The Muse in Hotel Esencia on the Divine Riviera Maya

For Mayan jungle vibes alongside powdery Caribbean sands on scarcely developed precious grounds of the Yucatán peninsula, Hotel Esencia invites with its boutique design merging glamour of the decades past with something a sensitive heart feels. The former private villa of an Italian duchess, this independent welcoming lodging was awarded five star ratings, but it is the aesthetic escapist cream of New York that makes it chic today. Hand-drawn touch on a stack of post cards invites your own creativity to enter without hesitation. The muse resides at Hotel Esencia, therefore I present a travel story in poems and photographic trysts.


The Poetic connects with the authentic naturally

In this story, I am not going to copy and paste the property’s elsewhere documented amenities. You will find fun and Monaco luxe (The Beefbar) dinings and the incredible organic Mayan spa set in its private slice of the jungle in an ecologically built semi-open temple spirit. I must highlight though the baby turtles in the garden pond, that I witnessed kissing right next to the window panes of the state-of-the-art gymnasium. Easily find the rest info on the hotel’s illustrated website and in the eager reviews of well-trod travel journals. Anyway, I did not find Hotel Esencia in any commercial outlet but through that golden, intimate way a friend shares via word of mouth. That intimate advice you appreciate in this crowded world swept by the tsunami of paid for sponsorships and commercialisation of anything that once – good bye guitar-strung summers in St. Tropez, jungle camping before the glamping in Tulum, spontaneous street weaving lessons (I was taught by older lady how to make flower lays while squatting along with her) in the now Western yogi hive on Bali (so glad I went two decades ago) – offered unspoiled nature, authentic local cultural immersion and privacy.

Let the water of your soul flow

propel a morsel of spirit into now

your daily breaths calm and wholly present

in expanded being of your flesh without torment

at ease with the combustive mind’s fire

flutter your wings, shed weight and admire

bring more awe to the beauty of all

the blossoms blessed by your presence

befriend all beings, merge with conscience

and equally your self


Caribbean sunrise

I want to share Esencia’s magical creative spirit. The muse there that whispered poetic lines, reflections and breaths of the intangible hidden yet alive, that beautiful. She entered though my open arms into the heart to sing about love, nature, contentment, the good and the bad in life. Like when a pianist flows over the keys luring out tones that are tuned to your soul, that storm of bliss you joyfully allow to shower all over you. See the World like a Poet.

the ease of being here, bared existence

bathing in the essence of just this

nothing more to crave, nothing to miss

Moment after another, lack of resistance 

distilled purity of infinite presence

not mine, neither yours, but shared

love of simple life blessed by the sacred

the metasensual wave of divine fluorescence


Riviera Maya beachCaribbean sunrisebest beaches in Mexico

The Creative Spirit at Hotel Esencia

It started with that hibiscus red, linen-bound notebook in our room, the fen purling cool air, an inviting desk and lounging canapé with palms shaded Caribbean Sea views. Later, I switched into a back deck craved into the roof open into the jungle vibrant green. I put on my obsidian silk kaftan, picked a pen with my eager fingers, opened the first blank page, and I know no more. Only these lines tell stories inspired by those momentous rushes of Riviera Maya inspiration.

As the sunlit days floated on the azure horizon I realised that this poppy notebook is filling with bliss, but also some pressing collective material that whirled its way up onto the light from its dark depths. The unconscious spoke and my mind and pen listened with open consciousness.


solitude accompanied by the soul

is what nurtures my being whole

sans mirages of infinity drugs

of hopes and vanity that mugs


creativity thriving in liberty

a bird conducted by spontaneity

it happens naturally and with ease

when wind morphs into my muse

free womana bird conducted by spontaneity

feasting on the freshest bounty

feels better when shared first

with the hungry birds, naughty

yet free to roam where they want


luxury stays in Mexicoluxury stays in Mexico

The rooms at Hotel Esencia are very comfortable while remaining minimalist, whiteness expands the indoor space and the bath is set by a large window to gaze out onto natural beauty, that feels soo good. Likewise the spa, unlike any other luxury pampering experience, here I felt also spiritually rejuvenated. Love heals one within oneself.

Soaking my achy body

in a warm bath ready

for heated bliss


that’s left 

to desire

is just a kiss


luxury stays in Mexicoluxury stays in Mexico

Nature speaks, listen

The moon was waxing towards its fullness, I could watch its bulb lit hours before the sunset. As a woman I feel attracted to the feminine magnetism of the earth’s moon, more so in spiritual places like the Yucatan’s coast.

