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The buzz around Mexican cuisine tends to focus on Oaxaca, Puebla, the Yucatan and other stars, but Mazatlan rarely enters the conversation. Yet the traditional port and resort city has become a candidate for the UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation thanks to its authentic regional cuisine, abundant fresh seafood and creative chefs. Here’s how to sample its blossoming food scene.
Agatha Kitchen BarTrendy, elegant and sophisticated, Agatha is a standout in the city’s Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) region. Its large cocktail lounge, dining room and patio buzz with excitement as well-dressed diners greet friends at other tables. A tableside cocktail cart dispenses gin and whiskey concoctions, while cooks in the open kitchen prepare items such as oysters, beet salad, duck tacos, short ribs and sushi.
Casa 46 Casa 46, located in a historic home beside the Centro Historico’s (historical center) picturesque Plazuela Machado, has been transformed from a cultural museum into an elegant restaurant.
All the action takes place on the second story, where couples linger over cocktails in a posh lounge. The best seats are on the balcony overlooking the plazuela (small plaza), where bands, performing artists and souvenir vendors compete for the strolling crowd’s attention.
At Casa 46, the kitchen wows taste buds with items such as a savory mushroom cappuccino, sea bass with black risotto, pork confit with mole and other gourmet fare.
Flavor Teller Market TourMaaike Hoekstra, owner of local operator Flavor Teller, wants her guests to eat like locals.
The grazing begins at Mazatlan’s Mercado Pino Suarez with sweet pineapple tamales — a typical morning treat — and generous helpings of mackerel ceviche, smoked marlin, cheese, fruit licuados (blended beverages) and other local specialties.
As her walking tour wanders through the iron-framed market — past stands displaying everything from spiritual remedies to colorful piles of chilies, spices and tropical fruits — Hoekstra relates stories about each vendor’s family business. Clients can also book Hoekstra’s food-cart tour in downtown Mazatlan, which teaches visitors how to enjoy the city’s regional street food.
Hector’s BistroMazatlan’s well-traveled foodies tend to frequent Hector’s Bistro, returning for dishes such as octopus carpaccio, steak with arugula salad, homemade pastas and the sticky toffee pudding.
At the art nouveau bar in the middle of the dining room, regulars linger over a French or Italian charcuterie plate and a glass — or two — from the wine and craft beer lists. Reminiscent of a European bistro, Hector’s has long banquettes lining the walls beneath mirrors, photographs and paintings.
Proprietor and chef Hector Peniche spent several years in London before returning to his home in Mazatlan, bringing a global flair to the city’s dining scene.
Mariscos El CuchupetasWhen it comes to seafood, few destinations can beat Mazatlan. Fish and shellfish specialties abound all over the city, yet many locals opt to drive 30 minutes to reach El Cuchupetas in Villa Union.
Owner Manuel Sanchez Villalpando opened his modest restaurant in 1987 and has gradually added multiple buildings and rooms to accommodate the lunchtime crowds.
Photos of celebrities and politicians cover the walls, and waiters rush about tables packed with coworkers, families and friends sharing seafood-heavy platters of aguachile, ceviche and fried whole fish.