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Apr 2, 2011 06:35 PM

Mariscos chente confusion

We were hoping on trying the much discussed pescado zarandeado tonight, but I am confused about which Mariscos Chente to go to (where Sergio is cooking now). Could someone direct me in the right direction? thanks!

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  1. he cooks at the one in inglewood on west imperial highway near yukon.
    he normally takes tuesdays and wednesdays off.

    7 Replies
    1. re: westsidegal

      Mariscos Chente #2 is closer to where I'll be next week--is that an acceptable substitute to the Inglewood location?

      Mariscos Chente
      10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

      1. re: christy319

        it depends upon the dish you are ordering and who is doing the cooking when you go in.
        sergio is the only one who, imho, is consistently good at all the dishes on the menu.
        sergio only cooks at the inglewood location.
        normally his days off are tuesdays and wednesdays.
        i had dinner at the inglewood location tonight.

        at the time i stopped going to the mar vista location there were three people who seemed to be switching off in the kitchen: magdelena (to my palate, she is heavy-handed with the oil/fat), magdelana's nephew (who cooks some items better than others), and her husband (who, imho, should not be allowed anywhere near a restaurant kitchen.)

        at the time i stopped going to the lennox location, chente was doing most of the cooking, and, he, too, cooks some dishes better than others.

      2. re: westsidegal

        I have yet to go... but will be going there sometime soon hopefully... my coworker swears by a spicy shrimp dish she calls "the bald eagle." I don't really see people mention it on the boards. Is there such a dish and is it as great (in your opinion) as she says it is?

        I just here people talk about the pescado zarandeado. How much is the pescado zarandeado? By the way, do they accept credit cards?

        1. re: DrBruin

          sorry, i have never heard of "the bald eagle."
          also, i've never even tried paying with a credit card, so i can't say.

          (little policy of mine, i never use plastic to pay at mom 'n pop places that are having a hard enough time surviving. i'm fine with paying with plastic at corporate restaurant chains that have plenty of money to pay executives for sitting at desks figuring out how to cut costs so that their stock price will go up).

          the pescado zarandeado is sold by the kilo. the snooks vary in size and Marisccos Chente may not have lots of size choices when you go there. they may have a one kilo fish or they may only have bigger ones: depends on the catch and depends on what the customers before you ordered.. . . . irrc, the cost is $20 per kilo of raw fish.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Does he use snook for his fried fish dish?

              1. re: reality check

                As WSG mentioned, Mojara is always Tilapia. Snook isn't really a good fish to fry... it comes out flabby instead of firm and moist...

        2. Someone more adept than I probably needs to design a smartphone app to answer the burning question "which Mariscos Chente should I eat at tonight, and how the heck do I get there?"

          Dedicated Chowhounds can barely keep all the MC's straight (i.e., which is best, which is second best, which are sorta-related-but-there-was-a-family-snit, and which are thoroughly unrelated) so I can understand why Chow-newbies would want to howl in frustration...

          7 Replies
          1. re: Bradbury

            let me help with the "how the heck do i get there?" problem:

            from the west, get on the 105 going east toward Norwalk, get off at the Prairie exit and turn right on prairie (south) to the first main drag with a traffic light,; this is is imperial highway. Left on imperial hwy (east), pass Doty, the next light will be Yukon. as soon as you pass Yukon, Mariscos Chente will be on your right (the south side of the street).

            I am one dedicated chowhound that can easily keep all the MCs straight. (see my post upthread).

            1. re: Bradbury

              WG is definitely the resident MC expert. they should put her on the should Cafe Del Rey :)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                thank you for the compliment. actually, most of the credit should be given to STREETGOURMETLA; he's the person that found sergio in the first place.
                i will be eternally grateful to him for that.

                1. re: westsidegal

                  true, he made the introduction, but don't sell yourself short - you're the one who keeps us all up to date here on CH. you both deserve credit!

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Not only that, WSG, your posts are all fair and succinct. You certainly have a reputation for fairness and reliability, not to mention 0% BS.

            2. I went to the Inglewood Ave. location today. I did not see the famed cook Sergio. They did not have pescado zarandeado. The food was decent but nothing too special. It was good enough to satisfy me, but I was a little disappointed too.

              I tried several dishes, including the pescado zarandeado, at the Mar Vista location before I read reports here that Sergio left. They were mostly excellent.

