Huachinango – That’s Rock Fish to You

Eating Well along Mexico's Pacific Coast

Jeff Spurrier

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More often than not, the best food on the Mexican coast is found in enramadas, the ubiquitous, open-air, thatch-roof restaurants that line the beaches. Even when there’s no sign on the highway, if there’s a dirt road leading to the playa, there are usually a couple of enramadas open for business, especially during the winter months. The basic fare is huachinango, which is ostensibly red snapper but is actually whatever rockfish was caught recently. Al mojo de ajo, sautéed in garlic and butter, is the way it’s done, and like your basic hamburger, it’s hard to do it wrong. Octopus (pulpo), shrimp (camarones), and lobster (langosta) are also available everywhere. Prices will vary according to how close you are to a major resort. Keep in mind that cholera has recently been a worry in Mexico, particularly for lovers of ceviche. Last year there were some bad cases in Yelapa, south of Puerto Vallarta, and rumors of cases all the way down to Oaxaca.

If you’re in the neighborhood, don’t miss these eateries: Restaurant Ambar, in Barra de Navidad (outstanding entrée and dessert crepes); Chez Arnoldo’s, on Playa Las Gatas (wonderful fish in wine sauce); Nika’s, in Troncones (Nika is the cook for La Casa de la Tortuga and has her own restaurant on the beach, with the best lobster you’ll find anywhere); Casa Elvira’s, in old Zihuatanejo (one of the oldest restaurants in town, with good reason-large servings, classic Pacific Mexico fish recipes); Archie’s Wok, in Puerto Vallarta (pricey but clever melding of Thai flavors with fresh fish, started by the personal chef to The Night of the Iguana director John Huston).

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