Friday, March 28, 2008

Mazatlan, Pt. 4: Evening on the Plazuela Machado

OK, now that it's cold and snowing in Portland (!) I'm going to make you completely sick by sharing an evening we spent strolling through the Centro Historico on a moonlit evening, a light breeze causing the temperature to dip down to, oh, 78 degrees. The doorways were lit by wrought iron streetlamps, people were just beginning to leave their day at the beach to have dinner. What can I say? It was paradise.

It was still a bit early for our table at the restaurant we'd chosen for dinner, so we wandered down the street to Topolo, a dinner house situated what was once a classic-style Mexican home.

As I mentioned before, many homes in the Centro have been converted into commercial spaces without destroying the features that make them such amazing examples of vernacular architecture. The flat stucco fronts with shuttered windows that face the street, often painted in eye-popping (and fabulous) tropical colors, that, when you walk through the door, reveal private open-air courtyards with colonnaded patios used as dining or living areas (or both).

Radiating off the patios are the interior rooms for sleeping and cooking or receiving guests. The whole structure is ingeniously situated to take advantage of both shade and any cooling breezes that might waft by, and the plants and fountains in the courtyard provide a sense of coolness and separation from the noises of the street outside.

We had margaritas and a platter of house appetizers, including crunchy pork flautas, small chimichangas filled with tender beef and cheese, and quesadillas topped by sliced sausages, which gave us the strength to roll down to La Tramoya on the Plazuela for dinner. The lamps were lit, the vendors selling trinkets to the tourists were set up in the square and tables were starting to fill with a happy and tired beach-goers celebrating the long Easter weekend with their families.

Once again I ordered the inky black huitlacoche, this time as a sauce over perfectly grilled medium-rare steak. Its earthy, tart flavor, much like a mushroom sauce with wine, made a luscious mouthful and a great pairing, especially with the spicy red wine from a Baja producer. The fish in verde sauce that Dave ordered came in a foil pouch that sent up a cloud of scented steam that was so tempting he had to share a bite with everyone at the table.

After finishing our meals and working on the remains of the wine, we sat back and listened to the people chatting with their families and scolding their kids, the waiters joking with their tables and taking orders. It was a warm night and the voices, all in Spanish, blended with the music floating on the light evening breeze. A perfect vacation moment.

Read the other posts about my trip to Mazatlan: The Historic Scene, The Mercado Central, The Fungus Among Us, Groovy Graffiti, Bewitching Breakfast and Adios. 

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