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Mazatlan's Best Restaurants??


Your expert advice is needed again!

My wife, baby and I are going to Mazatlan for two weeks in March and are staying in the "Golden Zone" where all the resorts are. Does anyone have any experience in this city?

My wife and I are true Chowhounders, so would love to get away from the tourist-type fare and get more into authentic local fare (but safe to eat of course).

A number of TripAdvisor posters have suggested these restaurants, but I do take it with a grain of salt since they may be very happy with chain / tourist type fare. Here are their suggestions:

Carlos & Lucia's
Casa Country
Chili's Pepper
Fat Fish
La Papala
Los Arcos
Minnesota Cafe
Mister A's
Mr. Tilley's
No Name Cafe
Panama Bakery
The Place
The Purple Onion
Tony's on the Beach
Villa Italia

Let us know about your experiences. Thanks in advance! We’ll be sure to post our successes when we get back.

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  1. Some of those are pretty good... if you do a search for Mazatlan you will find a number of detailed recommendations.

    1. We recently visited many mediocre restaurants in Mazatlan. Probably the best and most authentic of the lot was Tunnel at the square in old town. The tortilla soup was fantastic (best ever) and the rest of the apps like marlin tacos were good, but the entrées ended up being rather so-so. I am sorry that I cannot remember the name of the entrées, but they were selected from house specials list.

      1. We enjoyed Fat Fish, the rib dinners were 75 pesos each. Huge order of ribs couldn't even fit on the plate. Very meaty and tasty. If we would have had time, we would have returned.
        Panama - great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We ate there twice. Yum!
        El Memin - for a good local seafood place. Very good shrimp! It is in a shoppincg center located behind the "viejo" Ley grocery store.

        1. We had lots of fantastic meals. We stayed at El Faro and they were all walking distance. Sorry about the names, I can't remember but there's a very pretty steak restaurant across the street. Also we went to Alberto's and had a couple of lunches at the Shrimp Bucket downtown as the people watching there is fun!

          1. Sorry to resurrect an old thread but I'm heading to Mazatlan this Christmas. Roberto (or anyone else) did you find any chow worthy finds. I'm a little worried it's too touristy.

            14 Replies
            1. re: Mila

              All the restaurants on Roberto's list are in the tourist zone and (except the Panama) serve tourist food. I live in the Centro Historico, where there are many good restuarants, but do like to play tourist once in a while. I like going to Panchos, Chili's Pepper, Villa Italia and a few others. Panama is a bakery which also has 2 restaurants, one in the tourist zone and the other downtown. They have very good food, reasonable prices, great service....and lots of local customers. Before I attempt to recommend restuarants (always a chancy thing!) I would like to know what kind of food you like. If it is continental style food, I can't help much. If you like Mexican food, maybe I can! I have lived here for 6 years, and like eating out.

              1. re: MazDee


                I haven't searched Chowhound for any previous posts, but I know that good, local restaurants are usually institutions that have been in place for some time.

                I would love to get your recommendations for non-touristy restaurants with any kind of cuisine, whether it be a taco cart, a shack or whatever; good food being the primary search..

                1. re: MazDee

                  Hi MazDee,

                  I too am absolutely looking for non-touristy, local, mexican restaurants. I would so appreciate your help. Are there any specialites of Mazatlan that I should be on the look out for?

                  Thanks so much,

                  1. re: Mila

                    I will have to give a little time to thinking about your request and Gypsy Jan's. I realize now that I don't know the names of some of the little places I go, or exactly what intersection they are on! I will do a bit of research. Off the top of my head (and these are in Centro, not the GZ), La Copita is one of my favorites for pozole (and good tacos too). It is a tiny family run business which has been there for years. It is located on Belisario Dominguez, a few blocks from the malecon (ocean walkway) but so small a taxi might not know it. Chayitos on Azueta is another great place for pozole, plus carne asada, ribs and more. It is larger than La Copita and very popular with local families on Sunday afternoons. No alcohol, but you can take your own wine or beer. You probably won't see any other gringos in either place. For seafood, La Puntilla, located on the waterfront near the ferry and cruise ship terminals is fun, popular and has really good food. Not many tourists. Really crowded with locals on weekends but popular all the time. They close about 7, but you can order an early dinner and they won't kick you out. Remember that most locals, when they go out, have their main meal midday around 2 or 3, and anyway part of the scene at La Puntilla is watching boats and ships go by. My favorite fish place in Centro is Bahia, located on Mariano Escobedo, a couple blocks from the ocean in Olas Altas. It has been around for 40 years or so. Located in an old colonial building, very attractive. Pricier than the places I mentioned earlier but probably cheaper than your GZ hotel! I usually get the Zarandeado fillet. YUM! Let me get back to you in a few days on some other places.

                    Mila asked about specialties. First thing that came to mind was pescado zarandeado. This was invented in a little beach restaurant quite a few miles south of Maz. They take a whole fish (usually robalo, which has been translated both as sea bass and snook, I have no idea), split it, anoint it with a special mixture which I understand includes garlic, lime, butter and soy sauce) and grill it on charcoal. Messy to eat, you have to pick out/work around the bones, but delicious. I have had it in 2 different small beach places, and each time we were directed to a cooler full of fresh caught fish on ice to choose our fish. You could find one for 2 or many people! La Puntilla (mentioned above) does it, but there, they don't store the fish in a plastic cooler. The zarandeado fillet I mentioned earlier (Bahia) is a thick fillet of dorado or something, bathed with that same mixture and grilled.
                    A seafood place NOT TO MISS is Cuchupetas. This is not in Mazatlán proper, but in the town of Villa Union, a few miles south. Even Presidente Fox loves their food! You won't find tourists there, but the big place is crowded every afternoon and the food is wonderful. If you want to feel like you are really in Mexico, go there by bus, it makes the whole thing more of an adventure. Just put it on your list. Everybody knows where it is, a block or so from where the bus drops you off.

