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May 29, 2008 08:29 PM

Mazatlan lunch?

We will have just enough to to have lunch in Mazatlan on Wednesday, June 4 after a shore excursion and before having to be back on board our ship at 5:00pm. Any price range is fine. We will either be a party of three adults or a party of five adults and two children. We love to sample good, authentic local fare and would truly appreciate some suggestions.


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  1. For atmosphere, eating at one of the several restaurants on Plazuela Machado that has outdoor/sidewalk seating is pleasant. Though the food is not super good, it's typical of the area. El Túnel, across the street from the Angela Peralta Theater, just off the Plazuela Machado is a good restaurant. I would strongly recommend Restaurant Topolo, but I heard a rumor it was closing. Ask a cab or pulmonia driver it's still open.

    For excellent meat try Restaurante El Bambú on Av. Reforma off of Rafael Buelna out towards the Zona Dorada, near La Gran Plaza. (Any taxi driver will know where it is.) The restaurant is hardly fancy and is mostly patronized by Mazatlecos--few tourists. Their arrachera is especially excellent.

    Sinaloan cuisine is not particularly unique, lots of seafood and grilled meats. One "specialty" is chilorio, a spicy pork and chiles concoction used as a filling for tamales and tacos, etc. It's often served for breakfast. The pork is cooked for hours, then shredded and chopped, mixed with spices and chiles and fried in (usually) lard. You can buy it canned in almost any grocery store. Buy a can or two and take it home with you.

    12 Replies
    1. re: dlglidden

      wtf? Bring home canned chilorio? Sinaloan cuisine not 'unique'? Well, sure not put up against Oaxacan, Pueblan or Yucatecan.

      I think Sinaloan food is probably one of my favorite regional cuisines of Mexico -simple good straight forward fresh food.

      > Menudo blanco with hierba buena
      > Almejas Culchis
      > Aguachile
      >Enchiladas al suelo
      > Smoked Marlin
      > Mochomos
      > Zarendeado
      > Tamales de Barbones

      Some Education:

      1. re: kare_raisu

        kare raisu, I don't agree with you that Sinaloa "cuisine" is anything special, but I have lived here only about 6 years. Guess I am missing a lot. I am crazy about the carne asada and arrechara. I love smoked marlin (which I understand is normally smoked tuna). The shrimp is delicious. Fresh fish abounds. But, do you want your fish or shrimp cooked breaded, grilled, or with garlic? Those are the choices, unless you go to a tourist place where they stuff it with something and pour a sauce over it, but then that's not Sinaloense, is it? Also, look around for a place that will make your fish filet more than 1/4 in thick. I love beans puerco, but they are normally like soup, running all over the plate. What is it about Sinaloa food that is unique, other than the beans running all over the plate? Or the local style of ceviche, which is full of grated carrots. Oh, chilorio and machaca. I like those a lot, but I think they came from Sonora. I may be wrong. Zaranedeado is wonderful, but Nopal informs me that is from Nayarit. One thing is, the music is unique! Banda El Recodo started here in Mazatlán a couple generations ago. That's something we Mazatlecos can be proud of! (Lots on You tube).

        1. re: MazDee

          It kind of makes me sad to read your post MazDee because you have lived there for 6 years and I have yet to visit. My only road to immerse myself in Sinaloan cuisine is by way of Mariscos Restaurants here in SD and LA. What I have tried I have been really impressed by. I am haunted by some clam culichis I had this past weekend to this day.

          I work in a fish market and I am having trouble understanding why you are dissatisfied with the sinaloense fish prepartions? What more ways are there to cook it? What kind of fish filet is 1/4 in thick? Mojarra? Also having trouble grasping why if you like the beans - what does in matter if they spread over the plate?

          hmm...grated carrots does it detract too much? Is it universal?

          I will defer to the much more knowledgeable and articulate streetgourmetla. Hopefully he can provide a better response than I.

          I am planning a trip to your state late summer just to eat, listen to banda and sit on the beach.

          1. re: kare_raisu

            Kare, MazDee's and dlglidden are posting from their experience of Mazatlán's regional cooking. I agree with both of them, as well as with Eat_Nopal: many of Mazatlán's dishes originated in other parts of Mexico and aren't really specialties associated with Sinaloa. A lot of food in most restaurants is just average. Just because it's in Mexico doesn't make it fantastic Mexican food.

