Sunday, June 16, 2024

Mazatlán: a breakfast lover’s paradise

Breakfast has become a “thing” here in Mazatlán’s historic center.

Whereas just a few years ago, there were maybe a handful of places to go for desayuno, now there are many, many more: the other day I counted 30 within walking distance of my apartment.

Since I’m one of those people who likes — i.e., loves — to go out for breakfast, I’m reveling in this abundance. Whether I want a hearty taco or omelet de camarón (shrimp omelet), classic chilaquiles or apple-cinnamon crepes, a full English breakfast or just bacon and eggs, all can be easily and affordably found.

Mazatlán’s centro historico is a busy combination of bustling city offices, shops and businesses, the big Mercado Pino Suárez, the Catedral Basílica, a handful of plazas and parks and Olas Altas, an oceanfront neighborhood bookended by two hills. Somehow, it’s noisy and peaceful and beautiful all at the same time.

The Plaza Machado — arguably the most charming of the plazas — is surrounded by restaurants and cafés, and the streets radiating out in every direction have filled with all sorts of charming eateries, many in restored colonial houses. If you’re visiting, start there and wander till you find a place that strikes your fancy.

Cafferium in Mazatlan
A barista carefully pours a customer’s beverage at the modernist Cafferium.

A few tips: weekends, especially Sunday mornings, can be crowded. Best to go on a non-holiday weekday if you can or ask if they take reservations. Also, restaurants (particularly since COVID) are notorious for sudden changes of hours and days of operation. To avoid disappointment, always check in person or by phone. Facebook pages and websites can’t always be counted on to have current information.

Everyone has their own druthers, and my favorites may not be yours. Not to worry! There are so many breakfast options in Mazatlan’s center, you’ll surely be able to satisfy whatever your cravings are.

Here are a handful of the places I frequent the most, a few category winners and a list of what’s around. As we say in Mexico: provecho!

Via Condotti, named after Rome’s most busy, fashionable street, is a satellite of the super-popular Hector’s Bistro next door. European-style breakfasts include the chef’s house-baked breads, bagels and pastries while traditional Mexican dishes include classics like enmoladas — chicken-filled enchiladas bathed in a spicy mole sauce. The coffee alone brings me back, day after day, and even a lowly bowl of oatmeal is somehow decadent here.

Allegro has been my go-to favorite for years: consistently delicious and well-made food, reasonable prices, attentive waitstaff and really good coffee. Standouts: Eggs Benedict (traditional or vegetarian), apple pie and the Gringo Waffle. They also serve half-orders of some menu items, a boon for small eaters like me.

Minchopi / Taquiza del Cheff / La Chilanga: want tacos for breakfast? Maybe a tlayuda, gordita or quesobirria? Head to any of these three eateries and settle in for a good meal. A little off the beaten path, they’re worth finding.

La Marea restaurant in Mazatlan
One of the joys of Mazatlán being a port city is breakfasting with a view like this.

La Chilanga has the biggest menu, with a smorgasbord of regional dishes. Taquiza del Cheff woos with handmade corn tortillas and a dozen or more taco fillings (including some vegetarian ones). Minchopi’s tacos (Wednesdays offers 3 for 2 prices) and chilaquiles will keep you coming back for more. All get big props for consistency in ingredients, spotless kitchen and dining areas and more-than-reasonable prices. Tip: you might want to bring your own coffee unless you’re OK with Nescafé.

Casa Hindie Mazatlán, a relative newcomer, is a tea house by name but in reality so much more. Yes, there are umpteen types of unusual, imported teas and accoutrements, but breakfasts — served all day — are wonderful here (as is the coffee). A nice menu of breakfast classics offers some surprises too: matcha drinks, nonalcoholic tea cocktails, chai pancakes and avocado toast. My favorite is the huevos a la cazuela, two eggs atop refried beans, bacon and crispy tortilla strips, swimming in a warm guajillo sauce that’s so irresistible, I’m always tempted to lick the bowl.

La Marea, perched on the top of Lookout Hill, overlooking Centro, Stone Island and the glittering Pacific, offers elegant dining with to-die-for views. While you don’t have to dress up, you do need more than your swimsuit. French toast, egg dishes and traditional Mexican favorites, plus espresso drinks and a full bar (ahem) when a little hair o’ the dog is what’s needed.

On any given morning, the Plaza Machado — the center’s main square — is quiet and peaceful. Palm trees sway in the breeze, and the only sound is the shush-shush of sweepers cleaning the cobblestones from the revelry of the night before.

Raices de Mar, tucked under a tree in the center of the shady Machado, is a lovely place to sit. It offers a big, well-executed menu of regional dishes that includes barbacoa, shrimp tlayudas and smoked marlin tacos. The beautifully restored building is also a small boutique hotel.

Finally, in addition to the above, some recommendations for specific cravings:

Via Condotti mazatlan
European- and Mexican-style breakfasts, plus a full line of artisan breads make Via Condotti hard to resist.

Great coffee: Via Condotti, Rico’s, Looney Bean, La Olivia, Allegro, Casa Hindie

Authentic Mexican traditional: La Chilanga, La Fonda Chalio, Totem, Taquiza del Cheff, Casa Mayora, Minchopi, Panamá

Unique menu offerings: La Olivia, Casa Hindie, La Antigua (crepes, crepes, crepes), La Chilanga, Euro Bakery (THE BEST croissants), Totem

Ambiance: Raíces (Plaza Machado), Totem (rooftop), Casa Hindie (minimalist elegance), La Olivia (Old World elegance), Esinti (rooftop), La Marea (ocean views), Casa Lucilla (almost oceanfront), Cafferium (modernist)

Those are just the highlights. In alphabetical order, here’s a more complete list of options for breakfast in Mazatlán’s historic center:

  1. Allegro Caffé
  2. Belisario
  3. Cafferium
  4. Casa Amarilla
  5. Casa Hindie
  6. Casa Lucilla
  7. Casa Mayora
  8. Coffee Bean
  9. Dolce Mami
  10. El Portal de San Juan
  11. Esinti
  12. Euro Bakery
  13. Helarte Sano
  14. La Antigua
  15. La Chilanga
  16. La Fonda
  17. La Fonda Chalio
  18. La Marea
  19. La Olivia
  20. Looney Bean
  21. Macaws
  22. Marée Crepe at La Roosevelt
  23. Minchopi
  24. Panamá (2 locations)
  25. Papagayo (in the Hotel Central)
  26. Raices de Mar
  27. Rico’s
  28. Taquiza del Cheff
  29. Totem
  30. Trópico
  31. Upstairs @ the mercado
  32. Via Condotti

Janet Blaser is the author of the best-selling book, Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expatsfeatured on CNBC and MarketWatch. She has lived in Mexico since 2006. You can find her on Facebook.

Have something to say? Paid Subscribers get all access to make & read comments.

What Mexico’s indigenous government can teach us about tradition

A little known branch of the Mexican government is uniting indigenous people across North America and giving new life to traditional practices.
Little girl standing in a doorway blowing a kiss

A secret to happiness in Mexico, and maybe in life: A perspective from our CEO

Mexico News Daily CEO Travis Bembenek shares how a mindset shift can improve happiness, not just in Mexico, but anywhere.

Mystical Mexican memes to move the morose

Get your biweekly fix of Mexican jokes, translated into English by our resident meme mistress.