11:40 a.m. After spending the morning seeing Tijuana’s sites from an open-air bus, our group of curious and voracious eaters hoofed it to Mariscos El Mazateno, a seven-year-old-restaurant located in the northern Tijuana neighborhood of Tomas Aquino. The specialty at Mariscos El Mazateno are Sinaloan-style tacos. The Sinaloan community is Tijuana’s largest migrant group.
The taqueria’s Coke-sponsored chairs, shady plastic awnings, open-air kitchen, and smiling crowd all signaled that this place would be one to remember.
Bill, our group’s fearless leader and Baja restaurant expert, coordinated our spread beforehand, so ordering off the menu wasn’t necessary. On my return visit, I will be certain to order a shrimp cocktail because the one I saw across the room looked plump and delectable.
Condiments are of utmost importance in Mexican cuisine. Shredded fresh cabbage, pico de gallo, limes, crema (mayo, cream, ketchup), and salsa verde (cilantro, tomatillos, garlic, jalapenos) were available at every table for diners to garnish each dish to taste.
Mariscos El Mazateno prepared a few of their greatest hits for our group to sample. Fom left to right—taco de marlin (Sinaloan smoked marlin taco), shrimp consommé, and taco Mazatena (camaron enchilado – shrimp taco). Both tacos were flavorful and complex enough to be eaten without garnishes, but just like Vietnamese noodle soups, adorning the specimen is essential to a complete experience. A bit of crema, a squeeze of salsa verde, a sprinkling of cabbage, and I was good to go.
Sinoloan-style tacos are shallow-fried, which results in a slightly crisp, slightly chewy, and wholly appealing exterior. The shrimps within the camaron enchilada hailed from Mazatlan and were plentiful and fresh. The marlin taco was reminiscent in texture and appearance to tuna, but its flavor reminded me of fermented fish sauce.
Mariscos El Mazateno is a solid twenty-minute drive from Avenida Revolucion, but man, it’s so worth the trek.
Mariscos El Mazateno
Calzada Tecnologico, No. 473-E
Tijuana, B.C., Mexico