              Actually, I now realize that I went to a different location from the one westsidegal recommends--the one on Inglewood Ave (which one would have thought was the right Inglewood location). Should have read westsidegal's post above more closely!

              49 Replies
              1. re: sushigirlie

                We have enjoyed meals at the Centinela location post-Sergio, but haven't been back recently - they've thrown in karaoke into the mix there, and it is really loud. The PZs seemed the same to us as in the past.

                1. re: sushigirlie

                  1) i just had dinner at the inglewood location, and sergio was there in the flesh.
                  the food was terrific as usual.
                  we had:
                  shrimp ceviche (the one with the brownish sauce although i also adore the ceviche made with the greenish sauce)
                  mojara fritta (sp?)
                  2) there is no location in marina del rey. maybe you mean the location in mar vista? doubt that you are talking about the location in lennox.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    I edited my post re Mar Vista.

                    I take it that the Inglewood location you refer to is not the Inglewood Ave location?

                    1. re: sushigirlie

                      the inglewood avenue location is in LENNOX.
                      the last time i was there, Chente, Sergio's father in-law was doing the cooking there. when sergio first left there i tried the zarandeado made by chente. i would not do that again.

                      the location on west imperial highway near the corner of yukon is the INGLEWOOD location at which sergio works.

                      Sergio told me today that recently, some weeks he has actually been working 7 days a week
                      i still call every time before i will get in the car to go there to confirm that he will be the one who prepares my food.

                      They definitely were serving pescado zarandeado at the Imperial Highway location today.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        To end the confusion, this is a link, with a map to the Mariscos Chente where Sergio works.


                        Mariscos Chente
                        3544 W Imperial Hwy
                        Inglewood, CA 90303
                        (310) 672-2339

                        1. re: reality check

                          Those Yelp reviews really tell you all you need to know about yelp.

                          1. re: Windy

                            1. Some of us hounds are on yelp too
                            2. MC doesn't always get glorious reviews on Chowhound either.

                            I came and went to the MC on the westside pre-sergio departure, could not get the zarandeado cuz we didn't have enough people.

                            the rest of the stuff we ordered was "okay" but most certainly not worth the trek to the westside.

                            1. re: ns1

                              Why do you have to have a certain number of people to order the pescado zarandeado?

                              Do they have that restriction at the Inglewood location?

                              1. re: reality check

                                kinda pointless to buy a fish big enough to feed 4 when you only have 2 people.

                                1. re: ns1

                                  That's what those to-go boxes are for!!!

                                  1. re: reality check

                                    Toast some tortillas the next day. Gently steam the leftover fish. Splash of the red El Yucateco and you have a killer breakfast.

                                    1. re: Jase

                                      i've also had good results reheating the fish on a cookie sheet in a 325 degree oven.

                                2. re: reality check

                                  reality check:
                                  there is NO restriction on ordering pescado zarandeado at all, and never was.
                                  (also, fwiw, i can eat a 1 kilo fish all by myself with no problem if i refrain from eating their chips.)

                            2. re: reality check

                              I've just jumped into the Mariscos Chente game today and appreciate this thread to cut through the considerable confusion. Surely I'm not the first one to notice that there's no Restaurants page for the newest Mariscos Chente location with the address which might be a contributing factor. If W Imperial Hwy is the one where Chef Sergio cooks, let me set it up one now. Also, since the Inglewood Ave restaurant self identifies as Lennox, let me edit that address field to show that. Then we can refer to that location as the Lennox restaurant to distinguish it from the Inglewood and Mar Vista sites. (And anyone else is free to edit it back, if that's not right.)

                              Mariscos Chentes/Coni'Seafood
                              3544 W Imperial Hwy, Inglewood, CA 90303

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                based on Google Sergio's outpost is Mariscos ChenteS.

                                Looking forward to verifying that in person :)

                                1. re: Windy

                                  Yes, I noted the ending "s" for both Google and Yelp listings. But thought that might be an artifact of one copying the other. Google street view has a photo of the facade, and maybe that is an "s" on the end or a "3", I can't tell. It gives the approximate address as 3551 W Imperial Hwy, which would be across the street.

                                  Interestingly, I checked the LA County restaurant inspection site to see what the DBA might be, and there is no record of any health inspection at that address. I loosened up the criteria to just have "imperial" as the street address and "inglewood" as the city, and none turns up that way either.

                                  But you shall soon see for yourself in person!

