I was a restaurant critic in a previous life, which, yes, is perhaps the world’s best job. It also means that I’m not exactly not critical when it comes to dining out. Of paramount importance is, of course, the food itself; I’ll down camaron in a minimally-appointed cave if they’re delicious enough. That said, it’s the other details – the space, the service, the ambience, even the lighting – that really make a restaurant sing for me. Eating out is like participating, albeit selfishly, in a moving performance. A great dining experience should feel like great art.
And Casa 46 is artful. The food is refined without corrupting tradition, a balance of modernity and familiar Mexican flavor profiles. We were particularly impressed by chef’s deft handling of seafood, both in the ceviche and lick-the-plate-worthy sea bass (we restrained ourselves); the latter could stand up to my favorite fish dishes in New York and LA. The service was warm and attentive without being obsequious, and the lighting was dialed in at what I call ‘romantic while still being able to see my plate.’ This can be difficult to master! It warrants mention.
The aesthetic, like the space, offers a balanced coupling of traditional and modern: inside, warm woods and terra cotta tiles complement marble tabletops and forest green walls, and the palm-dotted terrace overlooking Centro Histórico’s Plaza Machado might be Mazatlán’s most charming.
In a city transitioning from the home of Señor Frog’s to sophisticated hotspot, Casa 46 looks like a taste of the future. It’s delicious.