Put on your face mask, grab a cloth bag and let’s go shopping in Centro! The newest store is The Art Shop. The logo says it all. A unique finger print – most, if not all of the items, are handmade in Mexico. Denisse Oualle opened The Art Shop in early March 2021; you may know Denisse from her kiosk on the weekends in the Plazuela Machado. The shop is well designed and Denisse has curated it all beautifully – a little of this and a little of that. You can see from the photos that this small store has much in store for you. Moving on – be sure to visit The Oaxaca Shop next door to the Art Shop on Carnaval. Around the corner on Heriberto Frias are the design shops Imaginese, Casa Venus Galeria and Casa Amarilla [see “chatter” below]. Head over to Libertad and you’ll find Nidart Gallery, and on Constitución there is the Gandarva Bazar – a big selection of goodies to buy there. Don’t forget to visit the Raices Art Gallery in the Machado next to their restaurant. Sixto Osuna has two lovely stores – the well-known Casa Etnika and the newish Colores Latina Mexico. At least 10 stores within a couple of blocks, all unique and waiting to see hello and welcome you after this long pandemic season. [The Art Shop is on Carnaval #1315 and is open every day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.]
Dip into Mazatlan’s first artisanal chocolateria – La Poste. The owners of La Poste artisanal chocolate have been making their handmade chocolate since 2017. The chocolatier studied with a famous chocolatier chef in Mexico City and set up the marble counter top and cool room in Mazatlan. It’s branded La Poste with a nod to stamps and mail; La Poste has been selling online for years and they will even deliver a single chocolate bar. Recently, they are sharing bricks and mortar at Casa Amarilla with a boutique display. Currently, they offer 12 different flavoured chocolate bars made with coco beans from various countries and all the bars are handmade.
As for the individual box of chocolates, it’s the very opposite of the expression” life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you’re gonna get.” With La Poste you know exactly what you are getting – the most divine, handmade truffles, and other melt-in-your mouth bon bons. No “I Love Lucy” assembly line here – each chocolate is lovingly made and decorated, no added sweeteners, all organic. It’s art! It’s food! Oh, go ahead and indulge yourself, it’s the happy hormone. La Poste’s box of chocolates [either ten or four pieces] make the perfect hostess gift, a birthday hello, or a romantic present.
[La Poste is located inside La Casa Amarilla, on Heriberto Frias #1408,steps from the Plazuela Machado, and you can buy the delicious chocolate from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or place your order on Instagram, FaceBook, or call, WhatsApp 669 229 4936. La Poste accepts special orders for events, dinner parties, etc. Please have pesos ready for all deliveries. Casa Amarilla also houses the popular Ulama restaurant, Cafenina, Casa Objecto, Best Life and Nodo. It’s a collective group of different businesses and artists. Pop by for breakfast, a coffee, a chocolate, and enjoy the small gallery offering a variety of handmade products – from silk hammocks to end tables to small paintings. Is there a better way to start your day than with a balanced diet – a chocolate in both hands?]
The next time a twenty-year old complains about nightlife, send them to Vista de Palma. Five mixologists, loud techno music and a built in dj station – that should tell you everything you need to know about the new Vista de Palma and why it’s so ideal for the under 30s. It’s brought to you by the Muchacho Alegre family, so you know it’s created for “youngsters.” The space is all done with soft grey tiles, natural wood and lots of greenery. There are even “swinging banquets”. The twenties go for the music, the large dance floor, the fabulous view, the $100 cocktails and the dj – and if they are in the mood, there is a wide choice of appetizers to nibble on.
[Vista de Palma, Olas Altas # 1224, at Constitución. Not handicap accessible, many, many stairs, for reservations call 669 0171. Credit cards accepted. Closed Mondays, opens around 5:30 p.m.]
Look out for Patio Escobedo! It’s a new restaurant owned by the Allegro family. One of the owners, Chuy Velarde gave MazatlanLife a quick tour of this gorgeous ruin. The family has been spending months cleaning out the debris – yet leaving all the roots and trees and exposed brick and concrete. Chuy’s vision is to “have an affordable casual upmarket restaurant – during the day there will be locally sourced seafood street-food served at the huge bar and at night the grilling never stops – we want it to be a warm personal space, not snobby. The grilling area is massive and you’ll watch the chefs flip your steaks, your fish, your vegetables.” The bar will have a glass roof in case it rains and the rest of the space is nothing but trees, blue skies and the stars at night. Patio Escobedo is open now on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 p.m. on with a limited menu [ 11 items, tacos, tuna tartar etc.] but there is a full bar! The furniture is temporary too but you can drink in this ruin with all the modern conveniences such as new washrooms etc. File this under life goes on: people still have dreams and desires and even a pandemic will not stop them from fulfilling them. [Patio Escobedo is located on Mariano Escobedo near Venus and is handicap accessible.]
