By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
Judging from Mazatlán’s 12 miles of never-ending golden sand beaches and the smiles on the faces of food lovers, it’s easy to understand why the city has two nicknames: “Pearl of the Pacific” and “Shrimp Capital of the World.” That leaves one question: How much delicious fresh seafood can you consume during a foodie vacation to Mazatlán and the nearby towns? Actually, there’s another question: Will anyone break Mazatlán’s global shrimp supremacy as Guinness World Record holder for the largest shrimp cocktail ever made?
Where Fishing Flourishes
Where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, the largest port facility between Los Angeles and the Panama Canal has a thriving fishing industry. Mazatlán is also widely known as a sport fisherman’s paradise for deep sea adventures with a reel.
Breakfast From The Sea
As a shrimp mecca, ceviche reigns along with quesadillas and aguachiles (a shrimp cocktail variation which marinates seafood in green chili and lime served with red onion and cucumber), calamari, octopus, scallop dishes, lobster, baked oysters, tostadas with crab, barbecued whole fish, hamachi sashimi, and smoked marlin. You can even begin your day with chilaquiles (tortilla strips drenched in salsa) stuffed with fresh shrimp or marlin for breakfast while hanging out with the locals along the Malecón, a palm tree-lined boardwalk extending for 4 miles along the beachfront.
Mazatlán’s 300 Restaurants
Decisions, decisions, decisions. Seafood isn’t the only way to go, as Mazatlán’s 300 eateries offer plenty of variety in cuisine, including authentic Mexican, French, Italian, German, Cuban, Spanish, Asian-fusion, sushi, international, and vegetarian. Dine at a romantic swanky spot, a casual café, a classic corner bar, or a simple open-air stall at the seaside where the catch of the day is headed for the grill the moment it comes off the boat.
Mazatlán’s Signature Chilorio
Seafood isn’t the only local tasty star in Mazatlán. The entire region around Mazatlán is well known for preparing mouth-watering dishes with its exceptionally good quality livestock. Chilorio is a specialty pork dish made from pork slow simmered for hours until extra tender for shredding and then crispy fried in chile sauce flavored with onions, cumin and garlic—perfect to serve in a warm corn tortilla. Another winner is birria, a meat stew usually made with beef but also made with goat or lamb, simmering the meat for for hours with onion and coriander—this one is perfect on a tortilla.
Eating Mazatlán Style
Visitors to Mazatlán can experience local traditions connected to enjoying food around a table. Many of them love the way that traditional local foods are prepared family-style in a large pot creating a soup stock called caldo before being served in small bowls so people can help themselves. Pozole, a rich soup based on pork, hominy, and ancho chiles is the “chicken-corn-soup” of Mexico and is on the menu of all cenadurias, or traditional supper restaurants where the doors are open until the food runs out. Frijoles are served to accompany, sprinkled with grated cheese called queso cotija. Mazatlán style dining food is ideal for families with children and groups with different eating preferences.