                    This post is so rambling, I am not sure if it is helpful, but send your questions. Dee

                    1. re: MazDee

                      The places in Mazatlan are claiming to have invented Pescado Zarandeado??? Everyone in Mexico knows (should know) that Nayarit has the bragging rights.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Well, Eat Nopal, I didn't say Mazatlán, but quite a ways south of here (heck, pretty close to Nayarit? ;) Nevertheless, wherever it was invented, it is a great dish and often served here in Maz.
                        I got my info from an article from Noroeste, a daily paper here. I couldn't copy the link but here is the article.
                        "Fish and shrimp, El Walamo style
                        Those who like good food agree on one thing: “zarandeado” fish in the pueblo of El Walamo is the best. This is where Jose Alfredo Guardado Ordoñez founded El Alamito 12 years ago, a simple country space specializing in seafood in the middle of a rural zone. He is the creator of fantastically flavored seafood. He is an agronomical engineer by profession, but he learned to cook out of necessity back when he was a student. Along the way he discovered that he loved to cook. As his career as an engineer progressed, he was increasingly invited to fiestas because of his special way of spicing up the seafood. Eventually this knack became his business.
                        “What the people like is the recipe, it is unique. We have given it to a few clients, but they say that it just doesn’t taste the same”, explains Jose Luis as he prepares an order of zarandeado shrimp, another specialty of the house. His helpers are in back and are busy using aluminum foil and metal pans in order to shake (“zarandear”) fish and shrimp. Sea bass and dorado and other fish are the best to use. He adds salt, pepper, lime, soy sauce, onion, celery, tomato, chili pepper and a special sauce made of butter, mayonnaise and mustard.
                        The faithful customers of El Alamito don’t mind traveling from Mazatlan or even the high sierra in order to enjoy this recipe along with the hand made tortillas. Everything is freshly prepared. It is OK to call ahead and order or to hire the place to prepare a special banquet.

                        El Alamito
                        Place: El Walamo
                        Address: 313 Main Street between 6 and 7
                        Telephone: (01669) 967 1076
                        Hours: open everyday from 9:00 to 6:00, open later on weekends(271378) "

                        1. re: MazDee

                          One week countdown to Mazatlan if I can manage to dig my way out of Toronto.

                          A quick question for MazDee or anyone else that might know. I was wondering if there is a farmer's market anywhere in Mazatlan. I would love to pick up some local produce since we have a kitchen where we are staying. Also looking for any tips on where and what kind of vanilla to buy.


                          1. re: Mila

                            The central market is located right in centro, near the cathedral. There is another nice one (slightly smaller) on Nájera, about 2 blocks inland from the Fisherman monument. It is called Mercado Juan Carasco. Sprinkled around town are small "fruterias" which often sell very good produce at very cheap prices.

                            1. re: MazDee

                              Thanks MazDee. I'm really looking forward to enjoying your city.

                  2. re: MazDee

                    Hey Dee, is Te Amo Lucy still there? I used to enjoy their food. Ms Mac

                    1. re: marymac

                      It was in May. Crazy Tony was working the room in all his glory.

                      1. re: SLRossi

                        I see this is an old thread, 2007. I'm not sure it was even open then. He's quite a character.

                        1. re: marymac

                          Loro de Oro Inn opened in 2004 and the restaurant opened about the same time and it's still going strong (as is Tony). Be advised that Te Amo Lucy is currently closed for remodeling and a reopening date has not been announced; check the website for further information.

                          1. re: dlglidden

                            We loved the place last December 2009 and recommend it always to those passing through Mazatlan. His home made ice cream is worth seconds and the food is inspired.

                2. Hi,
                  Check out the Plazuela Machado in the Centro Historic zone. There are delightful restaurants around the square with live music in the street in the evening. You can take a pulmonia (taxi) from the Golden zone and enjoy the wonderful environment and then pick out a restaurant to try. Enjoy

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: CaroleM

                    Agree with CarolM. You should have at least one dinner at Plazuela Machado. I go there all the time as it is only a few blocks from my house. On Fri and Sat nights they close of the streets and the restaurants put tables there. Lots of good music. I guess my favorite is Il Mosto, with a Mediteranean menu. (The owner is Greek/Italian). If you go to Pedro y Lola, the most popular restaurant there, try the Pedro Infante, a kind of pork stew served sizzling hot in a molcajete. I think it is outstanding. Also, the chamorro (sp), which is a pork hock, roasted or something? Some of their continental dishes have been good, but not usually great. Machado Fish Taco, across the Plazuela has great Baja style fish and shrimp tacos. Right now they are working on a whole new thing, with a famous chef (forgot her name, but I googled her and she is famous) doing a whole new menu. By the time you get here, that might be a new option. Also, I must mention a cheap little place on the Plazuela called Cafe Altezor Ars. They have my favorite huevos rancheros in the world! Also good omelets and sandwiches, but you aren't travelling to the Centro Historico for that.

                    Have to add one more note: Our beautiful Teatro Angela Peralta is located by the Plazuela. There are lots of wonderful events there, so try to take in a concert while you are in the area. Or, just go by some afternoon and take a look at the theater.

                    1. re: MazDee


                      It seems I keep running across your posts on message boards I visit. (Or, you keep running across my posts on MBs you frequent?) I’ve used Chowhound almost exclusively for info on restaurants in the SF Bay Area. It somehow never occurred to me—until today—that I could get Mazatlán restaurant info, as well.

