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Mariscos Makes Venturing Out in LA Worth It

Mariscos Makes Venturing Out in LA Worth It



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The Monster loves Mariscos Chente. From the divey location to the insanely addictive chips and salsa, the camarones a la pimineta with that scrumptious rice, the langoustines, the marlin tacos, the whole grilled fish (pescado zarandeado) and those onions, those onions!

It’s very simple, if you like seafood you must go to Mariscos Chente. Nothing else is on the menu.

It is places like this that make venturing out in Los Angeles worth it. The monster first hit Mariscos Chente before they’d even translated the menu into English. And he keeps going back. And bringing friends. He’s been known to order way too much food and then marvel at himself when the wheelbarrow comes to take him home.

A few words of warning. Mariscos Chente is always freezing, it’s often times terribly dark, bad telenovelas may be playing, and you never get enough water. For no apparent reason there is a disco ball hanging in the center of the room. There is a mural that seems like it may be half-finished, but it’s been in this perpetual state for a while now. They close early. Also, there are multiple locations with the same name, the same menu, but they aren’t owned by the same people. Sergio, the original chef at the Centinela location, is now in Inglewood. He is a maestro. That being said, the Centinela location is still top notch.

All that aside, if you want Sinoloan and Nayarit seafood and don’t feel like springing for a plane ticket to Mexico then Mariscos Chente is where you want to be. Why go? Mexican heaven is a nice place to be.

Monster Rating: 5/5 Monsters


Receta de Paella de Marisco - Seafood Paella Recipe

Heat broth in a large pot. Stir in saffron. Pat fish and shrimp dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let sit 10 minutes. Use a mortar and pestle to mash parsley, garlic, thyme and 1/8 tsp salt into a paste stir in paprika. Add water if necessary to form a paste.

Heat 6 tbsp of oil in 15" paella pan over medium high heat and quickly brown the fish 1-2 minutes. Do not fully cook. Remove to warm platter. Add remaining 2 tbsp of oil, onion, scallions and bell pepper to paella pan and cook until the vegetables are slightly softened. Raise heat, add tomato and cook until it becomes sauce-like, 2 to 5 minutes. Pour in the hot broth and bring to a boil. Sprinkle the rice evenly across the pan. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring rice and rotating pan occasionally. Add all reserved fish (but not shrimp). Stir in parsley paste. Taste for salt. Do not stir after this point. Lower the heat, continue to simmer until rice is no longer soupy but enough liquid remains to continue cooking the rice (about 10 min.). Add extra liquid if necessary.

Arrange shrimp, clams and mussels over rice, placing edges of mussel and clam shells so they open facing up. Cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until rice is almost done. Remove pan from the heat and cover with foil. Let sit 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with fresh alioli.

Reviews (19)

June 2020

Having eaten a fabulous paella mariscos at La Cueva restaurant in Seville, Spain and realizing with this coronavirus pandemic it will be a few years before I can go back, I decided to search for a recipe. This recipe is amazingly close in flavor and texture and presentation to that original in Seville. While it takes a few hours with prepping and cooking it is so worth the effort. My kitchen filled with the wonderful cooking aromas of Spain. Make sure you use bomba rice as it can take all the heat and all the liquid where American long grain rice would disintegrate in the process. My family loved it!

October 2018

Thank you so much, La Tienda, for this great recipe! My husband and I visited your restaurant with friends two years ago, and the dinner inspired me to purchase a paella pan and start experimenting with Spanish cooking. (I even consulted your staff via email before purchasing my pan, and you folks were so helpful even though we live halfway across the country in Texas.) My first paella effort was rather boring and unsatisfying, so I knew I needed to find a better recipe. that's when I came across your seafood paella recipe. It was so good and really delicious. I have much more confidence now in working with the pan, knowing when to stir, when to add extra liquid, and how to manage the seafood at the end. I think I'm even ready to cook for friends next time. Thank you La Tienda. I hope we make it back to Williamsburg again!

October 2018

Made this recipe tonight, just amazing! I went all out with the seafood though. I added 2 small Maine lobster tails and claws, jumbo shrimp, Arctic clams, smelt for the fish, calamari rings, and sea scallops. With the extra seafood, I think 6 people can eat it. But luckily, it's just the husband and me. He's gonna love it!

April 2018

This recipe is superb! My whole family enjoyed it! I didn't find the seafood broth so I used chicken broth instead and it was so amazing! I used a giant caldero since I do not own a paella pan yet and it was perfect! Fresh seafood medley and some lobster tails made my paella amazing! I wish I could post my pictures. This will be a normal dish from now on! Thank you so much!


Are $219 Running Shorts Worth It? Some Marathoners Say Yes

Upstart running labels like Tracksmith out of Boston (above) specialize in higher-end (and higher-priced) gear that appeals to dedicated marathoners.

Jacob Gallagher

MY RUNNING clothes are dreadful. For years, I’ve run in $20 polyester shorts purchased at an outlet, a cotton T-shirt of forgotten origin that smells permanently like B.O. and chintzy white cotton socks. I’m not a marathoner, but I clock around 20 to 30 miles a week. It’s a respectable routine, but lately I’ve felt that my clothes are far from respectable.

