Fonda San Miguel – A Restaurant Review

Fonda San Miguel had been recommended for its fine dining experience by some of our friends. We were intrigued, also because their book about their history and recipes, “Fonda San Miguel – Thirty years of food and art” was highly recommended on Amazon.( http://www.amazon.com/Fonda-San-Miguel-Thirty-Years/dp/0940672774/ref=pd…)

Their website is very beautiful with exotic pictures, previewing and showcasing the dining experience and ambience of the restaurant. Of course it has very less text, but I guess the intention was to capture our attention by the high quality images.  Reservations though surprisingly were not being taken in the holiday season.

Next step was to look up the place in Google maps and we noticed that this is not in the part of town where you would expect a very good restaurant. None the less, our interest was very piqued, and by that time, no amount of cajoling by the kids to go to the family’s favorite restaurant [PF Chang’s] would have changed our mind.

As we pull the car into the valet parking, we noticed that the place was exquisitely decorated with twinkling lights for the holidays and the entrance has a historic appeal with majestic huge wood doors. Inside we walked into a patio and large veranda which has hacienda style décor, rustic wood furniture, punched tin lantern light fixtures, pink and red sponged walls, discernible Mexican art the likes of which we had seen in Mexican art museum in our trip to Mexico.

We approached a friendly hostess who informed us we would have 45 minutes to an hour of wait. We feared it may be tough with our two kids with us, but the wait was not bad at all. We were seated in tiny intimate seating areas with sofas, chairs and a centre table, with salsa chips already served. The chips were warm and fresh accompanied by salsa Verde and salsa, refilled regularly.  The waiting area was served by waiters taking orders for drinks and appetizers. Since we had a long wait we ordered virgin pina coladas and a mango daiquiri, the pina coloda being refreshingly good. We enjoyed a pleasant family time with good conversation amidst tropical plants and poinsettias, checking out the impressive Mexican paintings, some being- a small girl with her head covered, Mexican dancers, ferocious dog and more. Our waiter informed us our table was ready in about 35 minutes, which had not looked tiresome because of the special attention given to the time spent waiting for good food.

Inside the restaurant, the décor and the furniture of this place is very outstanding.  The centre is very imposing with Mexican pottery, punched tin lantern chandeliers, tropical plants and paintings.  By this time we were hungry and wanted to get to our food. We quickly ordered our appetizers or antojitos as they are called in Spanish. The Borregas/ lamb chops with Oaxaca chile pasilla sauce and Calamares with chipotle mayonnaise.   Our waiter Steven, an older gentleman gave good briefing about the menu and specials. He even recommended we order an extra lamb chop since the borrega originally only plates 3 chops. The chops were succulent and grilled to perfection. A little bit rare for our little ones taste. The sauce was very tangy and piquant which went very well with the chops. Our kids like calamari, hence we thought it would make an excellent choice, and it did. The lightly breaded calamare rings combined with a chipotle mayonnaise were very scrumptious.

By this time we were getting full with drinks, chips and appetizers.Hence we only ordered two entrées to be shared among the four of us. We wanted to try the chile rellenos which we heard so much about, and also noticed on the plates passing us by. So, we picked up the ‘Acho Relleno San Miguel ‘, chile ancho stuffed with chicken, olives, capers and almonds in a light cilantro cream sauce. The other dish we ordered was more child friendly, a half baked chicken in one of the two sauces listed, a mole de pueblo or yucatan specialty mole. We asked for suggestion by our waiter who graciously offered to bring in the yucatan sauce for us to try. In his suggestion he also dropped a note that he has been to this region and finds the sauce made at fonda to be very authentic. Nice. We tried the sauce and it is the very definition of mole, with a lot of chocolaty flavor mixed with thousand spices. Though we liked the sauce, we preferred to order the pueblo style which is orangey and tangy which would also appeal to our children’s taste buds.

Our food arrived in a decent time while we continued our conversations. The chile relleno besides being delicately presented, it had a delicate creamy taste. The ingredients and the flavors danced together in harmony and gave a perfect taste. The chicken was succulent and juicy and the orangey, tangy sauce reminded us of the Indian tandoori sauce.  We were all extremely full by this time hence got part of the chicken packed in a take home box.  The box was a microwave friendly card board box rather than the regular Styrofoam version. This was noticed by our 11 year old daughter who is getting environmentally conscious now.

Our kids who equally enjoy eating out and trying new cuisines, were very well behaved and enjoyed the upscale ambience and food. The restaurant had a lot of Christmas parties and gatherings, the people were dressed in elegant evening wear and holiday color. Our younger one who is 6, admired the ginger bread art of small winter wonderland and enjoyed recognizing the various goodies used as art.

End of the evening our girls took pictures in some of the extraordinarily big chairs and niches and will have a lasting memory of this evening in this restaurant.

Cuisine:  Authentic Mexican
Price Range: Expensive
Dress: Upscale Casual
Rating: ****

Dishes reviewed:

  • Borregas/ lamb chops with Oaxaca chile pasilla Sauce
  • Calamares with chipotle mayonnaise
  • Acho Relleno San Miguel-
  • Pollo Pibil
  • Pina colada
  • Mango Daiquiri

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