                      I’m surprised that no one who replied to this thread mentioned El Bambú (on Av. Reforma just south of Calz. Rafael Buelna. To me, it’s the best “meat restaurant” in Mazatlán; the Arrachera is the best I’ve eaten in Mexico.

                      And what’s the deal now with Pedro y Lola? I’ve highly recommended that restaurant to friends and tourists for years. When we were last there in Jan 08 with two friends, I was embarrassed that we had taken them there. Still a great location, but the food was a shadow of its former self (i.e. last year). The menu was boring and quite limited; the service was terrible; and the jazz guys were loud, not very good, and pestered us (can’t remember who was playing that night).

                      To my mind, most restaurants in Maz are mediocre, at best. They cater to tourists and expats who don’t have much of an idea of what real/good Mexican food is and eat at restaurants that give them the fake ambience of “typical Mexican restaurants” and/or serve them the food that they eat at home. And the OP’s list of restaurants confirms this.

                      I thank you for your posts here mentioning small local restaurants, I’m saving them. Over the years, we’ve found several hole-in-the-wall restaurants that we really enjoyed, but they tend to last only a few years. There are tons of small cenadurias (should that have an accent mark over the “i”?) that I wish I knew more about. We like El Tunel (off the Plazuela) but the last time we were there they didn’t serve alcohol—and I don’t eat any kind of food without either beer or wine.

                      And I regret the demise and/or quality decline of the old restaurants who catered to upper-middle-class Mazatlecos: Doneys and Mamucas (to name two).

                      And is it just me (and my wife) who think almost all Maz restaurants no longer serve good seafood? I’ll just go further south (as we did this year) or over to the Gulf coast (as we did in early a2007).

                      1. re: dlglidden

                        Interesting post. I am going for the first time in 2 weeks and I have been monitoring these posts. My gut feeling was that most of these places were very middle of the road and I was more interested in the cenadurias and fish and shrimp on the beach. I love pozole and will eat all parts of the pig. The other places sound like a nice spot to hang and have a cerveza by the water. Thanks for confirming. Another question - how do you get around? rent a car, taxis, bus?

                        1. re: dock

                          Dock, just got back two days ago. Restaurant rec is Playa Bruja (Mr. Lionoso's) Great shrimp/lobster plate we shared several times. Best on a Sunday afternoon with music/entertainment. The minus is it is north of the tourist zone about 15 mins by taxi or pulmonia. Do not bother renting a car, taxis/plumonias are cheap. Another rec is the restaurant at Torres. Great steak fajitas!!

                          1. re: dock

                            For the last 5+ years we've been driving down from home to Maz. Having your own car there can be a great plus. But taxis and pulmonias are reasonably priced and the local bus system is cheap and great--but a bus won't take you everywhere you might want to go. If you're staying in a condo or time share or an apartment with a kitchen, having a car to go shopping for food and drink is almost necessary--that stuff can be very heavy and burdensome. On the other hand, when we fly down we take a pulmonia from Pueblo Bonito to Gigante, ask it to wait while we go in and shop up a storm, and then use it to get home. I almost never rent cars in Maz because, even though they're now much cheaper than they were several years ago, public transportation is a better deal. If you're staying in the ZD and want to drive into the Centro Historico, a car is virtually worthless because it's almost impossible to find a parking space, especially at night. And as there are virtually NO day trips from Maz that are worth taking (unless you get really stir crazy) a car won't help you there either.

                            One restaurant that I forgot to mention is Topolo. Marvelous setting and upscale food at good prices. We used to eat at that location in "the old days" and don't now remember what the place was called back then. Topolo has been around now for a year or two and we were quite impressed with the food when we were there last month.

                            To me, if you want to eat seafood, go to the palapa restaurants on Isla de la Piedra. Cheap and fresh. La Costa Marinera in the ZD gets recommended frequently. We've eaten there many times over the years because it's convenient, close, and has a great beachfront location. But we've eaten there only because we have the illogical idea that "next time" the food won't be that bad. Ha! People who keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome are not thinking rationally. It's a lively place in a great location but the fish is extremely mediocre. I think that most of the folks who recommend it either have never had decent fish, or arrive at the restaurant drunk and just have a "good ol' time."

                            1. re: dlglidden

                              Thanks, DL. Will be leaving for Maz in 2 days. First visit. Your advice is appriciated. We also will only eat Mexican or fish. I mean c'mon. Love posole and also menudo after too much tequila. I just don't tell my wife what it is. Love the idea of Stone Island and I assume the fish stands line the beach. I assume it's a bit of a hassle to get from the ZD to central zone, but no choice. Are the taxis or pulmonias metered or set prices or do I bargain. Sorry, but I hate acting like a tourist even when I am. Also, whats the 911 on the water? Can we have margaritas with ice or just bottled water? Thanks.

                              1. re: dock


                                Have a great trip! It's easy to get from ZD to El Centro: The bus is $8MN ($5MN for the unairconditioned old buses). Taxis and pulmonias are NOT metered; you negotiate the price in advance. Your hotel will tell you the "going rate." Depending on where you're staying (south end of ZD, north end of ZD, out in Cerritos, etc.) The ride can take 15-25 minutes and cost $40-80MN. The cost is per vehicle, not per person. It's a beautiful ride along the ocean into town, especially at night.

                                Yes, the fish stands/palapa restaurants on Stone Island are all along the beach. Letty's is one that gets frequently recommended by locals. I find them all about the same and they serve fresh, simple, basic, fried/broiled fish--with mucho ajo, of course. (And I'm sure you're aware that Stone Island is not an island, it's a peninsula.)

                                Most ZD hotels have their own water purification systems, so the tap water is OK. Ice is no problem anywhere in Maz where you're likely to go/drink/eat. (Can you imagine what the reaction the Mazatlán Tourism Bureau would be if tourists started dropping like flies with the turistas when eating and drinking in Maz hotels, restaurants, night clubs, and bars?

