Matthew Lickona 4 p.m., May 26
Taco Trip: Mazateño Tops TJ
This is Héctor, my buddy from TJ.
“The place I was telling you about. Best taco place outside Sinaloa. Shall we?”
Like, there’d be a question?
This is three in the afternoon. It’s hot. I’m dry, and running on empty. Just like Héctor’s Atos car is, I see. Well, we have been driving up hill and down dale. Some streets make your hair curl, they’re so steep.
But here on Technological Way (Calzada Tecnologico) at Calle Popotla, near the technological college, we’re up on the plateau. Nice strong breeze counters the blazing sun.
Héctor swings around, and in a moment we’re walking in to the crowded open eatery called “Mariscos El Mazateño (Calzada Tecnologico No. 473-E, Tomas Aquino district, in the north-eastern part of town).
The place is open on both sides, with people crowding the dozens of red Coca Cola plastic tables. The canvas roof is red, too, but the far “wall” is blue canvas.
“One thing,” says Héctor.
“We’re here for one thing only. The Mazateña taco. They are famous for it. This is, like, the Sinaloa Embassy. They do the best Sinaloa seafood.”
So when Joaquin comes up...
...even though the big hanging blue menu has half a dozen other things on offer, I order a Mazateña taco, with shrimp cooked in a sauce loaded with chile de arbol and other “secret spices,” and wrapped in corn tortillas. But then Héctor turns around and orders a quesadilla de camaron (breaded shrimp with cheese).
Before we even start, Joaquin has brought chips, pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, limes, and a cup of consommé as a free appetizer, sopa de camaron. Dee-lish. Almost a gut-filler in themselves.
But oh, those camarones enchilados. Hot, but the heat doesn’t drown the taste. And the pico de gallo, finely shredded cabbage, Mexican cream, and hot green salsa really get it going.
Uh, I'm so hot to get into my Mazateña, I forget to take a photo before I lay waste to the danged thing...
But that says it all: after eating this food, you can’t help thinking how tame French, Italian, pizza, all the other stuff we eat is.
“These are exciting dishes,” I say to Héctor.
“And they only cost $40 each,” he says.
’Course he’s being wicked. Each taco is $40 alright, and not totally cheap as TJ tacos go. But that’s $40, as in pesos, say US$3.
We should stop there, but we don’t. Jes’ have to squeeze in a round of tostadas – camaron for Héctor ($2.75), and pescado, fish ($2), for me. Like the tacos, these are overstacked with shrimp and fish, and pico de gallo and I don’t know what-all. It’s a beautiful still-crispy mess.
To help it down, Héctor gets a (Mexican) Coke, better than US Coke because it’s made with real cane sugar, he reminds me, and I have a horchata.
And we get outa here for $12.08 combined. What a heckuva meal! Specially that taco Mazateña.
But there’s so much more. Like the tuna fin stew and manta ray (cahuamanta) cooked turtle-style.
I’ll be back.