Mariscos El Mazateno: Magnificent Seafood in Tijuana

Taco Tijuana

A winding drive into the hills near Tecnologico – the Tijuana technical college – once again led us to Mariscos de Mazateno, a nine-year-old restaurant that showcases Sinaloa-style seafood from Mazatlan. A 2009 visit sparked my interest, and it was only a matter of time before we experienced a full-force foray. The return trip, which was part of a culinary tour that centered on Baja Culinary Fest, has me convinced that El Mazateno is a damn near unbeatable seafood taqueria.

Menu Tijuana
A shark mural signaled our arrival at Mariscos El Mazateno, which features an open-air patio and a back room with communal tables, red Coca-Cola tablecloths and chairs, and a wall mounted menu.

We each received a complimentary cup of spicy, herb-flecked shrimp consomme, which was especially generous given all the flavor from tomato, chile, cilantro, celery, green olive and more.

Seafood Tijuana
They tided each table over with a complimentary ceviche with firm, sweet callo de hacha sea scallops, shrimp, cucumber, red onion, fresh-shucked avocado and a lip tingling broth.

Taco Tijuana
The signature Mazatena taco (40 pesos ~ $3.50) was once again masterful featuring a fried, paratha-like flour tortilla topped with plump grilled shrimp that they tossed with chile de arbol.

Taco Tijuana
Perron Especial (40 pesos) was a “badass special” combination of camarones enchilados and chicharron de pargo, deep fried chunks of sea bream redolent of spice, but still juicy within. The combination of crusty chicharron and sweet chile’d shrimp was outstanding.

Taco Tijuana
Chicharron de Pargo (35 pesos) proved that the brawny bream needed nothing extra.

Taco Tijuana
Pulpo Enchilado (40 pesos) was prepared in the style of the Mazatena, meaning enchilado, but with octopus. This was dazzling, since the octopus was so tender, and was a great vehicle for the arbol.

Taco Tijuana
The smoked marlin taco had a Spanish-influenced flavor profile thanks to ingredients like green olives, plus molten Monterey cheese, which rarely hurts matters.

Salsa Tijuana
People passed around squeeze bottles filled with spicy, tangy green sauce that resembled Peruvian aji and combined jalapeno, cilantro, tomatillo and garlic. They also had a tiny molcajete of pico de gallo, but the sauce in the squeeze bottle was especially addicting.

Our two-day trip spanned the spectrum from late night seafood soup on a desolate street corner to the most haute cuisine the city has to offer, and while we had plenty of good plates in plenty of good places, Mariscos El Mazateno was the one establishment that left me longing for Tijuana.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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