                                Re: menudo. Yeah, most tourists are better off not knowing exactly what's in it. But soon, someone will find a new word for "tripe." In the '60s, we discovered squid. Cheap and delicious. Later some son-of-a-bitch renamed it "calamari." Now everyone eats it, the price is 10 times more than what it used to be and it's frequently unavailable or hard to find. (The same trick was tried in the US with calf/lamb testicles--renamed Rocky Mountain Oysters--but that didn't work as well.)

                                1. re: dlglidden

                                  Got back this week and thought I'd give a report. Very nice city and we had a great time. We stayed at the Mayan resort which is up near Cerritos. A little out of the way especially since we hardly stayed there. The bus were convenient and taxis were fine. First day we ate at El Tunel. The posole was very tasty and the taquitos were excellent. It was the first time I had smoked marlin, a local specialty, and it was really good. We ate here one more time and it was not great, but very tasty. And they do serve Pacifico. The gorditas were a little disappointing but the tostatas and tacos were good. On the way home we stopped at Panama's and got some pastries for breakfast the next morning. Guava pie was very unusual, not bad but I don't think I would get it again. Funky smell and weird taste. Worth a try, but I think everything is worth a try. The next day we went to Mega supermarket and stocked up. Great place. A thumbs up to Pacifico beer. Like Corona, light and crisp and refreshing in the heat. For dinner I prefer Negra Modelo. That night we went to Playa Bruja in Cerritos. Outdoors, under a big tent and packed with tourists. But most of them are expats who live there or are there for the winter. There was a band playing and eceryone was dancing and having a great time. Great scene. The cerviche was very good and the crab empanadas were outstanding. Even the flan was good. I only wished we went to the Centro that night because they only serve menudo on Sunday. The next night was a nightmare because most place are closed on Monday. We walked all over and we finally ended up at Bahia's. It was late and they only has 1 order of fish zarandeado left so we got it and an order of shrimp diablo. It was excellent. The fish was charcoally good and flavorful and the shrimp had a nice kick. And the place is very pretty. Tuesday we went to Stone Island. We took the ferry and took a cab to the beach. The cruise ships weren't in so it was very quiet with locals and Canadians there for the summer. As we walked in the owner of the first place accosted us and asked us to stay there. I was wary but these people just want you to spend some pesos. He said we could use the lounge chairs, the bathrooms, the cabanas, the hammocks all day, just buy a beer and if you want, lunch. So we did. No hassles, laid back. He also fishes and keep some of the catch for the restaurant(shack on the beach with a wood fire) and sells some in Mazatlan. So he cooked us a 2 kilo dorado and a smaller herring, both zarandeado style. Not as good as Bahia but a nice day. The 4 lb. fish was $20 and the entire day with beer, water, lunch was $35. Wednsday we ate at a cenaduria owned by a spaniard called El Aljibe. On Constitution. His pozole had chickpeas. The place was a few dollars more expensive but still cheap. The food was good, not the best but the place was very nice. It is in an old cistern, all concrete and very quirky. The next night we were taken out to Panchito's or Pancho's in the Zona Dorada. Least favorite and all tourists. The next night we ate at Chayito's near the centro. We were the only locals and thats the way I like it. Had my first taco de seso. Excellent pozole, lots of pork and we all shared a meat plattter. Also tried Tonicol. Very vanilla cream soda. Highly recommended place. The last night we went to the original El Memin. Loved it. Cerviche, pulpo, huge shrimp to peel, even the empanadas were terrific. Also, we drank water and used ice cubes throughout the trip. Even on our day trip to the mountains, in copala or Concordia, we tried the refrescos(shaved ice) with leche and tamarindo. The only time I felt a little sick was eating airplane food!

                                  1. re: dock

                                    Thanks for the great trip report. Much appreciated and helpful!

                                    1. re: dlglidden

                                      Just a few more tips for newbies to Mazatlan. When you take a taxi or pulmonia, get the price beforehand. Everyone takes dollars. The exchange is 10 to one and it is easy. Getting pesos might help with the rate, but not alot. Even the bus takes dollars. Most people speak at least some english, but some spanish helps. You can bargain but please remember that when you are trying to save 10 pesos, its only a dollar. Get out of your resort and try things. I would usually not order a brain taco but for 12 pesos, why not. It was pretty mild, almost custard like. And if you put anything in a taco and add enough hot sauce, anything goes. Drink the local beer, Pacifico. Better than Tecate. And try the local soda if you drink soda. Tonicol. It's slogan is Tonicol, es differente. And it is. We brought back dried chiles from the Mega supermarket, you are allowed to bring them into the US, and they are in my freezer. I was dissappointed by the chiles at the central market. It was dissappointing in general. When we were in Oaxaca, the markets were terrific. The only thing we liked was the local cheese. And the smoked marlin.

                                      1. re: dock

                                        mm Smoked Marlin is delicious. I just got back from Mazatlan. Most restaurants in the touristy areas are mediocre like most have pointed out. Panama is a different story though. They have smoked marlin quesadillas that are incredible. Their menu is extensive and in the course of a week I ate there 4 times and liked everything I had. The quesadillas de marlin were my favorite along with the tamales de requeson and chile de queso.

                                        I hadn't seen this board before so I went on the recommendation of a friend from Mochis. I loved Mazatlan and loved that restaurant. I've lived in Mexico and eaten Mexican food for many years, and this is some of the best I've had.

                                        I also had the pay de queso y guayaba. The texture was very different for me to enjoy but my wife liked it a lot.

