01 February 2011
Cool Blue in Mexico
Vibrant hues are everywhere in San Miguel de Allende: chill out with the culture set in some of this Mexican city's most fashionably laid-back haunts
Water World: Poolside at Casa de Sierra Nevada
The delightful swimming pool at Casa de Sierra Nevada (main picture) nestles among the historic houses that make up this city centre retreat. Let the waiter bring you refreshing tall drinks based on exotic Mexican fruits and stretch out in the sun.
Arts of the Table
If you want to meet San Miguel's artsy crowd, Berlin Restaurant and Bar is where they feed and drink. The curved bar leads into a bistro-like dining area that is covered with paintings (including sundry nudes and the works shown below) by beloved local artist Peter Leventhal. The food is continental, with an emphasis on German - befitting the restaurant's name and the heritage of the owner, Detlev Kappstein, who keeps the mood light and makes sure even first-timers feel like regulars. Calle Umaran 19; 415-154-9432.
And don't miss Casa de Sierra Nevada's own Blue Bar, with live, local music to get you in the mood to chill and a patio that extends out into the bustle of the town.
Screen Scene: Expresion en Corto Film Festival
While the rest of the northern hemisphere is slogging through the end of July, San Miguel (and the neighboring city of Guanajuato) stays super-cool. During the last two weeks of the month, this internationally acclaimed festival brings filmmakers to the area to screen their work (sometimes in unconventional locations like cemeteries and subterranean tunnels) and talk to other film fans. Among the directors who have been honoured are Tim Burton, Spike Lee and Oliver Stone. Spotting celebrities is always cool. Visit the website >
Style Central: Planta Baja
When you pass through the double doors to this smart restaurant (below), there should be a sign that says, "Now Leaving Colonial Mexico." The interior feels straight out of Manhattan's SoHo, with its white banquettes, slate-wall water feature and retro-print curtains. The menu is equally upscale; the standouts are the tuna tostadas and the blue cheese and beef filet entrée. Calle Canal 28; 415-154-6555.
Take a View - or Two: Azotea
There are a lot of memorable views in San Miguel and from Azotea (below) you can see two of the best. Located on the third floor of a building off the main Jardin, this swanky bar offers, to one side, a crane-your-neck, close-up of the spires of the Parrocchia. Drink in the vista from the low-slung banquettes while you sip on a margarita. Or perched at a table on an outside patio, you can watch soothing sunsets over the Guanajuato Mountains in the distance. Calle Umaran 6; 415-152-8275.
Music Magic: Blues and Jazz Festival
Every November for the past 15 years, the cobblestone streets of San Miguel echo with the sultry notes of jazz and blues musicians from around the world. The 10-day event traditionally kicks off with a free concert in the Jardin. Visit the website >
Shopping with a Twist: Mixta
San Miguel is known as shopping central, but too often the store offerings look the same. This is never the case at Mixta (pictured below), which has the liveliest, most inspired range of merchandise you'll find anywhere in town - much of it clever takes on traditional Mexican iconography, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe and Lucha Libre masked wrestlers. Calle Pila Seca 16A; 415-152-7343.
By Jeannie Ralston, a US-based writer for many international publications.
What is your favourite place in San Miguel to chill out and relax?