In recent years, a clutch of labels selling pricey running gear with a high-design sensibility has invaded the exercise-clothing market. Primarily established by actual runners, these brands include District Vision, a 5-year-old Los Angeles outfit that began peddling futuristic $200-plus sunglasses with pastel lenses, but has since moved into tailored $125 high-neck sweatshirts and nipped $75 shorts. Tracksmith out of Boston takes a retro approach, selling old-school $65 singlets and $88 polos in moisture-wicking mesh. Satisfy, a Paris label, occupies the highest price bracket and offers the most progressive-looking gear, such as a $387 leopard windbreaker and a $200 tie-dyed merino wool T-shirt.

On any given day I’ll see devoted runners trotting along in this conspicuously costly gear, making me feel a bit inadequate in my pedestrian get-up. And so I decided to call up a few stylish runners and ask them whether such investment gear is worth it. Most of them directly correlated cost and quality. Carl Maynard, 35, a photographer in Washington, D.C., who runs around 50 miles a week, has invested heavily in District Vision and Tracksmith gear. For him it was a simple calculation: He could either continue to spend around $35 every couple of months when his Nike shirt or shorts wore thin, or he could plop down a few hundred now and be set for a while. He is convinced that gear like District Vision’s $225 waterproof jacket and Tracksmith’s $72 Italian-fabric half-tights will last through years of runs.

To dedicated runners, it only makes sense to invest in their most time-consuming pursuit. Austin Lord, 31, a retail employee in Chicago who is training for the October Chicago Marathon, calculates the cost per wear for items like his $100 green-and-black Satisfy T-shirt. If he runs in it several times a week, he feels it’s worth the price. There is also a psychological advantage to spending more on your given hobby. While some people pay for expensive gym memberships to kick-start their exercise plan, others buy a week’s supply of trim $68 recycled polyester shorts from culty fitness label Outdoor Voices. The financial commitment proves you’re serious about running and could trigger guilt if you consider dropping the routine a week in.

These refined running labels can also motivate runners by positioning the sport as cool. Daniel Diaz, 29, who works in ad sales in New York and has run seven marathons, noted that track gear has not always been marketed as something to get excited about. When he first started running in high school, a sports-store employee told him to “just worry about the comfort,” not how something looks. Today, mainstream brands often follow that ethos, placing function and frugality over looks. The drab basicness of their clothes has opened a door for aspirational brands like Satisfy, whose website features gritty photos of tattooed runners bounding through craggy trails in the brand’s minimalist clothes. These labels make running look like a tantalizingly stylish activity.


Ethiopian food is a communal experience. Everything is served family-style, and there's no better way to bond than over a deluge of flavors. I recommend ordering the tej (honey wine) to accompany your meal. Trust me.

After a day of exploring, this will be exactly what you need. You'll swoon over the views and vibes on this rooftop hotspot.


8 Best Taquerias in Los Angeles

Proclaiming the best tacos in Los Angeles &ndash even in the form of a list &ndash can cause road rage in this town, turning the City of Angels into the City of Anger. We're going to do it anyway. You may not all agree but the below eight spots will certainly satisfy your taco craving.

Barba Kush

Once a secret underground taco joint in Petra Zavaleta's backyard, Barba Kush now has an official restaurant in which to cook her amazing lamb barbacoa. Get a full lamb skull, eyes and all, to slice away ulta-tender meat and fold into freshly made tortillas at this East LA temple of tacos.

2635 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles

CaCao Mexicatessen

This Mexican delicatessen in Eagle Rock kicks it up a notch, adding killer ingredients to its tacos, making the journey to Eagle Rock well worth it. Confit duck, crispy pork belly crackling, sea urchin, and even a Korean-style taco (made famous by LA's own Roy Choi of Kogi) are standout tacos at CaCao.

1476 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles

Carnitas El Momo

Housed in a trailer in Boyle Heights, El Momo's specialty is &ndash you guessed it &ndash carnitas. But they do a special blend here of pork shoulder and crispy skin that adds to the flavor strata and gives a lovely textural crunch that is hard to find elsewhere.

2411 Fairmount St., Los Angeles

Gish Bac

There is one delicious reason to come to this LA spot: Oaxacan native Maria Ramos' barbacoa enchilada taco. It's first spit-roasted goat for five hours and then eventually slow-simmered in a sauce that the meat produced when it when it was on the spit. The recipe has been in the Ramos family for three generations.

4163 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles

Los Cinco Puntos

This family-run, half-century-old Boyle Heights institution is unintentionally disguised as a deli/food market. But a huge percentage of the people who walk through the door are here for one thing: a taco. Specifically, a carnitas taco, Los Cinco Puntos' specialty. The thick hand-made corn tortillas are topped with guacamole, nopales, and meat so tender you'll eat enough to fill your tummy.

330 E. Cesar E. Chavez Ave., Los Angeles

Mexicali Taco & Co.

The border town of Mexicali in northern Mexico has a sizeable Chinese population. And so it's perhaps no coincidence that this great taco joint named after the town is in LA's Chinatown. They do somewhat creative takes on tacos here but our favorite is the Vampiro: meat, cheese, and ample amounts of garlic sauce.


Need a compatible roommate? Five apps and sites to help you search

I’m no Type A personality, but I can say that there are few things worse than living with a terrible roommate. One of those is having to find a new roommate, fast.

But finding a compatible roommate can be a long, hard quest. To help ease that burden, we scoured the Internet for roommate-finding apps and websites. Here are some of the best we found.

Roommates: Finding the perfect roommate is comparable to finding a significant other. That’s why the Roommates app by ApartmentList, a rental real estate search engine start-up, took a few pointers from online dating services that sync to the user’s Facebook account to build a profile and pre-screen potential dates -- or, in this case, roommates. Think of the Roommates app as a matchmaking algorithm.

Users can add a monthly budget, preferred neighborhoods and hobbies to help find potentially compatible roommates.

Similar to dating app Tinder, roommate seekers can tap through others’ profiles, which will note if they have any mutual friends. Once two users have expressed interest in each other, they’re matched up and connected via chat.

The free Roommates iOS and Android app currently covers Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston and Chicago.

Roomster: The Roomster website and its Facebook app encourage users to write lengthy profiles -- up to 10,000 words -- to increase the chances of a match. Users can find potential roommates by keyword searches, such as personality traits, interests and preferred locations.

The free basic service allows access all the site’s features and sections, but users need to pay a fee, which starts at $5.95 for three days, to access its messaging service and connect with a potential roommate.

Crashpad: Crashpad is a free website for people who are searching for roommates or have an available room. Users can browse through potential roommate profiles, which show pictures of the potential roommates, the roommates’ first names and the apartments or rooms being offered.

There are search tabs to enter criteria including location, monthly budget and other requirements (such as permission to have a dog). Once you find someone you like, you can message the person privately.

With the app it’s easy to get all the important information at once: It’s all on the main page no need to open numerous tabs to review the options.

Roomsurf: If you’re a student looking for on-campus housing or need to fill an extra room for your off-campus place, Roomsurf tries to do the work for you. After logging in with Facebook Connect, users complete a questionnaire to be connected with the most compatible roommates, based on the percentage of similar responses.

When you pick a match, you can send a message to that person via Roomsurf or Facebook. Roomsurf charges a one-time $19.99 fee for students at schools with which it doesn’t have a direct partnership.

The majority of Roomsurf users are incoming college freshmen, but the site also includes transfer students and others looking to live off campus.

Livewith.us: For those would rather use Craigslist to find a roommate, the livewith.us website aims to speed up the vetting and application process.

It’s kind of a hassle to copy and paste the same description of yourself into email after email. The livewith.us widget does that for you and quickly sends a profile when you’re viewing a Craigslist listing.

The free website also has a slick interface that helps manage all your applicants, bookmark Craigslist listings and easily send applications.


Karen Bailey’s 20-year-old daughter has struggled with depression and anxiety for years. Since 2017, she’s been in three intensive group therapy programs and, each time, the family’s insurer cut her coverage short, says Bailey.

“At a certain point, they would send us a form letter saying: We have determined that she is all better, it’s no longer necessary, so we are not covering it anymore,” says Bailey, 59, who lives in Los Angeles. “And believe me, she was not all better. In one case, she was worse.”

In making coverage decisions about mental health and addiction treatment, insurers frequently use “their own kind of black box criteria, not knowable to enrollees and not consistent with standards of care,” says Julie Snyder, director of government affairs at the Steinberg Institute, a Sacramento-based mental health policy and advocacy group.

A California law that took effect Jan. 1, Senate Bill 855, should make it much harder for state-regulated commercial health plans to do so. It requires them to use nationally recognized clinical standards established by nonprofit associations of clinical specialists to determine which mental health and addiction treatments they’ll cover — and for how long.

This means, for example, that insurers will find it more difficult to limit a client to only a week of residential addiction treatment when 30 days is the clinical standard, or to treat only the most immediate physical symptoms of anorexia and not the underlying psychological drivers, says Snyder.

“It’s a very strong law, and it has the potential to really be a game changer,” says Karen Fessel, executive director and founder of the Mental Health and Autism Insurance Project, which supported the legislation.

Both conditions are linked to viral infections in ways that are poorly understood

There could hardly be a better time to beef up mental health coverage, as the anniversary approaches of a pandemic that’s been tied to an increase in depression, anxiety, substance use and suicidal thoughts.

Crucially, the new law, which updates and replaces California’s previous mental health parity statute, dramatically expands the number of conditions insurers must cover. The state law in force until this year required coverage for only nine “severe” mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder, and for “serious emotional disturbances” in children. SB 855 mandates coverage for conditions ranging from mild to severe.

Federal law already required broader coverage, but in vague terms that health plans have frequently circumvented with their restrictive definitions of what’s medically necessary, patient advocates say.

By expanding the range of conditions health plans are obliged to cover and holding them to stiffer standards on the type and amount of care they must pay for, the new law closes “loopholes you could drive a Mack truck through,” says state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who authored the legislation.

For years, many health plans declined to cover mental health treatment until a patient was in crisis, Wiener says. The new law “makes sure people will be able to get care early while they still have a home, a family, a job.”

Another key aspect of the law is that it requires health plans to cover out-of-network providers at in-network costs if an enrollee is unable to find timely treatment a reasonable distance — generally, 15 miles or 30 minutes — from their home.

“That is something we run into all the time,” Bailey says. The family has spent $100,000 over the years on out-of-network mental health providers for their two kids, she says.

Opponents of the new law, including the California Association of Health Plans and the California Chamber of Commerce, have argued it will significantly increase health care costs, subject insurers to continuous litigation and — through its stringent definition of medical necessity — impede the ability of providers to decide what’s best for their patients.

Proponents say the medical necessity guidelines spelled out by the specialists’ associations allow providers wide discretion to decide the best treatment for each patient. An analysis conducted for state legislators by the California Health Benefits Review Program estimated that in the first year of the law’s implementation, premiums and enrollee cost sharing would rise a mere 0.002%.

The new law won’t help everybody: It applies only to state-regulated commercial health plans covering some 13 million Californians — about one-third of the state’s population. It excludes Medi-Cal, which insures another third of state residents, as well as federally regulated commercial plans, which cover nearly 6 million.

Because only a minuscule share of patients fight their health plans over denials of care, mental health advocates hope that diligent enforcement by the Department of Managed Health Care, which regulates plans covering the vast majority of commercially insured Californians, will discourage insurers from denying necessary care in the first place.

Rachel Arrezola, a spokesperson for the agency, which opposed provisions of the legislation last year, said it fully intends to ensure compliance and has begun to do so.

But if your health plan still denies you the care you believe you need, fight it, patient advocates and health care attorneys say.

“You need to be vigilant, and you need to advocate for yourself and you need to appeal denials, and you need to do it in writing,” says Cari Schwartz, a Los Angeles lawyer who represents patients.

If you appeal a decision over the phone, take detailed notes, write down the time and day of the conversation and get the name of the person you spoke with, Schwartz says. Build a file of all communications and other information related to your case, she says.

And be persistent. “I think insurance companies bank on individuals giving up the fight,” Schwartz says.

If you need help, contact the Health Consumer Alliance (1-888-804-3536 or www.healthconsumer.org), which offers free advice and legal services.

If your mental health provider requested a certain type of treatment in 2020 that was denied by your health plan, ask the provider to resubmit it this year, because the changed legal landscape might work in your favor, says the Steinberg Institute’s Snyder.

With most commercial health plans, you have 180 days from the date you receive a denial to file an appeal. You must first appeal to your insurer. If it fails to respond after 30 days, or upholds its decision, you can take it to the agency that regulates your policy.

In most cases, that will be the Department of Managed Health Care (www.dmhc.ca.gov or 1-888-466-2219), which has a help center and allows you to file a complaint online. If your regulator is the California Department of Insurance, you can call its helpline at 1-800-927-4357 for advice, and file a complaint on its website (www.insurance.ca.gov).

Most Californians enrolled in commercial health plans are entitled to a review by independent medical experts if they are denied care because the insurer deems it unnecessary, or it’s experimental — or the insurer won’t reimburse them for emergency care.

The reviews, which can be requested through state regulators, are well worth the effort: About 60% of Independent Medical Reviews filed through the Department of Managed Health Care result in the patient getting the treatment that was initially denied, Arrezola says.

Be sure to open an archive on the managed care department’s website (https://wpso.dmhc.ca.gov/imr/), in which you can search past decisions for cases similar to yours. They can help you frame your arguments.

Ultimately, the utility of the new law depends on the will of regulators to enforce it and of consumers to avail themselves of it.

“With any luck, it means people won’t have to take out a $50,000 mortgage on their house to pay for their children’s opioid treatment,” says Snyder. “Unfortunately, that is all too common.”

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation. KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Pati spends a day in Sonora’s capital, Hermosillo, visiting some of the city’s best culinary destinations. From gigantic burritos at Doña Guille, to a meat lover’s feast with the owner of the popular restaurant Mochomos, mingling with the young crowd at La Ruina brew park, and a treat no trip would be complete without, Sonoran hot dogs, Pati experiences the full spectrum of the Hermosillo’s food scene.

Pati experiences two important Sonoran culinary traditions. First, on the coast in Bahía Kino, local fishermen receive “the blessing” from a woman from the Seri tribe before heading out on the water to catch giant sea scallops. Then, in the mountain town of Matape, Nere, one of Sonora’s few female butchers, shares with Pati a tradition called “The Benefit” and how she helps feed the the community.


It's basically like eating deep fried mashed potatoes smothered in salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream. It's a baked potato taco, is what I'm saying. AND IT'S INCREDIBLE.

I grew up on Tito's, so I have an especially tender spot in my heart for these tacos. But beyond that, they are so unique and unlike any taco in L.A. They are filled with shredded beef, DEEP FRIED, and topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and lots of shredded cheddar cheese. They are skinny enough that you could fuck up at least three at a time, but they *are* fried, so don't be a hero.

PRO TIP: If you're traveling out of LAX, this is a great spot to hit up right before you get on or right after you get off the plane.


Respect the Flour Tortilla

In Houston I grew up eating Texas-style flour tortillas straight off the electric press as my mom rolled balls of dough while watching All My Children. When I moved to New York, my father mailed me tortillas from H-E-B, the world’s greatest grocery store, because nothing I found here would cut it. But today a wave of small-batch flour tortillerias are on a mission to make the world a better place.

When Ruben Leal moved to Lawrence, Kansas, he was discouraged not to find a chewy, stretchy Sonora-style flour tortilla that lived up to his nostalgic needs. So he started Caramelo, which ships tortillas made with pork fat (as seen on our cover!), duck fat, or avocado oil nationwide. They’re so fatty and pressed so thin, you can hold them to the window and light will pass through like stained glass.

At Sonoratown in L.A., Teo Diaz and Jennifer Feltham make their silky, supple beauties from Bonfil brand flour, driven across the border by a top secret individual from Diaz’s hometown in Sonora, Mexico.

Here in New York, golden leopard spots mark where Vista Hermosa tortillas kissed an actual comal—not a factory blowtorch. I stock up and freeze them, and never suffer a weekend without breakfast tacos. Ah, what a relief! —Alex Beggs


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But Bertha Núñez, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Eduardo Nava, says there&rsquos something special about mariscos.

&ldquoI wanted to sell mariscos at my restaurant because I wanted to sell something that I could prepare to order and serve really fresh,&rdquo Núñez says.

Núñez moved to Phoenix from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, about five years ago. To make ends meet, she baked Sinaloan-style pan de mujer bread, traveling by foot to sell her fresh loaves to office workers in commercial business parks. She earned the nickname &ldquoBertha la del pan&rdquo (Bertha, the bread vendor) in the southwest Phoenix neighborhoods she frequented. Eventually, she added food to her rotation, including popular mariscos dishes like ceviche, as well as her signature smoked marlin tacos and quesadillas.

A native of Chihuahua, Núñez developed an affinity for mariscos after moving to Los Mochis in her early 20s. There, she learned the restaurant trade by working in the city&rsquos famed marisquerias.

&ldquoLos Mochis is famous for its deepwater port, Topolobampo,&rdquo Núñez tells me. &ldquoFresh fish comes in and out of the port every day. It&rsquos really famous.&rdquo

She describes Topolobampo and Los Mochis as a wonderland of fresh shrimp and clams, along with game fish like bass, marlin, and dorado.

She purposely added &ldquoLos Mochis&rdquo to her restaurant&rsquos name, she says, in hopes it would help her restaurant stand out from the crowd (&ldquoNobody else has the name Los Mochis,&rdquo she says). She hopes it might even attract those who understand that &ldquoLos Mochis&rdquo is code for great mariscos.

Núñez&rsquos devotion to mariscos might seem out of step in landlocked, bone-dry metro Phoenix. But she&rsquos not the only Valley restaurateur making a living selling Mexican-style seafood dishes in the desert.

Metro Phoenix is home to one of the biggest Mexican marisqueria scenes in the Southwest. More than just a place to score a fish taco, these humble and ubiquitous neighborhood seafood parlors are an essential and vibrant part of Phoenix&rsquos Mexican dining scene.

But how did Phoenix, of all places, become a haven of Mexican coastal cooking? It has to do with the city&rsquos proximity to northwestern Mexico, and a strong local appetite for very fresh and very spicy seafood.

EXPAND

If your experience with Mexican food revolves around cheesy, north-of-the-border combo platters and overstuffed burritos, you might never get a sense for Mexico&rsquos long, rich history of coastal cooking.

Mexico boasts almost 6,000 miles of coastline, with access to five distinct bodies of water: the northeastern Pacific, the Gulf of California, the Tropical Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. The diversity of the country&rsquos coastlines yields an incredible variety of edible marine life, and there&rsquos a long documented history of fish and seafood consumption across the country.

Some of Mexico&rsquos oldest and most iconic dishes feature some form of seafood or freshwater fish. Many historians believe that the first appearance of enchiladas, for instance, dates back to the pre-Columbian Mayans, who ate corn tortillas wrapped around small fish. The omnivorous Aztec diet, meanwhile, included staples like water salamander and crayfish.

Eating seafood has also developed into an important part of Mexican cultural life. In the months of March and April, the Catholic Lenten and Holy Week tradition of abstaining from red meat brings a swell in seafood consumption across the country.

Over time, different regional seafood specialties have emerged in Mexico. Some of the country&rsquos oldest and most beloved mariscos dishes come from southeastern Mexico, including the iconic Campechana, a seafood cocktail featuring a tart, fragrant tomato sauce. There&rsquos also Veracruz&rsquos trademark dish, Huachinango a la Veracruzana, a fresh red snapper cooked with tomatoes, onion, garlic, capers, and green olives (the dish&rsquos ingredients point to the region&rsquos strong Mediterranean influence).

Another distinctly regional style is the coastal Bajacaliforniano cuisine of Mexico&rsquos West Coast. It&rsquos the birthplace of perhaps the most recognizable Mexican seafood dish sold in America: the classic Baja tempura fish and shrimp taco.

In metro Phoenix, the local mariscos scene is heavily influenced by the coastal cooking found around northwestern Mexico. When you step into a Valley marisqueria, in other words, you&rsquore stepping into one of Mexico&rsquos trendiest and most distinctive mariscos traditions.

EXPAND

Osiel &ldquoOzzy&rdquo Perez doesn&rsquot really consider himself a mariscos fanatic. It&rsquos a surprising revelation, considering that he owns and operates his own marisqueria.

&ldquoI&rsquom more from the southern part of Mexico, so I didn&rsquot grow up eating as many mariscos,&rdquo Perez explains.

