Mariscos in Austin

Mexican seafood restaurants are a gustatory vacation

Over the last several years, it has seemed like more and more Mexican mariscos restaurants were creeping into town, and when I did a count recently, it occurred to me that there were enough to warrant a critic's tour. "Mariscos" in Spanish simply means "seafood." In Mexican-restaurant-speak, it usually implies a restaurant where an assortment of fish and shellfish can be found, cooked in a number of different ways: as various cocktails, in soups, with rice, sauced, in enchiladas, or as tacos or tostadas. Many will have a "regular" Mexican food side of the menu, but the seafood portion of the menu is where the emphasis lies. Each spot has its own specialty, and the seafood is dependably fresh and often served in huge portions. If you don't see a bottle of Valentina chile sauce on the table, leave immediately.

There have been a few losses to the local mariscos scene recently. Sadly, La Mojarra Feliz on North Lamar closed down. El Pescador across from Hill's on South Congress is being remodeled; no word yet on whether or not it is being updated or slated to be something new. The mariscos restaurant that was in the flea market on the northwest corner of West Gate Boulevard and Wil­liam Cannon went under, as did Sabores on Cameron Road. The mariscos spots remaining live on in all of their seafood glory, with happy seafood-loving crowds and a little help from Opochtli, the Aztec god of fishing; St. Peter, the famous fishing apostle; and St. Andrew, the Catholic patron saint of all fishermen.

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