retreats in San Miguel. It’s an informal spot – with bottles of tequila and mezcal stacked on shelves behind the little bar and simple wood tables set on a checkerboard floor – but the margaritas and mojitos are strong, long and low-priced. This place gets lively late into the evening, and, when the front room gets busy, people spill into the larger salon outback.
Walls covered in old black-and-whites of generously mustachioed national heroes, saloon swing-doors, and a long wooden bar with bottles stacked behind – El Tenampa feels like a set from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Owner Alejandro’s father was a vaquero cowboy, and bar staff still wear Mexican palm Stetsons as they pour shots of tequila and mezcal. Yep, this cantina is the real deal – so don’t expect mixologists, mezcal margaritas or wasabi peas.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Chrisa Theodoraki.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in San Miguel de Allende, why not book into one of the best hotels in town? Or, for a unique experience, you could try one of these top boutique hotels. For more inspiration, here are the top reasons to visit this Mexican city, and here you’ll find the best things to do. Plus, for a true taste of Mexico, we’ve rounded up an incredible selection of top places to eat.