The accomplished interior designer gives us an insider guide to this colonial-era city in Mexico’s central highlands.
Partners in design and life Jeffry Weisman and Andrew Fisher create spaces that The New York Times Sunday Magazine describe as “drop dead, big city chic.” Known for their exuberant imagination, elegant aesthetic, and attention to detail, they’ve created memorable interiors for clients and have been celebrated in the pages of Architectural Digest, Garden & Gun, Veranda, Elle Decor, and House Beautiful.
Both accomplished artists and creative forces in their own right, they joined forces in 2000, founding their eponymous design firm, now with offices in San Francisco and San Miguel de Allende. In addition to their wide range of memorable interiors, they also have lines that include furniture and lighting.
Weisman and Fisher chose to live in San Miguel seven years ago after a trip to the colonial-era city known for its baroque Spanish architecture, thriving arts scene, and cultural festivals. “Andrew and I went on vacation. We had long aspired to have a home in Mexico but had ruled out all the places we had visited previously for one reason or another,” says Weisman. “We spent six hours our first day on a walking tour of the 16th century Spanish colonial center of town and by the time we finished, we had committed to start looking at houses that day.” (Their gorgeous 18th-century home is even available to stay...more on that below.)
Because San Miguel is a Unesco World Heritage site, most of the historic charm of the place is intact, including the scale of the historic center. Modern conveniences, such as fiber optic cable, have been discreetly hidden below the cobblestone streets. Perched at 6,500 foot elevation, the air is clear and the skies largely blue. The town is small enough to be cozy but large enough to be interesting.
Weisman and Fisher love the gentle pace and the warmth of the community. “The long history of craft was also a major selling point for us, and the reason we are able to produce our lighting and furniture collection there,” he says. As a place to visit, San Miguel also ticks the requisite boxes. Safe, clean, and welcoming, Weisman attests that “we don’t have a single traffic signal or stop light in the entire town, yet every driver stops at every intersection to let the person to their right go first. You rarely hear a horn honk.”
We’re ready to start packing. But before we head south of the border, we asked Weisman to tell us the places not to miss for a long weekend or longer. There’s even a few doable side-trips.
Read on for the best of San Miguel de Allende.
Ki’Bok (Diez de Sollano y Dávalos 25, Centro, Zona Centro) “A charming corner café with outrageously good espresso and a legendary avocado and egg breakfast.” The Rosewood Hotel (Nemesio Diez 11, Colonia Centro | +52-415-152-9700). “Visit the lovely courtyard and restaurant for breakfast any day of the week and don’t miss San Miguel’s undisputed champion weekend brunch there.”
The Restaurant (Sollano 16, Centro | 213-471-2833) “Lunch in the courtyard of chef Donnie Masterton’s first restaurant in San Miguel, simply named The Restaurant, is perfectly delightful. Nothing beats his shredded brussels sprouts and kale salad followed by seared tuna tacos.” “The courtyard café in the Hotel Casa Blanca 7 (Juarez No. 7 Centro | 415-688-1438) which we designed has a wide range of insanely delicious Mediterranean-inspired small plates you can enjoy beneath towering palms and bowers of flowers.” “El Manantial (Barranca 78, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-110-0007) is reportedly the oldest bar in centro and offers a fresh take on Mexican fare in a casual setting and is always a treat.”
Above: The stunning space and presentation at Jacinto 1930. Photos Courtesy of Jacinto 1930.
Jacinto 1930 (Relox 18, Centro | +52-415-150-0075) “Located in the core of the Doce 18 Concept store, Jacinto is an architectural gem with exquisite, modern Mexican cuisine. Don’t miss the mushroom tacos or the esquites (corn stew).” Bovine (Canal 16, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-121-6787) “A stylish room with perfect martinis, great steaks and seafood, and top notch service.” Trazo 1810 (Hidalgo 8, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-121-3506) “This rooftop restaurant tucked behind a gallery of tourist art is well worth investigating. The food is consistently inventive and delicious, with a great view.”
Atrio (Cuna de Allende 3, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-688-1405) “This rooftop bar and restaurant is located just off the jardín (our main square), perched just below the dazzling tower of the parroquia (the main church of San Miguel). You can literally watch the bell ringers pull the heavy sisal ropes that tip the bells every 15 minutes.” Luna Bar (Nemesio Diez 11, Colonia Centro | +52-415-152-9700) “The rooftop bar at the Rosewood Hotel is gracious and overlooks the whole of the historic center.” Hotel Casa Blanca 7 (Juarez No. 7 Centro | 415-688-1438) “The courtyard I recommended for lunch is also one of my favorite spots for drinks.”
