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Jan 14, 2009 09:02 PM

Mexican Seafood?

Does anyone know of a Mexican seafood place in the Bay Area? I'm having cravings for popular places in Los Angeles like El Puerto Escondido near LAX or Taqueria Baja Ensenada in East LA. Both specialize in Mexican seafood such as seafood cocktails, raw oysters with different ceviche-like toppings, grilled shrimp/octopus/fish, seafood stews, and fish tacos.

I know Nick's in SF does fish tacos. Where can I go for the rest?

Photos of what I mean:

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  1. I hear there are some places out in Oakland (fruitvale area) that serve the style you are looking for, but I can't remember the names, SF Magazine did an article about one in the 'Mexican food' issue 6 months ago.

    In SF it is pretty hopeless for the food you are looking for, most of the "Mariscos" I've tried in the city have been pretty inconistent either by preparation or freshness.

    Although its been a while, I used to go to Zocalo in the outer mission for a decent 'mojo de ajo'. They also do a killer 'gambas a la plancha' of giant fresh water shrimp with the heads still on grilled in butter.

    Someone needs to open a good Mariscos place in the city..., like you would find in LA or SD. How hard is it to do a Baja style fish taco..., or a fresh tasting shrimp cocktail full of plump shrimp... ?

    BTW, I like your site , are you a an LA hound???
    Those were some cool reviews you did, made me jelous...

    I spent some time in Downey/Pico Rivera area, and my all time favorite Mariscos joint was 'El Oasis' on Whittier BLVD and Rosemead, everything they did was fresh and consistent.
    Their fish tacos are the bomb and the cocktail is to die for.
    Everytime I am in the area, I always try to swing by and get a giant cocktail and a couple of fish tacos.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Agrippa

      Thanks! I grew up in LA and have been living back and forth my entire adult life. Currently I'm in SF, which is why I am craving mariscos. Thanks for the info. Yelp had Delfin and Playa Azul. Is there any point going to these, or should I just keep searching and waiting?

      1. re: Pei

        Haven't tried Delfin, but tried Playa Azul years ago, the place sucked IMO, especially compared to the places in LA.

        Its ironic, LA has better Mexican food than a lot of places in Mexico...

        1. re: Agrippa

          El Delfin is very good, or at least was the last time I went. Here is a report on a Chowdown we had there several years ago:

          However, I am not sure it is what OP is looking for: not all of the mariscos at El Delfin are uniformly great, and some of the better dishes are actually meat, not seafood.

          I completely agree about Playa Azul. Mariachis do hang out there on weekends, but that is about the best thing I can say about it.

          El Delfin
          3066 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

          1. re: susancinsf

            Probably no relation , but i had a very good experience at Playa Azul on International Bvd. in Oakland. Had the fried huachinango, which was done perfectly and it was so moist inside and (seemingly) fresh. also tried the Camarones al mojo de ajo, and ceviche; both hits as well.

    2. Old report on Tijuana Restaurant ,Oakland.

      Tijuana Restaurant
      1308 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

      2 Replies
      1. re: wolfe

        Some friends and I dropped into Tijuana last night. I think my expectations were too high, based on reports both here and from other people about how great it was. I thought it was fine, but no better than a lot of other places in Fruitvale. One reason people might like it is that the portions are huge. One of my friends had the biggest combo plate I've ever seen: a burrito and chile relleno platter than in addition to rice and beans also had a pile of salad that was more than the perfunctory few bits of lettuce and a couple of slices of radish, with some very fresh looking cucumber and diced avocado. I can't remember whether it was $7.95 or $8.95, but it was dirt cheap for the amount of food. I tasted the rice and it was okay, flavorful but a little on the wet side, as if they had added some tomato sauce (or tomato-based sauce). The beans were soupy and bland.

        My other friend and I ordered and shared the ceviche pescado tostada, three a la carte chiles relleno, and two adobado tacos. The chiles relleno were above average -- I liked the sauce, which was thin and smooth rather than a ranchero style some places use, and that I really don't like on chiles relleno. The chiles themselves were a little tough. I think they were poblanos, and the stem ends were disproportionately big and tough.

        The ceviche was somewhat disappointing, especially for a place that specializes in seafood. It had a slightly muddy flavor, as if it had some catfish in the mix. It also could have used some more cilantro and some hot peppers. It was better with some hot sauce.

        The tacos were disappointing as well. They were twice as expensive as taco truck tacos but they were huge, easily more than twice as big and too big to pick up and eat, served on a single house-made corn tortilla. But they don't offer a lot of choices of meat, and I thought the pork adobado I chose was uninteresting.

        Chips were only okay, but the table salsa was better than average. Horchata was good, although verging on too much cinnamon for my taste. The ingredients did seem fresh, and everything came garnished with a nice little fan of avocado chunks. The waitress was friendly, but seemed more interested in watching Mexican soaps on the TV. We sat at a table near the door, and it wasn't until I went to pay the bill that I realized there was a whole other, much nicer, dining area.

