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Don Pepe's in Fresno (again!), a Report on Shrimp Diabla

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Hubby and I headed over to Don Pepe's for lunch again and I had visions of shrimp dancing in my head! I really wanted to try one of their shrimp combination plates, here were my options:

Shrimp Diabla
Veracruzana
Zarandeado
Mojo de ajo
Botana
(Also have shrimp toastado and shrimp cocktail, but I wanted to try someting new)

I ordered the shrimp diabla, because spicy sounded good. I got a huge plate of food with rice, beans topped with cojito, guacamole, salsa fresca, cabbage, and the plump shrimp swimming in a fiery red sauce. The plate also came with your choice of flour or corn tortillas. I choose the corn tortillas. I squeezed some lime juice over the shrimp and proceeded to build a taco. I discovered it is named Diabla for a reason! The sauce tasted like a very spicy cocktail sauce, and I would imagine they might use the cocktail sauce for the diabla. The color was more orange-y, so they probably add some chiles for heat and puree it or something. It was tomato-y and rich and very hot. In contrast to the sweet, plump shrimp, the fiery sauce really worked well.

Hubby ate off my plate as well and loved the sauce, too. We also had a couple of tacos, a chicken taco and carnitas. Hubby loved the carnitas, moist, shredded meat with good pork flavor. The chicken was also moist and juicy, spiced well. The tacos are also served with pinto beans, and while that is unusual, it seems to work well here. The corn tortillas seem homemade and are excellent. Again, we love coming here for the good food and reasonable prices.

Did some research on our shrimp choices and here is a brief description of what the other dishes probably are like:

Shrimp veracruzana: shrimp served in an onion, olive, tomato, and caper sauce either with sauteed or grilled shrimp. A coastal influence. Sounds yummy!

Shrimp zarandeado: shrimp served with chiles, tomatoes, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, and onion. The soy is used because of the Asian influence found along Mexico's west coast.

Shrimp Mojo de Ajo: quick fried shrimp served in a toasted garlic sauce. Sounds like you toast garlic in oil and add the spice you like (chipotle, ancho, etc.) and then quick fry the shrimp. Sounds good!

Shrimp Botana: a cold shrimp salad served with a lemon jalapeno dressing, usually. A little bit harder to find info on.

It's looks as though there is a lot of shrimp in my future!!

Don Pepe's
4582 N Blackstone Ave
Fresno, CA 93726
(559) 224-1431

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  1. Nice report gbg. I thought the pintos they add just on top of the open end of the tacos was strange at first as well but found I really like them. Also like that they wrap them so they hold together and can load 'em up with salsa and hot sauce. Their lengua and al pastor are the best I've found in town.

    The Shrimp Botana is the only seafood I've tried, and it was very tasty, mild but good fresh flavors. Will have to try the Diabla and others soon.

    Also want to try their tortas. BTW, on last visit the fellow at the next table had the shrimp tostada which looked great. He asked for something else to add that they had to go into the back and get, and brought what looked like catsup! Kind of blew me away, but maybe it was cocktail sauce, which still sounds a little strange to me.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PolarBear

      Hey PB, hubby and I also like how they wrap the tacos at Don Pepe's, makes it very easy to eat.

      I saw the shrimp tostada go to another table today and it had a huge load of shrimp on it! Maybe you need the cocktail sauce for dipping all the shrimp that fall off the tostada.

      Anyway, I hope to go back very soon and report on the shrimp dishes that I try.

      1. re: PolarBear

        I am a huge fan of the local chowhounds and have found many interesting places to try over the last year or so...However, I have heard many things about Don Pepe's and have never tried them out. Well, I did today and I must say, I am kicking myself for not trying it sooner. I LOVE THIS PLACE. I tried the Carnitas torta and fell head over heels in love. Moist, flavorful, simple, fresh...just how good Mexican food should be. I will definitely go back again and again and again. Thanks for the rec.

        1. re: aboutfood

          For some reason I had not seen this thread before but I absolutely agree with the diabla recommendation. I LOVE it. By far the spiciest of all the dishes. My Malasian sister in law actually became VERY upset that I took her to this place the LAST day she was in town. She now wants it scheduled first thing whenever she returns. :))) (Go with the flour tortilla though and get a Mexican beer that comes with lime and a shrimp on top.) The Mojo de ajo is also very good.

      2. You are all making me hungry. I am longing for a return visit to Fresno and think I will get lucky enough to do so in about a month! I have to make it to Don Pepe's on this visit. The shrimp veracruzana is calling me.

        6 Replies
        1. re: dimsumgirl

          Hmmm, sounds like time for a Don Pepe's Chowmeet in honor of your visit!

          1. re: KenWritez

            For those of you who are interested, here is the chowdown report on our last meeting at Don Pepe's....

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/338034

            1. re: KenWritez

              I loved the meet-up with the central valley hounds last year and would love to see some of you again. I plan to arrive in Fresno on Wednesday afternoon/ evening Feb 6th. I'll be there for a couple of days. Anyone available to meet up Wednesday or Thursday night?

              1. re: dimsumgirl

                I should be available.

                1. re: tavmark

                  It's been a very long time since I've seen you! Email me off the board so we can make arrangements to meet up!

              2. re: KenWritez

                KenWritez: it would be fun to meet you. Why don't you email me off the board so we can arrange to meet. My email address is dimsumchum@gmail.com.

            2. A quick update to this thread. Hubby and I were at Don Pepe's today for lunch. I had the shrimp zarandeado (my fave) and noticed that they have slightly changed the preparation for this dish. It is in a more tomato based sauce now, with lots of chili oil. So more tomato-y, which makes it a tad more sweet and a tad more hot than before. Still delicious and completely messy! I will need to go back and try again before I give my final verdict of which way I prefer it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: glazebrookgirl

                Hey gbg, must have just missed you and Alan today, had one of my twice a year cravings for gringo style ground beef tacos only to discover Cafe Leon was closed, made a quick U turn
                and scarfed down an al pastor torta and lengua taco at DP. There was a family dressed up, looked like they might have come from a funeral with the loudest kid (terrible threes?) in tow. Luckily they were able to get a horchata and burrito stuffed into his face before too long. ; >P

                1. re: PolarBear

                  PB, so sorry to have missed you!! We were there about 12:45 to almost 1:30. It was busy with mostly the lunch crowd, didn't see any dressed up families. No loud kids, either, but several loud adults who had several beers!

              2. The mojo de ajo was so tasty and the shrimp were huge! I don't know how they get such fresh shrimp but it is delcious! I loved my shrimp dish and had a taste of the pescado zarendeado and the shrimp veracruzana from the hounds that met up with me. I also saw the botana go by to a nearby table. That also looked very good.