Mariscos in Austin
Mexican seafood restaurants are a gustatory vacation
Bejuco's la Catedral de Mariscos Restaurant2711 E. Cesar Chavez, 476-7878
Every now and then you stumble onto a jaw-dropper, and for us, Bejuco's is one indeed. Located just west of Pleasant Valley with a big parking lot in back, Bejuco's has about 20 tables covered with oilcloth, friendly service, a menu with pictures (important if you don't speak Spanish), and very talented kitchen staff. The menu is half seafood and half grilled-meat-centric norteño. We started with a shrimp cocktail ($5.99, medium) that was the best of the lot: packed with shrimp in an orange-kissed sauce that also included diced jicama. A tostada de ceviche ($4.75, nonketchup version) was delightful: a tart mound of seafood that perfectly balanced the previous cocktail. The tostada de pulpo ($4.75) was a pile of meltingly tender griddled octopus with scallions and pepper; we absolutely loved it.
The sopa de siete mares ($10.99) was a mouthwatering broth of seafood stock and mild chile loaded with roasted peppers, potato, carrot, shrimp, fish, mussels, chunks of crab, octopus, squid, and cilantro. We split it between three people, and it was plenty for all, not to mention delicious. The camarones de mojo de ajo ($10.99) was the crowning dish: moist shrimp sautéed with garlic butter and a mix of peppers, onion, and crispy garlic. The rice is rich and luscious, the beans just right. We were transfixed by a platter of huge, glistening raw oysters on an adjacent table. We loved all of it and have already been back for more. Bejuco's truly is the cathedral of seafood, and I have big plans for some serious menu exploration here.