Pork Belly—Delicious in Any Form

Pork belly san miguel allende restaurants mexico

What is it about pork belly that makes it so irresistible? The mere sight of the words on a restaurant menu trigger some primitive part of my brain that says “Oooh…pork belly”. It can’t be helped. Pork belly is the most delectable part of the pig, possessing that perfect combination of meat and fat.

Pork belly is a boneless cut of meat from the underside, or belly, of the pig. The meat is layered with stripes of buttery fat. Pork belly that has been cured and smoked is called bacon, America’s favorite pork product. When uncured pork belly is cooked low and slow, that fat melts into the meat, giving it a rich luxurious texture. If the skin is still attached to the upper layer, it can be crisped in a pan or under the broiler.

Fresh Pork Belly
cuts of pork photoroyalty
Cuts of Pork via Photoroyalty

In the US, we turn most of our pork belly into bacon or salt pork. However, fresh pork belly has become easier to find in markets and restaurants. In 2016 the wholesale price of pork bellies plunged to a 7 year low, while its presence on restaurant menus doubled between 2012 and 2016. Chefs have increasingly been incorporating pork belly into their menus as it has boomed in popularity.

The restaurants in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico have followed along with the pork belly trend. Given the fact that we can’t say “no” to those two words on a menu, we indulged in pork belly in its many forms throughout the city. These were our favorites:

Hank’s New Orleans Cafe & Oyster Bar

Hank’s has been serving traditional Louisiana style Cajun Creole in SMA since 1999. The founder Bob Thieman came to Mexico from the French Quarter of New Orleans, so it makes sense that Hank’s is a popular drinking spot with great 2 for 1 drink specials every day. But sometimes we actually go there for the food. The Cajun pork belly was a wonder to behold…a solid slab of tender, fatty belly that fell apart with a fork and beautifully browned skin. Bring a friend along, because this pork belly is perfect for sharing.

pork belly hanks san miguel de
Hank’s Cajun Pork Belly

Hank’s New Orleans Cafe & Oyster Bar
Celaya-Dolores Hidalgo 12, Zona Centro
San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico

Bovine Brasserie

Despite the beefy name of this classy brasserie, Bovine is one of our favorite places for pork dishes (the suckling pig is wonderful). The kitchen is led by Australian chef Paul Bentley, who has trained in French cooking technique in restaurants all over the world, and is now a rising star in Mexico. His preparation of pork belly was simple, elegant, and delicious. The pork belly slices were tender, juicy and glistening with fat. The richness was contrasted by a tangy verdolagas (purslane) salad and a dollop of pea puree, making for a well rounded plate.

pork belly bovine brasserie san miguel mexico
Pork Belly, Bovine Brasserie

Bovine Brasserie
Canal 16, Zona Centro
San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico

Pork Belly, Mercado Sano

Chef Erick Medina clearly loves pork. After working in restaurants throughout Europe, he and his wife Carmen Torres moved to Mexico and opened Pork Belly in January 2016. Pork Belly – the restaurant on Calle Cinco de Mayo – was closed for renovations when we were on our pork belly kick, so we were never able to fit in a visit for their renowned pork belly confit. Fortunately, there is a smaller version of Pork Belly upstairs in the organic market Mercado Sano serving sandwiches and burgers. Once we knew it was there, it was really hard to go to the market without sneaking upstairs for a Sandwich de Pork Belly. It’s a messy delicious handful. Tender pork belly is cut into chunks and tossed in a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce – I don’t know what is in it, and I probably don’t want to. Topped off with melted manchego cheese and pickled red cabbage, this sandwich is addictive.

pork belly mercado sano san miguel mexico
Sandwich de Pork Belly, Mercado Sano

Pork Belly
Upstairs in Mercado Sano 
Ancha de San Antonio 123, San Antonio
San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico

Spice Market

Pork belly steamed buns are one of the most common ways we see pork belly on menus. Also called Gua Bao, steamed buns filled with sliced pork belly are a popular Taiwanese street food. These tasty little buns are a good reason to visit the Spice Market in the Live Aqua SMA Resort. They are listed under the Dim Sum portion of Spice Market’s large Pan-Asian menu. The steamed buns were soft, springy, and stuffed with a generous slice of melt-in-your-mouth pork belly. The garnishes of Asian pear, Sriracha mayo complemented without detracting from the meat, while a slice of Jalapeño pepper and epazote reminds that you are in Mexico. (For more on Spice Market, see our post where we food crawl through the Live Aqua Resort.)

Pork Belly Steamed Buns, Spice Market

Spice Market by Live Aqua San Miguel de Allende 
Calz. De La Presa 85, Zona Centro
San Miguel de Allende, Gto., Mexico

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