You can't swing a cat* in Mazatlán without it hitting a restaurant, eating house or bar. Mazatlán expats of all persuasions from all these fabulous countries - ex totalitarian states, monarchies and weird republics that we represent can consider ourselves extremely lucky because there is a restaurant on our doorstep that will cater for our exotic palates.
We all know that expat news magazines exist only as an excuse for the editors to eat out every day and get their bills paid by the restaurant so consequently the reviews are always positive and the subsequent advertising revenue keeps them afloat. So we sent out, incognito and in disguise our food photographer cum expert eater and regular glutton, Quincy Mondragon, to get an objective look-in at what is on offer in Centro. As you can see he tells a positive story and paid is own way. Well......sometimes.
Il Maestro, that charming restaurant down some steps hidden behind trees on the 'quiet' side of the Plaza continues to charm diners with its superbly consistently fabulous ambience and one must not forget it also serves food - Italian food and the chef, The Great Fabrizzio, is an artist who uses pasta in a truly fabulous expressive way.
Pasta is an expression of Neo-Realistic starch and is well understood by The Great Fabrizzio at Il Monstro. His fettucine, though wry and puckish in an almost mischievous way, owes a lot to Barzino (that other conceptual minimalist chef at Pepino and Herschels's on the 'noisy' side of the plaza) , whose use of fettucine as an instrument of social change is known to us all. The linguine on the other hand is quite delicious and not all that didactic, true there is a persuasive Marxist quality to it, but this is hidden by the sauce. Spinoza(That avant-garde post modernist pasta chef at the third of the Great Three Pasta Artists of The Plaza whipping up dishes at La Tramoyses's virtually opposite Il Minstrone on the 'uproariously loud' side.) on the other hand has had great success in espousing his Marxism by subtly including it in the tortellini (yum yum yum).
I tripped and fell down the steps knocking over tables and diners whilst looking for the great Il Minstro behind its cover of trees and began my meal with an antipasto, which at first appeared aimless, but as I focused on the anchovies, the point of it became clearer. Was Fabrizzio trying to say that all life was represented here in the antipasto with the black olives as an unbearable reminder of our mortality. Fabrizzio has always worked better with chicken and one can say that his Chicken Parmigiani says more about our involvement in Afghanistan than any book can. (Barzino, however, always worked better in veal than chicken or even fish and it was a shocking oversight by that great ERM! magazine when reference to him was omitted in their cover story of Rauschenberg).
|The cozy interior of the delightfully charming Il Mostro on The Plaza|
I had heard from the chef, The Great Vasili at that wonderful Russian restaurant, Molinka's, that Fabrizzio hesitates when it comes to his spumoni so for the main I tentatively went with the spaghetti vongole which before his psychoanalysis, clams held great terror for The Great Chef and he could not bear to open them and consequently blacked out. But his later attempts prove he has regained his lovely touch after Stravinsky's influence with his Concerto in D for strings. In point of fact the vongole is now a great example of atonality.
For dessert I had tortoni and I was reminded of Wittgenstein's remark: 'The Monads have no windows.' How apropos! The prices at The Great Il Monstro, as Charmion Von Wiegand once told me, are "reasonable without being historically inevitable." I agree.
So can we prove the existence of God using Liebniz's philosophical pasta model that:
(a) some pasta is linguine
(b) all linguine is not spaghetti
(c) no spaghetti is pasta, hence all spaghetti is linguine?
No, how ridiculous! By this logic one would have to say the 'fetuccini and the linguine are not the rigatoni.'
We can conclude as Gødel declared over and over "Isn't this spaghetti wonderful." And a meal at Il Mostro proves just that.
|A n elegant couple of expats in typical evening wear supping at a table al fresco at the charming Il Mostro|
Hits: Philosophical food that imputes the very notion to Krishna.
Misses: Working conditions reflect English factory problems and the waiters are made to serve 10 hours a day with napkins that don't meet current safety standards.
More fine dining after the jump
The Ganga's Edge -
A delightful contemporary chic Curry House snuggling up at the southern end of the Malecón that serves classic and contemporary northern Indian-Tibetan-Butanese fusion cuisine with their star dishes of Yak and Water Buffalo related delicacies. Once a year appearing on the menu are the exotic and delicate tastes of the Ganges Salmon. This migrating fish is only caught once a year near Varanasi on the mighty Ganga where, on the annual once a year Asthi Visatjan Ceremony, it feeds on the recently deceased cremated remains scattered in the Mother of All Rivers. During this once a year salmon run in India, for those of you who can get a table at this fine classic charming contemporary Himalayan restaurant without booking three years in advance, it can be a truly religious experience to dine here. And as the reverend Chow Bok Ding, that aesthetic man who has renounced all worldly possessions, said after eating here "God is not always where one seeks Him. But He is surely in these salmon fillets served here in Ganga's Edge."
|The famous Ganges Salmon dish at Ganga's Edge. Great pride is taken with presentation at this classic Asian fusion restaurant.|
Music is provided nightly by that great Central Indian Bangaloran acapella schmoozer and charmer Enzo Stuarti Patel who is especially loved by the boys who cannot keep their eyes off of him once he gets into his crooning syrupy stride.