Journey: Before Full Moon

A circle feels whole, oneness more

This lightless sun reflects time’s chore

works its whole, wound by the universe

like erosion grates rocks coarse

washing away sorrows into water 

not directed by the human matter

as if the stone had never existed before


yoga in Mexicoluxury stays in MexicoRadka Beach

a genteel feel of timeless essence

in breeze the wind’s fan sways a palm leaf

a nodding wild dance of calming relief

like a drum’s bounce in the heart’s rhythm

eases me into this exotic, unhurried place

tune by tune, breath after breath here

in the lush greens gushing over the sea

with smoky mezcal eyes, oh she

with tequila swing jolly, simply free

we sway together in the white washed waves

over the sand dunes we gulp with our hearts



On a hot spring day in the shade of the coconut groves at Hotel Esencia I imagined how the Italian aristocracy manoeuvred their paradise retreat with the not that far hideaway of Latin America’s most wanted drug lord. Dark, shrewd schemes disrupted my pacified mind, yet the power of the surrounding nature won over fear and I found my


Loving today is the only way

To reach tomorrow happily 


luxury stays in Mexico

Yet another lesson learned by being entirely immersed in the moment. I felt like making a list of some good guidance and chaotic misguidance that is bad (hence the poem’s styling) for happiness and the world as whole.


let’s not judge

feel the oneness

let’s share beauty

in togetherness

we can build better

world or keep the good

that is happy and pure

without separating

rising divisions

there will be no discord



the vile often find their way to stray, to harm the innocent souls, so I ask them why? When one strays others judge or follow, it just depends on the rule of law driven by fear or lust, they just must But you can do something for them, show your heart’s light with open arms, hug them. We won’t win the goodness battle through a fight – we must unify for the sake of love ~RB

Located along the highway stretch between Carretera Cancún and Tulum on the 265th kilometre, the Xpu-Ha beach region in the Quintana Roo state is convenient for further exploration of the ruins and natural wonders, many within a short drive from this already developing beach stretch in Mexico. There are a few lowkey stays and basic eateries on the beach, unkept to Esencia’s luxury standards. The only flaw we saw was the messy upkeep of the beach and the tail of a giant resort on one end that cuts one’s stroll. Stay before it becomes another Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but inside and around its private grounds, Hotel Esencia is a gem of a retreat.

Healthy Tulum food for the hip, fit tribes and higher awareness-seekers

Healthy Tulum food is easy to get in this millennial cool destination fit for cosmopolitan good looking tribes. Plus, my food guide to the best Tulum eats would not be complete without mentioning also some signature healthy themed outcrops one must browse through for a complete experience while in Tulum. Lucky you healthyvores there are plenty of plant-based, fresh fruit and vegetables focused, organic, whole foods and superfood options along the Tulum beach strip. The boho-chic after all eat sane.

boho-chic TulumBe Tulum hotelTulum MexicoCaribbean beach

Moving naturally in Tulum

First, walking is the best mode of transport. Perhaps even swimming’s but I don’t advise cycling at night on that scantly lit, third world road cum pedestrian narrow path that is the only way to get through. Unless you have a wide-wheeled bike made for the beach, skip the wheels. There are not many gyms and long enough and zero lap pools on the Tulum beach strip, so you better move by dancing, walking and swimming or surfing in the ocean.

Stroll over the dusty, potholed road for breakfast or better – shoes off – along the powdery sandy way to a casual beach lunch or for just an energiser of blended matcha smoothie or kombucha (fizzy, zero-proof, by a scooby transformed tea) on tap.

To go or just squat around the straw-roofed kiosk Matcha Mama get your açai, cold brew or matcha fix, even a plant-based frozen nice cream. For a vitamin blast in a smart selection of smoothies or wholesome food bowls bench at Los Bowls healthy eats. Just around the corner you can shop for lovely authentic high quality souvenirs.

Healthy Tulum food vegan Tulum

Trendy healthy Tulum food options by the beach

Some healthy-minded morphed into vegan fashionistas demand their superfood bowls at breakfast, lunch and even with the detox juice “cocktails” at dinner. In Tulum one finds their perfect spot easily as almost any beach hotel offers their version of the Brazilian surfers cool, alas the açai bowl and its sibling, the dragon fruit purée over the familiar assembly of grated coconut, oat granola, wholesome seeds and nuts topped with fresh berries. We had ours at the – dip your toes into the beach sand – Be Tulum hotel. Not bad, but certainly in Brazil, Miami South Beach as well as in California we had better though. If you are not a food snob like I am, you will not judge. Experience can sometimes kill the joy from the tested and tried already.