        More food than two hungry guys and I could eat, plus a couple of beers and a horchata came to $35 after tax but before tip.

        Because we didn't really sample much of the seafood they specialize in, and because the ingredients appeared to be fresh and carefully prepared, I would not write it off as a place to try for Mexican seafood, but for meat-based dishes, I'd head for El Huarache Azteca, Otaez or Taco Grill.

        Tijuana Restaurant
        1308 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

        1. re: Ruth Lafler


          I agree with you about the food at Tijuana. A couple years ago, the big thing was to go watch World Cup matches & order tubs of beer. . . very partisan diners/drinkers. More like a sports bar atmosphere with smaller TVs.

          Last weekend, went to Mariscos La Costa -- still good although a little more expensive than previously. Had the camarones/pulpo tostada (forget the price) and a shrimp cocktail. The taco de lengua was bland. Hadn't gone there in over a year because of the outside-only seating and it closes by dark (depending upon number of customers).

          Mariscos La Costa
          3625 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94601

      2. Fish tacos are dope. They should make crab burritos.. i love crab

        1. I think Nick's fried fish tacos are pretty good. A lot of people think Nick's is too gringo, but it's more like a place in Mexico than a lot of other places, and the tacos aren't bad. The non-fried fish taco isn't something I would order again.

          Unfortunately, I haven't found any other good ones in the city, there is a place in Belmont on Harbor Blvd right at 101 that makes great seafood tacos and has excellent shrimp/prawn dishes, but I haven't been in a few years, so someone may have a more recent report.

          Also, fish tacos are really easy to make at home, so that's what I usually do.

          1 Reply
          1. re: realspear

            We can throw in Daveola's fish taco list but that wasn't what Agrippa was looking for. There is a post in the link above that Tijuana had a large seafood platter.
            P.S. I think he meant Estrellita's on 12th.

          2. You might check out El Sinaloense in San Mateo. More traditional prep, not Baja tacos. There's a few other places in Redwood City and the San Carlos area. Sit down places but mom and pop.

            Regarding Baja fish tacos in NorCal...I'm afraid decent ones don't exist like in LA and SoCal and I've been looking for awhile.

            When I head down to see my family I go to a place near my sister in Silver Lake, El Siete Mares, and a few other places..and back in the day the original Wahoo (won't bother now).

            The difference between NorCal and SoCal, in NC they tend to give you one hunk of fish battered and fried and place it in the taco, whereas in SoCal they fry up bits with lots of fried surface area and use a very light batter. Big, big difference in my view.

            Re: Nick's, again one big chunk of battered fish...way expensive ($5 bucks/per) and one fishy tasting taco was enough to pledge never to return. For Baja fish tacos, I just wait until I go south.

            p.s. I had a conversation with a friend from San Diego and she said Rubio's. That's how bad it is up here. Oh well, that's life.

            7 Replies
            1. re: ML8000

              I am telling you, I don't get it, how hard it is to make a Baja style fish taco around here.... ?
              My favorite place in Socal is 'El Oasis' in Pico Rivera , and they use Pollock for their fish tacos for crying out loud, nothing fancy.

              How hard is it to deep fry some battered pollock then throw it in a corn tortilla with some cabbage...?

              I recently did a review of a Mariscos place in Turlock 'Guallavitos' that had an excellent shrimp cocktail, but a horrible fish taco.... it was more like a greasy fish quesadilla with a bunch of melted cheese... ugh...

              1. re: Agrippa

                Apparently more difficult then anyone can imagine. My guess is there's a tradition /demand in SoCal and former natives of Baja are the chefs/owners of those places or the method of cooking has been passed around. Whereas in NorCal it's Baja fish tacos are something like Cantonese cooking Hunan cuisine, or Salvadorians cooking Mexican cuisine.

                Any way, I've tried just about every place mentioned in the Bay Area for Baja fish tacos (many from here) and haven't found "it" yet. Now I'm going to be quiet before I sound like a NY'er looking for a bagel.

                p.s. I heard Dia de Pesca is good but that's really out of my way and I'd only stop if I was near by. Driving that far to be disappointed would be a bummer.

                1. re: ML8000

                  Well, if you didn't like it you could go around the corner the Falafel Drive In for a Banana Shake and that would cheer you up for sure.

                  1. re: Shane Greenwood

                    That would be a nice trip. I'll have to plan that if I'm headed to Monterey or further southward. It would be a perfect lunch option.

                    1. re: ML8000

                      It's actually in San Jose, much closer than Monterey.

                      1. re: Shane Greenwood

                        Gotcha, thanks...I'm just saying the only time I go through SJ now is if I'm heading that way.

              2. re: ML8000

                Tacos El Grullense and Grullense Grill on Woodside have nice fried fish tacos, although they have a sweetish, creamy chipotle sauce (I like it better than just the white baja sauce)- they are called "Franks Fish Tacos"

                El Grullense Grill
                768 Woodside Rd, Redwood City, CA 94061

                Taqueria El Grullense
                1280 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA