Shrimp Tacos – Mariscos El Jato – East Los Angeles

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I spotted this East LA seafood restaurant on a Sunday afternoon a couple of months ago. The reason I noticed it was the large number of customers, but that was the very reason that kept me from trying it that day. They were just too busy. I was in the neighborhood today, and had much better luck.

The menu has photos of the food, and my mind was made up the moment I saw the 5 Tacos de Camarón con Ensalada. It turned out to be 5 huge tacos buried under slices of avocado and a sour cream cole slaw. The tacos were filled with grilled shrimp that seemed to be lightly breaded, and a dash of pico de gallo, fried until they were crispy. I rarely encounter a crunchy taco, but the robust combination of seafood flavor, textures and even the warm and cool temperatures delivered on the promise I had seen in the photo.

I spoke with the owner, El Jato himself, a friendly, outgoing native of San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, near Guadalajara. He told me that he created most of the dishes on the menu, and all of the plates I saw whizzing past me looked delicious. I saw beautiful tilapia fried whole, gigantic fish tacos, and big seafood-cocktailish looking dishes called chavelas.

So there are at least three more visits in my future, before I go for a repeat on the shrimp tacos.

Here’s the address: 2936 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Phone: (323) 264-6590

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Shrimp Tostada – La Playita. Venice, Los Angeles

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It’s just a little stand on Lincoln Boulevard just north of the Whole Foods store, but I have become a regular customer for their fresh, simple seafood dishes. The shrimp tostada couldn’t have bee fresher or simpler – steamed shrimp, cilantro and avocado slices on a toasted tortilla. A spritz of lime juice and a dash of Tapatío, and I was smiling all afternoon.

Aguachile – Coni’Seafood, Inglewood. Los Angeles

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The aguachile at Coni’Seafood is the most exciting thing I’ve put in my mouth recently. I made an odd noise when I saw the presentation – something combination of a gasp and a “wow!” Basically a ceviche, it is fresh raw shrimp marinated in lemon juice, topped with a fruity/spicy jalapeño puré. I recently visited the wonderful Peruvian restaurant Mo-Chica downtown, where ceviche has been raised to an art-form, but for a blast of pure fresh flavor, nothing can beat this aguachile. A serving was a dozen shrimp (for a surprisingly good price), so I was completely satisfied before moving on to a wonderful main course.