Chef Mervyn opened Romé Cocina in November 2020. You may recognize him from his booth and cooking demos at the Organic Market on Saturdays or from his Playa Sur restaurant, La Escollera. He owns and chefs a Romé Cocina in the mornings and spends his evenings at La Escollera. He gutted the space on Belisario Dominguez #1809 at 21 de Marzo [when it was briefly Agustine Castillo’s gallery] and designed it for takeout. Mervyn changes the menu every day and there are at least eight different choices : enchiladas, tostadas, gorditas, tortas, chicken and beef dishes and a “cold bar” serving pates of marlin, shrimp and ceviche of the day. Chef likes to add a couple of Italian dishes as well. Romé is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. 4 p.m. There’s home delivery too, just call or text 669 174 4246. The space has two communal tables each with four chairs – not really social distancing but perfect for waiting for your takeaway. There’s no way a pandemic is stopping this hard-working entrepreneur – please drop in and sample Mervyn’s fresh home-cooked meals.
The Imaginese Brand store has arrived – bringing your vision to life. Imaginese made a soft landing in Centro in October 2020. Before I can introduce you to Imaginese, you need to meet Casa Venus Galeria, if you haven’t already.
Several years ago Mario Carvajal opened Casa Venus in the large space on Heriberto Frias. He said then [and now] “it’s a gallery of art, Mexican Folk Art and fine jewellery, promoting local artists and artists from different regions of Mexico. I am especially proud of the exclusive Lorena Medrano jewellery line. Don’t buy a souvenir, buy a small piece of art from Mexico.”
Mario is constantly buying and restocking the store. You could shop there if you are in a hurry but I would recommend you take at least 30 minutes to look at every single item and every corner of his exciting store. There are many surprises waiting for you – such as hand-woven rugs from Oaxaca or small beautiful lamps from Morocco. Take your time and chill out with Mario before you move onto the Imaginese space within Casa Venus.
Canadian owners, Katrina and Gerrit Visser and Linda Crossely, have forged a lovely compatible partnership with Casa Venus. They operate independently but like all good roommates things [like a gorgeous deep-red Chinese lacquer cabinet] spill into the Casa Venus space; where Mario will quickly display a new item or the Vissers will add quirky wooden flamingos. These roommates complement one another and I just revised the shopping time-line – you’ll need at least an hour, or perhaps more, to look, touch, feel and think about what you are going to take home.
The Imaginese tag line: We are a unique furniture store with one of a kind furniture pieces and home decor items to include a custom line of furniture. Looking for interior design? No project is too big or too small! The team really wants to bring your vision to life: they offer tailor made services by an industry professional and personalized attention for all your design needs. “Let’s build your dream kitchen. Everyone wants a spa in their home!” These are just a few of their claims. The Imaginese space contains home decor items and furniture you may have seen on your travels but certainly not ever in Mazatlan. Linda Crossely has always been an avid shopper [just ask her husband] and now she and the Vissers have turned her shopping “hobby” into a retail adventure. That’s the right word – it’s an adventure to shop at Imaginese, it’s fun, it’s different, it’s new.
Imaginese has its own line of jewellery too – all designed by Linda Crossley. One of a kind pieces you won’t see anywhere else.
Easier than climbing El Faro, closer than the Zipline, it’s time for you and your plastic to go on a shopping adventure! Mario, Linda, Katrina, and Gerrit are warm and friendly; it’s not snobby and the entire staff encourages you to wander and to wonder what will I buy today – if not today, then there’s always tomorrow. [SM, November 2020]
[Casa Venus Galeria and diseno Imaginese brand are located on Heriberto Frias #1404, and are open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. – open until 8 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays. If you wish to call Casa Venus – 669 982 6023. If you would like an appointment with Imaginese call 669 244 7892, e mail: email@example.com or visit their website . Credit cards accepted.They are #19 on ArtWalk]
Do you have “an in a case of emergency” wallet card? What’s in your pocket when you take your dog for a walk, go for a morning stroll on the beach, or a run on Malecon? The consulate suggests something like this:
Gaby and Ruben Torres opened Artesano’s Bakery [panadero artesanal] in November 2019. If Ruben looks familiar, he started as a baker at Héctor’s when Héctor’s was Molika then he moved across the street to Héctor’s Bistro. Three years ago, Gaby and Ruben left Mazatlan for San Miguel Allende. While their bakery was successful in SMA they missed Mazatlan and returned last year. Brownies, carrot cake, cinnamon buns, corn bread, bagels, croissants [“light, fluffy, buttery, best croissant I’ve had since I lived in Europe, RH”, delicious, light, flaky” DW],”banana bread mini loaf also delicious, moist and buttery tasting, I won’t be making it anymore as the size is perfect and so much easier!” DW, muffins, white bread, multi-grain bread “a friend say it was great”], they make it all and serve it up with a warm smile. You can tell they are thrilled to have their own bakery and to be back in Mazatlan.
