Friday, September 7, 2012

The Price of Eating Out In Mexico


We used to eat out at least once a week.  That ended a few years ago.  Things here in Monterrey are very expensive and restaurants are one of them.  I'm posting this as there are many new restaurants opening in town and I guess the fashion is to spend a lot of money to get a good meal.

I find it hard to part with the money when I see chefs and their staffs shopping at Costco buying pre-packaged products.   When we used to go out, we didn't have an issue spending 600 pesos, we didn't do it very often, we enjoyed the ambiance and the service.   For us it was the service more than anything else.  We work hard, we don't spend money on electronics, I don't wear designer clothes and sure don't dress up often anymore.  Some places got to be as high as 1500 pesos for a dinner with a couple of drinks.  Hard to swallow (no pun intended) when you order two glasses of wine and realize you could buy the same wine at a local wine shop and pay for the bottle with those two glasses, or even worse, two vodkas and that is more than the bottle.   There are 23 drinks (measured by the bartender) in a liter of alcohol.  So if they charge 60 pesos for a vodka, that is 1380 for the bottle.  A bottle of Oso Negro costs 69 pesos. 

I am bringing this up as there is a discussion going on about restaurants in San Miguel de Allende.  When we were there in April we had gotten such a good deal on our rental for the week that we decided to eat out a few meals and not worry so much about the price.   The three places we ate at were all marginal, very expensive, and one had music so loud no one could talk.   We ended up leaving early although we had had intentions of staying for a drink and a coffee afterwards.   One of the new places in SMA has a menu listed on the web.  A chicken breast in sauce is 250 pesos, a hamburger with "patatas fritas" is 230 pesos and a glass of wine for 130 pesos.   Imagine, a chicken breast in Bearnaise sauce and a glass of white wine goes for $35 dollars U.S., you can figure out the burger.  Let's say chicken is 50 pesos a kilo, that 11 lbs of chicken.  How many people could you feed with 11 lbs of chicken?  OMG!

Am I being cheap or is that exploitative?  We enjoy cooking at home, we love our food, we can buy wine as we wish and we know we will never get disappointed.  I wills say though that we stopped on the way home last week at a place called Manhattan and had a really good Chili's type dinner with a couple of very well poured drinks.  The drinks were 55 pesos each, for Monterrey that is cheap.   I don't like eating that kind of food often, but it isn't far from home and it really fits my wallet.  

I hope I get some feed back on this one.  I mean do people, even those with money, even think about what a rip off it can be eating out?  Seems as though everyone is money conscious these days but when it comes to food and drink they don't bother to check the menu.   That's our new twist, we walk in and ask to see the menu first.  


  1. Yes, I agree totally, and thus dine out rarely, even though I could afford to easily. The prices you quoted sound like California. Mexico used to be relatively cheap, making eating out a delight. Too bad it has changed. Is this the situation everywhere in Mexico, or only the tourist areas?

  2. I think it is probably typical of the bigger cities. And the tourist traps too. Here in a small town in the highlands you wont find fancy restaurants, and the prices are really much cheaper with good traditional food. However in Guadalajara, about 2 hours away, many prices are similar to what Chris said. But still in the big city you can find small cheap and good places, just have to find them first.

  3. Prices are becoming a product of the Global Market. Local economies and needs are having less and less impact on prices. If a corporation or country can make more money exporting a product to another area in the Global Market driving up local prices, THEY do so. Mexico food stuffs are exported to the USA to for higher prices leaving less in the local Mexican market places driving up prices. Distilled fuels are exported out of the USA to other Global Markets which pay higher prices leaving less for the USA to use thus driving up the prices. Just a couple of examples. Prices will climb everywhere, GREED!

    rocmoc n AZ/Mexico

  4. Although we're not in Mexico now, we still seldom eat out. I can buy quality foods and control the fat, salt and sugar content by fixing them myself. We probably pay higher prices for locally grown or organically grown produce, but not as much as it would cost in a restaurant.

  5. Unfortunately the waiters and kitchen staff are not seeing their wages increase at the same rate as the menu prices.

  6. Anybody who reads our blog knows that we don't eat out unless we see value in what we're buying. So we don't eat out very often. Having said that, it's been the same in eastern Europe this summer. If you eat at more popular places in touristy areas, you will pay higher prices. If you go to local types of places off the beaten track, you can still eat out at some very good places and at very good prices.

  7. We have stopped eating out both here at home and in Mexico. We find the costs far exceed the flavours and environment. If just isn't as enjoyable as it use to be. Maybe it's because we are older and more fussy or just more able to assert ourselves. We will pick 2 or 3 restaurants on the beach on the Isla and do lunch once or twice per week mainly to keep the local economy going. Sometimes the food is good, but not consistent. Even the drinks change from day to day.

  8. We too are getting a little fussy when it comes to eating out. Not that I'm even that great a cook, but most times I find I can do a better job at home than what is being served to me on a plate in some restaurant. And that's not even bringing the cost into it.
    We've narrowed our dining out experiences down to just a few places that we're either willing to go to ourselves or in the company of visitors.

  9. We too have almost stopped dining out here at home in Canada. The prices are ridiculous and our new Liquor laws make it impossible to have more than one glass of wine before driving home.

    We found Mexico much more reasonable last winter but maybe, as you say, things are changing there as well.

  10. Trust me, there are over 200 restaurants in San Miguel and the majority of us - myself included - eat most of our meals for less then 100 pesos, including a beverage.
    Here are at least five of the places you should try - having been in the business for 20 years, I don't think any of them are mediocre.
    Ole' Ole' - even Bon Appetit says its great. Super fajitas for less then 100 pesos.
    Cafe Monet - Breakfast 34 pesos, yes that's right.
    Bagel Cafe - Best ruben in town and delicious soups, salads, etc.
    The Palapa - Tacos 10 pesos, hamburgers 25, best carrot cake in town
    Longhorn Cafe - Filet mignon, baked potato and salad for 99 pesos on Thursday night - drink extra. Specials on other nights.

    So, there are just 5. Those expensive restaurants, here, have a shelf life of about a year, if that long.

    As I write this I'm thinking of many others. I think I'll have to write a blog over at Babsblog soon.

    Hope you enjoy yourself more next time! And dine inexpensively.

  11. Babs, you're right on when it comes to a myriad of places to eat. I am referring to those places that people recommend on the civil list.

    We prefer to eat at local places, or those outside cafes down from the Canadian bakery.

    Tacos at night off the side of the main plaza, at the markets, cocinas economicas.

    We always enjoy ourselves in SMA, it's not all about food.

  12. There was an interesting article on Bloomberg about the way Las Vegas has re-invented itself using high end restaurants to fill the income gap left by fewer gamblers. Perhaps that is happening in your area as well. Plan on fewer customers but charge them more based on some semi-true claims for exotic food.

    I do know that we are not returning to the high-end places any more.

  13. There was an interesting article on Bloomberg about the way Las Vegas has re-invented itself using high end restaurants to fill the income gap left by fewer gamblers. Perhaps that is happening in your area as well. Plan on fewer customers but charge them more based on some semi-true claims for exotic food.

    I do know that we are not returning to the high-end places any more.