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Dolores Hidalgo: Fine Pottery & Shrimp Ice Cream

Dolores Hidalgo lies 40km (25 miles) northwest of San Miguel on Hwy. 35. Most people go there to shop at the Talavera pottery companies, but the town itself merits a visit. It remains a quiet, provincial place with a lovely main square and parish church; on the church steps, Father Hidalgo proclaimed the independence of Mexico. The church has a charming facade that, if pressed, I would label late Mexican baroque, but that doesn't do it justice. The interior of the church was plundered at various times but retains a couple of beautiful altarpieces.

The main square has a small-town feel to it. Vendors sell ice cream in exotic flavors -- tequila, shrimp, and pulque (a fermented beverage made from agave) are just a few enticing examples -- as well as mango, guanábana, and other more familiar standbys. It all started 30 years ago on a dare, and then caught on for the notoriety it gave the vendors. Ask for some impossibly bad flavor -- such as cilantro-mescal-chocolate chip or chicken mole swirl -- and, without batting an eye, they'll tell you they're fresh out and to come back tomorrow. Most of these ice creams are known as nieves and are low in fat; for a richer ice cream, ask for a mantecado. If you're hungry, the restaurant El Patio is on the east side of the square.

Dolores has two small museums. The Casa de Hidalgo (admission 20 pesos) is filled with letters and historical artifacts having to do with Father Hidalgo and will be of most interest to history buffs. The Museo de la Independencia (admission 15 pesos), a more dramatic approach to the theme of independence, also has a small collection of memorabilia of José Alfredo Jiménez, the king of ranchera music.

Recommended Day-Trip Tours 

Several tour guides in San Miguel make trips to Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, and Querétaro. It's a hurried way to see these places, but it can be done. Leandro Delgado (tel. 415/152-0155; leandrotours@hotmail.com) is an independent guide who is well informed and conscientious. He speaks English, is a good driver, and is familiar with the artisans of Dolores Hidalgo and Guanajuato. Guides offer trips to see the monarch butterflies, 5 hours away in the state of Michoacán. This is an exhausting trip; do it in 2 days, staying overnight in the town of Angangueo, if you can. The season runs from mid- to late November to March.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.