It’s always been a struggle getting Don Day’s Wife to El Pato. Despite the fact that it’s one of San Miguel’s most acclaimed (currently #2 on Trip Advisor) restaurants, it takes some very serious arm twisting to get her there.
Primarily it’s the distance. We live in the southeast corner of San Miguel de Allende. El Pato is in the northwest corner of San Miguel de Allende. I call that a jaunt. Don Day’s Wife calls it a journey.
There’s a frequently running bus that takes us all the way to the town’s most celebrated barbacoa from a bus stop just three blocks away. But one of those blocks requires climbing what I call a hill and what Don Day’s Wife calls a cliff. Obviously, it’s another stumbling block.
So I traditionally go to El Pato with the guys. Sometimes even solo. But never without a request from Don Day’s Wife to bring back a half kilo of barbacoa and a half litre of consome.
El Pato is owned by Pilar Ortiz and Jose Luis Argueta. They are not only two of the town’s most charming restauranteurs, they are two of the town’s most enterprising restauranteurs. So, when the rest of San Miguel joined Don Day’s Wife and all but stopped going to El Pato a month or so ago, Pilar was one of the first to sign up with Uber Eats.
The average weight of a lamb at slaughter is 60 kilos (132 pounds). For El Pato’s barbacoa, Jose Luis cooks lambs that are only about six months old and only weigh about 35 to 40 kilos (80 pounds). Throughout the world, in countries that consume a considerable amount of lamb, that would be considered the ideal age.
El Pato calls its Barbacoa Estila Hidalgo. I’m not sure what this exactly means except that Hidalgo style always seems to be cordero (lamb) and it’s always done very simply with little or no extra flavors except a few chiles, perhaps some onions, a couple of aromatics, and the flavor that comes out of the maguey leaves that are wrapped around the lamb. El Pato serves their barbacoa very simply, on handmade tortillas (“…absolutely, definitely must be handmade” Pilar will tell you.) A mild green sauce, a not so mild red sauce, onions, cilantro and lime are available as toppings.
The result is the ultimate in the only two things that really matter with barbacoa: Taste and tenderness. And barbacoa travels well. So eating it at home rather than at El Pato, all you’ll probably miss a lot is Pilar’s warm, welcoming hug.
Delivery from El Pato is available through ubereats.com from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. You can purchase their barbacoa by weight or by the individual taco.