According to Gaby, she says she needs a bigger oven to make sour dough bread – that’s a couple of months away. [Gaby got her large oven in February 2021!.] Gaby and Ruben begin their day at 4 a.m.; it’s not a long commute as they live above the store. The coffee is fresh and the beans are not overly roasted – Americano, lattes, cappuccinos. It’s very popular with the workers finishing their shifts who enjoy stopping by for a coffee and muffin in the afternoon. Gaby and Ruben are dedicated owners, working hard to please their customers with delicious homemade breads – truly a panadero artesanal.
[Artesano’s Bakery, Guillermo Nelson #1813 at Melchor Ocampo, is open from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., closed Sundays, pesos only, one tiny step for handicap people and now with ac! There are three tables if you wish to stay and have a coffee and a sweet. Ruben has just begun to accept quiche orders, give him a call 669 145 9533, Spanish only. Two lattes and a slice of fluffy corn bread [gluten free] the size of a brick was $105. There is a bathroom – but better suited for gentlemen as it has no toilet seat.]
It will surprise you how much it takes to become a certified tourist guide. Many of you have “your guy” the person you turn to for day trips and for city tours. I always knew, to receive this designation, that it took time and money. A friend who has know him for 18 years introduced me to Akino Montiel – a certified tour guide. He kindly gave me all the details of what it takes to become a certified tourist guide/Guia Turistas General. I think you’ll find the dedication and cost to be an eye-opener.
- The certification allows a tour guide to work in any city in Mexico, but you must be a Mexican National and have finished high school.
- To be certified requires 510 hours and costs between $30,000 to $40,000 pesos and you must past the bilingual [English/Spanish] test, as well as the CPR course.
- Every teacher is an expert in their subject [architecture, wild life etc.] and has a master’s degree which is partly what makes the course so expensive.
- Every four years Akino must renew his license, which involves 160 hours and approximately another $10,000 pesos.
- Akino must renew his CPR course every two years.
- If you have a federal driving license with a federal plate [which Akino has] he must pass a medical test every two years and every six months there is a mandatory engine and pollution inspection.
“I love to be a good host, it’s like when you have a new friend visiting your house, you just want them to feel comfortable and you want to show the best part of your place. It’s super fun and to give good service is my passion. For me it’s the best job in the world.” [These are all Akino’s quotes with no editing so you can see his English is excellent.]
He’s been tour guide since 1997, and his van holds six passengers. Not a requirement but Akino also has a degree in Tourism from Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa. Akino will take you wherever you want to go, but his two personal favourite tours are the Tequila Factory with El Quelite, and Concordia and Copala. If “your guy” is busy or you want another recommendation for a tour guide judging from his FP page and all the rave reviews he’s your man. You can reach him on WhatsApp 624 122 0915, e: firstname.lastname@example.org. [ SM, November 2018]
[Updated October 5, 2020: over the years Noë has trained a team, he’s not working alone any longer. During the height of Covid-19 he suspended his business to protect his employees and his clients. It’s full steam-ahead -cleaning now. A queen mattress is still $500 and very large and well-used sofa was $680.]
If you have ever thought about giving your mattress a deep cleaning then Noë Guadiana Villareal is your man. He started his business, Deep Extraction Cleaning [yes, that’s the name – “Mexicans love English names”.] opened its cleaning services in 2014. A deep cleaning takes about 1 1/2 hours depending on your mattress size and stains. Noë begins with a Hepa filter vacuum [oh, the dust bunnies you would not believe!], then a soil remover and finally an injection suction for the deep clean. Allow a four to five hour drying time, with an approximate cost of $500. You may have two mattresses and there is a discount, or you may just need a light cleaning, for $250. He also cleans furniture, rugs, and car interiors. Noë’s team is very punctual and texts right on the dot of the appointed time, “I’m here.” The English-speaking Noë can be reached at 669 134 8864, or 669 986 1314 or e: email@example.com. Sweet dreams.
If you want to say it with flowers, then Luz Elena is the florist for you. She’s owned Floreria Jardin de Rosas for 35 years and specializes in fresh flowers and creative arrangements; for years she has had her flowers shipped from south of Mexico City four times a week. Many are unique to Mazatlan! Wish to have a delivery? No problem, free delivery with a minimum order of $400. Luz Elena also accepts most major credit cards. If you don’t speak flower-Spanish don’t worry, Luz Elena’s English is perfect. In fact, you don’t have to worry about anything with Luz Elena, she’s just so professional. Jardin de Rosas is located on Paseo Lomas #248 [past Starbucks and the school], call 914 1754,or WhatsApp, 669 912 0415 and the hours are Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.and on Saturdays 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Like every florist in the world, plan your order way ahead for Mother’s Day [May 10] and Valentines.