Recreo San Miguel (Recreo 26, Centro, Zona Centro | (+52-415-154-4820) “Incredibly chic serapes and other casual outerwear for men and women that translate perfectly to almost anywhere.” Wabi (Aldama 17, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-152-1940) “A minimalist’s paradise, Ted Wolter has filled his stunning home store with incredibly chic offerings worth shipping home.” La Calaca (Mesones 93, Centro | +52-415-152-3954 ) “Evita Avery’s gem of a shop is the best place to find antique textiles and ceramics in San Miguel.” Doce 18 Concept Store (Relox 18, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-154-9201) “Sally and Roy Azar converted an abandoned foundry into the most chic shopping and dining spot.” Camino Silvestre (Zacateros 46, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-121-3359) “From their roots as hummingbird feeder makers, Jim McKeever and Alfredo Garcia-Lucio have deftly expanded into fabulous gifts and home furnishings.” Casa Midy (Pila Seca 3 | +52-415-152-0403) “The showroom of the iconic San Miguel brand created by Anne Marie Midy and Jorge Almada.” Mixta (Pila Seca 3, Zona Centro | +52-415-152-7343) "Aussie expat Anna Sinclair has a fresh take on jewelry, gifts, and clothing.” CORE (Pila Seca 8 Colonia Centro | +52 415 1525 017) “This uber-stylish home décor store from Mexico City has everything from massive dining tables of petrified wood to the best faucets available.”
Above: The vast selection of product available to shop at Sollano 16, designed by Weisman and Fisher.
Sollano 16 (16 Calle, Diez de Sollano y Dávalos, Zona Centro | +52-415-154-8872) “We designed this shop and sell our collection here alongside well curated jewelry, fashion accessories and housewares from around the world. I can’t say I’m unbiased, but I love this store.”
Ignacio Allende House (Cuna de Allende 1, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-152-2499) “A house-museum on a corner of the jardín. This is the house where Ignacio Allende—the nobleman from San Miguel who led the revolution to free Mexico from Spanish rule—was born. The contents are not the focus; the house is. A short visit gives you a view of how the rich landowners lived in the 18th century.” Casa Canal (Canal 3, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-152-0479) “The grandest house on the jardín, Casa Canal is now the headquarters for Banamex (part of Citibank). The courtyard and stables beyond are open to the public and are exquisite. The small state-owned shop on the front of the house offers first-class crafts and great art books.” The Bellas Artes (Calle del Doctor Ignacio Hernandez Macias 75, Zona Centro | +52-415-152-0289) “This former convent has been reborn as an arts center, with galleries and spaces for art and dance classes. The galleries and the room at the back with partially-completed murals by Siqueiros are well worth a visit.”
Jeffry’s Mini Escapes
El Santuario de Atotonilco “A Unesco world heritage site, this jewel of a church is well worth the 20 minute cab ride. Just ask the cab to wait while you visit. This is a DON’T MISS. Try to get into the chapel on the left as you enter; it’s not always open, and a ticket is required." Guanajuato and Jaral de Berrios “Guanajuato is the state capital and a grand university town. The opera house is spectacular. On the way home, take a detour to see the Jaral de Berrios, a spectacular hacienda in a state of magical decay.”
L’Otel (De Los Chiquitos 1A, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-154-9850) “The super chic hotel above Doce 18. Access to the rooftop swimming pool lined in black and white marble is part of the package.” Hotel Matilda (Aldama 53, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-152-1015) “An art-filled, modern hotel with a fun restaurant and pool. Dos Casas (Quebrada 101, Centro, Zona Centro | +52-415-154-4073) “A super chic small hotel. Premier San Miguel (Aldama 10-B Zona Centro | 646 536 7634) “The best house rental service operated by Katharine Hibberts. If you’re staying for more than a few days, renting a house is the way to go. You can even rent our 18th-century home, Casa Acanto, through Katharine.” The Rosewood “For first world comfort in large suites that are a short walk from the historic center. I love the gym too. Lastly, Hotel Casa Blanca 7 how can I not offer a plug for the one hotel we designed?”
MY PERFECT DAY IN SAN MIGUEL…
"It would start with an espresso at Ki’Bok followed by a walk to the top of the hill the city is perched on. From there, I head to Barbacoa Rodriguez for sheep tacos, a local breakfast tradition. The Rodriguez family roasts sheep in pits carved into the earth and lined with agave leaves, and the braised meat is delicate and divine in freshly pressed corn tortillas. From there I would walk to the Charco del Ingenio, our botanical garden. After enjoying a walk through the Charco I would head home to shower and read The New York Times in our garden. Later I would stroll over to The Restaurant or Hotel Casa Blanca 7 for a light lunch in the courtyard. Then some food shopping and cooking before having a bunch of friends and visitors over for cocktails and dinner at home.”