boho-chic styleTulum beach style

Nomad Tulum, a super hippie chic hotel on the beach also offers plant-centric meals at its Morocco meats eastern Mediterranean cuisine. We loved the mezze platters. Superb baba ghanoush (eggplant dip) here topped with crushed pistachios) also the steamed deliciously seasoned broccoli with tahini lemon sauce was nice and the falafel balls with turmeric humus were crisp. Good selection of alcohol-free drinks, homemade iced tea and juices. Ignore the well-trod puffs and low-set couches in need of freshening up (at least a more frequent washing service) and just flow with the music.

vegan Tulum

Healthy Tulum food is still served casually. There is one proper vegan restaurant called gorgeously Love Tulum. It is closer to the town alongside the tight, traffic pothole ripped beach road and pleases plant-based eaters all day long without a break. My locally based meditation and inner yoga teacher frequents Love Tulum. It is her favourite spot for a wholesome dinner sans margaritas.

For locally made, eco-responsible and fair trade shopping I recommend Spiritum Tulum. Wood and palm leaves bohemian style boutique alongside the beach road in Tulum close from Be Tulum and Casa Malca.

Tulum shoppingSpiritum TulumTulum spa

Spiritual nourishment in Tulum

There is yoga in Tulum, naturally, but much of it is of the acro, gymnastic, pin your pose on your social media board breed. Except when you practice with Madhu (, the India-born and trained guru of mine changes your mind, helps to control your emotions as much as your relationship with your body in the deep realm of awareness. She made me a more peaceful person by calming my anxiety and hectic lifestyle patterns (no commissions for me, but she was my well kept secret until now as I feel it’s time to share her magic teaching skills with those who need it and there are millions of us).

Tulum experience includes paid for cacao and temazcal ceremonies, guided ayahuasca mind-expanding sessions, even sexual healing soirees (a new word for the old thing?). Spirit-soaring practices abound on the Tulum beach. Such commodifying of bohemian rustic lifestyle over the past decades has infiltrated even the most remote, jungle cool destinations. While some are in, I seek either genuine authenticity or even more safety as much as possible, so I rather attend a ceremony in Zurich with an experienced and in health trained professional or with a trained psychotherapist who knows the safe boundaries. Shamans today sadly are often scammers, beware! Traditionally, one did not pay a shaman for their healing.

Tulum MexicoMayan incense burner

Do not be misled by false advertising since Tulum is not any more that remote, unspoiled jungle glamping destination it is known for. Unless you venture further afar into the Yucatan jungle along the Tulum beach strip, here the overnight stays are at hotels or small guesthouses ran in a boutique spirit. If you long for a true luxury escape with an incredible spa then drive almost half way back towards Cancun and stay at the divine Hotel Esencia where I found calm and inspiration.

The prices in Tulum today are more St Tropez than Mexico of its budget heydays! Also, do not bring any valuable jewellery and watches. It happened only recently that a man was killed for his Rolex in Tulum.

Be Tulum hoteldigital detox

And not last, be present, savour each moment of your holidays mindfully. Even though there is a good wifi signal throughout the Tulum beach strip, disconnect form the outside world for a day or a week, it feels liberating!

The most delicious, ingenious and delightfully ambient restaurants along the Tulum beach

Tulum beach has changed eons since Pablo Escobar hid savvily here in the exotic Yucatan Caribbean-lacing jungle. Yet, some inspiration-stirring heritage came from this most legendary Latin American drug lord. This time, it’s the Americans flooding over the border into Mexico to escape the strict law enforcement on drug access at home. Somethings as silly as low-cost youthful face preserving retinol creams, available without prescription, to more serious “outlawed” medical services like abortions. It’s ironic that these days there is more liberty across the border than exists in the ‘Land of the Free.’ 

On Mexican soil, open minds together with an abundance of ingredients flourish and stir the passions of the culinary realm. The world’s most celebrated and controversial chefs are drawn to the allures of Tulum, creating high demand and elite access to the strip’s hardest to book, and indeed a must try, eatery — Hartwood, a simple grill done well.

Tulum, Riviera Maya Tulum beachMargarita cocktailBe Tulum

The Tulum beach vibe

Here on the jungle side of the Tulum beach road, chef Redzepi (a spoiler alert!) along with the support of his Copenhagen team, occasionally stages a pop up of his iconic European restaurant. While the experience embraces the beach vibe and smokey native aroma of the ‘coco fuego,’ I even witnessed chef mindlessly putting his bare feet up the seating benches during service (a lesson: never touch your seat with bare hands before putting a taco in your mouth).

Redzepi plans to return to Tulum now that his former No 1 restaurant has shuttered (after two decades in business, and immediately after finally receiving his third Michelin star.) Citing an unsustainable and socially problematic model of modern fine dining, he has set his ambition on creating international pop-ups and prepared exotic food ingredients for home cooks.

