>> Mariscos El Puerto | Eat the World Los Angeles

Friday 25 December 2020

Mariscos El Puerto

๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mร‰XICO (Baja California)
EDITOR'S NOTE: An updated version of this article (31 March 2024) is available as part of the Historical section of our Substack page. Check that out here:

Back in the carefree days before 2020, when you could get in your car and drive a half day down the coast of Baja to Ensenada, the seaside taquerรญas that so many Los Angeles restaurants fashion themselves after were also available firsthand. While responsible global citizens are staying put these days, the seafood and vibes they seek are still around, even when inland.

Many mariscos spots are fine and do the trick, but have sort of a dime-a-dozen feel. When you come across places like Mariscos El Puerto in Chino, they are worth appreciating. "Estilo Ensenada" is advertised right under the name, promising to transport residents of this Inland Empire town far away.

Posted in the window for all to see is their definition of the "perfect combination," some seafood tostadas and a michelada ($6.49, above), making it hard not to include at least one of those in your order. The mix here trends toward the sour side and is not spicy at all, but has enough richness to satisfy and accompany your mariscos "perfectly."

Before COVID hit, the restaurant was offering their already inexpensive Ensenada-style tacos de pescado especial ($1.98, below) for just a dollar on Tuesdays, but even without the discount these beauties are a steal.
These of course are the favorites of Baja that most Southern Californians have gotten to know one way or another, whether from famous trucks or mariscos joints. The fried filet here is on the thin side but soft and tender. On top is a fistful of chopped up crispy cabbage, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a river of crema. Their nice smoky salsa is placed on top and gets into every nook of your bites.
If you start with these you will soon learn that you can do a lot of eating here for not much money. Supplement your order with the relatively "expensive" but very large taco Sonora ($3.49, below), the restaurant's ode to their eastern neighbor. The same ingredients of the fish taco are joined by battered shrimp and all placed on a thin flour tortilla.

Often times inexpensive tacos come on cheap tortillas, but both corn and flour versions here hold up nicely to their contents and neither holds their flavors back. If you are more in the mood for crispy vehicles for your seafood, any of the restaurant's tostada options are also worth exploring.

Possibly best is the tostada de aguachile ($3.99, below), in these times served in a cup and ready to apply when you get home (or in the parking lot if you brought chairs). For the sub-four dollar price tag, it was actually quite amazing how much fresh shrimp is included in one order, easily enough to cover both tostadas they put in your bag or pile it high as seen here.

The aguachile is of the green variety, thick with tomatillo and spicy with many serrano peppers. Even those tostadas are seemingly premium, tasty and strong to hold up the weight of these perfectly "cooked" shrimp.

The tostada de ceviche de pescado ($3.49, below) might have been missing a pinch of salt or spice, but still had good bones. If you do eat this with the aguachile, devour it first since the aguachile's fire will overwhelm the mild ceviche. Again as expected, the fish and vegetables are all quite fresh, with the greenest supple avocado on top.

If anything in the order was a throwaway, it was only the massive ill-advised order of a bean and cheese burrito ($3.99, below) that was wrapped in a thin flour tortilla. The beans unfortunately had very little taste and required all of the Tapatรญo salsa packets they provided. Sometimes bean burrito cravings can get you in trouble, but if you know you know. No regrets!
Next time orders here will be 100% mariscos and 100% successful. Also, big shoutout to the staff which is all very friendly and patient despite the times. It will be a pleasure to visit again when you can hang out and enjoy it for a full meal.


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