We first got wind of San Miguel de Allende when we discovered Casamidy, the artisanal home furnishings line from Jorge Almada and Anne Marie Midy. So for an insider's guide to the town, we turned to Jorge for some insights. Read on:
"In order to appreciate San Miguel de Allende, you must first have a sense of humor. Our small town, located three hours north of Mexico City in the near dead center of Mexico, is a funky amalgamation of American and European expats, traditional Mexican middle class, and on the periphery, rural Mexico, where in some cases life is like it was 200 years ago. San Miguel has colorful, cobble-stoned streets with many churches, mainly from the 17th and 18th centuries. We have a vibrant street life and a near perfect year-round climate. Anne-Marie and I moved to San Miguel in 1999, attracted by the diverse artisan traditions; even though the town has gone through many changes (including a Starbucks), it has retained its unique colonial character and many civic traditions."
Above: From a design point of view, San Miguel offers a fun assortment of goods from functional items such as leather cowboy belts, volcanic rock mortars called molcajetes, indigenous textiles, and baskets to ornate tin work, a local craft specialty. You can always find a great selection of interesting things at Mixta (shop interior shown above).
Above: Juana Cata is the best resource for exceptional Oaxacan textiles.
Above: For rustic Mexican antiques, we recommend Rafael.
Above: A local mercado, with colorful housewares on offer.
Above: We recommend staying at the recently opened Hotel Matilda or at the Posada Carmina; if you want to rent a house, try Premier San Miguel. For dining, we recommend Cafe Rama, The Restaurant, El Pegaso, Don Tomas, La Sirena Gorda, and La Azotea.
Above: We recommend design lovers visit the hacienda Jaral de Berrio, which is about an hour and a half drive north of San Miguel. You´ll have to bribe the watchman (Andres), but it's worth it (you'll be impressed by the all the decorative wallpapers of this abandoned hacienda). On the way back, stop at the Sanctuario de Atotonilco, a baroque masterpiece.
Above: Transportation? To get around town, it's best to rent a Honda 90cc scooter (not the loud and obnoxious quads). Also, consider taking a hot air balloon ride for a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside.