Chavela @ Fish & Chips (Salinas)
For years and years, I've bypassed Fish & Chips on the corner of Boronda and North Main never giving a thought to checking it out. But with an errand to run nearby (across the street at Northridge Shopping Center), I thought I'd at least poke my head in to see if it looked chow-worthy.
Stepping inside, the first thing I took note of was that there wasn't the heavy smell of old oil in the air. Mid-afternoon there were actually a few diners here. The waitress greeted me warmly and invited me to sit down. I asked to see a menu, and when I noticed the Budweiser signs offering up chavela, I decided I'd have my "coffee" break here.
I ordered a chavela and for good measure, one piece of fried fish, $1.99. Fish and chips are made with cod here. Fried shrimp, calamari, scallops, catfish, and oysters are available, as well as menudo on weekends, campechana, and other Mexican specialties.
My piece of fish was served before the chavela. I wondered what was taking so long with my drink, and then discovered that I was getting a chavela "preparada", $6.99, adorned with a ring of cold shrimp each dabbed with Tapatio hot sauce and not just a mixed beer cooler. Still, I enjoyed the whole shebang, made with Corona by the way and not Bud. The chavela didn't have as much orange and citrus juice as my previous experience at another local restaurant.
The battered cod was quite good, sweet and flaky, moist cod encased in a light and crunchy batter. Worth special mention are the accompanying sauces --- the tartar sauce had a nice tang to it and wasn't sweetened, and the cocktail sauce is housemade and has a good shot of lemon and zesty horseradish. When I commented on these to the waitress, she beamed and was pleased that I'd noticed something that they take pride in.
While this isn't a place worthy of a detour, it's certainly worth remembering the next time traffic comes to a halt on this stretch of 101 on race weekends. It's just a couple blocks east of the Boronda road exit off the highway with an easy return.
Image of chavela preparada and one piece of fish -
Fish & Chips
2010 N Main St
Salinas, CA 93906
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