The three B’s, Bueno, Bonito, and Barato (Good, Pretty, and Cheap), we were taught is the main criteria to look for when choosing a restaurant in any city. In Mazatlán we were able to meet up with our Brazilian friends Eduardo and Lilian. If there are two things our Brazilian friends know about food, it’s where to find good fish, and how to prepare great meat.
We met Eduardo and Lilian at the beginning of summer in La Paz and were amazed to learn about their spear fishing and free diving talents. Since then, we have become good friends enjoying each other’s company, practicing our Spanish, English and Portuguese, and continuing our quest for good, affordable food in Mexico.
Coincidentally when we crossed the Sea of Cortéz to Mazatlán Lillian and Eduardo also crossed, not in their boat Brazil Cristalino, but by ferry accompanied by a set of wheels. They are in the middle of a driving journey south to Panama for the season. We looked forward to their arrival in town. After a brief reunion at a delicious local palapa directly adjacent to our marina we met Mike, a UK expat who has lived in Mazatlán for over 15 years.
He unequivocally stressed that the one local eatery we could not miss is a famous restaurant in the village of Villa Union located inland just 10 miles or so east of Mazatlán. It’s called “El Cuchupetas” and is known for its marvelous preparation of snook (robalo) as well as its hosting of Presidents, dignitaries, and overall interesting characters.
The restaurant itself doesn’t have a pretentious bone in its body, and for all the world looks to be a typical establishment that could be found in any Mexican village. Along with all that, the price is truly reasonable. This establishment is so busy that daily there is a line of diners that winds down the street. This is not due to lack of seating as there is room for at least 150 people or so.
Later, we decided to stop by the mercado municipal for fresh supplies and were greeted with a great array of beautiful fresh fruits, vegetables, meats cheeses and more!
There wasn’t much time to explore but the prices and quality of the produce left us very excited. The sight of so much fresh produce in Mazatlán was strange after being in Baja for so long.
Most of the produce arriving to Baja is shipped over on the Ferry from the mainland or on a truck coming from California. There seems to be some timing issues on certain products that arrive to the supermercados, as they tend to spoil faster than you would normally expect. Lettuce was usually limp, carrots and celery became rubber in a few days, and fresh herbs were even harder to come by. Knowing where to shop for each product, and what days each store receives new produce helps a good chef in Baja cope.
Overall, our first impressions of the mainland are extremely favorable. Mazatlán is a HUGE city! It was the first time since being in Mexico that we actually sat in traffic. And, it is the first place we’ve set foot in Mexico that can truly be called tropical based on its location. (It sits just below the imaginary line for the Tropic of Cancer.) The beach front scenery is definitely green, the palm trees look very healthy, and the fresh vegetables. . . need I say more? Unfortunately, aside from that we didn’t have much time to explore Mazatlán.
With a new weather window approaching we decided to take advantage of the beginning of the window, instead of leaving near the end or in between. This was a new strategy to planning departures that involved any overnight sailing. The goal, a more pleasant passage to our next destination with few weather surprises. So, we loaded up the troops in our buddy boat flotilla, (Del-Cake-Uhia) and headed South once again, leaving Mazatlán just after a few days.