El Buen Café’s new home

Sunlight fills the patio; filtered through bougainvillea, palm trees, banana leaves and jasmine vines. Everywhere you look the light is different, softer near the muted, paint-peeled apricot walls, harsher on the ancient grey stones. A soft breeze dances around a guava tree, full of sweet yellow fruit, swaying its long, green limbs ever so gently from side to side. Key limes weigh down the branches of a short, stout tree at the entrance of the old, colonial house. A house, which dates back to 1600 and is the new residence of El Buen Café (Jesús 36), just down the street from its original location.

Entrance to El Buen Cafe

I finally found my dream property, only four doors down from where I spent the last 17 years. No one ever knows what’s behind the grand doors of San Miguel–a crumbling hovel or just as easily, a refurbished mansion offering luxurious comfort.

Many wealthy silver miners abandoned their homes in San Miguel two centuries ago and until the last few decades, historic structures lay in ruin all around the center of town. In the 1940s when the GI bill brought Americans here to study, they found a place rich in history, culture, and architecture, but heavily lacking in modern amenities. Even in 1988, when I first came to San Miguel, it was the time warp, with its warm inviting culture, that most appealed to me.

Covered Patio Seating

La Casa del Diezmo (or House of Tithes, in English), our new home, is one of the town’s most fabled properties. The current owner’s grandfather purchased the ruined structured 50 years ago with its walls, pillars, and arches still intact.

Restaurant Garden

The Diezmo was an important building in colonial Mexican history. Until the revolution of 1810, when Mexico separated from Spain, a 10% income tax was imposed and collected by the Catholic Church. The Diezmo served as the administrative building for the church, as well as its warehouses, storing the produce, livestock and silver that residents brought in to pay their taxes.

A center of wealth, and most likely, intrigue the Diezmo was grand in its day. Now, it’s a quiet, relaxing restaurant. Our menu has changed a little to incorporate our own harvest of vegetables from the garden and abundant fruit from the many trees around the property. The spacious kitchen is full of sunlight, providing a wonderful workspace, which I hope is reflected in the food.

Garden table

A goldfish pond surrounded by bamboo and Hoja Santa sits next to the lime tree at the entrance of the restaurant. After passing through the large wrought iron gate, the stunning outdoor patio, flooded in sunlight, comes into view. There are tables under the massive, stone arches, as well as interspersed in the garden among the roses, calla lilies, greenery and assorted herbs.

Goldfish Pond

It’s a dream house that I hope one day you will come and see.

El Buen Café

Jesús 36


Weekly, 9-4

Sunday Brunch, 10-2

Guava Jam

4 cups

Since we have a large, luscious guava tree at the restaurant making jam has becoming a weekly occurrence.

2 pounds fresh guavas, washed and quartered

2 cups sugar

1 lemon, sliced

-Place the guavas in a blender jar and cover with water, purée (this might have to be done in 2 batches).

-Empty the guava purée into a stockpot. Add the sugar and lemon slices.

-Bring to a full boil over high heat, reduce to medium high heat and cook until thickened, stirring often, for approximately 30 minutes.


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