I can’t remember how many people had mentioned it in the past. But two different people did it again on my last visit to the restaurant. And told me with unbridled gusto. “The best, the very best sandwich in San Miguel” one of them said.
I’d thought about having it a few times. But I couldn’t. They were talking about a grilled cheese sandwich and grilled cheese sandwiches are to be eaten at home, not in restaurants. To be accompanied by canned cream of tomato soup. And made by parents, not chefs.
But then co-owner Tua Campbell told me about one of the new specials. A barbecued pulled pork and grilled cheese sandwich. I never get barbecued pork at home (well almost never), I was about to have my first ever grilled cheese sandwich in a restaurant.
The restaurant was Inside Cafe. I don’t think there’s a breakfast and lunch spot in San Miguel any busier at breakfast and lunch than Inside Cafe and, when I arrived at 1:30 pm, there wasn’t a chair or stool to be had on my treasured little terrace.
Inside Cafe is a skinny maze of a place with snuggly nooks and cluttered crannies. Watching the servers negotiate the spaces and stairs is like watching kids learn to ice skate. Inside Cafe makes me think of one of my favorite Spanish words: acogedor which, I think, translates best as cosy.
El Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich, as its called on the menu, comes with a choice of four possible sides: Egg, avocado, potatoes or bacon. Don’t even think of ordering any of them. You won’t need them.
El Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich automatically comes to the table with four glass jars. They contain tamarind chipotle jam, Jamaica jam and salsa macha (chile de arbol, chile morita, garlic and olive oil), and sugar. Don’t even think of dipping your spoon in any of them. You won’t need them.
El Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich also comes with a jar of horseradish mayo. But don’t even think…well, OK, try a little glob on one little corner but only because you can’t resist. But not because you need it.
El Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich also comes with a side of roasted tomatoes and some lightly-pickled dills. You won’t need them on the sandwich but after every bite of the sandwich have one of them…but not both at the same time.
Visual plate appeal. It’s something they teach in schools of hospitality (whatever they are). I understood better when my El Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich arrived at my table. This was visual plate appeal (though I’m sure Tua Campbell and her partner David never went to hospitality school. They’re too wonderfully disorganized to have wasted their time there).
I just wanted to clench their pulled pork grilled cheese sandwich in my fist and devour it. It was eye candy to compete with Charlize Theron’s eyes. There’s something irresistible about anything that’s gooey, gunky, gloppy. And this was simply irresistible (in the words of Robert Palmer).
I took that first bite and yes, I got it. I understood why I’d had those emails about Inside Cafe’s grilled cheese sandwich. And here I was eating their enhanced, upgraded, intensified version.
“Cheddar, Mozzarella and Parmesan”, David told me when I asked what cheeses were melted in the sandwich. I thought this was good Cheddar and good Parmesan; they hadn’t scrimped.
“It comes from Diego, the guy with the food truck, Smoked & Low, on the road to Dolores” Tua Campbell told me when I asked about the pork. “I thought we might try to do our own but I didn’t know how we’d do it any better.”
“And that bread. Where does that bread come from”, I asked.
“What sets apart our grilled cheese is that it’s made on a bagel, this gives it the right texture without making it too soft”, said Tua. “Our bagels are from our friends at Buonforno, they are reliable and consistent.”
Couple that cheese, that pork, that bread, those grill marks, Popeye’s favorite green, those trendy seeds, and that acogedor atmosphere and you finally have a rival for Inside Cafe’s grilled cheese sandwich. It’s Inside Cafe’s El Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwich. Demand it be removed from the specials menu. Demand the sandwich be placed on their everyday menu.
Inside Cafe is located at Avenida Insurgentes 66 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The restaurant is open every day from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and, on Fridays (with a special Asian menu), from 6:00 to 10:00 pm (but the kitchen closes at 8:30 pm).