We've been in Mazatlan almost 8 weeks! Shocking but true. We love Mazatlan and the El Cid experience so much that it is hard to leave. This is the third January we have spent here and after all that time, we feel very comfortable here - we have friends here besides other boaters, we know the tricks of public transportation, but best of all we know some REALLY GOOD places to eat.
#1 Eating Experience in all of Mexico - El Montalayo. This restaurant can be found down past the Home Depot at Av. La Marina Y Colima. The specialty sold at this restaurant is barbacoa de borrego (barbecue lamb). It is hard to even describe how good this stuff is. You simply cannot stop eating it until your stomach explodes. You buy the lamb by the kilo, with or without bones. They bring it out on a platter with a special little clay pot that has glowing embers in the bottom that keep the lamb hot as you work your way through it. Along with the lamb comes mounds of fresh, hot, homemade corn tortillas, and about 8 different topping choices of salsas, guacamole, pickled onions, etc. which you use to create your own lamb tacos. They also sell carne asada (red beef) in the same manner, but the lamb is so good we have never ordered anything else. The word is getting out on this place so now you often see a table with long term visitors here, sitting among the locals. You never see an average tourist.
The Fish Market - This absolutely cute place just opened within the last year about a block or two past the El Cid entrance. Someone put a lot of money into this tiny restaurant and it looks like you could pick it up and place it down in California and no one would notice. All tacos cost 20 pesos (or 3 for 50 pesos) and you can chose to have octopus, shrimp, fish or scallop in your tacos, either grilled or deep-fryed. The other items on their menu look fabulous too, but they are much more expensive (shrimp burger for 90 pesos) and since we are so happy with the tacos we have not branched out, yet. I have only seen other tourists eating here since it is so brilliantly packaged to appeal to them and the prices are a little high for tacos, so the locals don't go here.
Claudia's - This restaurant can be found on the upper level of the Central Market. There are about ten different restaurants on the upper level and we happened to choose Claudia's. We were not disappointed. The first time we ate there, I had the Second Best Chile Relleno in Mexico (poblano chile stuffed with cheese). The second time we went there, I had very good Albondigas Soup (meatball soup) and Patrick had the Best Ever in the World Chicken Mole. It was truly spectacular, and I don't usually like Mole since most places just use the stuff from the can. Obviously Claudia's makes their own mole sauce and it is exceptional. The entire meal came to 50 pesos which is about $4 at the current exchange rate. I have only seen locals eating here.
Q Cotorro - This taco stand can be found on the same street as the Mega grocery store, a couple blocks further down on the same side. It is large, clean and packed with locals after 8pm. Not being Mexican, we tend to eat dinner at 5 or 6 pm and so the place is nearly empty. They have excellent charros (bean soup) for 12 pesos a bowl, fabulous grilled whole green onions, and a variety of really good tacos for a reasonable price.
I could keep going, but I think you get the picture - forget the budget and who cares about our expanding waists. There are so many places that have been recommended to us that we could stay another two months checking them out, in between going to our favorites.
3 days ago