            After you've been eating here in Mexico for a couple of weeks, I think you'll understand better what all four of us are talking about. Your experience is based primarily on mariscos restaurants in California. While Sinaloa has access to good seafood, the preparation isn't really anything out of the ordinary. Cuts of fish here are very different from cuts of fish in California. Many kinds of fish are fileted VERY thinly, as are many cuts of beef.

            Even the so-called Sinaloense or Mazalteco style seafood restaurants in Guadalajara and Morelia are only fair to...well, frankly, not good. I would advise you not to eat at Guadalajara's El Pargo, for example. You will be greatly disillusioned. And the best coctel de camarón that I've EVER eaten in Mexico is at the Tianguis del Sol in Guadalajara, not at the coast at all--and not even in a restaurant.

            Eat_Nopal favors the cuisines of east-central Mexico. Others prefer Oaxacan cuisines. I'm partial to the cuisines of the central highlands. There's so much to learn and so much to eat in Mexico that it's entirely possible to spend a lifetime in the attempt to cover it all. You're new to all this. Even in your BEST San Diego and LA restaurants, you can't experience the glories of Mexico's culinary best.

            Things in general are just not the same here as they are in California, even in food preparation. I'd say don't knock it till you've been here and experienced it.

            And by the way, canned chilorio is an above-average substitute if you can't find it in a restaurant out of its region. However, on another thread, I did recommend the chilorio at a restaurant near Guadalajara.

            See you soon, we're looking forward to your visit!


          2. re: MazDee

            I don't dispute that there maybe a proliferation of simple seafood shacks in Mazatlan... but Sinaloa does have quite a bit of unique dishes... you have to know what to look for. As in other parts of the country... sometimes there is a vast repertoire that is rarely found outside of peoples homes.... and also consider that Mazatlan is just one touristy, migrant invaded port and can't possibly be reflective of an entire state.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              EN, you are so right about the vast repertoire found nowhere but in private homes. When people ask me, "Where's the best place to eat (you fill in the blank)", I often say, "Doña Fulana's house, but she only cooks for her family and friends!"


          3. re: kare_raisu

            Hey Alex, how are things in GDL? I agree with your WTF.There's popcorn shrimp, shrimp kebabs,barbequed shrimp...........

            Gastronomia Sinaloense
            To name a few:Empanadas de marlin,cochinita,asado de res,Chilorio,Pollo estilo Sinaloa,Sopa costeña,Camarones sinaloenses(AKA camarones Costa Azul),Tacuarines,Pichones empapelados,chilaquiles Sinaloenses,mochomos,el aguachile, la machaca, frijoles puercos, cabreria,tamales tontos, mixcocos de frijol y puerco enchilado, tamales barbones de Escuinapa, tamales de camaron,menudo blanco, colache de calabacitas, puntas de calabaza con queso, acelgas con garbanzo, caldo de zuzule, caldo michi, chiles rellenos de jaiba,machaca, cocido, sopa de pescado, pozole, pozolillo, albóndigas de camarón, chicharrón de camarón, tortitas de camarón y nopales, machaca de lisa o de mantarraya, pescado zarandeado, pollo tierno con arroz, gallina en caldo, quelites con puerco, borrego tatemado, pulpos y calamares prepared in various ways,camarones en escabeche,pate de marlin,enchiladas Sinaloenses and botanas de mariscos to die for.

            Not to mention fresh catch of camarón, pargo, atún, lisa, almeja, callo de hacha, ostión y marlin among others.

