La Nueva Generación/New Generation of Mazatlán Restaurants

We love seafood. Cevichefilete al ajocamarones a la diabla, callos de hacha…. all those terrific and typical dishes we have the pleasure of eating deliciously and cheaply here in Mazatlán. We acknowledge that it’s an incredibly spoiled thought even to have quickly pass through one’s mind, but sometimes we crave something a little different. We want something a little less “standard,” a little out of the ordinary.

We were in luck last spring when a group of new restaurants, run by a younger generation of Mazatlecos in their 20s and 30s, opened. The owners have traveled; they’ve lived and studied outside Mazatlán. They love our port city, and they are excited to take the “best of” what they like in Mazatleco food and prepare it in a way that creates something a little different. First they started adding mango, pineapple and coconut to the traditional ceviches. Then they added pastor spices to the grilled fish. Then they starting searing (hooray!) ahi with Asian sauces and sesame, and pretty soon, we had complete menus of a really innovative, fusion cuisine that are keeping our family very happy.


Our favorite of these is the wonderfully named Barracruda’s (for those of you who don’t speak Spanish, the name is a play on words: barracuda, the fish, and “raw bar”). Run by a group of hipster surfer-types, the upscale beach-hut-in-suburbia is filled with young people, but the owners are friendly, outgoing and always very welcoming of our family. They serve up seared fresh tuna that is to die for, and ceviches, quesadillas, burritos and tacos unlike anything you’ve eaten. You will love it! Greg has even taken the guys there for compadre night, and those old-time Mazatlecos loved it, too. They serve wonderful tajin-rimmed micheladas, mixed with lime just the way we like them. Their service is fast and efficient and the prices are a real bargain. Sports fans will find some nice large flat screens as well.

The one downside for us is that they are usually crowded. Fortunately they are building a second location right across the street (Avenida de la Marina at Durango 335, north of Insurgentes about seven blocks), which they hope to have open in November. While we speak Spanish with them, you can be confident the owners and most of the staff speak English quite well. Many of you no doubt are already fans, but if you haven’t checked out Barracruda’s, please do.

149045_554355397938192_36127251_nThe great news is that just down the street is another of our favorites: Todos Somos Santos (“We are All Saints”). Todos Santos is much more open, so in the summer you get more natural breeze blowing through. It’s a much bigger place, so you don’t have the crowding issues (although it is also very popular, especially with families on the weekends). They have just added really gorgeous new roofing, to keep the rain and sun at bay during this time of year. The owners and staff here are extremely hospitable. The crowd here is also young, but with a whole lot of families and groups. You will love it.

The chef (Manny) speaks English perfectly, having worked a long time in Texas. He makes up a variety of fresh sauces daily that will blow your mind. Then he puts them over fresh seafood mixed with avocado, mango, coconut, pineapple… You can have tuna chicharrón or callos/scallops like you have not had them before. The tostadas are huge and filling. Waiters here will bring out funny hats to amuse you as they sing happy birthday to a nearby guest, so you get a bit of the party vibe, too. Compared to Barracruda’s, Todos Santos has more cooked food and more “entree” type items. Whichever you choose, you won’t leave hungry.  It’s on Avenida de la Marina 800, in El Toreo. You can’t miss it — it’s right on the corner behind Soriana, bright and airy.

Portions at both of these places are huge, and the prices are generally 75-100 pesos per entree.

399866_138666922986126_1737127503_nLeaving Avenida de la Marina and going down into the Golden Zone, in a place that has housed several different restaurants the past few years, is F.I.S.H. (Fresh International Seafood House). You will find it behind Rico’s coffee and Mary’s Hamburger in the spot where Mr. Ace’s stood for so long. The atmosphere here is completely different. Whereas Todos Santos and Barracruda’s are warm, friendly and colorful, F.I.S.H. is modern minimalist — clean whites and shiny aluminums. Here you’ll find wild rice, raisins mixed in the mango salsa, lobster and oyster po-boys, salmon burgers, kabobs, french fries in the burritosceviches served to you out of a mold, happy hour from 5 – 10 pm and live music a few times a week. F.I.S.H. has indoor, air-conditioned space, in addition to the terrace. It was started by one of the original founders of The Fish Market. We are happy to see the creative menu, but personally feel the execution is a work in progress and the atmosphere is still trying to find its way. Pricing in this restaurant has some real bargains and some over-priced basics. It’s a cool addition to our local restaurant scene, and hopefully the kinks will work out over time (this is the most recent of the four to have opened).

Overall, we love the trend. In most cities a radical influx like this would cause the old-line traditional restaurants to take a look at their menu, service and atmosphere and decide if they want to make a competitive tweak here and there. We have not seen this play out yet. Is this because they are waiting to see if these young guns will make a go of it, or are they happy to attract a different crowd? Only time will tell. Until then, we are happy to have some real variety available and will continue to enjoy all that Mazatlán has to offer in the way of seafood restaurants.

UPDATE 2 SEPTEMBER: Since we published this, Muelle 12 owners have confirmed that the restaurant will NOT reopen to the public. It will instead become a bar for Pacífico Beer, at least according to them. They have opened a new place in the GZ called XiBalba (behind Casa Maya/across from Hotel Las Flores). To prevent confusion, we’ve deleted the original Muelle 12 portion of this post.