                          2. re: dlglidden

                            Yes, DL we do run into each other a lot but have never met! I agree with you that most of the tourist food is mediocre. I don't know what it is with the expats, snowbirds and tourists here, but they keep talking about places that have been really disappointng to me. The places I mentioned earlier are consistent (like Il Mosto on Plazuela Machado), which I feel is kind of rare here. If you want American style food, I think the best you can do is go to someplace like the Purple Onion. I don't go there unless someone else insists, but it seems to be very popular with Canadians and Americans.I can't imagine craving American food if you are only here on a vacation! Since I live here, I do a trip to Burger King once in a while for a Whopper with cheese, and that does the trick! The cenadurias are wonderful, DL! Tourists can find El Tunel easily as it is right across from the entrance to the theatre and almost in Plazuela Machado. Their pozole is great. My favorite pozole is at La Copita on Belisario Dominguez and I don't know the cross street! This is a small family run cenaduria with pozole and various tacos and enchiladas. And, if you haven't had pozole yet, please try it! I think it is one of the world's best stews!

                            1. re: MazDee

                              Darrel, a PS. I agree, El Bambú is wonderful! I had a rib steak there the other night. Ooooh, my. Dee

                              1. re: MazDee

                                Dee, I don't know which of us is older, but I'd guess I've eaten more pozole over the years than you have. And the pozole at El Tunel is excellent.

                                If I haven't eaten more pozole than you have, it's because I'm too busy eating menudo.

                                And I almost never eat "American Food" in Mexico. My post was to inform people that I think the MEXICAN food in Maz is mostly mediocre and is raved about by tourists and expats who should know better. But . . . de gustibus non disputandum est. (What's that in Español?)

                        2. Thank you so much Dee and everyone. We have two weeks in Mazatlan and I am looking forward to tracking down all of these places. I'm especially looking forward to the fresh seafood (read: landlocked in Toronto currently) and pescado zarandeado sounds absolutely delicious and chow-worthy.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Mila

                            Well Mila, how about some feedback. What would you recommend and what would you avoid.

                          2. There is a beach stand located on the malecon called La Camichina, in front of the Caliente.We bought some Pacifico's from the store across the street and I ordered camarones zarandeados.Awesome!It was fun watching the zarandeado chef prepare and grill the shrimp right on the beach.Of course, they have the pescado zaradeado as well

                            The night before we ate at El Marinero, which was delicious and a great time.They had a fabulous camarones costa azul, the shrimp stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon.Camarones para pelar for an appetizer and a little michelada completed this experience.

                            1. Las Lupitas Restaurante in the Zona Dorado, in the Dgala Mazatlan Hotel (right next to the US consulate general) on the Gaviot was one of my best gastronomic experience of the trip, or ever!

                              This place has been open less than a year according to a staff there, and everything tasted just so fresh and clean to my palate!

                              I went only for breakfast and lunch but everything was amazing; starting out from freshly baked bread, "warmed" milk accompanied by coffee, breakfast chille relleno stuffed with fluffy scrambled egg and cheese with creamy pepper sauce, fresh and scrumptious crevice tostada, and beautiful "Lupitas omelet" with salmon chunks, and fresh tasting, vivid red color tortilla soup with diced melty Mexican cheese and avocado, and smoky pepper seasoning! Hats off to the chef. Yum!

                              The service by staff, especially Gilberto, was superb. He was such a professional server and made us feel very welcomed and home. We felt pampered by their careful care; water was always refilled before we asked, ashtray was replaced timely, and all the silverware and plates, and wine glasses on the tables were meticulously sparkly clean.

                              Best of all is such a humble pricing for the amazing fare they have with such a high standard of the cuisine and the professionalism of the service staff. Two of us had a big breakfast with coffee and bottle water, and ended up only around $16.00US! And I can't express enough, chef, though I never met, deserves great write-up! But I am glad with the fact that this place is a hidden jewel though.

                              Ambiance is very chic but warm and inviting. Patio area is nice too when there are not too many tour buses dropping off and picking up the visitors at the Hotel Playa Mazatlan right across the Lupitas.

                              Only thing is that you might want to be there with ample time to spend. It seemed everything is made from scratch by hand, so it took a little time for some items to come out. But relax and chill, they are all worth it!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: satochow

                                Interesting thread. I really appreciate the time & thought from DL & Dee. OK, so we're heading there for the first time in 3 days. We’ll be there for 9. So far the list I've gleened from this forum is:

                                pescado zarandeado…eat some

                                1. La Copita
                                2. Chayitos
                                3. El Memin
                                4. La Puntilla
                                5. Bahia
                                6. Cuchupetas (Villa Union)
                                7. Plazuela Machado: Il Mosto and Pedro y Lola
                                8. Machado Fish Taco
                                9. Cafe Altezor Ars…huevos rancheros!
                                10. Topolo
                                11. Palapa restaurants on Isla de la Piedra
                                12. El Tunel

                                How does this list sound? Any “must eats” missing?

                                I am honestly not that thrilled about going to Mazatlan and I hope to be proven TERRIBLY WRONG. I have traveled a fair amount in Mexico and I really prefer the Yucatan Peninsula side for culture, cuisine, and beaches. Oh, and cenotes. Mazatlan doesn’t look that great on paper and would never be on my short list as a destination, but now I get to find out for sure. We are surprising my wife's parents at their timeshare condo, which is how we ended up coming in the first place.

                                BUT, I want nothing more than to eat crow and come back telling people how awesome it can be. So bring it on! Any other recommendations for restaurants, shopping, bull fights, hikes, etc?

                                1. re: straightshooter

                                  One advantage you will have in Sinaloa is that you are in the raw seafood destination in Mexico.Find a good stand that does aguachiles, callo de hacha, molcajetes de mariscos,tostadas de abulon,manitas de jaiba, ostiones, almejas, pata de mula, ceviche de camaron crudo, tostadas mixtas de mariscos crudos, etc.