While he has now moved on to Kyoto, I wonder if his questionable hygienic standards will cause a stir in tidy Japan as did his serving mouldy asparagus to my pregnant friend, or the numerous food poisoning scandals his Copenhagen institution caused? On one hand, he’s a maverick and innovator of regional food sourcing and fermentation alchemy, while on the other, he pushes the limits of food safety with questionable scientific adherences.

interfaith wedding

I’ve made my peace and I am letting him be. Beyond the more appetising results of fermentation I share one passion with the Danish chef as I too fell in love with Tulum on the first bite (after those sublime fish tacos at a random highway stand on our way in from Cancùn airport!) Yeah, the food in Mexico can be sublime, but if one only craves the best, here are the most delicious, ingenious and delightfully ambient eats along the Tulum beach we had the pleasure to devour between the extraordinary, days-lasting (Indian groom, Jewish bride) wedding festivities that drew us happily over from afar.

Beyond attracting some of those with a libertarian state control aversion, Riviera Maya has a colourful history of seafaring native rattles between the secluded locals and the more expansive Southern tribes from Chiapas. Not all the Maya were the same, I learned from our anthropologist guide at the Tulum Ruins. The food in Mexico is regionally as diverse as in China or India, the other abundant cultures with deep roots of their localised culinary traditions.

The Noma effect has influenced the local dining scene somewhat, yet not everyone turned into fermenting cabbages and whatever is found around. Rather, the Mexican tradition in Tulum was freshened up, got plated more artfully and became jazzier.

Be Tulum diningHartwood in Tulum

Ambient eats along the Tulum beach

Intriguingly, all of the more creative, contemporary restaurants are located not on the hotel-dense sandy beach side of the road, but across the dusty potholed rustic chic thoroughfare that in high season gets ultra slow life. It is faster to walk to your restaurant on weekends than taking a car. Parking is virtually impossible on the Tulum beach road strip so hired vehicle is the only option next to your own feet.

While the feel of the surroundings, the visual, aural and olfactory attributes count in the gastronomic ladder along the Tulum beach, these can stretch as wide as a stone-clad carpet of an open wood grill to a romantic chic alfresco decor with ambient music. The majority of the greatest restaurants on the Tulum beach strip are outdoors. Spray on that mosquito repellent, ladies leave make-up free (first nobody will see your face details in the scant lighting, second it is usually so humid and anything on your skin will feel, well blah) and never wear heels (don’t even pack them), especially the straw-thin models that will sink into the dirt, the cracked wood flooring or sand meets rocks you exclusively walk on here.

Escobar hotelCasa Malca hotel intoxicated monks

Serious foodies must goes and no goes

Forget any meals at the former Escobar’s bunker evolved into an eccentric, with horror-obsessive, popish and controversy-stirring art hotel. There you will also spot quite a few orgy-themed pieces (photos above) and parties going 24/7. From my own bedding experience, sleeping at the heavily guarded Casa Malca may induce some rather unpleasant dreams, even though I usually do not succumb to superstition.

Above all and must reserve well ahead, Hartwood hasn’t ceased attracting great food lovers happy to eat casually and well.

While Hartwood is a grill-centric restaurant in Tulum, you can start with refreshing jicama root salad (something between radish juiciness and bite and daikon), fish and seafood ceviches, crispy tostadas topped with anything from raw tuna to whatever swims around. Oven-baked empanadas whiff in yet more Latin American cuisines blending over the centuries. From Venezuelan arepas to Argentinian staple empanadas. At Hartwood they stuffed these perfectly crisp charred pockets of dough with grilled pork.

The grill is the centrepiece at Hartwoodbest eats in Tulum beachno fuss food in TulumMexican cocktails

For the mains, the grill is the centrepiece at Hartwood. The menu carried around on a charcoal board shows seasonal local fish, octopus, lobster, Angus beef, and the must have baked giant red beets. Simply prepared to sate and not overwhelm with complexity. Harwood is best for no fuss food in Tulum.

When in an indulgent mode imbibe on the spectral margaritas (based on Mexican tequila) and mezcal cocktails mixed here perfectly. Refreshing, gently sweet, much less so than outside Mexico. Stop by the high bar and surrounding lounge tables if you cannot reserve a table, someone unlucky may not show up.

best eats on Tulum beachYucatan fish

If you crave wine you get the best selection at Bar Atila. While they claim to be a “Yucatecan brasserie”, here natural wines meet Italian pizzas with local ingredients, creative flatbreads, perfect with the wine, even Asian style cooked clams spark the menu. Mexico now produces some decent bottles, so give them a try. While not a mind-blowing meal for seasoned globe trotters like us, Atila is a good spot for other than Mexican cuisine. A neat atmosphere, more comfortably furnished than the rustic, but sublime Hartwood, it is one of the more upscale options on the strip.

