Finding Groceries And Supplies
We have been exploring the town and trying to find all the places to buy food and supplies. You can get around on foot to most places in town. Some of it is steep walking up hills. The roads can be very rough with large uneven stones. If you have to take a taxi in town there are no meters. A simple flat fare of 20 pesos will get you where you need to go. Currently it is about 10 pesos to the Canadian dollar.
We have been eating all kinds of food including lots of raw fruits and veggies. We did this for 3 months and had no problems. You can buy an iodine solution at most of the grocery stores, markets and pharmacies. It gets added to water that you soak the fruit and vegetables in. We have been buying large containers of purified water. We fill a large bowl with it, add the drops and then you soak the veggies or fruit for about 15 minutes.
Mega is the largest commercial type grocery store. It is pretty much like any large grocery store you would find in Canada or the U.S.A. They sell most produce and food items that you get at home as well as some household goods and electronics. We even bought a suitcase from them. The large city of Queratero is a one hour trip from San Miguel. They have a Costco, Walmart and Home Depot.
Bonanza is small but full of many unexpected items. If you are looking for something hard to find, chances are they have it. Its location is in El Centro at Mesones 43-A.
Bob’s located at Salida a Celaya #6 is a source for vegetables that are hard to find in Mexico and many other organic produce such as lettuce and spinach. Some of the organic produce is local and grown less than 20 miles away. They also sell organic eggs and chicken and sausages that are made on site.
Bee Natural on Calle Nueva #7 supports local, organic growers. They have vegetables, cheeses, yogurt and honey. They also have a chef that makes delicious take-out foods.
La Europa at Canal #13 was one of our favorite places to pick up a bottle of wine. They have a great selection from Argentina, Chile and many other places. The prices seemed very reasonable to us. They also have some canned snacks and condiments as well as a large humidor of Mexican and Cuban cigars.
Tip For Getting Good Prices On Produce At The Markets
The markets are always an excellent source of fresh produce. We followed a tip that works really well. When you go into the markets you will have dozens of vendors to choose from, all basically selling the same produce. Find a few that have nice looking goods and compare some prices, they will vary a lot. If you are staying for any length of time then pick one you like and keep going back to them. After a couple of times they will realize you are going to keep patronizing them. You will get better prices. We did this with a gentleman at the market near out casita. Not only did he give us great prices, he would usually throw in a little something for free each time like a couple of bananas or some oranges.
We didn’t eat out that many times considering we were in San Miguel for three months. That is exactly why we self catered, we could never have afforded to stay for so long otherwise. However we have listed a few places that we did try and liked during our stay.
There is every kind of restaurant imaginable here. A lot of them cater to the Gringo population and are not cheap. A fancy meal here is still only about 2/3 of the price of home though. If you look around you can find lots of reasonably priced places. It is like any place you go, if you avoid the tourist traps and do more what the locals do, things will be cheaper.
We have found some great cafes that make for excellent places to just hang out and meet people. Everyday there are street vendors, particularly on the streets close to the jardin. The vendor food is a variety of crispy fried tortillas shells topped with onions and chili powder, to boiled corn, bags of home made chips and salsa, and pork rinds. Tortilla wraps are made up with cooked beef, onions, tomatoes, etc. Lots of fresh cut fruit is available. The pieces of watermelon or the pomegranate seeds with a bit of chili pepper or lime squeezed on them are delicious.
Even though we didn’t come to Mexico to eat in the type of restaurants you would find at home we decided to try out Harry’s. The atmosphere and ambiance are great. Our food was very good. We both had the salmon BLT with chipolte mayo, minus the bacon for us veg heads. For dessert Jack had what they call the Velvet Elvis, it was to die for!
The specialty of the house are the homemade tortillas. It is a great place where locals gather and has good food at reasonable prices.
This restaurant specializes in Italian fine cuisine. It has a lively atmosphere, good food and drinks and the night we went they had a young group of Mexican singers that were very good. There are three distinct areas Mama’s Bar, Leonardo’s Bar and La Terraza Bar.
The Bagel Cafe
Located at Correo #19, this is a popular hangout for expats. It serves bagels and egg breakfasts that are very good and reasonably priced. We went here a couple of times, we found it to be a great place to meet and talk to expats. It was interesting to find out what brought them to San Miguel and how they conduct their lives here.
The chef here fuses classic Mexican cuisine and international food. Try the watermelon gazpacho, it is delicious. There is a cozy dining room or the outside covered patio. The other unusual specialty is hibiscus flower quesadillas. It is a higher end restaurant with prices to match, but offers a unique ambiance, we enjoyed treating ourselves to it.
You can’t come to San Miguel without experiencing San Agustin. It is housed in an 18th century mansion. The restaurant is owned by a famous Mexican actress by the name of Margarita Gralia. The authentic Mexican hot chocolate and churros are are amazing. You can get the churros covered in sugar or made with sweet fillings.
This cafe is located right in the biblioteca (public library). It is a courtyard setting with a pleasant atmosphere and good food with affordable prices. Since we hung out at the library on many occasions it was a convenient place to grab lunch.
El Burrito is located at Correo #45. This bistro serves burritos and wraps. It is a small colourful place with a casual atmosphere. The food was excellent. The portions were very filling and at a good price.
Shop Until You Drop
There is so much shopping here, we could probably do it everyday for the three months we are here and still not see all the shops. It has got to be the shopping capital of Mexico. There are fascinating boutiques carrying Mexican blankets, metalwork, lanterns in all kinds of shapes, silver jewelery, masks, clothing, purses, pottery, marionettes, and knickknacks. There is some really unique items. Some items are quite expensive, but there are lots of reasonably priced things too. Of course as usual everything I fall in love with and want to buy is huge! Looks like we might be sending another shipment home from here. Besides checking out the main markets, just wander the streets and you will be amazed at the unique little shops you find tucked away in alleys and side streets.
This market is one of the biggest in San Miguel. It operates every Tuesday from 9am to 4pm. It is located one and a half miles from the center of San Miguel. You can take a local bus for 4 pesos or a taxi for 20 pesos to get there.
The stalls go for as far as the eye can see. It can all be quite overwhelming at first. There are vendors selling everything from clothing, household goods, furniture, DVD’s auto parts, fresh produce and meats as well as prepared ready to eat food. There are even live puppies for sale if you so desire. We thought we had seen it all until we spotted the blender man walking around!
Mercado de Artesanias
This is an artisan market located in a narrow alley. It can be accessed from the Ignacio Ramirez market. There are many locals specializing in glass and tin and silver jewelry. It is a great place to purchase authentic Mexican crafts. It is open daily from 8am to 7pm.
Mercado Ignacio Ramirez
This is a large permanent traditional covered market where most of the locals shop. It has fresh fruit, veggies and flowers. It also sells clothing and toys. It is located off Calle Collegio, one block north of Calle Mesones.
San Juan de Dios Market One of the newer covered markets, it is open daily from 9am to 8pm. A smaller but very attractive market located about six blocks from the jardin.