                                  Sinaloa is the Mexican sashimi capital of Mexico, raw seafood from the Pacific and Sea of Cortez.

                                  Go to the only "agave azul" distillery in Sinaloa, Los Osuna.

                                  The mariscos shacks aren't heard to find, there are several on the malecon by the Caliente, I mentioned one above.There's another called El Toro on Raphael Buelna across from the Mega, these will be open in the mornings to mid-afternoon.You won't find mariscos stands at night.There are also many creative cooked shrimp dishes like camarones culichis and mignon de camaron.

                                  There are loncherias, cenadurias, and fondas that will have traditional Sinaloan dishes like enchiladas del suelo, chilorio, asado mazatleco, frijoles puercos, cabreria(sinaloan steak cut),menudo blanco, and so much more.

                                  Your in a touristy place but there is great stuff to be had if you look a little, but for "raw" seafood, there is no better tradition in Mexico.The best shrimp you've had in the Yucatan is likely from Mazatlan, with the largest commercial shrimp fleet in Latin America, and the aguachile is the cadillac of raw shrimp.

                                  Suerte! Provecho.

                                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                                    Thanks for the additional advice Gourmaleta. I am all for sashimi-grade mexi fish. Doubt I'll convince my wife to eat any menudo though, or anything with tripe in it. We'll try to figure out the cleanest, freshest places to get our south-o-border sushi. I prefer raw fish (if it is safe & good) over something like civiche, where it's been modified/cooked with citric acid. I like civiche too though. Now I'm thirsty!

                                    I had heard about the Agave Azul distillery before. Word is that the expeience is kind of overated there, if you've done this kind of thing at other places where your get try more interesting flights anejos & reposados. I thought I read it was no longer active as well. True or false? We always love a visit to a good barrel-aging facility. So is it really worth it? A bit of a drive too right?

                                    What is the finest artisan distillery we can visit (and sample) in the area if we have a car? I wish I was within driving distance to El Llano Distillery in Jalisco, makers of Arrette Gran Clase...my fave. How far?

                                    1. re: straightshooter

                                      Los Osuna is the only agave azul distillery left in Sinaloa, the rest closed around the time Tequila became a DOM, and Sinaloa no longer could call their beverage tequila.No flights but a nice peace of history, and a yes it's a little drive.The closest distilleries in Jalisco are around 250-300 miles away.

                                      The ceviche de camaron is different, raw shrimp is doused with lime rigt before serving, and the agauchile and ceviche de camaron are two of the highest grades of shrimp used.The shrimp isn't chopped up and sitting for a long time in lime, they are whole.The tostadas are also made to order, purple onions and cucmbers are crisp and fresh, no marinating.But the callos(scallops)de hacha are to die for and inexpensive here, also doused with lime and some sea salt, and seved with crisp, freshly cut pruple onions and cucumbers.

                                      The aguachile and callos de hacha are musts, along with abulon, if it's fresh.

                                      Yes, Arette is great.

                                    2. re: streetgourmetla

                                      Los Osuna.
                                      If you have not tried this, and you like reposado or anejo tequila, you will be astounded.
                                      This is my choice for a "distillado de agave azul."
                                      Not permitted by law from calling itself a "tequila," it stands head and shoulders above most of the ordinary tequilas from Jalisco.
                                      Meant to be sipped, not mixed.

                                      1. re: pmelvoin

                                        Thanks, I've been to the distillery and have always had Los Osuna on hand, at least for the past 6 years or so.

                                2. We just got back yesterday from a week in Mazatlan and focused a lot of our energy on eating and drinking.

                                  Here are our impressions:

                                  I probably ate more shrimp in the last seven days than I had eaten in the last seven years, mostly in the form of aguachiles. It's a very fresh style, meaning mostly raw, and it's one of those things I could eat every day and never tire of. Peel and eat shrimp were also good. But just about every other cooked shrimp dish was overcooked and forgettable.

                                  We hit most of the restaurants in Old Town that get mentioned--Topolo, Il Misto, Pedro & Lola, Tramoyo, Puerto Viejo and Bahia. While there weren't any that were out-and-out bad, the only ones I'd return to are Puerto Viejo (good, fresh seafood, right on Olas Altas) and Bahia (traditional Mexican seafood, fresh and prepared with a lot of care). At Bahia, at the end of the meal they brought us a slice of birthday cake they had prepared for one of the employees. Unlike my wife, I'm not much of a dessert person, but we both agreed it was just a perfect cake. Cajete between layers of buttery moist golden cake and a white frosting. I can still taste it.

                                  Stone Island was worthwhile and we had some terrific shrimp ceviche sitting in our beach chairs at the palapa restaurant next to Lety's.

                                  In town, the best eating was just wandering the blocks around the central market and sampling things at the little stalls set up on the street. A little risky, but we ate and drank everything and neither of us got sick. There's a guy near the market who sells aqua de cebada, which is basically aqua fresca made with sweet malt. According to the many newspaper clippings he has posted, they've been selling there since the 30's. A unique flavor and pretty good.

                                  Maz Tamales was good and I'd go back there.

                                  El Tunel was closed for some kind of construction.

                                  Right now, on the street, they're selling fresh arrayan and green guava (guayabita?), which are pretty interesting, though a little tart and sharp by themselves. We tried to duplicate the arrayan margaritas at El Arrayan in PV . . . but failed. Too gritty. Plus it takes forever to de-seed the things.

                                  The green guava was great on a cream cheese pastry at Panama. I didn't much care for Panama's pastries otherwise. To me it tasted like they use a strong flavored margarine rather than butter. Much better was Naturaleza, a health food bakery on Zaragoza that mostly bakes with (sacrilege!) whole wheat flour. Try their yogurt, too. I forgot how much I love yogurt you can drink.