Tulum eats European food in Tulum  European food in Tulum

The most sophisticated creative plates are now served at ARCA. For Tulum beach quite a smart restaurant, but you still be fine in flip flops and nice shorts. We started with the homemade pulque sourdough bread from the wood fire oven served with local Amish butter, half-mooned with black mayan salt from Celestún. The prettiest plate on our trip goes to Dzikilpak, a roasted pumpkin seed dip spiked with crispy corn, sunshine-hued squash blossoms, charred scallions and green tomatoes, soaking in heirloom coriander chive oil. On side, crispy tostadas accompanied this most complex dip I have heart of. From the mains, the Octopus al pastor, guajillo adobo, lentil purée, lentil granola pickled radish was further seasoned with xcatic salsa and epazote herb was perhaps too many flavours on one plate. The beef steak served on hot charcoal setup was very good.

best eats in Tulum beachArca Tulum

Our drinks, mine NAKED IN TULUM blend of Mezcal, Ancho Reyes Verde, Aperol and Lime was bittersweet refreshing. My husband’s EL SOLAR also based Mezcal (Amarás Espadín type), Hibiscus, Chipotle Piloncillo Syrup, Lime, and Chapulin Salt Rim was more exotic. Spicy, sour, sweet, but also the dehydrated larvae seasoned salt rim added a very authentic Mexican twist.

Creative food in Tulumbest eats in Tulum beachCreative Mexican food

The most delectable, creative contemporary meal we had was at Wild Tulum. The warm baked avocado starter bathing in elegant tomato sauce topped with breadcrumbs, corn agnolotti pasta sprinkled with fresh flower petals and the grilled octopus were so good that we went twice. It is super dark in the wooden bar-centred jungle alfresco restaurant so tricky to take good photos, but that is what also make this flavour-focused restaurant so appealing. Forget social media and just savour the sexy moment with every mouthful. It was so good that I forgot my purse there, and while inquiring at the restaurant the following morning I was relieved to learn that the staff put it in the safe immediately. Professional service, romantic vibes and of course excellent cocktails.

best eats in Tulum beachCreative Mexican cocktailsbest gastronomy in Tulum beachWild Tulum

For vibey cocktails Gitano has established itself as the gem in the unchaste crown of the Tulum beach strip. The quality of the drinks is impeccable. We sat each time at the bar so we could interact with the skilled mixer. Inquiring about his favourite tequilas, Mezcals as well as learning about Sotol (distilled from Dasylirion wheeleri, a desert plant) I found one my favourite smoky spirit fragrances. On clear night, watch the stars above the palm tops.

This raw nature meets first world gastronomy in a lively, casual, not showy vibe originally attracted many wild souls to Tulum. One cannot stop the would be influencers broadcasting on their social media from every visually perfectly framable corner today. The Tulum beach and the ruins are heart-stopping though, so put your shades on, ignore the crowds who actually are not there but virtually elsewhere, and savour the best this Yucatan jungle spirit now offers. It will change again as everything, everywhere.

Mexican cocktails are often based on mezcal or tequila Tulum beach style

My guide would not be complete without mentioning some signature healthy themed outcrops one must browse by for a complete experience while in Tulum. Read my post on Tulum food for the hip, healthy tribes even if you are not one of them.