Misses: The loud Bollywood Movie Music on loop can induce you tear your hair out.
León The Lion - Has an extensive menu of Tanzanian food freshly shot by Great White Hunters on the Serengeti Plain served in the classic and contemporary style by charming and delightful freshly imported Tanzanian locals dressed in classic period leopard loin cloth and ostrich feather head dresses. León The Lion's great Democratic Republic of Congolese chef Abimbola Abibaka Tafewa Balewa also serves classic grilled bush meat. Be warned that the classic BBQ'd Chimpanzee Paws and kebab of sautéd bush rat are not for the feint hearted.
The walls are classically adorned by elegantly stuffed heads of the slaughtered animals. The great news is that there is no menu, one can just point at any creature you see on the wall and it will briskly appear sizzling on your table.
Gnu tail fly whisks are supplied and the wearing of ties for men and below-the-knee skirts also for men is encouraged.
Hits: buffalo ears with paprika, fried flying ants with mole sauce and the endangered Scimitar Horned Oryx testicles lightly sautéd with shallots.
Misses: Itinerant Mexican drummers banging away outside the front door.
Al Topolo - As the name suggests classic and contemporary fusion food of the Middle East. Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi, Arab, Persian, Yemenite, Indian and Latin-American tastes are catered for and accompanied by the jaunty tunes from that popular musical Fiddle On The Roof.
That great chef and part time rabbi, rabbi Yekel of Zans holds forth in the kitchen. His culinary pedigree comes out of working in the kitchens of that other great Ashkenazi-Sephardi-Mizrahian chef Rabbi Ben Kaddish in the thirties - perhaps longer than he should have. Yet it is to his credit that when the infamous House Un-American Activities Commitee pressured him to change the word on his menus from "Knish and Latkes" to the less politically sensitive "Knish and P'tcha", he took the case to the Supreme Court and forced the now famous ruling "Main dishes are entitled to full protection under the First Amendment."
Hits: Baba Ghannouj is a vegetarian favorite. It's smooth and creamy texture makes it ideal for dipping pita bread or vegetables and The Shiksa in The Kitchen's classic Rosh Hashana chopped liver and Holishkes Huluptzes.
Misses: No pork and shellfish on the menu and Anton Karas playing the zither on a loop making the diners think all the time that they are lost in post-war Greeneland Vienna on the set of The Third Man.
BOA - BOA or as they cheekily announce themselves as Best Of All has a contemporary classic eclectic elegant identity; on one hand it’s a lovely place to go for a contemporary artisically chic Brazilo-Uzbecistani meal – especially on the front porcho-veranda, although the classy inside chintz-lined velvet dining rooms and marbled classical Romaneque and contemporary Grecian courtyard with their Deep Purple poufs and hammocks also have their charm reminding one of those classic 19th century Toulouse Lautrecian Parisian cafe bars that are fashionably situated on The Champs Elyse.
The saving grace for those of us who only like dining in the simplicity of Bauhaus style establishments - places where the strict interior decor doesn't take your mind off your food, Is Kobe Beef. Those wonderfully wildly expensive steak, sukiyaki, shabu shabu, sashimi, teppanyaki dishes from those pampered Japanese cows, the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyū cattle, raised according to strict tradition in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan that are slaughtered immediatly after their twice daily massage and sauna to ensure the meat comes to your table in a tender state. Bankers and Telenovela stars are known to fight their way into BOA on the only night when this ridiculously expensive dish id served. So go armed with a semi-automatic weapons on those occasions and you will be sure to get a table.
– but after-hours, it’s looking for a different clientele of absinthe swigging bohemian reprobates where they serve finger foods from the highlands of Eritrea.
|The wonderful classic 50s 'office interior' style chic of the interior of BOAs is a wonder to behold.|
You can also bring the kids as the restaurant has an elegant and chic heart shaped playroom wherein they can loose themselves and also learn about the hazards of eating to much fatty fast foods.
Music nightly is by the foot tappin' sexy octogenarian Edward Kent Trio combo out of Upsalla Sweden
Hits: What appears on your table could be a delightful surprise.
Misses: The Edward Kent Trio can get a bit rowdy by closing time as they play for beer and the haphazard service from the short order cook.