                                  We ate at La Puntilla one afternoon. The setting is very nice. Sunny and right on the water near the smaller ferry terminal to Stone Island. I didn't think the food was very good, however. Their aquachile wasn't as good as others--thick and clumsy pieces of shrimp. Callo de hacha (giant raw sea scallops) was tough and flavorless and a whole fried fish (Panga, which looks like true red snapper to me) was puny and overcooked. All in all, the seafood didn't seem as fresh and the cooking just didn't seem to show the same care as at Bahia.

                                  We did make it to Villa Union to eat at Cuchapetas and it more than lived up to its reputation. There were five of us and we ordered 10 different dishes. Everything was terrific. The aquachiles, octopus and shrimp ceviche were the best we had all week and, but for the huge portions and modest plating, would not have been out of place in the toniest restaurants of New York or Paris. Everything else was fresh and skillfully prepared, though they tended to overcook the cooked dishes. That's the one place I wouldn't miss on any visit to Mazatlan. A ridiculous deal, too. 750 pesos for five of us, with a lot of beer.

                                  Next trip, well go back to Cuchapetas and Bahia and eat on the street and at the palapa restaurants the rest of the time.


                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: JamesSanders

                                    James, Thanks for your post! While you weren't too impressed with a lot of the recommendations, I am glad that you found a couple you really liked. And I agree completely that Bahia and Cuchupeta are the best places to have seafood. I love both those places! I must admit that after living here for over 6 years, my expectations have dropped considerably and acceptance of "well cooked" rather than "outstanding" has come about. I am glad, too, that you went to some palapas and sampled some of the stands. (Cebada (barley water) is one of my favorite aquas, the other being horchata, and many little places serve both along with the ever-present, and usually too sweet for me, jamaica).
                                    Now, in your first post I distinctly remember you saying that you had no interest in visiting Mazatlán, and I guess you were doing so as a family favor. In your last post you said "Next trip......" etc! JaJa, Mazatlán ain't so bad after all? Not a gourmet capital, to be sure, but rather a nice place. Abrazos Mazatlecos, Dee

                                    1. re: MazDee

                                      Nope, wasn't me you're thinking of, MazDee. I picked Mazatlan as our winter destination this year. I hadn't been there since 1985, so I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I had pretty good food memories from that earlier visit. Probably not a culinary destination, but if we lived there, I'd have no doubt we would eat very, very well.

                                  2. Just got back from a 8 day visit to Mazatlan and had great luck with the food.

                                    The Panama Rest and bakery had a great breakfast. It is very popular with the local I was told. Nice fiestive atmosphere.

                                    On Saturday nights you can go to the Playa Hotel for the "Feista" show which comes witha buffet dinner and all you can drink. The buffet was a mass feeding and so-so. I was told by those in the group that drank that the mixed drinks where watered down. But the show was entertaining with dancers reflecting Mexico's culture.

                                    After the show you can go dance at the Playa Motel's open air dance floor which is open to the beach. this is attached to their dining area which serves a heaty meal and on Sundays a 8 pm they have their own small fireworks display.

                                    Travel to the far north end of the beach to Playa Bruja (Witch's Beach) , there you will find an open air rest. overlooking this secluded part of the beach which specializes in seafood If you plan your dining experience when the tide is coming in you can also enjoy watching the surfers.

                                    We went to Heather's on an evening when they had a show. Heather's promotes the comfort foods that the Americans and Canadians may be missing. At the show it was a buffet of Mexican and Italian food. Not the greatest but I did go back for more and with the show thrown in to boot it was a great experience. heather even came around to see if any of us needed a shawl since it was getting a bit cool as this was outdoor dining.

                                    Las Bruchettas was a great meal. I can't remember what I ordered but it was served in a large bowl made from lava rock. They don't serve wine there so poeple would bring their own. Very affordable. Las Bruchettas is off the main strip, head a couple of blocks east from Valentino's. It is across the street from the "Mega" store.

                                    Poncho's served a good lunch. We stopped in and both ordered the beef sandwich which we could have split.
                                    Poncho's is jut north of the Playa Hotel on the beach.

                                    Also, if you travel a few blocks east of Las Bruchettas there are a couple of open area rest. that were geared now to the locals. I suggest giving them a try.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: fellowtraveler

                                      Doesn't sound to me like you had "great luck with the food." Sounds to me as if you had very bad luck with the food. Crappy tourist/hotel food and American/Canadian food is not what should be eaten when you vacation in Mexico. But if you enjoyed yourself and the food, good for you!

                                      1. re: dlglidden

                                        Well, DL, if fellowtraveler was happy, that's what counts. I wouldn't normally pick the Playa for a meal, but I did that very recently! A friend who moved here from New Orleans a year ago hated the food and everything else about México, she was so homesick. When she decided suddenly to move back to NO, we got a group of friends together and I picked Sun night at the Playa for a big farewell dinner and fireworks. It was a hit with her! The fireworks are really fun, she liked her tenderloin, and anything remotely Mexican would not have been right for her. And, I ordered a whole fried red snapper, which, to my surprise, was very delicious! I haven't been to their Fiesta for probably 30 years, but I would do that again, too, mediocre buffet and all. Some things you just do for fun. Different strokes.
                                        Reading back on this thread, I don't think we ever heard from Mila and Dock again. Where are they?

                                        1. re: MazDee

                                          Dee, Please re-read the last sentence of my post. I agree with you. And I suspect several of the posters to this thread have died of old age since the thread began in late 2006—almost two and a half years ago! And if you look at fellowtraveler's post carefully, you'll see that he actually did NOT like the food served in most of the restaurants he described in geat detail—except for the quantity of the food and alcohol you could get at them and the "fun" you could have there.

