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Acapulco, the famed resort town of the state of Guerrero, on the Pacific side of Mexico, has been the most popular getaway destination for chilangos (slang for Mexico City residents) for generations. The proximity of this beautiful bay to the capital – it’s just a four-hour drive or 45-minute flight – makes it easy for us to spend a long weekend there partying, swimming in the ocean or just soaking up rays on the white sand beaches and doing a whole lot of nothing. While Acapulco has gotten a bad rap in recent years for drug-related crime and violence, it’s still quite safe for tourists.

Eating in Acapulco, of course, is another favorite pastime for visitors and locals alike. On a recent visit to this seaside paradise, we made sure to take a thorough survey of the local cuisine – it’s tough being a CB correspondent, but someone’s gotta do it – and found much to love. Two places in particular stood out.

Eating in Laguna de Coyuca, Acapulco, photo by Ben HerreraLa Laguna de Coyuca
Located a few miles north of the tourist center, this lagoon is one of the most spectacular natural attractions in the area. To fully appreciate its beauty, visitors can take a closer look by hopping into one of the boats docked at Pie de la Cuesta. The boats make a stop at la isla de los pájaros, an islet that was used as a prison during part of the last century and that is now a sanctuary for many types of birds. After that, passengers disembark at La Barra de Coyuca, a thin strip of land that separates the lagoon from the open sea. Here, many family-owned restaurants have set up tables on the beach. The dynamic cocineras who run these rustic kitchens turn out traditional coastal seafood dishes – made from local catch – at a steady pace. We tried two of the region’s most representative dishes: pulpo enamorado, roughly translated as “octopus in love,” or tender, chopped-up octopus and vegetables tossed with mayonnaise and garnished with avocado slices; and huachinango a la talla, red snapper marinated in peppers and cooked over an open fire. This was our favorite meal of the entire trip.

El Amigo Miguel
This restaurant in downtown Acapulco has been in business since 1970. They now have two more locations, one across the street from the original and another on La Costera Miguel Alemán, the main boulevard that runs through the tourist zone, but the original is where visitors will get a feel for the real Acapulco. The service is fast and friendly, and the seafood is, as one would hope, impeccably fresh. We loved the coconut-coated shrimp served with mango salsa. (Benito Juárez 31, Centro, Acapulco de Juárez, Guerrero, Tel. +52 74 4483 6981, Hours: 10am-7pm)

Seafood at Boca del Rio, photo by Ben HerreraGiven how close the ocean is, it’s no wonder that Mexico City abounds with excellent seafood. We’ve written previously about La Morenita, the marisquería inside the Medellín market. And for huachinango a la tacha, we go to Nicos in Azcapotzalco – there’s a reason why this dish is always on their menu. But for those times when we’re craving seafood and can’t make it out of the city, we head to Boca del Rio. The casual eatery is a real throwback; the décor hasn’t changed much since it first opened some 70 years ago. It’s also one of the most enormous restaurants we’ve visited in Mexico City – we estimate that there’s room to seat 500 at a time. During weekends, Boca del Rio manages to fill most of those seats with hungry customers, and the busy waitresses run back and forth, delivering dishes to their sections as quickly as they can. On a recent visit, we ordered sopes de camarón, masa patties topped with refried beans, sour cream, a slice of avocado and grilled shrimp, followed by fork-tender octopus cooked in butter with dried chilies for a tingly slow burn. When we closed our eyes, we could almost feel the warmth of the Acapulco sun on our faces and the sand between our toes.

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Ben Herrera

Published on March 07, 2014

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