One of the things we love most about traveling is enjoying the cuisines of different places we visit. Although we cook most of our meals “at home” when we’re on the road, no matter where we go we make a point of having enough in our monthly budget to eat out at least once a week.
Our typical monthly allowance for dining out is $150 – $175/month for the two of us. In some places we’ve visited that’s been more than enough to enjoy incredible meals in upscale restaurants, like steak in Argentina or charcroute in France. However, we typically enjoy the adventure of finding lower cost restaurants, and we love dining on street food or specialties from small stands, which help us balance spending more one week with less in other weeks without damaging our budget. For example, in Japan we may go to a restaurant for big bowls of noodles or a tonkatsu (pork cutlet) set one week, then balance that expense the following week or two with stops for karaage (fried chicken) or takoyaki (octopus dumplings) from neighborhood stands that we can bring home and eat. It’s a system that has worked well for us.
Treats are affordable as well: Two cups of hot Mexican cocoa and six freshly made churros for the two of us or four huge scoops of gelato that tasted like we were back in Italy were only $6 USD each.
Our time so far in San Miguel de Allende has turned all that on its head though, and the low cost of eating out here frankly shocked us at first. We quickly discovered we had a choice to make: stay with our once a week eating out and save, or eat out more often and enjoy the variety of dining choices and low prices. The latter choice has won out, and has meant that we’ve sometimes eaten out three times in a week, all without going over our monthly budget. Meals for the two of us, tip included, are rarely over $20, and all the meals we’ve eaten out so far when averaged out come to less than $15. And, for that amount we’ve eaten some pretty terrific food.
Our Father’s Day outing was our most expensive meal yet: $30 USD including tip. However, the food was absolutely delicious and the servings were HUGE. My order came with seven jumbo coconut shrimp (each took four bites to eat) and Brett got enough freshly cooked and shelled crab to feed a family.
We’re constantly surprised by the amount of food we get for our money here and have yet to leave a restaurant not feeling completely full, sometimes to the point where we have no desire to eat the rest of the day. Portions have consistently been large or even huge (for us) and a great value for what we’re spending (unlike back in the U.S. where I usually leave a restaurant feeling like I could have made it myself for less). For the most part we’ve enjoyed the ambience of the restaurants we’ve eaten at and there are a few we hope to visit again before we leave. We’ve had a lot of fun reading reviews and choosing new restaurants we want to try, especially for brunch every Friday. We’ve stayed away from dining out at night not just because of the cost but because I don’t want to be walking on cobblestones in the dark. However, there doesn’t seem to be a price differential between lunch and dinner. We also have yet to try a taco stand or buy tamales from a street vendor, but that’s coming up soon.
We could spend more here if we wanted because there are restaurants that charge a LOT more than what we’re willing to pay. We know though that we don’t have to do that in order to enjoy some very delicious and beautifully presented food. We also know all this culinary goodness will end when we’re back in the U.S. where we’ll once again rarely eat out or even pick up take out. But as long as we’re here in San Miguel de Allende we plan to enjoy ourselves and continue to let others do the cooking a couple of times each week.
10 thoughts on “Dining Out Is In Again In San Miguel de Allende”
Looks like you are having some great food! The shrimp and crab both sound especially good.
We have yet to have a bad meal here. Seriously, every thing has been delicious, and so beautifully presented as well. Brett said the crab was delicious – it had been freshly picked from the shell and then topped with garlic butter. I’ve never had such huge shrimp, certainly never for coconut shrimp, except for the giant prawns you get with soba or tempura in Japan, but then I only got one or two, not seven of them. We both agreed we want to eat there again the night before we leave San Miguel de Allende.
With those prices and the quality of the food, it would be hard not to eat out more. 😊 We had a lovely dinner out last night, but it was over $100 with the tip. Thus the reason we aren’t doing it a lot anymore. That said, the place was busy and there were a lot of people walking around downtown, so it’s clear people are still eating out. 🤷♀️
It’s honestly incredible what you get here for what you pay. I don’t think I’ll ever look at a U.S. menu the same way again. We have yet to have anything but superbly delicious food, and beautiful presentation as well.
I’m glad to hear people are eating out again in the U.S. The restaurant industry suffered mightily during the pandemic.
Are you still following the vegetarian lifestyle while in San Miguel?
For the most part, yes, but we are eating meat a couple of times a week, maybe a sausage or some ham. Sometimes meat has showed up unexpectedly when we’ve eaten out so we go with it. For the most part though we are still eating vegetarian meals.
I love hearing (and seeing your pictures) about all of your delicious meals and unique restaurant experiences. I am shocked at the prices for your food! Definitely take advantage of it now and enjoy not having to cook all the time.
The restaurant scene here has been an unexpected and unbelievably wonderful surprise, and we’ve only scratched the surface. I think any cuisine you could imagine is represented here, and for a lot less than one might imagine. We’re looking forward to our next few weeks here and new dining discoveries!
With prices that low, I wouldn’t bother cooking at all! I can understand why some people retire there. Your dollar definitely goes very far. Do people there speak English for the most part or have you had to learn Spanish to get by?
I feel that way sometimes, like why should I bother cooking?
There are lots of expats here. Some come just for the winter, and others live here year round – they are the ones I think came because the cost of living is so low, while the snowbirds come for the beautiful winter weather.
I speak very little Spanish, but enough that I can ask for things, ask directions, etc. and understand some of what is being said to me. I can sometimes even conjugate a very correctly!
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