&ldquoBut my wife&rsquos family is from Sinaloa. They love mariscos. It&rsquos basically in their DNA,&rdquo Perez says, laughing.

Perez, along with his wife, Diana, is the owner of Sr. Ozzy&rsquos Tacos y Mariscos, a counter-service tacos and mariscos restaurant situated in a south Phoenix strip mall.

&ldquoHere in Phoenix, there&rsquos a huge population of people from the northern states of Mexico, like Sinaloa and Sonora. Those states are well-known for their mariscos,&rdquo Perez says.

Thanks to the large norteño presence in metro Phoenix, the demand for Sinaloan- and Sonoran-style mariscos in the Upper Sonoran is robust, he says.

Procuring fresh seafood in the desert is easier than you might think.

&ldquoThere are a lot of vendors here in terms of fresh seafood. We&rsquore not so far from Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), and we also source a lot from California, which is a really big market,&rdquo Perez says.

At Sr. Ozzy&rsquos, Perez and his team sell typical Sinaloan-style mariscos like aguachile &mdash raw shrimp cured in a citrus brine and seasoned with chile peppers, salt, herbs, and onions. It&rsquos perhaps Sinaloa&rsquos most famous mariscos dish.

Aguachile, with its refreshing and unabashedly spicy properties, is a textbook example of what makes Sinaloan mariscos distinctive. The style is characterized by the use of hot spices, along with a heavy emphasis on raw, scrupulously fresh fish, especially shellfish.

In the past decade, the influence and demand for Sinaloan-style mariscos has been growing in metro Phoenix and southern California. Its popularity, in part, rests on the often eye-catching preparation of many new-school Sinaloan-style mariscos dishes.

At many local mariscos joints, menus are populated by Instagram-ready dishes like cocos &mdash seafood cocktails served inside hollowed-out coconuts, decorated with fanned-out slivers of avocado and enormous head-on prawns.

You&rsquoll also find an evolving canon of quirky, contemporary mariscos, such as Sr. Ozzy&rsquos cevichelada. The cevichelada is Perez&rsquos take on clamato preparados and micheladas, Bloody Mary-like libations that have become synonymous with Sunday morning hangover drinking.

Sr. Ozzy&rsquos alcohol-free cevichelada features shrimp ceviche, which is served in a tall Styrofoam cup garnished with tamarindo candy, Japanese peanuts, and churrito crackers. The cup is rimmed with sweet-spicy chamoy sauce and Tajin spice.

&ldquoA lot of people drink it for refreshment, but they can also snack on the ceviche,&rdquo Perez says.

&ldquoWe used to sell it at a swap meet. But we got kicked out because we sold too much. All the other vendors got together and basically told us to leave,&rdquo he laughs.

Even more eye-catching is Sr. Ozzy&rsquos best-seller: the torre mixta, or mixed seafood tower.

&ldquoIt looks like a hamburger made out of seafood, basically,&rdquo Perez says, again laughing.

He rattles off the encyclopedic list of components that make up the dish&rsquos various tiers: ceviche, crab meat, cucumbers, cooked shrimp, and tomato. The heaving mass of seafood is topped with Sr. Ozzy&rsquos house aguachile mix, which consists of raw shrimp, scallops, abalone, and cooked octopus.

&ldquoWe prepare it with lime juice, a black seafood sauce that we make ourselves here, and we put chiltepin powder with a little bit of salt and pepper. And then we put the avocado on top,&rdquo Perez says.

The torre mixta is a standard dish at many Valley mariscos restaurants, and in many ways, the dish encapsulates everything that&rsquos great about Mexican mariscos: It&rsquos boldly flavored, palpably refreshing, and generally offers great value.

But the appeal of the neighborhood marisqueria goes beyond the food.

Kitschy and colorful, a typical neighborhood marisqueriain Phoenix looks as if it could have sprung from the imagination of Jacques Cousteau, with a splash of Dr. Seuss. Dining rooms are temples to Mexican beach culture, embellished with nautical-themed wall murals, plastic swordfish, and enough fake tropical flora to rival Disneyland&rsquos Jungle Cruise.

They are the kind of informal, loud seafood parlors you might find in cities like Culiacán or Los Mochis.

Some marisquerias blur the line between a restaurant and nightclub. These otherwise sleepy restaurants spring to life on the weekend, offering live entertainment, DJs, dance floors outfitted with strobe lights, and the brassy thump of Sinaloan banda music turned up to deafening levels.

No matter what kind of marisqueria you find yourself in, though, you can count on ice-cold Coronas, often sold by the bucket.

Perez, the owner of Sr. Ozzy&rsquos in south Phoenix, says that he and his wife designed their restaurant to be more subdued and family-friendly than the average marisqueria.

Sr. Ozzy&rsquos is a little more casual than the average marisqueria, offering both counter and drive-thru service. You won&rsquot find a sprawling menu of elaborately plated dishes like pescado zarandeado (a grilled whole fish dish that&rsquos popular along Mexico&rsquos Pacific Coast), or parilladas &mdash sizzling seafood platters served on small tabletop grills. And you won&rsquot encounter loud music videos or thunderous banda music in the dining room.

&ldquoWe wanted a restaurant where families could come, and people could sit and talk,&rdquo Perez says.