            Beverages:tejuino, cerveza Pacifico, and Agave Azul Los Osuna(Sinaloa made tequila before and after the tequila region got its DOA, Los Osuna is the last remnant of the tradition)

            While dishes like pescado zarandeado, which comes from Nayarit, may not be indigenous to Sinaloa, it has a place in the Sinaloan gastronomy and you'd be a fool not to have the local pargo Zarandeado.Sinaloa's aguachile and preparation of callo de hacha are unrivaled in Mexico; their fresh seafood style is the best:cocteles, almejas, callos, pata de mula,ostiones, ceviche de camaron crudo,aguachiles en molcajete,etc.It's a combination of the largest commercial shrimp fleet in Latin America with a bounty of other fresh ingredients and the impecable cocteleros/cocineros that make the dishes.The best seafood stands in TJ and LA are run mostly by Sinaloenses.Sinaloan mariscos chefs are the sushi masters of Mexico, combining ingredients with knife technique to make simple yet artful food.Sinaloenses cut the pepinos differently for an aguachile than for a coctel, just as the sushi chef uses the knife to evoke flavors and textures.

            I don't live in Sinaloa but I travel throughout the state every month practically for work and I'm able to find many of the aforementioned plates with ease even passing through for an overnighter.All you have to do is look.Walking down the malecon in front of the Caliente and you will discover seafood shacks with different offerings.One had the emanadas de marlin, another albondigas de camaron, each had pescado or camaron zarandeado.Sometimes there is a subtle inclusion of a regional specialty that the grill man's mother likes to make and is added to the menu, or written on a paper plate and affixed lazily above the counter.Mariscos Las Palmas in Culiacan has a fantastic menu on paper and even more regional daily specials scattered throughout the walls of the joint hand written on neon poster paper.Filete Culichi, pate de camaron, mariscocos,etc.

            Sinaloa shares things with Sonora and Nayarit but has its own style of original and shared gastronomy, which is extensive,delicious, and is a distinctive cuisine in Mexico.I know people here wouldn't discount NY or Chicago pizza just because pizza comes from Italy.

            The other day I was a party of a Culichi coworker whose wife prepared pate de marlin, pescado zarandeado,and a bunch of other Sinaloa standards.These dishes are there folks, and they are in restaurants, street stands, seafood shacks,peoples homes(make friends),so get out of the Zona Dorada and go get it.I'm still learning, but I can spot a Sinaloa seafood restaurant anyday.A few months ago I ordered an aguachile at El Conchal outside the Mercado Hidalgo in TJ and the coctelero pulls out the molcajete,"High Five!" Viva Sinaloa.Alex, when we go to TJ, it's on!

            1. re: streetgourmetla

              Look, the OP was on a cruise ship and had a few hours in town to have a good lunch. And he's long gone, cruising back home. So how is the rest of this thread relevant or even sensible? Every region on the planet earth claims to have wonderful, unique, delicious food. But just citing a laundry list of dishes in Spanish doesn't mean the dishes are interesting, well prepared, tasty, unique, or original. I wasn't attacking Sinaloan cuisine, I was just telling the OP that he shouldn't expect anything much different or more "special" than "Mexican food" available in restaurants in most Pacific Coast tourist towns. And NO ONE suggested the OP should eat in the Zona Dorada (though there's nothing wrong at all with eating there), cruise ships don't dock in the Zona Dorada. And asking the OP to "eat in people's homes (make friends)" is silly--he just wanted a recommendation for the name of a good restaurant for the few hours he'd be on shore.

              And if I didn't want this thread to die a quick death, I'd reply in length to your "laundry list," but WTF.

              1. re: dlglidden

                I listed the dishes in Spanish because it's Mexican food.What do you call tortillas in English?Pho ga sounds pretty exotic, but we know that it's just chicken soup, yet it is quite unique and interesting.The name of a dish doesn't make it great or terrible, it's the ingredients, execution, and tradition, attributes has in abundance separating it from generic grilled meats and seafood.

                I'm following the thread to its current progression just like you .I didn't say you attacked Sinaloan cuisine, someone else did, but I concur with his response.I DON'T believe every region of the world has a unique cuisine that is worthy of a special trip, but I disagree that Sinaloa cuisine is just regular Mexican food.If you looked into it a little, maybe you have, you'd recognize the cuisine and where to find it.

                Many here could tell you wonderful stories of eating at the locals houses.I learned about pate de marlin at a Culichi household and then saw it on the menu at Las Palmas in Culiacan.Isn't that our mission?The best arroz con pollo I ever had in my life was at a family's house in Cuba that I met while visiting, so call me silly.The point is, if you know what to look for, you can find it.If not, maybe you should consult your local Culichi.As I said, just walk down the malecon near Caliente to the beach shacks and you'll find regional foods, it's as easy as falling off a log.If there is a branch of El Farallon in Mazatlan, that is also a fantastic place to taste the flavors of Sinaloa.