That jungle motifed establishment is not only a fine and contemporary place to eat the classic and contemporary Easter Island cuisine of turtle related dishes but it also serves the best cocktails in town and is double MOZZIE award winner for best decorated glass of booze and the MOZZIE cocktail mover and shaker award to long time barkeeps Steve 'Mac' McGarret and Chin 'Ho' Kelly who will truly light up your table with the classic pacific stylee head bangers like the classic and contemporary Marquesa Island Mind Blower and the one and only famous Book 'Em Murder One Toe Curler that will make you forget the last ten years of your life and consequently make the next ten years of your life with your now unrecognisable partner all that more exciting. The secret ingredient is still a secret but one can only suspect that Irish bog potcheen is to blame.
Macaques is also proud to hold the weekly Bottle Of Booze Drinking competition. The rules are simple - drink as much alcohol from the bottle neck before your head hits the bar and you crumple in a heap on the floor.
Hits: Easter Island Turtle Sliders, Oscar night free everything and classy bathrooms with their range of delightful Turkish eau de colognes.
Misses: Mexican Saint Holiday closures which is generally every day.
The Prawn Pail Schlossenhauser
This great Espano-Bavarian Black Forest restaurant situated opposite the Mazatlán deer statue is famous for its pails of prawns and varieties of sausage, cabbage and the obvious Black Forest Gateaux dishes brought to your table by smiling Bavarian beauties and handsome lederhosen wearing chaps. Here the owners Gretchen and Klaus will toast your arrival with that wonderfully aromatic Germanic delicate wine from the Anshloshenhosenstrase region, the famous Blue Nun that is known for its grapey gooey sweetness and the perfect partner to the classic boar, venison, rabbit, bear and goat blood sausages and chronic wind-inducing vintage sauerkraut left to steep for two years in brackish water and vinegar in that classically contemporary Germanic way.
Other dishes to take note of are Salzkartoffeln, Schupfnudeln, Bratkartoffeln, Spargelsaison, Maultaschen and not forgetting the contemporary Germanic Austro Hungarian Kaiser Wilhelm Bad Tölz dish Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft accompanied by that contemporary side order of Schwarzwälderkirschtortenlieferantenhut Follow it by a delightful dessert of Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz.
Hits: If you can pronounce the names on the menu using the regional accent from whence it comes, the dish is free.
Misses: Thigh slapping waiters going apeshit when they hear the sounds of a passing Mariachi Band and long unpronounceable food names.
If we were to choose to eat at a Russian restaurant and bakery outside of Russia this is where we would go. Their chef, Mikhail 'Vasili' Vasilyevich Lomonosov trained in that great academy of food and sciences Росси́йская акаде́мия нау́к in Vladivostok and London
|The staff of Molinka's pose for this shot as they prepare for a take-out order.|
This is what we have been waiting for in Mazatlán, a place where the sun comes out on a rainy day on our very own Blini and Black Bread bakery and contemporary chic Russian restaurant. We have been sunbathing in that light ever since. I have sometimes been there all night and it is always packed so that that Great Chef Vasili is on 48 hour shifts and sometimes he doesn't sleep for a week or two. In fact I once saw him being physically held up by four of his northern steppe staff whilst he was standing over the cauldron stirring the Салат из крабовых палочек with his eyes held open by sharp toothpicks and a medico bouncing him of the ceiling and walls with a defribbalator. Now that IS commitment.
For the bread you have to start queuing up at least by 4.30 in the morning to get it fresh when it is ready by noon or the next day or else it goes flying out the door. Vasili suggests booking it two weeks in advance and pre-pay in person with the women wearing subdued coloured business suits with skirts that cover the knees and valenki boots and the men should wear rubashka shirts with highly polished shoes on their feet.
Hits: Chef Vasili and his imported staff from the steppes are so friendly that they will cook you anything you want from that great country of Russia. Here are a few of our classically contemporary memorable favourites that you may try:
Салат из крабовых палочек
Сельдь под шубой
Щи да каша — пища наша
Грибы запеченные с сметаной
and our great favourite that is perfect with his delightful blinis - the classic Черная икра.
Be aware that there are so many great dishes and desserts to-die for that you may not walk out of there alive and here is one of them - Торт. It may have a short name but don't let that put you off and be sure to call an ambulance well in advance as only a lightning fast heart transplant will get you back on your feet again. In fact it may be easier to book a transplant and eat it on the operating table as they are about to cut you open.
Misses: A knowledge of Cyrillic.
Great lunch time music from those tame kittens of Russian contemporary music - Pussy Riot
Luckily they have been given bail from their incarceration on a freezing Gulag to play a couple of months at Molinkas. So why not go and support these ladies because 1 percent of the cost of all meals will go towards their defence when they are eventually dragged back to Moscow and tortured.
© 2012 Quincy Mondragon.
Editor's Note: MazReal paid for each and everyone of the pulmonías that deposited the heavyweight Quincy at the restaurants.
*We didn't harm any cats or swing them by their tails.