Fastest Restaurant Service in the World/Karne Garibaldi


México, the land of mañana, a place where ahorita (“right now”) means “I am aware of it; we will get to it, eventually…” So imagine our shock this afternoon when we walked into a restaurant across the street from our hotel in Guadalajara, and before we could even sit down onto our table appears FRESH food: limes, chopped cilantro and onion, chips and salsa, and hot corn tortillas! A waiter showed up with pen and notepad in hand, smiling, asking us for our order, before we had barely sat down!

“What do you have?” I naïvely asked. “Beef cooked in its juice, small, medium or large.” Easy enough. (They do have quesadillas if you don’t want meat, but not much else.) Our small orders showed up in about 20 seconds. We had been sitting for all of 30 seconds, maybe, and we were eating fresh hot food! The slowest part of the process was us. Had we been experienced diners, it would have been a seamless, fluid transaction.

For us it was quite disconcerting. The place, Karne Garibaldi, is evidently pretty famous in Guadalajara, founded in the 1970s and currently with five different locations throughout the city. Since August 31, 1996, they have held the Guinness World Record for fastest service: 13.5 seconds from kitchen to table! This is not a taco stand; it is huge, comprising what are basically three large dining rooms. We didn’t count, but would guess there are sixty tables and seating for a few hundred people. We normally clocked people getting served their main courses and drinks between 30 and 50 seconds, but that’s still pretty darned amazingly speedy!

Remarkably to me, the staff all worked together like a well-oiled machine and, they were happy doing it! The hostesses seat groups of people and stand at the table with their hands in the air as the guests sit down. The side dishes all show up, and a waiter shows up. The waiter runs (literally) the order ticket to the kitchen, and the food and drinks are served lickety split. Other waiters wander around with fresh guacamole or other side dishes you might want to add to the standard-issue salsa, grilled cebollitas, limes, and their famous frijoles con elote (beans with corn). Waiters who are not busy taking orders or serving clear plates from tables. And boy, can they carry the weight! These are heavy pottery dishes! The entire time we were there, we only small smiles and great examples of team work, so often missing in restaurants today. Someone has done a great job instilling a culture of team work and customer service. Even the manager or crew supervisor was pitching in non-stop. Lots of nonverbal communication and staff member helping staff member; it was really fun and beautiful to watch.

Outside the restaurant in Plaza del Sol a line of cars waited a long way down the street for valets to park them, such is the demand on this place. We personally found the meat in its juice a bit bland, but there was plenty of salsa, lime, cilantro and onion to spice it up. And, thankfully, it was meat, not tripe or ears or eyes or…

The menu includes a large variety of drinks (including Greg’s beloved Coke Zero in a BOTTLE!) as well as Mexican desserts (jericalla, pastel mil hojas, flan, mousse de guayaba). Prices are reasonable (see menu at left). The small orders were enough for us as we went home very satisfied. It is only a few pesos more for the next sizes up, so a hungry diner won’t go broke. This is a great place to eat and probably a great place to work.

Just remember, next time someone tells you that Mexicans like to take their time… there are exceptions to every tendency!


Cerritos Beach, Otro Domingo Típico Mazatleco/Another Typical Mazatlecan Sunday

I know a tranquil beach where the views are spectacular,

Where rock outcroppings shelter swimmers from rough tides.

I know a beach where both the music and the food are fantastic.

The restaurants are basic, in no way luxurious…

But, they serve fish, seafood and shellfish caught just minutes earlier…

In a shady, ocean breeze-cooled environment. Along with the seafood they serve cold beers and…

Freshly squeezed, ice cold lemonade!

I know a beach where the restaurants are plenty comfortable, and you can’t beat the freshness of the food served, the spectacular views, the joy of the environment, or the price. (Greg and I had barbecued corbina, two beers, and a fresh lemonade today, and we paid 220 pesos or about US$18 for the privilege.)

I know a beach where, in addition to the music, the food, the drink, there is plenty to keep you entertained while you are relaxing, including watching families out for a Sunday afternoon picnic and swim, and fishermen putting their boats in.

If you are from Mazatlán you of course know this beach: Cerritos. Decades ago when we first started visiting Mazatlán, Cerritos was a long drive up a lonely dirt road. The beach was great, and there were a few open-air restaurants just like today.

But today the road is paved, Cerritos is right next door to the huge, world-class El Riu hotel complex, and it lies at the end of a shopping mall that caters to gringos who stay in the trailer park. It is a mere 15 minutes from the Golden Zone. And Cerritos is still, fortunately, wonderful!

If you don’t want to visit a restaurant, you can picnic on the beach. You can bring your own shade, or, even easier, bring your ceviche and shrimp paté and…

Rent some shade: 130 pesos for day use of a tent, a table and four chairs.

If you haven’t been to Cerritos in a while, you are overdue! If you’re heading down to Mazatlán, be sure to add Cerritos to your agenda!

Below I’ll add just a few random photos taken today that I thought you might enjoy.

Fishing net on the beach

Músicosready to serve

Singly or in conjuntos

Natural swimming pool

Lots of families enjoying a day in the shade

Our restaurant from the outside

Oysters for sale