San Miguel d'Allende: where time stops, art flourishes

San Miguel d’Allende, the artsy, calm, colonial town nested in the El Baijo lowlands about a three-hour drive from Mexico City, can be best defined by its warm colors. The brush of nature was generous on its romantic canvas, while human hands painted the walls of its tiny historic centre with pastel and bold colors as well as depictions of the daily strugles of millennial life. Emotions gush from its mature heart affecting the locals and visitors alike.
Mexican colonial town
The romantic movie set of sun setting beyond the horizon continually reveals coral, light peach, butterscotch, ochre and pink rose shades, visually warming even the white washed facades. Such tranquile beauty captivates deeply spiritual souls as well as travellers seeking the charms of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you come from Europe, the town may feel somehow familiar. The spiking Parish church of San Miguel Arcangel surrounded by cupolae of the adjoining Catholic buildings and cafes under the main square’s arcades recalls a scene from a Southern Spanish town. The historic centre with its clumsy cobbled narrow roads were indeed adapted from the Old Continent by the colonizing Spaniards. Mind your step as here only sturdy sneakers will save you from sprinking your ankle. Imagine if the Prague’s Charles Bridge was not repaved from the 14th century, welcome to the rustic walks around San Miguel!
Buildings in San Miguel d'AllendeMexican Street art
The colonial architecture is the lungs of its walls, breathing with sights of remorse asserting its bloody legacy. One of the most important battles for the Mexican Indepence from Spain married into its last name. Ignacio Allende, a native of the town, was one of the leading figures of the insurgence that fired up in the surounding state of Guanajuato.
What you find here today though is that most of the art is locally conceived and authentic. As street art has become respected by the authorities, its blooming beauty can be now appreciated across Latin America more than anywhere else. The Mexican muralists are globally recognized as the maestros of connecting their work to the public emotions. Often politically elloquent, their depictions of violent reality as well as fantasy, are powerful.
Mural by Mexican artist A Castro
You will get lost as if diving into a deep ocean cave when looking at the mural by David Leonardo Chavez [pictured above] at the local Public Library. Mystic love and warmth in his colorful paintings depict complexity of life. If you seek beauty in art, not artists’ depresive outpourings, then you will find plenty of joy in San Miguel d’Allende.
This small artistic quake, has spurred a tsunami of contemporary public art found across the country. From the late Diego Rivera, Orozco to the politically charged appeal of the murals by Siqueiros, today art is better nourished in Mexico than anywhere else South of the US border.
Many galleries here support local talent. The B’Nai Or Art Gallery inside the Instituto Allende, a working art school, organizes regular exhibitions. The owner himself is a musician and his electric guitar inspires the creative expression of David Leonardo, the resident artist I mentioned earlier. Great music sends vibrating shivers all over your body and can well out creative work in sensitive individuals.
Another building nurturing artistic creativity, where many world renown artists taught (Siqueiros) or studied (Pablo O’Higgins), is the former College of Fine Arts. Now the Ignacio Ramirez Cultural Center “El Negromante, is a must visit attraction, where many magnificent murals adorn its interior.
Mexican muralContemporary Mexican food
Contemporary street art found its way from the public walls to the local restaurants plates. The chef Matteo Salas at Áperi, located inside the boutique Hotel Dos Casas prepares a gastronomic feast every night for his tasting menu. The new hotel is a more personalised option for lodging in town, yet by far the best in the region is the Rosewood Hotel. This sprawling property offers the best panoramic views from its rooftop bar Luna as well as from some of its rooms. Unfortunatelly, the tapas served there is nothing special, so for a better meal head downstairs into the hotel’s 1826 restaurant, that over the years proved itself as one of the finest dinings in town.
For a more sustainable and healthy meal the community run organic cafe and market Via Organica might be more appealing. During a very slow food breakfast or lunch savor the chemicals-free local ingredients and become the part of the local mostly expat supported eco-friendly lifestyle.
Coffee in MexicoMexican street art
With so much inspiration around, let your inner muse pour out of the mind’s bottle by engagin in a painting, sculpture or any other art class. Many artsits here share their experience of art with anyone interested. Find them either at their workshops or get recommendation from your hotel concierge. I painted in the garden of the Rosewood hotel and enjoyed it so much that I did not want to leave my agave unfinished, but as time flies seing other people’s art was more important than my amateurish indulgence.
Most of the artists workshops are crammed into La Aurora, a former textile factory in the North of town. Although much of the merchandise there is rather commercial, you can still find serious galleries and even artists working on a new canvas inside.
To refuel, hang out or to find a talkative companion, sit down and dive into the slow cloud of the local coffee shops and cafes. Considering its compact size, San Miguel has highly addictive coffee culture, dotted around its hilly cobbled streets. I find the rustic ambiance of Lavanda Cafe attractive as one of the most precise coffee experiences in town.
Types of Mexican peppers
Vist of the local covered food market or the weekend organic fair outdoors is also a colorful affair. There you will find typical Mexican produce, such as the hot, mild and distinctively colored peppers, from bright yellow, spring green, sexy red to a moody black. The most common sightings on the autumn market are nopales (cacti fruit), tamarind, corns and the green chayote gourd.
Mexican cacti fruitMexican street food
For a snack, in Mexico called antojito, bite into boiled corn or have some freshly made tortilla with endless toppings. Chapulines, the protein rich and almost fat free grasshopers, larvas and other insects make any casual taco a gourmet experience. If chewing the bugs raw or plain grilled is too adventurous, mix these weirdly looking animals with plenty of creamy guacamole and enjoy this sustainable food of the future!
Tortillas from different types of cornMexican antojitos
Local style gelato is also much loved, especially during the hottest months (May and June) when daytime temperatures can reach over 35degrees. Luckily for the area the dry mountain air and cool winds turn at least the summer evenings into a delightful soirees outdoors. From December to February, when many Mexicans arrive for the holidays, it can get cold in the night, but mornings are again pleasantly warm. During the rainy season from June to September is the least desirable period for visit.
Mexican ice cream in San Miguelcorn
San Miguel d’Allende might incide patriotic pride of the Mexicans, yet today many of its residents are foreigners seeking the safe heaven in the crime rigged country. Historically, the American expats arrived after the World Wars to create freely in its amicable ambiance, most of them are older now, and their children took the bohemian reigns of artists life.
The region is quite immune to violence and the all too common robberies in the Districto Federal (the capital city) and by drugs infested North. Still, better be alert in particular in the dark alleys once the sun ceases to light up the exteriors.
Many Mexican celebrities and politicians found a refuge in this charming town, and it is likely that you will fall for it as most of the visitors did in the past. Let your creativity flow, if at least for the time spent in San Miguel d’Allende.

