36 Hours in San Miguel de Allende

with Laura Kirar

In a town like San Miguel de Allende, the days and nights flow together as smoothly and sweetly as pours of fine anejo. We certainly can’t recommend limiting your stay here to a scant 36 hours. We can recommend this personal introduction—by intrepid México-based artist, designer, and Mesón Hidalgo host, Laura Kirar—to one of the world’s most enduringly enchanting cities

Day 1: Friday

Morning:

Greet the day—and ease the kinks from your travels—with a group yoga class at Santosha with Alejandro Trejo. The intimate light-filled studio coupled with Trejo’s soothing voice and alignment-focused flows make for a moving meditation so satisfying, you may just make it your daily ritual.

Querencia

Breakfast:

Say hola to Alicia and Esmerelda, owners of the quirky and excellent local favorite, Querencia, over their sizzling mini-skillets of organic, herb-studded market fare (like eggs benedict with crisped hoja santa and chilaquiles), housemade pastries, and a refreshing glass of iced kombucha tea or French-pressed coffee. Return later for their “Pura Vida Kitchen Cooking Experience.”

Mid-morning:

Take a shopping tour of Zona Centro. Be sure to bring sturdy, no-nonsense walking shoes—the cobblestone streets are as charming as they are devastating to more delicate footwear—and a basket or bag for all your finds (we love the mercado tote bag from Laura’s accessories collection). Here, her top five favorite places to browse and buy:

La Calaca
Visit Evita for our favorite Mexican crafts and antiques in San Miguel.

Recreo
This SMA institution is reinventing the humble poncho in truly elegant fashion. Each is made right here in Guanajuato.

Mamlaya
Shop sexy and feminine fashion accessories (and make an appointment to have your makeup, hair, and nails done, too).

Mixta
Discover eclectic and bohemian fashion and accessories from around the world.

Casa Midy
A must for stylish home design and accessories made in San Miguel.

MESON HIDALGO
Don Taco Tequila

Lunch:

Order the jamaica flower tacos at Don Taco Tequila, an all-vegan taco spot that will transform the way you think about both vegan and Mexican cuisine.

Quince rooftop

Sunset:

Reserve your slice of the world-famous Quince rooftop for cocktails as sun descends. Laura loves the Spicy Saki Margarita. (Reservations recommended.)

Late Dinner:

There’s a reason The Restaurant is a can’t-miss on every San Miguel de Allende dining list. Believe it or not, the burgers and sushi steal the show. (Reservations recommended.)

Bar at the R

Late Night:

Wander down to the semi-hidden Bar at the R, The Restaurant’s late-night vinyl dance hall, for free-flowing drinks and grooves conducted over the record-spun beats of local DJs— including the chef-creator of The Restaurant himself, Donnie Masterton.

Day 2: Saturday

Early Morning:

Set a wake-up call in time to catch your scheduled hot air balloon ride at Globo San Miguel. Even in a city with magic around every corner, there’s nothing like seeing it from among the clouds. As your technicolor dreamship slowly ascends over a just-waking city, you can’t help but feel your spirit soar with it. (Reservations required.)

Brunch:

More elegantly farm-to-table than strictly rustic, Rústica serves simple, impeccable breakfast and brunch favorites under the generous shade of umbrellas and olive trees. Laura almost always orders a frittata—unless she’s in the mood for their otherworldly take on French toast.

Fabrica

Mid-Day:

Fábrica L’Aurora, a former textile factory, now weaves together locally stocked galleries, working studios, shops, and restaurants into a self-contained art walk. “I  almost always stop by Skot Foreman Gallery to see what amazing international work he has rotating, and I never miss the opportunity to shop antiques at Cantadora and vintage at Dirk Jan Kinet,” says Laura.

Afternoon:

Book a deep-tissue “SMAssage” (a portmanteau employing the city’s ubiquitous acronym) with therapeutic and chiropractic practitioner Gorky Guido. Laura swears by his uncanny ability to intuit sources of tension and imbalance, and deliver not just a relaxing experience, but a healing one. “He’s truly gifted.”

Fatima 7 San Miguel de Allende

Sunset & Dinner:

Cocktails on Fátima 7’s rooftop (above the Hotel Casa Blanca 7) so easily stretch into a luscious, fire-kissed feast of Chef JJ Castañeda’s Morroccan-infused dishes (like spit-roasted chicken “Taouk”, Laura’s favorite), that it’s pointless to resist. Don’t fight the urge to order another for the table.

Day 3: Sunday

Morning:

Take a stroll (or a run, if the sun cooperates) through the botanical gardens of El Charco del Ingenio. You’ll encounter an incredible collection of native, rare, and endangered succulents and other flora from across México, the buzzing insects and flitting birds—like the lucky colibrí—who feed on their nectar, and (if you rise early enough) very few other humans

Botanic

Breakfast:

Go for the quiche—any kind will do—at El Vergel, a French-country-style bistro North of the city (and the nearby El Charco) in a different sort of garden altogether: El Vergel de Los Laureles.

Day:

Head out of the city limits to experience the simple, pastoral (though still thoroughly indulgent) pleasures of one of San Miguel’s native wineries. Reserve an afternoon of horseback riding, wine tasting, cellar tours (they’re known for their lavender and olive oil as well as their wine) and a leisurely lunch at La Santísima Trinidad’s vineyard estate. (Reservations required.)

Dinner:

After your siesta, set your sights (and appetites) on the light but intensely satisfying fare at La Parada, a Peruvian restaurant serving the locals’ favorite ceviches alongside “the best Pisco Sours I’ve ever had,” Laura adds, “And I’ve had my share…”

La Parada

Late Night:

If you’ve gotten this far without trying México’s perfectly balanced, smoked-agave liquor called mezcal, this is your chance. San Mezcal (next to La Parada) and La Mezcalería will happily steer you to a chupito—a shot to be sipped, not downed—or cocktail to your taste. (We suggest the Casa Dragones label, a local favorite run by friends of Méson; the maker also offers afternoon house tours and tastings, if you’re so inclined.) If you do find yourself at La Mezcalería, and especially if this is your final night in SMA, make the short walk to the central square. There’s no better parting view than that of La Parroquia de San Miguel de Arcángel, that massively intricate, sand-pink wedding cake of a cathedral, towering above you like a fairytale castle—to remind you once and for all:

This city casts a spell all its own.

La Mezcaleria San Miguel de Allende
A Note:
Time behaves differently in San Miguel and we suggest you follow suit. We’ve noted the few occasions when timing is specific or a reservation is required; otherwise, a strict schedule is rarely necessary and spontaneity is always encouraged.