We’ve shown every month how much we spend on dining out, but what does it really mean?  How do you use that information to budget for your own world travels?  To help, this is the first of a series of posts where we share 3 meals we’ve enjoyed in different budget classes.  Welcome to food voyeurism at its best

Budget Meal

Carnitas is a traditional Mexican pork dish, cooked in a large copper pot with herbs and spices for hours and hours until the meat is so tender that it falls off the bone and can be shredded by hand.  Stuff some of this in a hot off the comal hand made gordita with some fresh salsa, and you have one of our favorite lunches

A bit off the beaten path in the Allende neighborhood, the wonderful Bautista family runs Carnitas Bautista.  Since they don’t have a website, the address is Guadiana #2, Colonia Allende, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.  We recently brought a friend there for lunch, and he said, “I didn’t know anything existed in the world that tastes this good!”  The reviews don’t get much more glowing than that.  And since the place is always packed and we are the only foreigners we see, you know it is good

Carnitas Simmering in a Large Metal Pot

Carnitas Simmering in a Large Metal Pot

Fresh Carnitas!

Fresh Carnitas!

Even the Salsa is Made Fresh in a Large Stone Mortar

Even the Salsa is Made Fresh in a Large Stone Mortar

Fresh Gorditas, Made from Coarsley Ground Corn

Fresh Gorditas, Made from Coarsely Ground Corn on a Comal

The Magic Lunch - 2 Gorditas

The Magic Lunch – 2 Gorditas

They also serve tacos and tortas with an assortment of lettuce, radishes, picked jalapenos and carrots, and salsas.  We just love the gorditas hot off the comal

The bill for 4 people:

8 Carnitas Gorditas:  A hot off the comal gordita with a finely chopped mix of meat and pork fat with fresh salsa and pickeled jalapenos and carrots:  120 pesos ($9.25)
3 bottles of mineral water: 30 pesos
1 bottle of Coca-cola: 10 pesos

Total bill: 160 pesos (~$12.30), about $3 per person

Midrange Meal

Café Contento is a great place to enjoy lunch.  Located in an outdoor courtyard next to a bakery, the air is filled with sunshine and the smell of breads and savory traditional Mexican food.

We discovered Café Contento a couple weeks ago, and have already eaten there 4 times.  Every dish we have tried has been delicious, with great presentation and friendly service.

Fresh warm bread is served with each meal, with homemade jam.  Their tejocote jam is incredible.

We recently learned the secret to the great food at Café Contento, when we met the owner, Douglas, and chef José Bossuet Martinez.  As former executive chef to former Mexican president Vicente Fox, chef Bossuet knows how to please the pallet.

Enmoladas at Cafe Contento

Enmoladas Coloraditas de Pollo (Chicken Enmoladas) at Cafe Contento

Quiche Poblano at Cafe Contento

Quiche a la Poblano con Ensalada Verde at Cafe Contento

Cafe Contento

Outdoor Dining at Cafe Contento

The bill for 2 people:
Chicken Enmoladas, fresh made torillas stuffed with cheese and chicken and covered with a red mole sauce:  95 pesos (~$7.25)
Quiche a la Poblano:  poblano chiles, corn, and cheese, with a side salad:  89 pesos (~$6.90)
2 Americanos: 2 servings of espresso with hot water, served with fresh cream and stevia packets:  25 pesos (~$2)
Iced tea: a special of the day, free iced tea with an order of quiche:  free

Total bill:  209 pesos + 22 peso tip = 231 pesos (~$17.75), less than $9 per person

Where else can you get a meal prepared by a renowned chef for less than $10 a person?  Stop in and check it out.  Ask for Douglas and let him know that Go Curry Cracker! sent you

Living Large

For his birthday, we took a friend to dinner at La Parada, a high-end Peruvian restaurant near Parque Juarez

I am committing an artistic faux pax by sharing these photos, because the lighting was a bit dark and it was difficult to capture the food the way it deserves to be.  But trust me, everything was incredibly delicious


Higaditos Asaltado – Sauteed Chicken Livers


Cebiche Patria – White Fish Ceviche

El B

El Buenazo – a Carnitas Sandwich

Chino Cochino - Braised Short Ribs

Chino Cochino – Braised Short Ribs

Arroz Afrodisiaco

Arroz Afrodisiaco

The bill for 4 people:
Higaditos Asaltado:  Sauteed chicken livers, soy sauce, salsa, french fries (served as appetizer), 105 pesos (~$8)
Cebiche Patria:  White Fish Ceviche with sweet potato and onion, marinated in leche de tigre (Tiger’s milk, Roar), 95 pesos (~$7.30)
El Buenazo:  A carnitas sandwich with garlic cream, tomato, lettuce, and a spicy sauce, with french fries, (an upscale spin on the torta version of our budget meal above), 95 pesos (~$7.30)
Chino Cochino:  Pork ribs in a white wine and soy reduction, garlic mashed potatoes, vegetables, 190 pesos (~14.60)
Arroz Afrodisiaco:  Rice with tomato sauce and shrimp, octopus, fish, and scallops.  The name of this dish inspired a whole evening’s worth of juvenile humor, 175 pesos (~$13.50)
(A dish we didn’t order, Chupe me Camaron (suck my shrimp) inspired even more)
Tarta de Chocolate:  Chocolate Tart, silky and smooth, 60 pesos (~$4.60)
Pisco Punch:  Pisco (Peruvian brandy made from grapes) infused with pineapple and ginger, pineapple juice, lemon, sugar, 75 pesos (~$5.75)
Sangria Punch:  Pisco infused with cinnamon, red wine, Cointreau, citrus fruit, apple, 90 pesos (~$7)
2 Copa Absolut Azul:  2 Vodka tonics, 60 pesos each ($4.60)

Total bill:  1005 + 115 tip = 1120 (~$86), less than $22 per person with appetizer and drinks


For the inaugural “3 Meals” post, I’m including a bonus dessert round.  San Miguel de Allende, Mexico has one of the best pastry shops on the planet, El Petit Four.  That isn’t even a mild exaggeration.

We seem to find ourselves here several times a week, and everything from their croissants to their cheese cake to their truffles is incredible.  Winnie and I don’t always agree on food, but we agree that the cheese cake is the best we’ve ever had.  We continue to test that theory by eating a slice a week, and yes, it is consistently the best

El Petit Four Display Case

El Petit Four Display Case

Chocolate Mousse Martinis

Chocolate Mousse Martinis

Bailey's Irish Creme Mousse (Amazing!)

Bailey’s Irish Creme Mousse (Amazing!)

Cheese Cake with Berries (There is only one slice because we ate the rest!)

Cheese Cake with Berries (There is only one slice because we ate the rest!)

The bill:
Slice of cheese cake with berries: 50 pesos (~$4) (worth every peso and every calorie)

As you can see, there is a wide range of dining options at every price tag and in every type of environment.

Budget conscious travelers have incredible options for just a few dollars per meal, and high end dining can be enjoyed for less than a trip to the Olive Garden in the United States.

Please let us know in the comments what you think of this new series.  And love it or hate it, consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter

Happy Dining

Jeremy and Winnie, Go Curry Cracker!