Mazatlan Shrimp Crawl
Shrimp, Shrimp, and more shrimp. Shrimp dishes dominate the menu of each and every seafood restaurant in Mazatlan and with good reason. Mazatlan shrimp boats capture more sizes and supply of shrimp than any other country making it the shrimp capital of the world.
Mazatlan didn't always fish shrimp. In the 1930s, Japanese fisherman contributed and demonstrated new shrimping techniques to Mexico and an industry. Since then, many changes have occurred and seventy-five years later, the industry is the largest in the world.
The city further cemented its claim when it concocted the largest shrimp cocktail in the world last year. The cocktail weighed an incredible 1,187 lbs (538.5 kilos). On my visits, I don't order a cocktail of that size but I do enjoy a multitude of shrimps prepared many different ways. And if I had a weekend, here is what I would recommend:
Start the Shrimp Crawl.
Spend the morning on the beach of the golden zone get some sun. Walk along the soft sands and build up your appetite on your way to the colorful beachfront restaurant Alagua for lunch.
To start, order an ice cold Pacifico (the local beer) and shrimp ceviche. When the shrimp arrives scoop it on to the tostadas on the table with a dash of hot sauce (if desired). Next order a shrimp speciality. I would suggest the Mojo a Ajo, a combination of chile spice and fresh lime marinated on a grilled shrimp. The lighter dish will make a perfect lunch selection.
After your afternoon at the beach, freshen up and take a pulmonia taxi along the malecon to the edge of old town for dinner. Established in the 1960s and the home of the original Señor Frogs, el Shrimp Bucket specializes in shrimp. Most guests order an individual bucket of shrimp, but I recommend finding someone to share a meal and ordering the boat (barco) of shrimp. A generous portion of 30 shrimp served in many different ways: beer battered, fried, grilled, cocktail, coconut crusted, and wrapped with bacon. When the boat arrives or docks on the table it includes a candle to keep the shrimp warm as the true feeding frenzy begins.
But even before the shrimp boat arrives, sample the true Mazatlan speciality - shrimp aquachile. The raw, fresh shrimp soaked in a special green sauce is a a perfect starter and a must in Mazatlan.
More Shrimp for Day 2
Start your morning on Stone Island, the picturesque and secluded beach area south of old town and enjoy a morning of rest and relaxation. Then for lunch, head back across the waterway via a local ferry to the main docks. There you will find the family-style restaurant of La Puntilla. To start, order a michelada, which is a glass filled with ice and some lime juice and a salted rim with your favorite beer and take in the breeze. It's both refreshing and revitalizing.
Most people come with a group and if you do, definitely start with a massive seafood tray that includes oysters, scallops, and multiple shrimp options including a pate. Also, make sure you grab one of the oversized peel and eat steamed shrimps - both sweet and savory. You will think you are eating lobster. Then for lunch, try the classic - shrimp tacos. It's a coastal favorite.
For dinner, head to the heart of old town and its Plaza Machado. On one of the corners of the square, you will find Pedro & Lola's. Sit down outside, take in the vibe, and enjoy the live music offered. The garlic octopus is a wonderful starter but on the shrimp crawl, order the shrimp empanandas and you will not be disappointed.
For your main, select one of the house specialities. I would suggest the sinful shrimp wrapped with bacon with cheese. All three items are delicious by themselves and then when put together on a plate at Pedro & Lola's, well the word that comes to mind is divinity. It's delicious.
Shrimp Overload on Day 3
Since I am sure you loved the Old Town, I recommend you return in the day time to walk the historic streets. For lunch, make sure you stumble upon Bahia Mariscos. In the heart of Mazatlan, a small open courtyard restaurant serves shrimp every which way. And it was here I discovered my favorite shrimp dish of the city: shrimp (camarones) zarandeados. The dish is prepared inside a covered tin foil and steamed (probably on a grill) with peppers, onions and special spices. Simply divine.
Finally, after tasting so much delicious shrimp, you may desire something different. If so, I'd suggest the local steak at La Casa Country. I ordered the recommended rib-eye medium rare and could have stopped there but I didn't. Apparently I needed to complete the shrimp crawl, and you do too. So make your meal a surf and turf and add three grilled shrimp... gluttonous, maybe, but delicious nonetheless.
In three days one can digest more shrimp than many people eat in three months or maybe even three years. Yet this three-day crawl only scratches the surface on how many ways shrimp is prepared in Mazatlan. But trying new creative shrimp dishes will just be another reason to return to Mazatlan, Mexico.
Stay adventurous, Craig
Disclaimer: I'd like to thank the Mazatlan Hotel Association for inviting as their guest to most of these restaurants.