Ay, Mazatlán, you stole my heart once more… It’s been three years since I last visited this city by the sea, and much has changed. High-rises have sprouted along the endless malecón and the Nuevo Mazatlán area is bustling with construction crews and cranes, as well as brand new hotels (stay tuned for more on what’s new in Mazatlán in a subsequent “newsy” blog). To top it all off, the convention center that was once a gleam in planner’s eyes is now a reality. It’s pretty awesome—I’ll be giving that some space of its own later this week, too.
What hasn’t changed is what makes Mazatlán so beloved to so many: that wonderfully exuberant joie de vivre that welcomes you and you and you and everyone else who sets foot in this charming city. The smiles, hugs, saludos, afternoons spent around tables laden with tostadas de marlin ahumado and ice-cold Pacífico beer or my own personal favorite dude, don Julio, haven’t missed a beat. Nights in the old quarter, listening to plaintive guitars or rousing mariachi tunes, still kept me up way past my bedtime. Don’t get me wrong: everyone works hard to make a living around here, but what everyone doesn’t forget is how to make a life. Dancing, baseball (el beis), coffee klatches, outdoor concerts… Every week there’s something going on in Mazatán, and everybody is a part of it.
I miss it already.
Five Fun Things To Do In Mazatlán (In No Particular Order)
Catch a Venados de Mazatlán baseball game. This isn’t your typical USA game. Oh no. We’re talking action, excitement and lots going on—not just on the field, but in the stands as well. The gorgeous mazatlecas head out to see and be seen (no tennis shoes and cut-offs here: high heels, cool jeans, full makeup, earrings and bangles are de rigeur). Vendors offer beer, soda, the Mazatlán version of hotdogs (cut up on a plate with salsa, lime and toothpicks), Styrofoam cups brimming with elote (corn), and every light-up, noise-making toy you can imagine. You might find a live band oompah-loompahing away—or at the very least, a raucous combination of American stadium tunes and Mexican favorites to punctuate the plays. It’s Mexican Pro Baseball at its best. Check it out from October through January at the Teodoro Mariscal Stadium.
Spend an afternoon eating your way through the full spectrum of Mazatlán’s seafood at La Puntilla Restaurant in Punta Sur. It’s near the Isla de Piedras ferries and the views are fantastic. Service is excellent no matter how crowded the place gets—and it’s usually filled with a varied mix of visitors and plenty of locals, which is always an indication of good food and better ambiance. The aguachile (shrimp, lime, onions and green chile) is to die for.
Browse the Mercado shops at Playa Las Brujas and settle into one of the seaside restaurants for a cold Pacífico beer. The view is awesome (you can see a few mansions off into the distance on a more “private” shore) and the beach dogs are friendly. Not much to do here, but that’s the idea.
Indulge in the pleasure of an evening at Lorna Restaurant in the historic center (Constitución 1500). I was privileged enough to be there on a Thursday night when Gonzalo and his amazing guitar were headlining. If you have any idea what nueva trova music is and have any affiliation to it at all (think Puerto Rico, Cuba, protest, Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanés, Roy Brown…) this guy will bring tears to your eyes. He also does a mean rock and roll. The atmosphere is eclectic (there’s a mannequin dressed up as a chic prostitute—I’m guessing Lorna—up on the second story) with a video screen, gold upholstered chairs and plush banquettes, plus a fantastic menu of—you guessed it—seafood. The palomas (tequila with grapefruit juice, soda and lime) are delightful. Come back during the day with your camera: the old city is just as charming in the sunlight.
Spend some pesos at the Pino Suárez market in Viejo Mazatlán. There’s not much between you and the cuts of meat here, so be prepared—it doesn’t get any fresher than this. It’s worlds away from your shrink-wrapped, ultra-sanitized, pasteurized and homogenized neighborhood supermarket, but it is a SUPER market. Here you can purchase anything from clothing to shoes to love potions to school supplies to go along with your shrimp, fish, beef, chicken, vegetables, fruits, spices and more. To get here, take the über-cheap city bus, or jump on a pulomonía (open air taxi).