                                  1. re: Windy

                                    he cooks a the restaurant on imperial highway near the corner of Yukon

                              2. re: westsidegal

                                Being an inveterate map geek, I looked into this, and location at 10020 Inglewood Ave is on the Inglewood / Lennox boundary, on the Inglewood side. (The boundary takes a jagged path to include a number of properties on the south side of Century Blvd.)

                                Just to be clear, this is NOT the location that Sergio is at.

                                1. re: Peripatetic

                                  nice to know about the maps; the mailing address they show on their menu is Lennox.

                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                    Apparently the USPS will deliver to either Lennox or Inglewood for the properties below Century Blvd, even (to my surprise) for the properties within Inglewood. Now, back to talking about food!

                                2. re: westsidegal

                                  Thanks everyone. I went to the Imperial Highway location today. Sergio Penuelas was cooking. The food was outstanding. The pescado zarandeado is one of the best things to eat in LA, especially in tacos with the marinated onions and squeezes of lime.

                                  The interior is actually really nice. This is definitely worth a trip from the west side.

                                  1. re: sushigirlie

                                    i'm so happy you enjoyed MC so much.
                                    the interior of the restaurant has recently been refurbished, that's why the interior looked so nice.
                                    it now looks more like a restaurant than like a beach shack!

                                    1. re: westsidegal

                                      Thanks for your support for this great restaurant. Not that it necessarily needs support; the place was packed on Sunday afternoon (though not with west siders).

                                      1. re: sushigirlie

                                        thank YOU for being persistent and finding the place. a person who is weak-of-heart would have given up, but not you.

                                        they do a nice business on weekend afternoons when the weather is good because of the patio. they need support for the dinner hours and the after-dark hours in the wintertime.

                                        you're right, many west siders find the location to be outside of their comfort zone.
                                        to me, it's all about the food. . . . .

                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                          Thanks. I ate here again, and again the food was excellent and interesting. I've become rather obsessed with it.

                                          I'd like it if more west siders became regulars. But I also find it nice that Mexican Americans are enjoying this refined, and not all that cheap, food.

                                          1. re: sushigirlie

                                            I'd actually prefer less westsiders found this place and Sergio doesn't start feeling pressured to compromise his food. I was at Chente recently and a group next to me requested their shrimp dish come without heads or tails. Also could they have a red salsa instead of the usual green. Ugh.

                                            I don't know if you meant it that way but your statement "But I also find it nice that Mexican Americans are enjoying this refined, and not all that cheap, food." comes across as kind of condescending. It's sort of implying that most Mexican Americans only care about cheap food. This kind of food is pretty standard in Mexico. My apologies if you didn't mean to sound condescending.

                                            1. re: Jase

                                              i don't see sergio "compromising his food."
                                              there is a reason he left mar vista.

                                              sergio's food is his baby, and he has already demonstrated his willingness to make great personal sacrifices in order to protect it.

                                              secondly, how could you imagine, that "less westsiders" (i.e. less business, less revenue, etc) would help him maintain his food quality?
                                              this location, needs MORE business, not less, MORE money coming in the door not less. MORE recognition, not less. MORE regular customers who have the financial wherewithal to eat out frequently, not less.

                                              they have just spent a lot of money spiffing up the interior of the front part of the restaurant in order to attract and keep MORE customers.

                                              from where, other than the westside, do you think those customers should/could come?

                                              if the group that you described that wanted the shrimp heads removed ended up defraying the cost of the physical improvements that have already been made to the restaurant, THAT is far more likely to help sergio MAINTAIN his cooking than having him sit there having spent money on a half-empty restaurant.

                                              he's not about to forget how to cook because some west siders are not yet familiar with his style of cooking.

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                I think less westsider hipster idiots who request the shrimp dishes come without tails or heads or wanting a regular red salsa like any other place would be good for the business.

                                                My statement doesn't say anything about not wanting him to have less business. Just less entitled customers who aren't willing to try his food the way he's serving it.

                                                1. re: Jase

                                                  at this point, i'm probably too painfully aware of how financially risky this type of mom 'n pop restaurant can be.
                                                  sorry for jumping on you.
                                                  i desperately want the restaurant to survive.