Ambiance aside, Perez says that all good marisquerias share one thing in common: The fresh, resolutely bold flavors that underline most Mexican mariscos dishes.
&ldquoYou go to an American seafood place and you find crab legs, lobster, and things like that. A lot of those are just boiled,&rdquo says Perez.

Mariscos are different, he says. The difference is their &ldquospicy, fresh flavor.&rdquo And because they&rsquore often served cold, Perez adds, mariscos are a distinctly refreshing catalog of food.

&ldquoWhen it comes to a spicy cold dish, it&rsquos hard to find foods that taste this good. You can find a lot of spicy hot dishes. But to me, it&rsquos more difficult to make something really tasty that&rsquos both cold and flavorful,&rdquo he says.

&ldquoThis is the food you crave come July or August.&rdquo

In other words, Perez says, mariscos are the perfect food for a triple-digit Phoenix summer.

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Where to Go for Mariscos in Metro Phoenix

Whether you&rsquove never stepped foot inside a Phoenix marisqueria, or you live for cold seafood cocktails spiked with citrus and chile, here are some of the best spots in metro Phoenix to sample the city&rsquos thriving marisqueria scene.

Mariscos Playa Hermosa
1605 East Garfield Street
602-462-1563

A longtime central Phoenix favorite, Mariscos Playa Hermosa is one of the city&rsquos best marisquerias for marisqueria newbies. The menu is comprehensive enough for group-friendly dining, and the bustling, family-friendly dining room, bedecked in the bold colors of traditional Mexican décor, will charm even the most hardened mariscos-phobes.

Try the molcajete caliente, a bubbling cauldron furnished with a juicy shrimp, grilled chicken, and whitefish served with a bracingly fresh green tomatillo sauce. Mariscos Playa Hermosa is also a good destination for classic plates like camarones a la diabla &mdash shrimp bathed in a spicy, smoky chipotle sauce. As with any decent marisqueria, there&rsquos a full bar pumping out micheladas and margaritas round-the-clock on weekends.

Restaurant Sinaloa
2601 East Bell Road
602-953-0430
45 West Broadway Road, Mesa
480-464-0024

This lively restaurant, with locations in both north Phoenix and Mesa, has one of the most comprehensive selections of Mexican-style mariscos in the city. The menu spans several pages, and runs the gamut from simple raw platters to hot dishes like tender pulpo al mojo de ajo (octopus in a garlic butter sauce).

A good place to start is with the torre de mariscos, a glistening, edible tower composed of various types of seafood: cooked shrimp, tender hunks of grilled octopus, and buttery scallops and sea snails. This an excellent spot to indulge in a seafood cocktail, especially the house cocktail, El Sinaloense, a tangy medley of pulpo (octopus), oysters, and sea snail, garnished with head-on shrimp. As with many Mexican mariscos restaurants, a small corner of the menu is dedicated to Italian dishes. Shrimp fettuccine Alfredo? Yup, it&rsquos here.

Mariscos El Malecon de Mazatlan
3416 West Thomas Road
602-442-7533

This is one of the friendliest marisquerias on the west side, a modest restaurant whose dining room is awash in Mazatlan-inspired nostalgia. The décor and bric-a-brac celebrate the Sinaloan resort town at every turn, and the feeling of homesickness is punctuated by the norteño trio that sometimes wanders the dining room playing weepy love songs.

The menu at El Malecon is enormous, spanning botanas frias (cold snacks), seafood cocktails, various types of aguachile and ceviches, and surf-and-turf parrilladas (beef and seafood served on a small tabletop grill). A must-try house specialty is the discada de mariscos, a sizzling seafood platter of well-seasoned calamari, shrimp, sea snail, and octopus lavished with grilled onions and peppers.

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Mariscos Ensenada
2019 North 16th Street
602-256-0201
4130 North 27th Avenue
602-256-6525
3242 West Van Buren Street
602-353-8869
2919 North 59th Avenue
623-845-0513

This unfussy local micro-chain has been serving Baja-style seafood dishes in the Valley since 1994. Service is quick and friendly, and the menu offers great value on seafood cocktails and whole fried fish like mojarra frita (fried tilapia).

Try the green ceviche, a bright, spicy salad overflowing with shrimp and scallops, served in a delightfully tart green sauce. Seafood tostadas are fresh and generously portioned. The jaiba, a tostada topped with fresh crab and slivers of buttery avocado, is a winner.

Las Glorias Restaurante de Mariscos
5220 South Central Avenue
602-268-3053

A staple of south central Phoenix, Las Glorias offers a friendly, spacious dining room tricked out with all the usual nautical-themed kitsch and curios &mdash plastic manta ray and antique maritime wheels nailed to the walls, bright sea-inspired murals, and fake potted palm trees.

Come here for the classics: coctel de camaron y pulpo, a shrimp and octopus cocktail served in a deliciously briny cocktail sauce hollowed-out coconuts filled with fresh ceviche and steaming, oversize bowls of traditional Mexican seafood stews, including a fine caldo de Siete Mares (Seven Seas soup), the classic Mexican bouillabaisse that is the measure of any good marisqueria.

