Mexico's rich and diverse cultural history lends to uncountable regional dishes. Nearly every small town across the country has its own specialty or rendition of a National dish. Recently added to the UNESCO world heritage list, Mexican cuisine has at once some of the most complicated and simple recipes in the world. This dichotomy of complexity -- where hundred-ingredient mole sits alongside raw fish garnished with nothing more than lime and salt -- makes Mexican food so incredibly unique and delicious. In coastal towns like Los Mochis, Sinaloa where seafood is easily caught, simple shellfish becomes the crux for local cuisine. (Actually as it turns out, Los Mochis has great just about anything.) It's no coincidence Chicago's Rick Bayless named his seafood restaurant Topolobampo after the port a few miles west of the city center. Don't expect anything fancy: in Mexico, flavor and ambience are often inversely correlated.
Mariscos Cepy's, a small restaurant at the end of a residential block, is always crowded. This is partly because of the exceptionally fresh shellfish, but also because Mexicans know how to take their time and enjoy the afternoon. There's never any rush here, and a few cold drinks and outdoor seat in the sun makes time stand still.
Molcajete de mariscos - An oversized 3-legged stone pot filled with fat chunks of chilled scallop, shrimp (both raw and cooked), octopus, and squid. The seafood is splashed with bright Mexican lime and a drizzle of salsa maggi. Freshly cracked black pepper and cilantro crown the top. The shellfish is so fresh it's sometimes hard to believe it's not still moving -- it tastes naturally sweet. The callo de hacha in this region of Mexico are firm and crunchy, almost like squid. The mixture of raw and cooked shrimp was particularly interesting -- the raw shrimp had a slight bitter taste which contrasted against the cooked shrimp. This dish was a truly exceptional potpourri of fresh shellfish.
Plato de camarones con pulpo - Coarsely cut chilled shrimp and octopus in a plate of shrimp broth garnished with fresh avocado and tons of lime. The combination of avocado, lime, and raw shrimp is one of my favorite Mexican flavors. The sweetness of the shrimp and octopus with the bite of the lime and the buttery-smooth flavor of the avocado make this exceptional.
Tostadita de jaiba y camarones - Local crab and shrimp mixed with tomato, red onion, and cucumber atop a crispy corn tortilla. The pile of shellfish is adorned with thin strips of avocado and a drop of salsa maggi. Mexicans seem to be able to eat this without a fork and knife; my attempt at mimicry resulted in a total mess. I guess that's why they gave me a spoon.
Cocktail de pulpo - A goblet of chilled shrimp broth with tomato, red onion, cucumber, lime, and giant pieces of octopus. In a lot of ways this is like a thin broth gazpacho filled with shellfish. The broth tastes exceptional by itself -- even when the chunks of shellfish and vegetable are gone.
Los Mochis is an essential stop for travelers who love Mexican cuisine and seafood. This town has some of the freshest and best tasting seafood in the entire country. Mariscos Cepy's is just one of the many, many seafood restaurants in this city that serve exceptionally fresh fish. I can't wait to go back.