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Where to Get Good Mariscos for Lent ~ An L.A. Taco Guide

[dropcap size=big]'H[/dropcap]oy no se come carne.” The refrain of “no meat today” is clear from my childhood for forty days and forty nights each year. For those of us who grew up in Catholic or semi-Catholic homes in Southern California, Lent was always about meatless Fridays and looking forward to a massive carne asada on Easter Sunday. Fish, shrimp, tostadas de jaiba, all matter of mariscos, were guaranteed for dinner.

In honor of that custom of Latino life here, the L.A. Taco staff put together this list of our favorite fish and shrimp tacos, ceviches, and other great seafood places in the Los Angeles area. For those of you who adhere to the tradition, Lent started this week on Ash Wednesday (March 6) and ends on April 18.

So you have have at least six Fridays to fill with these delicious mariscos.

Courtesy of Mariscos El Rey.

Mariscos El Rey

South Gate

[dropcap size=big]M[/dropcap]ariscos El Rey has two brick and mortar locations and one online delivery service that all serve great Guamuchil-style mariscos. El Rey does all the Sinaloa things well, like micheladas topped with ceviche, botanas de callo, elaborate seafood towers, mojarra frita, and great seafood tostadas. They also make some killer tacos de marlin, which is a tortilla filled with grilled marlin, cheese, and veggies. And if you really want to get the full Sinaloa experience, you get a campechana seca – a lemony seafood melody – and eat it with tostadas covered in mayo and hot sauce. - Erick Galindo

Tacos Baja via Yelp.

Tacos Baja

East L.A.

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]his Ensenada-style fish taco can be argued to be the one that started it all. And why not? Its batter is spiced enough to push it to Indian pakora levels of addictiveness, yet light enough that you can eat five of them in minutes, then still contemplate eating five more just for thrills — especially on Wednesdays when each taco is $1. The all-you-can-fire-breathe chile toreado salsa counter at this tiny taqueria on the intersection of East Los Angeles and the City of Commerce seals the deal for it to be the best daytime spot in this part of town. Worth almost getting in a fight for a parking spot in their tiny ass parking lot and limited street parking, for sure, and being one of the fish taco-loving fools who wait in line along Whittier Boulevard. - Javier Cabral

Off the Hook fish taco. Photo by Melissa Mora Hidalgo.
Off the Hook fish taco. Photo by Melissa Mora Hidalgo.

Off The Hook Fish Grill

Whittier

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]here’s a two-way tie for my favorite go-to fish taco, all year long and especially during Lent. Tacos Baja, well-known for their impeccable Ensenada-style fish tacos, has two locations along Whittier Boulevard and one up in Glendora. I get the original fish taco, a steal at 99 cents on Wednesdays. Newer on the scene, though quietly becoming a Whittier-area local favorite, is Off the Hook Fish Grill. I love “My Fish Taco,” the house-original Baja-inspired fish taco fried in a delectably crunchy batter. Both places serve great ceviches and other mariscos, as well as burritos and salsa bars. At Off the Hook, enjoy your tacos with a local brew on tap or tasty michelada. - Melissa Mora Hidalgo

Courtesy of El Huarique.
Courtesy of El Huarique.

El Huarique

Venice Boardwalk

[dropcap size=big]H[/dropcap]onestly finding really good mariscos — whether Sinaloa-, Guerrero-, Baja-, Veracruz-, or Yucatán-style — can be tough in Los Angeles. A lot of the standard spots are still in the mode of pre-Internet-knows-everything when it comes to Mexican seafood. So when I think what ceviche I actually truly love in every bite, or when I am in search of something that wakes up my seafood senses in a way that sometimes can only be experienced south of the border, I go to a little counter on the Venice boardwalk that makes ... forgive me ... Peruvian mariscos. El Haurique used to be right at the “gate” to Venice Beach at Pacific and Windward, when I first came upon it in 2016. After the move to a modest counter in a tiny food hall further north on the boardwalk, the menu remains the same: the great hits of Peruvian cuisine, including saltados and chaufas. But the real draw is the Peruvian-style ceviche: chunky white bass marinated to be sour as a field of fresh squeezed limes, and spicy as all hell. The Huarique plate is complete with the required toasted corn nuts, sweet potato, and sliced red onion. Order it to go, take the plate down to the Venice sands, and picture yourself on a South American coastline for a Lent-worthy mental getaway. — Daniel Hernandez

Mariscos Guillen via Yelp.
Mariscos Guillen via Yelp.

Mariscos Guillen La Playita

Santa Monica

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hen I’m craving a good ceviche, I go to Mariscos Guillen La Playita. Located on the border of Santa Monica and Venice you’ll find them in a small old school stand with architecture familiar to the old burger and donut joints of Los Angeles. It’s a quick and easy stop for most locals during their lunch break.  Walk up to their window and order one of their large cups filled with their famous and popular ceviches, or a coctél with a handful of tostadas. Break up the tostadas into chips to eat your perfectly seasoned ceviche on the go. If you have time to sit on one of their side benches, grab one of their tostadas de pulpo, jaiba, camarón, or mixed! But if you have to stick with tacos or burritos, their fish or shrimp ones will make you happy. If you start getting tired of fish and shrimp towards the end of Lent, then grab their veggie tacos which are raved about by vegetarians in the area. - Memo Torres

The mochilia courtesy of Mariscos El Doctor Del Valle
The mochilia. Courtesy of Mariscos El Doctor Del Valle

Mariscos El Doctor del Valle

Reseda

[dropcap size=big]N[/dropcap]amed for the crudo-curing powers of the family’s aguachiles, this Sinaloan food truck in the San Fernando Valley crafts elaborate and fresh preps of mariscos in cocteles, ceviches, aguachiles, and signature creations like the “mochila.” Go home with some miches and make sure to try the smoked marlin tacos, which use fish imported weekly from Sinaloa. – Hadley Tomicki

Courtesy of Toma Micheladas.
Courtesy of Toma Micheladas.

Toma Micheladas

Northridge

[dropcap size=big]P[/dropcap]ristine shrimp and handmade chamoy top the micheladas and cocteles at this home-run weekend-only business that taps into the Sinaloan recipes of the chef’s grandma, extending to tostadas de aguachile and the occasional shrimp taco. Plus, it’s all just a text away. Send the owner a message in the morning or the night before and your mariscos and miches will be ready for pickup in the San Fernando Valley by lunchtime. – Hadley Tomicki

Holbox ceviche. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.
Holbox ceviche. Photo by Cesar Hernandez.

Holbox

South Central

[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap] have been trying to find a way to write about what a gift Holbox is to L.A. mariscos. The small stand in Mercado La Paloma is Chef Gilberto Cetina’s – also of Chichen Itza – love letter to the seafood culture of the coastal regions Mexico. The coctel is served in a tomato sauce that they make from scratch and served with the mandatory saladitas. It is slightly thicker than the store-bought versions but with better spices. The baja tacos are one of the stand outs with an airy but crisp battered fish, crema, salsa roja, and sliced cherry tomatoes. One of my favorites is the scallop aguachile, small tender scallops in a very approachable aguachile sauce, and an artful formation of sliced avocados. Make sure to grab a slice of Chef Turok’s cheesecake that he makes with mascarpone cheese! - Cesar Hernandez

RELATED: Why Chinatown After Dark Is the Place to Find Young Chefs at Their Freest

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