Regular readers are aware of The Wine Guy’s fondness for visiting Mexico, the colonial cities of central Mexico in particular. I have often written about the popularity of Italian food and the influence of Italian wine varietals and the Italian style of wine making in Mexico (indeed, through Latin America, as well). It may come as a surprise, therefore, that my most frequently visited wine and dine restaurant in central Mexico is NOT Italian.
The restaurant is called Tio Lucas (Uncle Luke’s in English) and it’s located just a couple blocks off the main Jardin in San Miguel Allende in central Mexico. Each and every time I’ve visited this charming World Heritage city in the central highlands, Mrs. Wine Guy and I have dined at least once in this restaurant. It’s not the most elegant restaurant in town, neither is it the most affordable but we’ve always have a memorable experience there.
It is among the better places to have good beef in a land where tasty beef often will just mean tasty strips of arrachera, a good tasting cut of beef in its own right. However, it’s usually more well done than our mid-western palates prefer and better suited for a hearty lunch with soup and nopales. Once in a while we long for thick, juicy, tender beef, done no more than medium-rare accompanied by a good full-bodied red wine. The fare at Tio Lucas has always fulfilled that need for us. The service, for some might be a tad slow, but is always adequate and very attentive to our needs. None of our visits has been without a visit to the table by the owner to check on our enjoyment of the meal. Incidentally his name isn’t Lucas, it’s Max (see photo). I haven’t figured out who Lucas is yet. I will have to ask on a future visit!
|At our favorite Mexican uncle: Restaurante Tio Lucas with the owner Max|
|Some of the wine selection|
Our favorite meals have included a soup starter (most are excellent including a nice French onion), a rich, creamy, calorie-laded Roquefort salad who dressing is made at the table from freshly cut cheese. Our beef dish is usually a round and full, almost rare chateaubriand for two carved at the table. There’s a fairly nice wine selection, all affordably priced. Good Chilean reds heavily dominate the list. Wines from Chile are the most popular in Mexico and a mainstay on restaurant wine lists partially because of the long standing trade agreements between Chile and Mexico that make Chilean wines among the most affordably price imports. Concha y Toro is Mexico’s most popular Chilean brand but having that readily (and affordably) available stateside means our choice at Tio Lucas is typically a Baron Philippe de Rothschild.
The Rothschild Chilean estate was begun by Philippe’s daughter, Philippine in the late 1900’s to produce a premium red wine AlmaViva in partnership with Concha y Toro (much in the manner her father had partnered with Robert Mondavi on Opus One in California years earlier. By the early 2000’s, this estate had begun to also produce some brands of its own. The reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Carmenere under the Baron Philippe de Rothschild label are excellent and both available at Tio Lucas at about $30 per bottle.
|Mr. & Mrs. Wine Guy @ Tio Lucas|
If you’re in to Mexican crafts and pottery, you’ll see some great pieces utilized in the restaurant’s décor. Some of the Michoacán pottery above the alcove mantle is exquisite! Also, if you dine later in the week or on the weekend, prepare to enjoy some good jazz, as live music always abounds after 9:00pm.
As I said, by local standards, Tio Lucas is not the most affordable restaurant but you can dine very well, wine included, for under $40 per setting including propina (tip). That affordability, proximity to the activity of the historico centro, and the memories of former evenings there has made Tio Lucas The Wine Guy’s favorite Mexican uncle! If you ever get to San Miguel Allende, check it out for yourself. Salud!