Quintonil: Mexican herbs deeply seeded in contemporary cuisine

Pure, unpretentious and wood craving Nordic design meets local ingredients at Quintonil. As one of the most groundbreaking restaurants in contemporary Mexico, the Noma and Pujol experiences of the chef funnelled into an unconventional blending of regional Mexican cuisines.
Set in the posh Polanco, on a leafy street off the luxury-gleaming Avenida Presidente Masaryk, a discrete entrance secures comfort in the wildness of the 21 million maze of Greater Mexico City. Inside the restaurant wears a casual cloak of simplicity, allowing a room to a display of Mexican warmth and curiosity through its friendly service.
Jorge Vallejo, a youthful force behind Quintonil, is the rising culinary star of the moment. Personally sourcing from small farm operations to wield ultimate control over quality, and tweaking the home cuisine of his nation into more elaborate yet clean presentation, is smartly aligned to the current dining trends. Quintonil is a wild green herb native to the gastronomically abundant Oaxaca region in Southern Mexico. Since local herbs widely define the restaurant’s creative dishes, this name aptly captures its spirit. Locally sourced, native ingredients showcasing Mexico’s culinary diversity inspired by its resources.
Flowers, powders and miniature herbs highlight the visual artistry on each plate. The chef’s learning curve spiked when he joined the team (as the head of catering) at Mexico’s most lauded restaurant Pujol, while brushing through the kitchen of the then World’s Best Restaurant Noma in Copenhagen awakened his creative spirit. With Pujol’s chef Enrique Olvera flying more often to launch new restaurants, the three-years-young Quintonil remains more focused on its kitchen and it shows in the precision of the food. The chef’s wife, a trailblazer in the international hospitality management, perfects the experience by bringing a family warmth into the trendy yet cold contemporary austerity.
Mexican tostada
Distinctively Mexican ingredients such as poblano amaranth, avocados, beans, corn, sharp Cotija goat cheese, a rainbow of chilies, huitlacoche fungus infesting corn, all shades of green herbs such as epazote and huauzontle (green herby part of the amaranth), nopales from the prickly cacti as well as turkey (native to Mexico) are used by the chef.
By using the Mexican names of the star ingredients in each dish, Vallejo confuses as well as educates. The menu thrives through its patriotic language, and an outsider can find herself like Alice in Wonderland. Unless your dining companion is a well-read Mexican chef or the staff is willing to dive into the depths of your uncertainty, you will brace your dining experience at Quintonil with my well-researched highlights from the chef’s favourite ingredients, that he often incorporates into his seasonally changing menu. Here are the leading autumn flavours through the palate of Jorge Vallejo.
To warm us up to the Mexican culinary fiesta, a welcome compliment from the chef arrived in a crystal cup of refreshing cold nopales soup. My first ever slurp of this green been resembling, but thicker and more succulently textured paddle-like outlier of the cactus fruit. A good introduction.
Perhaps the most exotic appetiser for a Westerner was the “Salbute” with glazed mushrooms, “escamoles” and chile. Curious, I had to order this by Yucatan inspired antojito (snack). The Salbute is made with corn masa (dough base for all tortillas), that is cooked on a dry, hot cast iron skillet until slightly puffy. A delicate cut into the salbute for stuffing is then sealed and lightly fried. They are typically topped with tomatoes, lettuce, a slice of cucumber, ground beef or chicken, avocado and pickled onions. At Quintonil through the escamoles (ant eggs), mushrooms and spices were stuffed inside, while the crispy tortilla lid was dotted with caper-hued dollops of sauce covered by herbs. The firm egg-white texture of the ant eggs is nothing to worry about, its straight-forward and simple taste though calls for spices or a sauce, and the chef did a brilliant mix for the stuffing.
Escamoles ant eggs
A hearty String cheese soup with fried pork belly and plantain is another re-imagination of a typical Mexican staple. Often a backbone of lunch, the main meal of the day, this stew-rich “sopa” draws from the popular Queso Oaxaca, also known as string cheese quesillo (used in quesadillas), ubiquitous in the Southern Oaxaca region. The coastal state of Veracruz adopted plantains from Africa while pork sailed once from Spain, so this creation reminds of the Mexico’s historic influx of foreigners and their native ingredients since the 15th century, changing its prehispanic cuisine forever.