                                          I just think that posters should express their preferences and expectations up front before they rate the food. If someone says he's from the Midwest in the US and he expects the same kind of food in Mazatlán, I can properly evaluate his recommendations. If someone who is a Mazatlán local and a "Mexican Chowhounder" posts I can also evaluate his recommendations. Certainly De Gustibus Non Disputandum Est always applies, but it really helps to know what the tastes of that person are when he recommends a restaurant. And, conversely, answering a question about food/restaurants is difficult if you don't know what kinds of food and atmosphere the questioner wants.

                                          1. re: dlglidden

                                            That's right DLG, they have to be properly vetted!

                                    2. I thought I'd report back on info that I gleened from this thread even though it's old.

                                      Puerto Viejo - Ok place. Nothing special except that sitting on the sidewalk you can have a lovely view. Margarita was too sweet even after asking for it not to be. Camaron ala Diabla was tasty as was the tortilla soup while neither were anything special. Crab salad was loaded with mayo, came not cool enough and kinda scared us. Cheap enough though.

                                      Pedro y Lola - We went on our last trip to MZT and were not impressed, but went back to try the two recommended dishes. The Pedro Infante and Chammora (sp?) were awesome. Probably the best food from the trip less the simple ceviche type things we ate. The long cooked pork dishes both had the complex layering of flavors that I love in Mexican sauces. The simple mushrooms with garlic were great too.

                                      Te Amo Lucy - Loved this simple place. Crazy Tony is awesome and the food and beer are cheap. The Chicarone (sp?) was to die for with some of their unque hot red salsa.

                                      Topolo - I had high expectations and was summarily dissappointed. One of the better margaritas I had. I would have like the place better with no/low expectations. The court yard was lovely. My Pesce en papiote was fine as was the crab salad.

                                      Tried to hit Miso Sushi, but they closed and moved to Nuevo Mazatlan. Went to Sushi Yoko instead. It was mediocre at best and would not bother. I'm used to much better.

                                      Olas Atlas Steak House - I don't know why I thought this might be a "Mexican Steakhouse" (does such a thing exist?) but clearly they are catering to gringos who want to eat like they do at home. The beef was fine, but it was grilled which not what I typically expect. Salads had an unbelieveable amount of dressing. Sides were ok. Interesting wine list. If you're tired of the local fare and want a lovely patio to dine on and have a nice glass of wine this place is fine. It's cheap for a steakhouse. We were out the door with a nice bottle of wine for $100 USD.

                                      Bahia - Admittedly we weren't in the right mood for this place and didn't get to try enough of the menu. We only had a coctail de camaron and the pesce zarandeado (sp?). It was fine. I wanted to love this place and did appreciate it being tourist free, less us of course.

                                      While hardly "chowish" I have to also put in a kind word for the breakfast restaurant at Pueblo Bonito where we stayed. Everything was great and I loved eating my way through the traditional Mexican breakfasts and their salsas were all great.

                                      1. Hey, Guys...Everyone talks about their favorite restaurants in Mexico, I discovered the best food in large cities like Mazatlan, PV, Culiacan, etc. over twenty years ago, and it was right in front of my eyes:
                                        Go to a Lay's Super market. They will have a giant steam table laid out, with maybe 20 0r 30 different items, steaming hot. These were cooked in peoples houses, and every morning, the people sell what they home-cooked to Lays.
                                        You will not believe the fantastic food you will taste, but don't dwell too long about how it was cooked, or cleanliness, etc. It will probably be cleaner than the restaurants.
                                        Gardnerville Nevada/Bacubirito Mexico

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: jimpeterson

                                          Jim, Why do you think this food was cooked at peoples' homes? Ley (a huge chain) does have good delis, and I take home prepared stuff sometimes. Mega, Soriana and Walmart, the other big chains here in Sinaloa, also have delis. AND they all have kitchens.

                                          1. re: MazDee

                                            Hi, MazDee...Well, I've spent over 30 years of my life in Mexico, and anything that has to do with food, I am interested in.
                                            My wife used to work for Leys, and is from Mazatlan. I used to shop in the original market, a small hole in the wall, in Culiacan, with the father of the family.
                                            We used to buy these dishes in Leys, and found out, that the food is indeed made in people's houses, and brought to the market every morning.
                                            I know it sounds funny, that a company as large as Leys would buy like this, but it is true.
                                            The next time you are in the Leys market in Mazatlan, go to the section that has all the hot selections, and ask the girl working there. In fact, you now have a reason to return to Mazatlan...

                                            1. re: MazDee

                                              Hello, again, MazDee...I just checked with my wife about Leys buying food from the local people; I didn't want to say anything that wasn't 100%. My dear wife told me, that I am full of poop, and all that food is now cooked in Leys kitchens, and they haven't bought food like that for many years. It is possible to make food in your home, and sell it in Leys, but not done often. My sister-in-law, makes cakes for sale in Mazatlan, and approached Leys to see if she could sell them to or in the market. They told her she could make the cakes, bring them to the store, and Leys would sell them for an undisclosed amount of time, to see how they would sell. This was before they installed their modern bakery...not a good deal for the sis-in-law.
                                              I'm sorry to open my mouth when I wasn't sure what I'm talking about; I'm just running about 25 years behind times.
                                              jim Peterson
                                              Gardnerville Nevada/Bacubirito Mexico

                                          2. This is an old thread - some of these restaurants have closed, moved - one of the Hotels mentioned is closed. One on my favorites is Pancho's - for service, price, consistency and just good food. For a more up to date list, (with location map) check http://rest.mazmex.com