I thought that I first heard of Mariscos Mazatlan on Melvis' blog, but a quick search of the archives (see comments) shows that Papa Squirrel told me about it here in June. Well today I finally got to check it out thanks to cold rainy weather and a loooooong weekend without much to do.
We pulled in around 6:00pm and realizing we were just a few feet away from Chuck E. Cheese, I said to Warren (under my breath), "Don't park too close to the mouse!" Luckily the monkeys (Satchel, 5, and Jiro, 3) were oblivious. It was also hard not to go across the street to Taqueria Guadalupana 2 just to see how it compared to the original on Summer. (If not for the big sign, there were be no indication that the two restaurants are related. I don't think they could look any more different. The new restaurant is in a free standing building once housed by a chain restaurant. I've wracked my brain but can't remember which!)
Anyways, we went in and immediately soaked in the ambiance: Pictures of soccer players, beer flags, black & white photos of Mexican culture, beachy knick-knacks & fish nets, a smattering of original works of art, a giant juke box, a wall of quarter eating machines, windows protected by iron bars, and a handful of men in cowboy hats. Our booth featured a giant tiger poster under a large piece of glass.
Our waitress didn't speak any English, but she did seem to understand what we were saying, although we supplemented with a lot of nodding, pointing, and other hand gestures throughout the meal. She took our drink orders and soon returned with (most of) our drinks (water all around), a big basket of hot and crispy chips, a bottle of salsa, a bowl of limes, and three cups of seafood soup. I'm a little slow, so I dipped a chip in the soup thinking it was salsa. Then I noticed Warren fishing out octopus for the boys. (They both tried it, but refused a second bite.) I gave the soup a taste. It was an interesting mix of vegetables and seafood. It was a little too fishy for me, but Warren happily slurped down two out of the three cups of soup.
For some reason the waitress only brought us three waters as well. I had to share my giant, uncovered glass with Jiro, who was sitting on my lap. (The waitress brought him a high chair which he refused. I think she thought he was a bit younger than he actually is, despite the fact that he is enormous!) I ordered some cheese dip to occupy the monkeys so that Warren and I could peruse the very interesting menu.
There were a number of items on the menu that I had never heard of as well as our standby favorites--fish tacos, ceviche tostadas, whole fried tilapia, etc. I can't pass up a fish taco (red snapper in this case) and was depending on Warren to try something crazy like hot molcajete, a soup served in a volcanic rock bowl. He, however, had a hankering for a whole tilapia. I ordered Satchel's standard beef taco minus the onion and cilantro and Jiro's standard cheese quesadilla with rice and beans. Then, unable to control myself, I also asked for a shrimp ceviche tostada.
We all happily ate chips and dip until Satchel informed me he needed to go to the restroom. Or maybe it was Jiro. Regardless, the three of us made a quick trip. (There was actually half of a booth in the bathroom, which would have come in handy had I had a long wait! I supposed it could also double as a diaper changing station.) Overall the bathroom seemed clean and not at all alarming. One toilet was missing the flush handle and had a twisted wire in its place, which was most exciting to Jiro.
When we returned to the table we found it covered with food. "That was fast!" I said as I sat down and dug in. My three tacos were folded up in foil and extremely hot. I couldn't wait to eat them, which was bad because it caused the corn tortillas to fall apart in my hands. I scooped up the red snapper "mash" (it was crumbled and mixed with onion, cilantro, tomato, and thinly sliced jalepenos) with my fork. I gave it a squirt of lime juice and it was just fantastic. Once I got a little in me, I was able to rest a minute so that the tortillas could cool off. My last taco had no trouble staying together.
While I was resting between tacos, Satchel announced, "I need to poop!"
"Are you sure?" I asked. "We just went to the restroom."
He smiled and nodded.
Warren said, as only a dad can say, "Just hold it until we get home."
I looked hopefully at him, "Can you hold it?"
He smiled and said, "Nevermind! It was just a fart!"
(To which Warren replied, "Don't fart on me while I'm eating!")
I was just happy not to be getting up again, although in hindsight, I should have passed the buck.
The waitress came to check on us and I asked if Jiro could have his own water since mine was rapidly disappearing. There was either a communication breakdown, or our waitress was an overachiever. She immediately came back with four more waters--two in giant red cups and two in giant styrofoam cups. Satchel, who was now too busy eating to notice this, took his last slurp of water and said, "I need more water!"
"Uh, honey, there's another giant cup right in front of you," I said.
"Oh! Yay!" he said as he transferred his straw.
I asked Warren how his fish was and he complained that it was a little too garlic-y, but added that he actually ordered the "garlic fish." "I should have gotten the diabla," he lamented. Once smothering his fish with hot sauce, he perked up, and made a happy plate.
Satchel ate every bite of his taco, and Jiro cleaned his plate as well. (We had a big breakfast and not much lunch, so they were pretty hungry.) I tried getting Satchel to eat my rice, but he didn't want to risk not having a happy plate and thus losing his "dessert"--a quarter for the wall of machines.
I reached for the tostada and said, "Put.Your.But.On.The.Seat." a million times between bites. Both monkeys were getting extremely squirmy and had lost track of their inside voices. Thanks to the loud latin music coming from the juke box, they weren't really bothering anyone other than their parents!
Satchel took a look at my tostada and noted, "It's crusty busty!"
It was fairly similar to La Playita, maybe not quite as good. (Since making my own ceviche, I'm a bit of a snob.) I passed the remaining half of the tostada to Warren and then started digging through my purse for quarters. I sent the monkeys off to the wall of machines and paid our tab--$33.
Satchel ran over to report that the gum machine had eaten his money, which I could tell was a lie by the millimeter of a smile he was making--just like his dad does when he lies. I walked over to the machines with him, just to confirm the lie, and had a moment to examine the offerings: gumballs, bouncy balls, tattoos, "Billy Bob" teeth, and "cuffs n stuff." The latter was most alarming, but did not draw the attention--or quarters--of the monkeys. Thanks to an extra quarter each from Warren, they each left with a giant gumball and a bouncy ball (that I'm sure will soon end up in the garbage when I find them in a dark, dusty corner of our house).