Tonight was supposed to be the night of the 2020 Smart Awards dinner, the night when, for the last six years, we have applauded and cheered and raised our glasses high in praise of San Miguel’s very best restaurants.
This year, for obvious reasons, the dinner was cancelled. So the ovations this year must be virtual. But the honor of being chosen as one of the best places to eat in one of the world’s most competitive markets is still as relevant as ever.
First, a big thank you to everyone who voted. There were 624 of you this year, up from 529 in 2019. You cast votes for 87 different restaurants, one more than in 2019.
There were 16 restaurants this year that stood out above the rest, that had double digit numbers in their vote count. The honorable mentions, numbers 16 down through 11, were Nomada, Tacos Don Felix, Marsala, Don Taco Tequila, Antigua Trattoria Romana and last year’s best new restaurant, Casa Blanca 7.
And then there were the top ten (with comments straight from the mouths of the voters).
10. The Restaurant
“Everything is just perfect.” Diana Heydlauff
Consistency was the most used word by voters for The Restaurant. Last year, it fell to number 14; this year it’s back in the top ten.
“This restaurant has excellent food and is good value. Their pancakes and waffles are the best I know of in town.” Heather Chase
In only its second year in business, Rustica broke into the top ten. If voting was for the best breakfast in town, their finish would be even higher.
“For the view, excellent cuisine if pricey, great ambiance.” Margaret Failoni
There are an ever-increasing number of rooftop restaurants with superb views but at number 8 for the second year in a row, Atrio is tops when it comes to a good look at San Miguel’s parroquia.
7. Fatima 7
“For JJ Castenada’s mastery, the ambience, the view and the overall deliciousness!” Linda Hampton
This year’s “best new restaurant” goes again to executive chef Donnie Masterton and chef JJ Castenada. Last year it was with Casa Blanca 7. This year it’s their upstairs neighbor, Fatima 7.
“Denver’s food is always fresh, well-priced and I think it is the best pasta in town.” Susan Cumming
People seem to love Denver’s because people seem to love owner/chef Denver Reyes. The restaurant had slipped out of the top ten in 2019 but this year it’s back. You can’t keep a good chef down.
5. Hecho en Mexico
“Our go-to place for a casual meal.” John Lee
In almost every comment about Hecho en Mexico, I see the same word: Value. This year, the restaurant equalled it’s highest finish ever, back in 2014, when it finished fifth.
“Incredible views in the best location – made even better by Vanessa’s design of the space, true gourmet food from Stewart and company, inventive cocktails, and of course, excellent service.” David Boshears
After three solid years near the summit of the Smarts list, Zumo slipped out of the top ten in 2019 but soared back this year all the way up to fourth place.
“The young team of chefs and servers at this restaurant are friendly and accommodating. But the quality and creativity of the food is amazing. While the menu is limited, everything is made to almost perfection. The prices are not expensive and they have a good Mexican wine (Datum) they serve by the glass (which is a nice welcome from only having Chilean wines available by the glass at most places). The space is small and cozy but worth the visit. It’s my go-to for lunch and, if I can get in, for dinner too.” Mary Finley
Tostévere was in second place in the 2019 Smarts voting for the best new restaurant and eleventh overall. This year, the restaurant that has lifted the simple tostada to new culinary heights made a giant leap up the list to become your third best favorite.
2. La Parada
“The tartares and causas never fail to satisfy.” Beverly Brinson
They’ve been in the top ten every single year of the Smart Awards existence. In 2015, 2016 and 2017, they held down third place. In 2018 and 2019, they moved up to second. In 2020, they stayed solidly in that position. In a town with over 300 restaurants, second place is something that La Parada can be very, very proud of.
“Tops in service, taste and value – year after year.” Laurie Sperling
In the seven years of the Smart Awards existence, they have never finished worse than second and now, for the fourth straight year, they are again the very top vote-getter. Congratulations to Antonio Arrieta and his staff. Obviously, in San Miguel de Allende, nobody does it better than Firenze.