                BTW, you're correct,OP just asked for recs for a lunch,but he didn't ask about the merits of Sinaloan cuisine, that was your idea.And,"lots of seafood and grilled meats. One "specialty" is chilorio" was your input.Just trying to bring another perspective.I have nothing against the Zona Dorada nor is there a problem eating there, plenty of splendid joints, but it does take a little work getting to the goods in Mazatlan.Culiacan is better for regional foods and so is Los Mochis.My friend from Rosario has family members on his and his wife's side that know so many of these recipes.

                1. re: streetgourmetla

                  Bill - youre posts make me want to leave for sinaloa and I just got back this afternoon from Jalisco.

                  I wish I could have called you - but I was robbed for my cell by knife just outside of Hospicio Cabanas. Long story but it was probably my fault for going alone. Despite this, those 10 days were the best days of my life in recent history - the beautiful generous people I stayed with that made me cry when I left this morning, outrageously delicious food, and a city that is begging to be given more attn (see gourmets recent issue!).

                  This is also is the first time I have been on the internet in the 10days Ive been gone. I will write you via email soon.

                  Keep up your writing thats grounded in experience and a genuine love for good food. You are awesome

                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    Yes, it's a really good article in Gourmet. I was the guide for the author, for many of his eating adventures. Unfortunately, Gourmet edited me out of the story.

                    And I'm really sorry you didn't get to Morelia. It would have been good to see you.


                    1. re: cristina

                      I am sorry too -- i was planning to but once that happened - I was not so keen on solo travel.

        2. I think La Puntilla would be a good choice. It is a waterside restaurant near the ferry dock. Very good seafood, all kinds of preparations. Not a "tourist" restaurant, very popular with locals. The Plazuela Machado in Centro Historico is very much worth visiting. If you don't get there on your tour, it would be a good choice for lunch. I like La Tramoya. Not the fanciest place on the plazuela, but I think their food is the most consistent and their menu is quite varied. I have never had a bad meal there, and I am picky! Topolo, mentioned by another poster, has indeed closed for good. As for chilorio in a can, I have never tried it but I love chilorio, and if I didn't live here I would be quite tempted to take some home in a can! Have fun!

          1. Oh! bnevens!Where did you go and how was it?

            1. Hello, Everyone....I know this is a late post for bnevens, but for anyone who spends some time in Mazatlan, go to Ley's Supermarket; big place, everyone knows where it is....Every morning, people from Mazatlan sell food to Ley's that they have made at home. This is the real Mexican food. Ley sells it from steam-heated tables near the part of the store where the cheese is. If you try this, buy the mild green chilies in escobeche(? spelling) It's stuffed with tuna, and cooked in spices and vinegar. Fantastic !

              1. This is a very belated thank you for all of your detailed recommendations which I will keep for future reference. Since our taxi driver dropped us off in the Zona Dorada and we had time constraints, we ended up having lunch at the Shrimp Factory. While I'm sure that it didn't hold a candle to some, if not all, of the restaurants that you recommended, it was quite good. We started with a well prepared guacamole followed by shrimp by the kilo as well as shrimp quesadillas which were both very tasty. The shrimp were fresh and properly cooked.

                Just before returning to our ship, we made our way to Plazuela Machado so that we could take a quick look at the Angela Peralta Theater. Some of the restaurants there looked very interesting and I was sorry that we had not better planned our routing for the day. We were on a Disney Cruise with our daughter, SIL, and their two young children so our priorities in general were quite different from those that we have when traveling alone.

                You were all so very generous with your detailed suggestions and, although we weren't able to have lunch at any one of the restaurants that you recommended, we certainly hope to do so in the future.

                2 Replies
                1. re: bnevens

                  Can't really go wrong with shrimp in Mazatlan.Glad you had a great meal.

                  1. re: bnevens

                    People will freak out when I mention it but I like the Shrimp Bucket downtown and you get a great view of the Malencon