The restaurant scene in most cities is an ever-shifting canvas and there’s high turnover always. This post is from 2015 and several of the recommended restaurants in Guanajuato have closed. We are on the ground now checking out new ones to replace them and will update this soon.
Though Guanajuato City probably receives 98 Mexican tourists for every 2 foreign ones, the local population is getting steadily wealthier and pickier, so the number of good places to choose from keeps increasing each year.
This is still no San Miguel de Allende, with 50+ places catering to resident foreigners, but the counterpart of that is it’s really hard to spend more than $100 for two on a nice meal in the top restaurants here. You’d have to order a couple bottles of wine.
Here are the best bets for a leisurely meal in central Guanajuato City. There are some other fine restaurants in Marfil, where the few upscale houses with a yard and garage are, but they require a longer taxi ride to get to and receive very few out-of-towners.
Los Campos – Now in its second location next to the great Xocolat chocolate shop in Baratillo Plaza, this fine restaurant has been a great addition to the scene and is getting raves from visitors and residents. A Canadian man (front of the house) and Mexican woman (in the kitchen) have planned a menu that blends the best of both worlds, with good wine, carefully chosen Mexican spirits, and local microbrews. I almost always take visiting friends with good taste to this spot. Take a look at the delicious menu here.
Mestizo – Housed in the gallery of famous potter Capello, his son is the owner and chef of this excellent restaurant that has never lets me down. Every time I’m amazed at the beauty and flavor of what comes out of the kitchen after ordering from a menu where hardly anything tops US$12. It’s not the best spot for vegetarians as most of the choices involve beef, pork, or chicken with interested sauces or marinades. Those who eat seafood will usually find at least one option though. A sister seafood restaurant (Mestizo de Mar) was great while it was open and may reincarnate elsewhere, but as of mid-2016 it was closed. No website, so go here for more info.
Las Mercedes – The original gourmet restaurant in Guanajuato still chugs along as one of the best and is a favored spot for romantic special occasions. Perched on a hillside in a residential neighborhood that requires a taxi ride from the center, here you can count on very high-end Mexican cuisine with some international influence in presentation and (scrumptious) desserts. Open for dinner only Monday through Saturday.
A Punto – [Closed] Downstairs in the lovely Casa Cuatro repurposed mansion right in the center of town, this is the best international restaurant. Here’s where to go when you want a break from Mexican food and you want service that’s better than the norm as well. Blackboard specials that change daily complement an interesting menu that features a lot of Mediterranean influences, great salads, unique desserts, and a good wine list. It’s also a tea shop and is open for lunch, so this is a good place to linger in the afternoon. No website, so here’s their TripAdvisor page.
El Midi Bistro – [Closed – same landlord issues] A French-owned gathering place upstairs in the same Casa Cuatro building, this is about the only place in town where you’ll see as many foreigners as Mexicans. The excellent cocktails and frequent live music are more of a draw than the food, which seems pricey for the area, but you can expect better-than-average service (in English if necessary), good wine choices, and a fun atmosphere. ElMidiBistro.com
La Vie en Rose – Also French-owned, this time by a whole transplanted family, this bakery and restaurant gave new meaning to the phrase “instant success” when it opened in late 2014. It sucked in expats and upper crust Mexicans like a powerful vacuum cleaner as soon as word got out—which only took about a week. This place could hold its own in Paris with its divine pastries and heavenly food. Here in the colonial interior of Mexico, it’s got no competition within a four-hour drive. Everything you get here looks like a work of art and unlike most Mexican pastries, tastes just as special. See the TripAdvisor page.
Casa Valadez – This local institution could just rely on its perfect location on the Jardin de Union, across from Teatro Juarez, and still bring in plenty of business. Instead it packs in a non-stop stream of upper crust locals, domestic tourists, and foreign ones by serving up consistently good food. The menu is heavy on traditional Mexican dishes, but they’re all presented with flair by well-trained waiters and you can also get a good steak or salad here—not always a given elsewhere. They serve all three meals and have the nicest bathrooms in Guanajuato. Yes, it seems a bit overpriced, but you can’t beat the location. See the Casa Valadez website.
La Taula – [Closed] Near the San Francisco church in the historic center, this is a simple but well-done tapas-style restaurant that has carved out a good reputation as a place to nibble and drink good wine. The menu is not extensive or showy, but dishes are well-executed and it’s a good choice for those who like to try different things and share. La Taula website
When I first lived in the city a few years ago, just coming up with this many standouts was a challenge. Now the bar is getting much higher and you could eat at a different place every night for a week and eat well. If you have a craving for Italian food, try La Capellina near the main plaza or El Gallo Pitagorico just up the hill looking down. There’s an upscale Relais & Chateau restaurant in hotel Villa Maria Cristina up toward the Presa de la Olla.
After all this, if you get tired of fancy food and want to eat where the workers do, take a Guanajuato street food tour.