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Marisco Grill off Burnet

I was so excited to try this place. I love fish tacos and make them at home regularly. Marsico's is close by and looked as if it specialized in Mexican seafood. Perfect!

Possibly the worst meal of my life. No seasoning on the fish, dry store bought tortillas, and the only garnish provided was a weird mixture of tartar sauce and pico de gallo. Perplexed by this grayish lumpy glob on my plate, I asked for just pico without the tartar sauce. Instead I received- more tartar sauce w/o pico! The clueless teenage waitress was unable to tell us about drink specials or answer questions about the menu and answered "I don't know" and looked at us blankly. We left most of our food on our plate and made things right by stopping at Juan in a Million the next day.

Why would anyone return to this place? Was our experience the norm?

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  1. I think Juan in a Million is pretty awful, which suggests that we have very different tastes in Mexican and Tex-Mex food. But in general, I don't love most "Mexican seafood" places in central Texas. To quote an earlier post of mine (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/358425 ).

    "[Finding non-deliciousness ] is a characteristic experience for me at Mexican seafood places. Modest joints near a coast can serve great-quality, fresh seafood for rock-bottom prices. Far away from the sea, inexpensive seafood at restaurants is usually frozen."'

    Given that you're dealing with very cheap, previously-frozen seafood, one's best bets are usually dishes that spice it up (like ceviches, cocteles) or batter and fry it. Even in the latter case, unseasoned—as in not spicy—fish is not uncommon, although it's usually accompanied by a salsa [in the larger sense of "sauce"].

    Is it possible that the waitress's "clueless" nature was the result of a language barrier or just general cultural incomprehension of where you were coming from? The servers were not bilingual when I went to the other location of Marisco Grill (downtown, at East 6th Street and Brazos) a few years ago.

    As I recall, the food that I had then (a seafood soup and some kind of fried fish) was more or less average. I'm afraid that I can't recall what I ate in more detail. I'm also not likely to revisit, since spots west of I-35 are outside of my current jurisdiction, as it were. Maybe some other 'hounds will weigh in on their past experiences there.

    8 Replies
    1. re: MPH

      I like the mahi mahi tacos at Changos on S.Lamar. They're owned by Manuels and everything tastes fresh(maybe once frozen) but is always high quality. They also make some of the best tortillas I've ever had.

      1. re: crippstom

        Thanks for the tip, crippstom. I tried Changos a few years ago when visiting friends in Austin, but it didn't make a big impression. It's always possible that I missed their best dish. However, I don't like Manuel's (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/361720 ). May I ask what it was about the mahi-mahi tacos at Changos that made them stand out? How are they different, compared to other fish tacos in town? Plus, have you tried Marisco Grill?

        1. re: MPH

          I've not had fish tacos anywhere else in town but for one they make their corn tortillas right in front of you. I like the breaded and fried mahi mahi w/baja cabbage.They have a kind of vinegar based hot sauce that compliments them well. You can also have the fish grilled. I've been several times and the fish always tastes fresh. Their al pastor can be quite good though not my favorite in town(Habenero #1).

          1. re: crippstom

            I've been to both Chango's several times and while I like the food, they are way to proud of it judging by the prices they charge for tiny, tiny tacos.

      2. re: MPH

        55 MPH- The waitress spoke perfect English. The lack of service seemed to stem from inexperience rather than a language barrier or cultural miscommunication.

        1. re: sgarland

          Ah, teenagers. So I take it you're saying that it was like trying to communicate with someone from a different species rather than a different culture. ;-) Thanks for clarifying.

          I hate to hear about bad food happening to good people. We may have different tastes, but nonetheless I'll recommend Janitzio [follow the first hyperlink in my initial reply above for a full review]. It's nothing like Changos or Manuel's, but perhaps their chow would appeal to you. I'm assuming that you're looking for Mexican seafood rather than enchiladas, given that your initial interest was in Marisco Grill.

          1. re: MPH

            I forgot to mention the possibility of good Mexican seafood at La Mojarra Feliz, whose chow scrumptiouschef describes quite temptingly in this report:

            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/428039

        2. re: MPH

          I rather enjoy the fish tacos at Taco Deli. Theu have two kinds: one catfish, one talapia, and combined with their 'rioja' medium-heat sauce, they are pretty good. They don't strike me as being pre-frozen, either.

        3. I second sgarland's woeful experience at Marisco's. I mistakenly ordered enchiladas, and they were hardly consumable. They were drowning in a see of what looked like canned cheese--you know, the same cheese that people use with canned enchilada sauce because they are too uninspired, and too lazy, to create their own--and was stuffed with what may have been only partially melted, grated Hill Country Fair block cheese. The beans and rice were forgettable.

          I agree with the reviews of Chango's, although I have to toss in a second vote for Juan in a Million--truly some of the best enchiladas I've had outside of Blanco Cafe in San Antonio. Only lacking homemade flour tortillas, everything was seasoned heavily--but not too much so--with cumin, and the refried beans hinted strongly of bacon grease. Yummy.

          While we're at it, in north Austin (Crestview), with the exception of Arandas, are we in a Mexican food wasteland? Any recommendations? My experiences have been disappointing.

          3 Replies
            1. re: jackietreehorn

              I had written off Marisco's years ago after being served veg-all for the vegetable side. However, I was forced to go there for some reason last year and really enjoyed a Pulpo dish. The octopus was perfectly cooked (like good calimari), and it was served in a fairly spicy ranchero sauce. If you have to go there, try that. I hear that their cocktails are pretty good as well. Overall, the mistakes outweigh any benefit of going there.

              1. re: jackietreehorn

                We eat at Elsi's a lot for breakfast, they don't ignore us at the door like they do at Arandas.

              2. I haven't eaten at Mariscos before, but I do love some fish tacos. I've had Changos and I did not enjoy the experience (fish did not taste good so I now stick with the regular maximo burrito).

                I've also had dark times with the fish tacos in the ben white/290 Target shopping center Mex. restaurant (can't remember the name). They were about $1.50 each and were ordered off menu. Each came with mysterious white fish loaded with gritty, gristle-esque mineral crap. I still shudder with disgust.

                But for inexpensive, good fish tacos in Westlake, I'll head to Hangtown Grill. It's in a strip mall, but close to work. Its catfish is fried in a pretty good cornmeal batter and served with (most likely) store-bought tortillas which are steamed soft. An order gets you two: with shredded romain, pico, onions, and the best part, tangy feta crumbles. They drizzle spicy ranch and a good chipotle "oil" (?) on it, but I don't get the ranch. Also comes w/ chips and queso, which is decent. These tacos are so huge that you end up with a salad to eat from what falls out the tortilla. $6.95.

                1. As long as we're on fish tacos...

                  Berryhill Baja Grill on 360 has great fish tacos and a nice view. Sadly, they seem to have sensed there's big money in the Westlake family crowd, and eating there is like dining in a daycare.

                  1. All I can recall from eating here is fish and ketchup with an emphasis on the latter. The one on riverside didn't seem much better either.