The main courses also pick from both the indigenous pre-Hispanic and the colonial know-how as in the Octopus in its ink with potatoes and “longaniza”. Longaniza is a chorizo-style Spanish sausage, in this dish adding spicy richness to the succulent tentacles of the octopus. Potatoes are the closest import (Peru) featuring in this high-profile tasting plate. Served cut and roasted with their skin with shavings of white turnips, red radishes and grilled green cherry tomato, the balance between rich and fresh flavours was cast perfectly.
With the Duck in “recado negro” sauce, pickles and kohlrabi, the chef applied the Eastern fermented foods vibe to a traditional Mexican spice blend recado negro, also known as chilmole or black chile paste based on burned hot arbol or ancho chile, vinegar, annatto seeds, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, garlic, onion, oregano, epazote and salt.
Mole is a complex sauce of spices, herbs and other regionally distinct ingredients such as fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables or cocoa. There are as many moles as there are families in Mexico, but their regional name is strictly related to the type of chile used. That is why I was attracted to a vegetarian plate of “Chilacayotes” in homemade mole, charred tortilla, basil and lemon thyme sprouts. Chilacayote is a type of squash, its harsh and thick skin brings to mind a pale watermelon. While, its taste tends to attract sweet preparations in Mexico, the chef used it instead of meat in a harmonious friendship with his mole sauce. Comal, the flat griddle is used for cooking tortillas was surpassed by the chef, who charred it to an effect of a sexy smokey eye, deep and addictive.
Ocosingo Cheese Flan, Celeriac Ice Cream, sugar-coatet cocoa nibs and toasted almond tile
A cactus sorbet was served complimentary to clean our palates prior to our dessert feast. The convent nuns from Europe introduced many sweets to Mexico, but there are plenty of native local fruits as well as vanilla, the noble pod plucked from orchids, that bring the triumphs to the table.
As in the Mamey pannacotta, sweetened corn crumble and mamey seed ice cream, where the orange-tinged thick-skinned Mamey sapote fruit native to the Meso-America took the main stage. A truly contemporary dessert, light and multifaceted with icy texture through smooth pudding of mamey to crunchy corn crumbs.
Spain met the local cocoa, a flower garden, and the modern infatuation with the vegetable desserts in Ocosingo Cheese Flan, Celeriac Ice Cream, sugar-coated cocoa nibs and toasted almond tile. Almonds were a Spanish import as much as cheese while nobody can dispute the origins of the cocoa obsession, here you taste the sweet marriage of the Old with the New Worlds.
To accompany the desserts, the Mexican high elevation coffee, herbal infusions from the restaurant’s own garden as well as, upon request, the Mexican speciality of spiced up and by unrefined rapadura cane (Piloncillo) sweetened Café de Olla prepared in clay pots are offered. Following the advice of our Mexican chef companion we chose the latest, a cinnamon flavoured caffeinated treat on its own. A must try!
Mexican mamey fruit dessert
If your appetite allows, and to shortcut your decision process, go for the best of the season in a ten-course tasting menu. For less than 70 US$ it is a bargain.
The wine selection is appropriate, but we were ravenous for Mexican wines. The trio of red Cabernet and Merlot blend in Unico Gran Reserva by Santo Tomas as well as the Gran Amado and Icaro, left us gasping for more Mexican wine during our inaugural trip to the country. The best red wines in Mexico are made in the long thin strip of Baja California. The Spanish brought the grapes with other plants and animals during their conquest and catholicism sustained its demand in a tequila dominated country.
Whether you are infatuated with “entophomagy” aka insect-eating, traditional in Mexico or more curious about a more appetising fusion of the adventurous local fare, Quintonil is the ideal initiation. Not too shocking, but rather refined Mexican gourmet odyssey served on unpretentious artisan pottery. Buen provecho!
🕗  Mon-Sat: lunch 1-5 pm, dinner 7-11 pm; Closed on Sundays
✉  Newton 55, Polanco, Mexico DF
 +(52) 801 660; +(52) 800 254; +(52) 802 680

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