First, the surf...
We headed out on a grocery shopping trip with Dave and Marj while we still had the rental car last week. The plan was to get heavy stuff (beer, agua mineral, produce, etc.) and then to stop somewhere for lunch.
We wanted to try someplace that we hadn't already eaten and also someplace that looked like it catered to Mexicans more than gringos. You never know what might turn up when you take this approach. We saw a couple of potential taco stand type places but then decided to hit this place where they were cooking a whole bunch of butterflied chickens on a wood-fired grill.
The traffic was pretty bad so it was a certain amount of effort to get back to the chicken place. Imagine our disappointment when we walked up and realized it was just a take-out place. Well, if we're in the market for take-out chicken we'll be stopping back by but right then we wanted a place we could sit down and eat.
We'd noticed a seafood place a few blocks back that was kind of set back off the road a bit and looked pretty low key and definitely NOT touristy. We headed there. When we arrived, there were some Mexicans sitting at a table but otherwise we were the only customers. The waitress came up and start rattling off what they had. We assumed this would be a fish taco type place but it turned out not to be. Here, you ordered a fish and told them how you'd like it cooked. There were several choices although, at the time, all we understood was "frita" (fried). Although this wasn't exactly what we'd been planning on, we figured "what the heck" and placed our order. She rattled off some more stuff and then motioned us to come over to the chest freezer. Inside there were several large beautiful Pargos, not frozen, just keeping cool. There were some other kinds of fish as well but they were smaller and definitely wouldn't feed all four of us. We chose a substantial looking candidate and the cook took it back into the kitchen to get started preparing it.
Meanwhile we ordered a plate of ceviche and another of aguachile as appetizers. I can't remember for sure what kind of fish she said the ceviche was made from. Maybe covina. Anyway, it was excellent. Aguachile is a dish that, I've read, is a specialty of Mazatlán. It turned out to be a plate of small shrimp that was just barely "cooked" with limon juice. Some of the shrimps were still mostly raw. Anyway, the shrimp is "cooked" in lime juice (like ceviche) and then a layer of shrimp is overlayed with a layer of sliced cucumbers along with strips of onion and jalapeño peppers. It was quite good although, for my money, ceviche has it beat.
About the time we'd had our fill of appetizers, out came the fish.
The body is scored and then the whole fish is lowered into very hot cooking oil. The result was a tender flaky meat that was easily separated from its crispy skin. It was served with fresh vegetables and tortillas. We quickly got into the spirit and dug in. Except for the eyeballs, we left very little edible material on the carcass. We even got the succulent cheek meat and the very tender and moist pieces behind the eyes and above the gills.
We ranked this as one of our best meals so far because the food was good and the whole thing was entirely not what we expected. Oh, and this is one of those places that didn't serve beer, but no matter. Our waitress called someone (her brother I think) who arrived on his motorcycle a few minutes later with a couple of Ballenas of Pacifico for us. It was that kind of place.
And now, the turf...
Kievit will be heading out of Mazarlán late this week to take Dave & Marj down to the Banderas Bay area. We had eaten ribs at Fat Fish when they first arrived and Dave mentioned that he'd like to go again before they leave. Well, we were certainly up for it. So, tonight we headed to town to get our meat fix.
Lulu and Marj decided to opt for the ribeye steaks while Dave and I had a slab of pork ribs each.
That means that the food you see on the table in the photo above (they'd already cleared the salad bowls) is $320 pesos worth or about $24.50 (US)! Just over six bucks a plate and it was all so good. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and the ladies reported the steaks were excellent as well. And this is out on the tourist strip.
It's no trick to get good BBQ ribs in Mazatlán as you see them advertised all over the place, especially in the "Gold Zone" which is the tourist strip. And, other restaurants may match this price as well. Maybe we'll just have to do some exploring and find out. It's delicious work but someone's got to do it.
Why don't some of you come on down to Mazatlán and check it for yourselves. Ignore the dire predictions that you'll likely be gunned down in the street by drug cartels. You're much more likely to founder from eating too much.