                                                  again, as i look at the demographics, the people with the money who can keep this place alive are probably westsiders. the issue is how to get them to come to inglewood to eat on a regular basis

                                                  fwiw, i've taken some friends there who were/are "westsider idiots" and after a few visits they did start trying some of what you and i would call the "regular" dishes, prepared in the "regular" way. some have actually made substantial progress in terms of educating their palates to this new-to-them kind of food.
                                                  they start with the zarandeado and the mojarra frita, go on to the coctels, and then move to the camarones and the ceviche.
                                                  this gives me hope.
                                                  sometimes it just takes a little time.

                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    No worries. I know how tough it is for mom and pops and I love these kinds of places where the owner puts their heart and soul into the venture and try to serve food that can't be found elsewhere. At the same time, that's what I meant by potential pressure to compromise the food. I'm sure we both have experienced places that ended up dumbing down the food in order to increase revenue and survive.

                                                    No personal affront meant to your friends and people who are willing to try something new. My statement was borne more out of frustration from that incident I described. I overheard bits of their conversation and ascertained they lived in Santa Monica.

                                                    1. re: Jase

                                                      the whole 'educating-their-palate" process is moved along when there is a member of the group who can/will act as 'guide'

                                                      i'm hoping that whoever induced them to leave santa monica for a night, was there helping them navigate the menu.
                                                      with my friends, i act as the guide. whenever taking newbies to MC, i ALWAYS order a zarandeado and a mojarra frita for the table. those two dishes, it seems are the most accessible to the west-sider palate. after they get used to those two things, it is normally pretty easy to walk them down the rest of the path.

                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                        In this case, it was two guys in skinny jeans and hipster clothes and attitude who wandered in by themselves. They acted like they were being cool by going to an "authentic" place and proceeded to get on their phones to tell their friends how cool they were by going there.

                                                        1. re: Jase

                                                          probably because of my new york upbringing, if i had been there, i would have gone over and tried to shepherd them.

                                                          (when the mar vista location was first written up in the LA times, they were inundated by this type of customer. the kitchen was slammed. the menus weren't even in english, the people driving porsches were circling the block because i guess parking two blocks away wasn't an option.
                                                          still, i knew that this was a critical moment. i picked up few menus that were left, gave them out, and, unasked, circulated among the tables explaining what each dish was like, trying to prevent people from walking out before trying the food)

                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                            *shrug* I've done the same in other places if I see the people are genuinely struggling with it. In this case, these two were just oozing entitlement and too cool for school. Not going to bother, get the h*ll out was my reaction.

                                                2. re: westsidegal

                                                  I hate to say it. But only the most hardcore west side "foodies" are going to consistently drive out to Inglewood to eat at a restaurant--no matter how great it is.

                                                  I look at Mo Chica as a great model of how a restaurant like this can succeed with a largely bourgey clientele. While Mariscos Chente has more to offer than Mo Chica, the fact that Mo Chica is downtown makes it much more attractive.

                                                  Another reality is that most people feel more comfortable around people "like them." It's unfortunate but it's true.

                                                  Mariscos Chente
                                                  10020 Inglewood Ave, Lennox, CA 90304

                                                3. re: Jase

                                                  I understand what you're saying. But it's a fact that the Mexican Americans who frequent Mariscos Chente aren't people you commonly see at Pizzeria Mozza or Gjelina. It's also a fact that Mexican Americans make much less money than white Americans on average.

                                                  I love Mexican Americans and think they have it pretty hard here. I felt good about the fact that they were enjoying great food.

                                                  Mariscos Chente
                                                  4532 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90066

                                                  Pizzeria Mozza
                                                  641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                  1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                              2. re: westsidegal

                                                Thanks Westsidegal for turning me on to this fantastic place.I have been here 2 1/2 weeks and have been there three times. I had the pescado zarandeado Monday.Superb !!! It took up all the room on a 3/4 sheet pan. This place is the only place I want to go back and back again. I get there about 7;30. I sit with his family and watch his new big screen TV. I am the only one in there. I drive 15 min from Culver City . This does not come any easier, Comfortable,relaxing and having your meal cooked by a compasionate chef. I will be back one more time before I head back to Santa Cruz.I am thinking about trying the camarones chipotle. Cheese and sour cream ?. I am interested on how this master makes this dish work. Have you ever tried it ?

                                                1. re: emglow101

                                                  i haven't tried it.
                                                  my palate prefers to eat fish as a separate dish from cheese or, for that matter, any dairy.
                                                  (weird, i know)
                                                  i'm thrilled that you had the courage to find and try this place even though it is not located in a tony area.
                                                  gotta say, the food is so good there, and they've treated me so well, that i've lost most of my "fine dining" drive.
                                                  now, when i eat at most of the fancier restaurants, i end up thinking "this food barely compares to sergio's cooking, AND i'm paying MUCH more.

