Sinaloa’s bad rap hits Tijuana seafood places

The first time I went to a Sinaloan seafood restaurant in Tijuana, I was a little nervous. Based on their reputation, I was prepared for ear-splitting live music and perhaps a gunshot or two.

The state of Sinaloa is considered to be the craddle of Mexican drug trafficking, and I’ve occasionally heard Baja California law enforcement officials bemoan the “Sinaloan factor.” Never mind that Sinaloans here comprise the majority of migrants* from other Mexican states so they are also bound to be your in-laws, neighbors and fruit vendors.

Sinaloan associations have tried to get the public to see the more positive side of their contributions, namely their food, but it’s been a tough sell. I finally went to Negro Durazo** for the first time a few years ago and found the food to be scrumptious: fish and seafood battered in cheese and unbelievably rich sauces. 

This weekend, The New York Times ran a story about how ongoing drug-related violence is affecting people’s lives in large and small ways, and it quotes an unnamed source as saying he’s avoiding Sinaloan restaurants lately for their fair-or-not association with gangster clientele. I know a few people who have avoided Sinaloan food places their entire lives, which is an unfortunate reaction to the convergence of reality and perception.

If you want to try Sinaloan food in Tijuana without the ambience, there’s a mini-branch of Negro Durazo at the Zona Rio mall food court, just a few minutes from the San Ysidro Border on Paseo de Los Heroes,  There’s also a Negro Durazo north of the border, in Chula Vista.

* A study on Baja California migration says 16.6 percent of the state’s residents come from Sinaloa.

**I once tried to get someone at Negro Durazo to explain to me the origin of the nickname, but no one seemed to have an answer. Perhaps the most famous “Negro Durazo” was Arturo Durazo, a controversial Mexican police chief from more than two decades ago, who amassed an illicit fortune.

8 responses to “Sinaloa’s bad rap hits Tijuana seafood places

  1. Asi es el nombre del restaurant Negro Durazo es por Arturo Durazo el Policia Gangster de hace algun tiempo, particularmente lo considero de mal gusto, pero a ciertos estatus sociales en vez de molestarles les parece un ejemplo a seguir y tal como Jorge Hank los pueden cosiderar heroes populares.

    Ahora es verad que gran parte de los narcotraficantes vienen de Sinaloa pero es solo fama popular al igual que el nombre de Tijuana ahora inspira miedo y en noticieros americanos pintan a Mexico como si estuviera en guerra civil.

    La comida Sinaloense es muy rica en especial los mariscos (seafood) pero existen muchas alternativas al Negro Durazo que podrian ser mejores opciones.


  2. gracias por tus comentarios!

    For those who can’t read spanish, the writer is saying (i’m paraphrasing here)…

    that the name of the restaurant Negro Durazo comes from the police officer Arturo Durazo…that many people look down on him (Durazo) but some people look up to him as a popular hero…that many drug trafickers come from Sinaloa but it’s also overly-hyped, much like how Tijuana is depicted in American newspapers as if it were in a civil war…The Sinaloan food is very delicious, in particular the seafood, but there are also many alternatives to Negro Durazo that could be better options.

  3. Hola!

    I have been to the Chula Vista Location of Negro Durazo and walked by the Tijuana location many times. The pulpo Zarandeado is riquisima!

    I don’t think that potential connections to narcotrafficantes would sway me away from dining at the Sinaloan restaurants especially if they do a good job at cooking.

    I actually prefer Mariscos Godoy to ND – another cross border transplant but they have seen their share of this topic as well:

    I have heard of people who refuse to patronize D’voladas for alleged funding by cartels.

    I guess I am the only one who likes the Banda Sinaloense! :^)

  4. Para empezar, Arturo Durazo no era de Sinaloa, sino de Sonora, jamás radicó en Sinaloa, Mariscos Negro Durazo tiene en el mercado más de 35 años, inició en Sinaloa, su fundador es de apellido Durazo y como su tez es morena, pues de ahí viene el apodo ´´El Negro´´ y luego viene el apellido, nada que ver con Arturo Durazo Corrupto… la gente que trabaja en Mariscos Negro Durazo, es gente de bien, no somos malandros, no somos narcos, no somos matones, somos gente de familia, gente digna, gente trabajadora, gente con ansias de servir, de dar lo mejor de sí, es fácil poner a alguien de tiro al blanco, pero quien quiera que visite cualquiera de los restaurantes, no sólo de mariscos, no sólo el Negro Durazo, todos en Tijuana, sentimos el placer y la obligación de atender a nuestros comensales con todo respeto, la máxima atención y el mayor profesionalismo posible… no nos juzguen a la primera, dennos la oportunidad de demostrarlo, Tijuana no tiene la culpa de que USA aproveche un hecho violento para desprestigiarnos, tal vez en el fondo, temen por su propia economía y de esa manera los atemorizan… sean libres… visiten en you tube: mariscos negro durazo gente trabajadora, somos humildes, pero honestos y sobre todo trabajadores

  5. Hi, Epitacio. Thank you for writing. Favor pudiera dejar un comentario con un “Link” a un video en particular de Negro Durazo en YouTube…lo que menciones en su nota?

    For our English-language readers, I will translate parts of what he’s saying (but this is his opinion/commentary – not mine):

    He is saying that Arturo Durazo wasn’t from Sinaloa but actually from Sonora.

    “Mariscos Negro Durazo started in Sinaloa and its founder has the last name Durazo, and since he is dark-skinned, others gave him the nickname “El Negro” and that’s how the name came to be. It doesn’t have anything to do with Arturo Durazo, the corrupt one…

    The people who work at Mariscos Negro Durazo are good people, we aren’t drug traffickers or thugs. We are family people, upstanding people, working people, people who want to give our best…Everyone here in Tijuana, we want to give the utmost attention and professionalism possible, so give us the chance to show that. Tijuana shouldn’t be blamed for the U.S. using a violent act/violence in order to make us look bad. Perhaps they fear for their own economy and this way they spread fear. But look up YouTube. Mariscos Negro Durazo has hard-working people. We are humble but honest, and above all, working people.”

    – Hope I translated that OK for you, Epitacio.

  6. “El Negro” Durazo was a very corrupt police commissioner in Mexico City. He was born in Sonora, that is true, but he was raised as an orphan in Mexico City. He is reputed to have introduced Luis Miguel to the music world in exchange for some homosexual favors, a scabrous story that is credible only because Luis Miguel is such a poor singer.

    The restaurants in Tijuana called El Negro Durazo (one in Zona Río and the other in La Mesa de Otay) show the same contempt for people that their namesake did. These restaurants have allowed patrons to smoke cigarettes and cigars in violation of twenty years of municipal ordinances and to snarl traffic for a square block around the restaurants in violation of other municipal ordinances. They also violate our state health code by offering tequila in which they have macerated a dead snake.

    The people who work at these two restaurants are undoubtedly honest, hard-working people. And they should find other work with honest, hard-working employers. El Negro Durazo is anything but honest to its customers or respectful of employees. It should be avoided.

  7. Epitacio Nájera Noriega

    Excelente traducción, all right…
    y el link es el siguiente

  8. Hi, Fransisco. We’ve got an interesting dicussion taking place here about Negro Durazo. . . thank you for contributing.

    I have eaten at the restaurants during the day, and typically during off-hours, so I haven’t witnessed what you mentioned myself. But I do know they do attract a big clientele during certain meal hours, so your observations wouldn’t surprise me.

    Hi, Epitacio. Thanks for posting the video. Next time share one that has pictures of the food. It’s making me hungry just thinking of a really good shrimp meal I had there once.

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