San Diego Bay Restaurant
9201 South Avenida del Yaqui, Guadalupe
480-839-2991

Tucked into a corner of Guadalupe&rsquos sleepy tianguis (open-air marketplace), San Diego Bay has been serving fresh Mexican seafood dishes for longer than most of the corporate seafood chain restaurants in nearby Tempe. The cheery dining room, with its bright blue walls and tables draped in white tablecloths, is distinctly old-fashioned and pleasant. And the menu, boasting more than 100 seafood dishes, has something for everyone.

Highlights include a smoldering, ultra-cheesy molcajete de camaron, a lava rock cauldron bubbling over with plump shrimp served in a fragrant tomato broth. Pescado empapelado, a whole red snapper steamed in a foil wrapper with leeks, onions, and peppers, is exceptionally succulent. Don&rsquot overlook the tacos, either. The marlin and shrimp tacos are served in irresistibly crisp, freshly fried tortilla shells.

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Mariscos Vuelve a la Vida
5630 West Camelback Road, Glendale
623-322-8436
2915 North 43rd Avenue
602-368-1001
220 East Southern Avenue
602-268-0101

A favorite of the Sunday morning hangover set, Mariscos Vuelve a la Vida is a funky, sometimes raucous Mexican fish house with three locations in the Valley. Service tends to be more perfunctory than friendly, but it&rsquos worth waiting around for something like the Vuelve a la Vida (&ldquoCome back to life&rdquo), a cool, chunky seafood cocktail made with citrusy octopus, oysters, calamari, sea snails, and scallops.

If you love fresh clams, don&rsquot miss the pata de mula, also known as wild Mexican blood clams. If you can get past their less-than-appetizing name, the clams, which are served raw on the half shell with shrimp and avocado, are lightly sweet and succulent. Tacos are quite good here, especially the classic Sinaloan shrimp gobernador. The softly griddled taco is plump with juicy shrimp and grilled bell peppers, and generously lubricated with molten hot cheese.

Mariscos Bahia de Guaymas
4220 South 16th Street
602-276-6000

This modest-looking south-side marisqueria isn&rsquot as flashy or crowded as some other seafood restaurants around town. But what Mariscos Bahia de Guaymas lacks in sex appeal, it makes up for in its exhaustive list of carefully prepared and notably fresh seafood.

Come here for harder-to-find regional specialties like caldo de Cahuamanta, the classic northern Mexico manta ray stew that&rsquos as comforting as old-fashioned chicken soup. It would be a mistake not to order the empanadas de camaron. A half-dozen of these cheesy shrimp handpies will set you back about 10 bucks, but it&rsquos a worthy splurge. If you can&rsquot get enough of the shrimp-and-cheese combo, Bahia de Guaymas also makes a mean shrimp-stuffed chile relleno.

Mariscos El Rey
830 West Southern Avenue, Mesa
480-634-6570

Where can you go where the micheladas are decently spicy, the portions are always huge, and live music on the weekends turns the dining room into something of a cheerful echo chamber? You go to a spot like Mariscos El Rey, a Mesa mariscos parlor where dinner begins with a complimentary cup of briny, spicy seafood broth.

Classic coastal dishes like mojarra frita and huachinango zarandeado, the chile-rubbed grilled fish dish that&rsquos endemic to any good Mexican beach cookout, are rich and succulent. Leave some room for lighter dishes like albondigas de camaron (shrimp ball soup), or any of the restaurant&rsquos fresh seafood tostadas.

Bertha&rsquos Restaurant &ldquoEl Sabor de Los Mochis&rdquo
1212 South 28th Avenue
602-278-0209

This unassuming mom-and-pop restaurant is not a typical Phoenix-area marisqueria. You won&rsquot find a sprawling menu, cold beer, or loud music. But you will find top-notch Mexican home cooking.

Don&rsquot miss chef-owner Bertha Núñez&rsquos terrific smoked marlin tacos and quesadillas. You&rsquoll find marlin tacos on a lot of marisqueria menus around town, but few are quite as good as this version: the thick, sturdy taco is stuffed with the smokey, shredded tuna-like fish, lavished with melted cheese, and then beautifully crisped up on the griddle. Bertha&rsquos seafood tostadas are also notably fresh and flavorful. If you&rsquore craving a hot dish, don&rsquot miss chef Núñez&rsquos wonderfully spicy shrimp al chiltepin &mdash grilled shrimp swimming in a sweet-spicy homemade chiltepin tomato sauce.

Sr. Ozzy&rsquos Tacos y Mariscos
1717 West Southern Avenue, #100
602-677-0284

This small, South Phoenix strip mall taco and mariscos joint serves modern mariscos with a twist. Don&rsquot miss the crispy, beer-battered shrimp tacos, buoyed by a glossy heap of crema and a pineapple-studded fresh pico. Aguachile especial, a tangy, spicy pastiche of buttery abalone and shrimp cooked in fresh lime, is delightful.

Cool down with the restaurant&rsquos refreshing torre mixta, or seafood tower. Of course, try the cevichelada, a playful, nonalcoholic mashup that marries lime-cured fish with the sort of sweet-salty accoutrement that would normally garnish a wacky michelada cocktail. It&rsquos the kind of cooling, portable dish made for a hot Phoenix summer.

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Watch the video: Mexican Seafood Tostadas at Mariscos 4 Vientos, Los Angeles (August 2022).