Mazatlan Friday: El Centro

We went down to El Centro, the historic area of Mazatlan. First I wanted to try to photograph the cathedral. Traffic was bad, and worsened by a bizarre little marketing parade. This character, seen all over town, appears to be your friendly neighborhood pharmacist.

So by the time we hit the cathedral it was golden hour, which was nice for those photos, but it made the rest of our sight-seeing a race against the sun.

Luckily, once my taxi driver knew what I wanted, he zoomed around on a mission, hitting every old, decrepit building in town. He knew just what to go for, New Orleans style grande dames with crumbling facades and broken windows.

The driver overestimated my Spanish and started giving a very indepth tour. I did catch something about a hospital, that’s about it.

Then the cabbie said, “I have a friend. He is Cuban. He likes Christmas. I thought, “What does that have to do with anything?” and then we pulled up here. Score. I love this cabbie! He had the exact same streak of weird that I did.

Then we hit the Mercado Municipal, which is famous for upsetting tourists. Count me in! Pigs look very happy, like they get them drunk and slowly sing them to sleep as the gently rock them to death. Cows, however, do not go gently into this good night. A skinned, bloody cow head with protruding eyeballs definitely made me look away. I just could not photograph that. No way. Be grateful.

By now we were a bit peckish and I started checking out the stands. I thought these were gooseberries. What were they? If I don’t know what it is, I have to eat it. I chose the ones not covered with salt, lime and chile. I thought that meant they were unspiced – not intense. I was wrong. What I popped in my mouth was the most sour and salty thing I have ever experienced — an explosion of tartness. Akkkkkkk!!! I tried to make Bob eat one and he was like, “Fuck No” It had 2 pits in it. I still don’t know what it is.

In the Mercado we were looking for old CDs and I swear to god, a rat as big as a chihuaha rushed along the edge of the wall. All I said was, “Woah” and the lady asked, “Raton?” She knew. I mean, that was one impressive rat. Later a child freaked out so I looked over and she had spotted the king of roaches. Not as big as the one I saw parading down Bourbon street once, but definitely bigger than downtown LA roaches.

It seemed like a good time to leave, so we took a little golf cart taxi over to Plazuela Machado. Pedro y Lola was the obvious choice. You need a reservation for the patio, but inside the restaurant it is virtually empty. The only thing you miss out on is balloon hats and pan flute music.

The deep fried cheese with apricot sauce was heavenly

We had the Pedro Infante, a pork dish from Pedro’s family recipe. It was exquisite, with potatoes and peppers, served in a molcajete that made it appear much more generous than it actually was.

They are known for their banana cream pie, that was rich and caramelized. No matter what I said they would not give up the secret.

I got a little apricot on my shirt. There was a ladies room attendant and when she saw my predicament she totally took over. She grabbed 2 paper towels and started scrubbing the hell out of my shirt as if she were my mother. Within minutes, the stain was gone and my shirt was relatively dry. Now that’s service. I didn’t have my purse, so I ran out and ran back to tip her 500 pesos.

Pedro & Lola. This restaurant honors the memories of Pedro Infante and Lola Beltran. Pedro & Lola is in Old Mazatlan at the corner of Carnaval and Constitucion, and it is the cornerstone of the refurbished Plaza Machado, a destination of and by itself. The Angela Peralta Theater is practically adjacent to the restaurant. Pedro & Lola offers sidewalk tables shaded by trees, open archways into the restaurant, paintings by local artists, live music most evenings, and an interesting menu featuring Mexican and international cuisine. The streets surrounding Plaza Machado are closed to traffic in the evening, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Tables and chairs from Pedro & Loa, and surrounding restaurants, are on the sidewalk, in the street, and occasionally spilling into the Plaza. Don’t miss it. Pedro & Loa is open daily from 5:45 pm to 1 am.

About Kiki Maraschino

I like catfish. Sure, we all like catfish, but I think for me it is somehow deeper.
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