Over the summer we had a wonderful lunch at Zibu Allende, one of several restaurants in San Miguel de Allende’s new Live Aqua Urban Resort. After lunch, we strolled around the resort and discovered five different bars. It occurred to us that it would be nice it would be to hang out and absorb the atmosphere of each space, sampling the food and drinks. We saw the possibility of doing a food crawl within the Live Aqua Resort.
We recruited some friends that share our propensity for food crawling and also appreciate the benefits of eating at the bar (said benefits include attentive service, the opportunity to chat with the bartenders, and the flexibility to sit or stand).
A Live Aqua Urban Resort food crawl? They readily accepted the challenge.
The Live Aqua Urban Resort San Miguel de Allende opened in November 2018 on the outskirts of the historic city centro. It is the 5th Live Aqua property by the parent company Grupo Posadas, joining the Live Aqua destinations in Cancun, Mexico City, Monterrey, and Playa del Carmen. With 153 guest rooms, it is the largest in San Miguel. In contrast to the historic colonial feel of other luxury hotels in SMA, Live Aqua is sleek and modern, set against the natural scenery at the edge of town.
Mario Canario Pool Bar
We passed through the massive wooden doors at the main entrance and went straight to the back of the resort. The pool sits at the base of the Presa del Obraje, an 18th century stone dam on the Obraje Reservoir.
Mario Canario is the restaurant and bar next to the pool. The menu is created by Mexican Chef Eduardo Palazuelos, who also heads the main restaurant in the resort, Zibu Allende. This is a poolside version of Palazuelos’ Mario Canario restaurant in Acapulco. It offers a light menu of starters, small plates, ceviches, sandwiches, and salads. Perfect for a poolside snack or substantial enough for a meal.
Our bartender, Miguel, refreshed us with a light citrusy cocktail that he crafted with Siete Leguas Blanco tequila. We shared the Mini Hamburguesas of Crispy Camaron – two little sliders each with a big crispy shrimp inside.
Yintony by Tanqueray
After our lounge by the pool, we headed back to the front of the resort where Yintony by Tanqueray occupies the terrace next to Zibu Allende. Gin drinks are the specialty at this cute little bar. It is a nice spot for a gin gimlet, martini, or one of the homemade gin tonics with your choice of two from a list of about twenty special garnishes, like lavender and rosemary, or hibiscus and strawberry.
There is a small menu of about a dozen tapa-sized plates. We fell into Spanish-mode, ordering the Croquetas de Jamon Iberico and some Piminetos de Padron – mildly spicy padron peppers, blistered and served with a Teriyaki-Garlic sauce. Both are very common tapas in Spain, where we could have easily been enjoying them a gin tonic.
As the sun started to set, we made our way inside to Zibu Allende, one of our favorite restaurants in San Miguel de Allende. We love the casual elegance of this restaurant. The dining room is refined without being stuffy, and the courtyard tables are lit by star lights and a wood fire in the evening.
Originally from Acapulco, Chef Palazuelos owns several restaurants in Mexico including Zibu Acapulco and Zibu Allende. Having spent time working in Thailand, Palazuelos has developed a fusion cuisine that he calls Mex-Thai, which features prominently throughout the menu.
We sat at the long bar next to the kitchen. From our seats we could smell the smokey aromas of the Josper grill, reigniting our appetites. Tacos filled the bar in front of us. We tried tacos of charcoal grilled rib eye, short rib, and the Tacos Carbajal, which was presented as a pot of grilled octopus, chunked and doused with melted cheese and peppers. Like a rich gooey queso fundido, we scooped globs of cheese-covered pulpo into fresh tortillas.
For a lighter appetizer, we also like the Tataki de Atun (tuna tataki). The fresh raw tuna is encrusted with dried chiles and topped with tempura onions.
We had to tear ourselves away from Zibu before we had our fill, as we still had to make it up the stairs to Spice Market, Live Aqua’s second major restaurant. The Spice Market restaurants originated in the meat packing district of New York in 2004. That location has since closed, but more have opened internationally. In addition to the new restaurant in SMA, there are currently Spice Markets in the ritzy resort village of Punta De Mita, Mexico, and Doha, Qatar – the world’s richest city.
The allure of the dining room pulls you inside, with its exotic decor and the glowing bar at the end of the room. All of the other diners that evening were taking advantage of the cool air and city view on the outside terrace, so we had the indoor bar all to ourselves.
The San Miguel version of Spice Market has an extensive menu of Pan-Asian cuisine, with sushi, dim sum, curries, wok dishes, and more. The pork belly bao buns were the best we’ve had in SMA. The steamed buns were soft and springy, with thick pieces of pork belly, a slice of Asian pear and Sriracha mayo, with Mexican touches of jalapeno pepper and epazote.
Casa Dragones Cigar Bar
As the evening came to a close, we thought this would be the perfect time for a final night cap (and a cigar, if desired) at the Casa Dragones Cigar Bar. Casa Dragones is a small batch, luxury brand of tequila co-founded in 2009 by Bertha González Nieves, the first woman to be certified as a “Maestra Tequilera” in Mexico, and Robert Pittman, the founder of MTV. Casa Dragones tequila is made in Tequila, in Jalisco, Mexico, but it was inspired by the legendary Dragones of San Miguel de Allende. This was an elite calvary of the Queen’s army stationed in SMA. Headed by General Ignacio Allende, the Dragones led the movement toward Mexican independence. The Casa Dragones Cigar Bar, tucked into the back of the resort by the pool, offers the chance to enjoy this premium tequila.
I would love to tell you that we sipped on Casa Dragones Joven tequila (it says “Sipping Tequila” right on the label) while gazing out over the pool and the old stone dam…but it didn’t happen. We failed at our challenge to eat and drink at every bar in Live Aqua, but succeeded in having a deliciously entertaining day.
The fact that we couldn’t do it all in one day is a testament to the many options available to guests staying at the resort. For those of us living or staying elsewhere in San Miguel, Live Aqua Urban Resort is a dining destination. Luckily, we still have plenty of time to return for that glass of tequila.