The largest migrant group in Tijuana hails from the coastal state of Sinaloa. El Mazateno is a top-flight culinary ambassador for the state, a high-volume open-air taqueria located near the city’s technical college that produces scintillating seafood.
We were sequestered in a semi-private room off the main patio for a tasting of three Mazateno specialties. First up: a cup of spicy, herb-flecked shrimp consomme that was similar to Manhattan clam chowder, but with more kick.
We were supposed to get a taco de perron, a combination of sea bream and shrimp, but they decided we were better off with smoked marlin, which had a Spanish-influenced flavor profile thanks to ingredients like green olives. It was encased in a taco with molten Monterey cheese.
The tacos didn’t need any help, but nobody could resist the squeeze bottle of spicy green sauce that was similar to Peruvian aji and contained jalapeno, cilantro, tomatillo and a liberal dose of garlic.
Mariscos El Mazateno was one of the stops on our trip that justifies a repeat visit for a no-holds-barred seafood. Next time, I’ll score some perron, double down on shrimp tacos and definitely plan to try some manta ray tacos and manta ray soup.
Thank you to the Tijuana Convention and Visitors Bureau, Crossborder Agency, Cotuco (Tijuana Tourism Board), and Tijuana Canirac (Tijuana Restaurant Association) for sponsoring our eye-opening culinary tour of northern Baja. Thank you to Bill Esparza from Street Gourmet LA for leading the tour and for supplying so much invaluable information.