                                                  now when i look at that delicious but ever-shrinking fried catfish that gets
                                                  served at chinois on main, part of my brain says, "it would have been just as delicious, and a lot larger serving, if i had ordered the mojarra frita at Mariscos and paid 1/3rd the price.

                                                  1. re: emglow101

                                                    I have had the Chipotle sauce several times. It is very good. A little rich and creamy for me but friends adore it.

                                                    1. re: emglow101

                                                      I've had that cheese and sour cream dish a few times. I was very wary of it the first time but figured since I liked what Sergio did with the other dishes I would be open to it. It is surprisingly nothing like what you think it would be knowing it has cheese and sour cream in it. It's not like a thick gloppy cheese sauce or anything like that. Just a creamy sauce that is on the rich side but the flavor melds so well with the shrimp.

                                                      That said, I'd highly recommend this dish be eaten and finished first as soon as it arrives. Once it starts cooling down and congealing I don't find it nearly as appetizing.

                                                      1. re: Jase

                                                        Agree 100% with this description and your approach to eating it, Jase.

                                                        1. re: Jase

                                                          Any other particular camarones dishes that you guys would recommend? It's really got to be GREAT to get me to not order the pimienta(honestly, I've never not ordered this)....I mean REALLY great. Sucking the shrimp heads of that sauce=heaven!

                                                          1. re: baloney

                                                            try the:
                                                            a la diabla
                                                            the spicy shrimp (may not be on the menu, but ask sergio and he'll make it for you. it's made with whole dried red chile peppers.)

                                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                                  Just got back from dinner at M.C. I asked Sergio for some soup tonight and goes in the back and turns out this wonderful soup loaded with head on camarones in a slightly spicy broth. As I am simply enjoying this he brings out a small plate of the camarones chipotle for me to try. How did he know I wanted to try this ?Smokey with a slight cheese taste better than I had imagined. I thanked him for his great meal and left a 100% tip. I was on the road with a smile. I sure am going to miss this place. Only a week left in LA

                                                                  1. re: emglow101

                                                                    it's time to engineer a job transfer to Los Angeles.
                                                                    you've now entered 'my world' at M.C.
                                                                    welcome home.

                                                                2. re: baloney

                                                                  I like just about all their shrimp dishes. Of course I always order at least two dishes for myself, often three. So really it's easy for me to get a variety each time.

                                                                  1. re: Jase

                                                                    i'm entirely with you on this ordering strategy.
                                                                    it's perfect!

                                            2. Did I read on another thread that Sergio closes at 8 most weeknights?

                                              Even if I go straight from LAX, it's unlikely I could get there before 7:30. Also how much is a typical pescado zareando these days?

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: Windy

                                                the pescado zarandeado is sold by the kilo.
                                                there is no "typical" because it depends on 1) what the fishermen catch, and 2) what the customers who were in there earlier ordered.

                                                that said, most times i can get a one kilo fish at about $20 BEFORE tax and tip.
                                                sometimes, though, all the snook they have on hand are larger than a kilo.
                                                all the snook is sold by raw weight at, i believe $20/kilo.

                                                if you arrive by 7:30 you should be fine.
                                                i always call before i start driving to confirm that he is cooking that night.

                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                  Thanks, that helps. I'll make a backup plan in case my flight is late and call from the rental car agency.

                                                  Conceivably I could go before I fly home, but not sure I could get through security with leftover fish and tortillas.

                                                    1. re: sushigirlie

                                                      Hah (I hope).

                                                      I bought a 2 pound rock cod at Whole Foods today. There's no way I could finish that by myself, and still have room for Sweet Rose Creamery and the other 100 places I'm supposed to eat in one long weekend.

                                                      Sweet Rose Creamery
                                                      225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                                                      1. re: Windy

                                                        Skip it and go elsewhere. You should allow yourself two hours for this.Are society is wasting to much time driving , being on the phone,watching TV and all the other stuff that is worthless to take this great chefs food and slam it down. This is the main purpose in life. Slow down.and kill your I phone,

                                                    2. re: Windy

                                                      if you skip eating the chips, it's entirely possible to finish a 1 kilo fish solo.
                                                      i do it all the time.