There are so many great restaurants in Mazatlan to choose from. The best part? Almost all of them deliver some of the best seafood I’ve ever had in Mexico.
Mazatlan is the home of aguachile, a famous Mexican dish which is basically like a ceviche, but it’s made with shrimp and plenty of chile (although they will put it on the side to add as desired if you ask).
You’ll find aguachile on most menus around town and if you love fresh shrimp as much as we do, you’ll constantly be comparing and wondering which is the best!
It’s not all about seafood though and there are plenty of great carne asada, hole-in-the-wall taco spots, market stalls, cute cafes, and other great restaurants that you’ll want to check while you’re in Mazatlan.
Best Restaurants in Mazatlan
Most of the restaurants in this list are in the Centro Historico because that’s where I spent the majority of my time when we were living in Mazatlan. This is where a ton of the great little boutique hotels are that I love. It’s just a neighborhood with so much character and so many great foodie spots.
There are a few restaurants here that are along the malecon or they may also have locations in several different parts of the city since it’s so spread out. Otherwise, hop in a pulmonia (those cute little while cars you’ll see all over Mazatlan) and head to the Centro for some of these eats!
1. Mariscos Toño
Mariscos Toño had, without a doubt, the freshest seafood that we had in Mazatlan.
We ordered the aguachile, as well as the garlic barbecued shrimp, and both were absolutely delicious. The spicy salsa that they put on the aguachile was packed with flavor and had just enough heat.
The barbecued shrimp were butterflied open and had a slight char from the cooking, but they were still so juicy and covered in garlic butter. It was served with a stack of fresh tortillas, fresh vegetables, and several different salsas to choose from.
Grab a seat outside to watch all of the cooking action and be sure to order their insanely good aguachile alongside an ice cold beer.
2. El Molacho
From the outside, this little hole-in-the-wall spot doesn’t look like much. In fact, it doesn’t even really look like a restaurant at all.
There are only a few tables inside and only one man running the show. He wears a bandana around his head every single day and he’s been serving up the freshest shrimp to the local fishermen for 50 years.
We tried the aguachile and we also had a dish there that he called “sushi” which was not in fact like any sushi I’ve ever had before.
The “sushi” was more like a ceviche, but it was made with soy sauce as well as several other spices. It may even have been spicier than the aguachile he gave us, but both were incredible.
The shrimp was cut into bite-sized chunks and each bite was packed with the flavor of his marinades. He made everything fresh to order and brought over his house-made salsa which, as someone who loves spice, I found to be one of the most delicious and spiciest salsas I’ve ever had!
Besides his incredible shrimp dishes, he also cooks up seafood soups that stew away all day and are absolutely brimming over with flavor. Don’t miss out on a cup of that when you visit.
3. Mariscos Los Polines
If you’re looking for great fish tacos, this is the best restaurant in Mazatlan for exactly that (in my humble opinion).
The fish is meaty and firm, but still juicy. We also tried their octopus taco and their shrimp taco and both of those were perfectly cooked, too.
The batter they use is light and the balance is perfect between the amount of fish and the amount of batter. They serve the fish taco with tons of freshly shredded cabbage and a table full of salsas to choose from.
4. El Tigre Marisqueria
This little marisqueria was recommended to us by several locals who said that the little seafood stalls inside Mercado Pino Suarez are making some of the best ceviches in town.
The menu is small with options like ceviche tostadas, smoked marlin tacos, and pan-fried fish with rice. But each plate is piled high and packed with flavor. It’s like heading to grandma’s house for the special of the day cooked with love and plenty of salt.
5. El Presidio
This is one of the few high-end more fine-dining style places in Mazatlan.
The chef that made this restaurant famous has recently moved on, but we still decided to go and see if their new chef could keep up with the reputation and menu that excited us about this restaurant.
The new chef, Gabriel Rodriguez, won Top Chef Mexico in 2017, so he’s already made a name for himself elsewhere, I was excited to see what menu he’d crafted up.
First of all, be sure to book a table in the courtyard if you can. It is one of the most beautiful spaces for a meal that I’ve seen in Mexico, especially after dark. It’s the perfect romantic date-night spot.
The food is what you might call “modern Mexican.” You’ll find plenty of the flavors, ingredients, and names of dishes that you are familiar with, but it’s in a way that you won’t get at the Mercado.
The fish dishes are the star of the menu in my opinion, especially the dorado which comes with fried fish skin in a style that mimics chicharron (fried pigs skin). The meat dishes are also incredible and the menu, in general, is changing regularly as they work out what they want to keep and what people are enjoying.
This was the best brunch spot that I found in Mazatlan. If you want huevos rancheros, avocado toast, enchiladas with deeply rich mole sauces alongside seriously good coffee, get yourself here.
While the brunch menu is extensive and delicious, I came back again and again for the bakery. The sweet breads here are different most days of the week and combine flavors in a way that is so exciting. We had cinnamon rolls with guava and banana bread with caramel. It goes perfectly with a strong Americano.
7. El Fish Market
This is a great family spot in the Centro Historico area. They have an extensive menu with options that will suit most tastes.
They have nice fish tacos, good ceviches, and my personal favorite, a really great fish burger. They have quite a lot of non-fish options as well, despite what the name might suggest and the thought of their potato wedges still makes my mouth water months after eating them.
8. Helarte Sano
Looking for a great dessert spot? This gelato place just might be the best gelato you’ve had outside of Italy (it certainly was for me!).
From the outside, it looks like any other ice cream shop, so I was skeptical that it was as good as the internet promised me it would be. But here I am adding to the noise, this place really is great.
They combine Mexican flavors with more traditional ice cream flavors and it is so delicious. The avocado honey-flavored gelato was one of my favorites, but I also got the chocolate flavors that are mixed with different fruits.
9. Lalo’s Birria
I spotted this little stall one day when walking through this neighborhood and it was so insanely busy I knew I needed to check it out.
The main event here is, of course, birria and boy is it good.
There are a two locations in Mazatlan, but the one that I frequented was in the Centro area around Playa Sur.
I always opted for simply an order of birria, which comes in a bowl with broth and a side of unlimited tortillas. However, you can also have tacos dorados, which are tortillas that are filled with the birria meat and then deep-fried until crispy. That was what a lot of the locals were ordering.
The consome or broth that the birria comes in is so rich and packed with flavor. The meat is so tender and reminds me of some of my favorite tacos in Mexico City.
10. El Muchacho Alegre
This is a chain around the coastal area of Mexico and on the weekends it is always packed with people.
It’s all about hte seafood platters here and most people that were in groups of four or more were ordering the shrimp platter that comes with four different styles of shrimp including coconut shrimp, grilled shrimp in the shell, grilled shrimp not in the shell, and even one wrapped in bacon.
We opted for the aguachile and whole fried fish (because they were out of the lobster).
The whole fried fish was crispy on the outside and oh-so-juicy on the inside. We stripped that fish down to the bone it was so good.
The aguachile was also one of the most flavorful we had in Mazatlan. The salsa marinade that it comes in was packed with flavor and had a lighter chile heat than many of the other aguachiles we had in Mazatlan.
11. Cervecería Navegante
This is really more of a bar than a restaurant, but they do also make some nice bar food. I highly recommend their pizzas to go alongside your crisp beers.
It’s one of the few places in Mazatlan that is brewing its own beer and they are doing a pretty great job of it. We went a few times, so in the end, we tried all of their beers and they were really fantastic, especially their Pale Ale and IPA (if that’s the sort of beer you like I suppose).
They have a nice outdoor seating area here and it’s right along the malecon, so it’s very easy to get to no matter where you’re staying.
12. El Guamuchilito
This was the first seafood spot we went to when we got to Mazatlan and it was one that I absolutely loved. There’s usually someone playing live music, the waiters are attentive and so incredibly helpful, and of course, the food is great.
We had the ceviche salad which had fish, shrimp, and octopus and it was enormous. We had no idea how big it would be so we also had a few tacos for good measure, but the ceviches can definitely be shared between two people as one meal.
The fish and shrimp tacos were some of my favorites because they aren’t battered and fried, but instead are cooked on the “plancha” or flat top grill with onions and peppers and if you want, a little bit of cheese, too.
13. Tacos Pan Pin
After spending a little time in El Fuerte when we first got to Sinaloa, we were absolutely hooked on Sinaloan-style carne asada and this is the best that we had during our trip.
Again, there are a few locations so check on Google to see which is closest to you. But be sure to head here for their carne asada tacos and top them with all of the different salsas on the table. They also make the best agua de Jamaica (iced hibiscus tea) that I’ve ever had.
14. Taqueria San Pablo
This is a very popular late-night spot for the after-bar crowd that pours out of the Golden Zone each night. However, these tacos don’t just taste good after a few too many cervezas, they taste good all the time (I promise, I tried it both ways!).
For me, the main event here are the papas asadas, which are baked potatoes topped with meat of your choice (in my case, carne asada), cheese and sometimes cream. You get a side of tortillas to make your own carbo-licious tacos and it is truly delectable.
15. Taqueria Playa Sur
This was the number one most recommended carne asada taco spot by every person we met in Mazatlan. We asked locals, we asked tour guides, we asked expats, we asked taxi drivers, and they all said Playa Sur.
The big draw here is that they make their own fresh flour tortillas to go with tacos and they are some seriously incredible tortillas.
The night we went, it was a Saturday and the place was packed with people and we didn’t get the best service. I also didn’t think it was the best carne asada that I’ve had in Mazatlan (See Pan Pin), however, I would be willing to give it a second chance considering how many people recommended this spot.
I’d love to check it out on a weeknight when maybe it’s not so busy and see if I can better understand why it’s so high on everyone’s list.