Essential T: Aguachile Tostada at Mariscos El Faro

A spicy dish from the beaches of Mazatlan makes a splash in Highland Park

The very best Mexican foods start with the letter T—tacos, tortas, tlayudas. Here we showcase the tastiest “T” bites from the streets of L.A.

Having spent a lot of time in the Baja California (which offers some of the best luxury seafood products in the world) and the traditional seafood centers of Sinaloa, Nayarit, and Sonora, I’m usually disappointed by our local Sinaloan and Nayaritan restaurants when it comes to seafood. We have an abundance of seafood trucks and restaurants serving the beach cuisine through traditional mediums: barra fria (cold bar: ceviches, cocktails, shellfish and snacks), barra caliente (hot bar: cooked dishes and stews) and parrilla (grill: pescado zarandeado and other whole fish preparations). Still the most important element—the seafood itself— is usually inferior due to high costs, poor sourcing, bargain hunting consumers, and a general lack of products.

Boasting that you found a truck serving $1 ceviche is dancing for joy after winning $9 on $10 worth of scratchers—it’s probably better to have never gambled in first place. So when I saw the prices at Highland Park food truck Mariscos El Faro I was optimistic that their Sinaloa-style seafood items would at least have good product. They have a good callo de lobina (sea bass), which is the blue-collar version of callo de hacha made with the more expensive pen shell clams but their best item is the tostada de aguachile, made with really good shrimp.

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Photograph by Bill Esparza

The aguachile is a type of ceviche made without diced vegetables. It’s reserved only for the finest shrimp tossed with lime juice, chile—fresh pureed jalapeño in Nayarit and crushed chiltepin (dried red chile) in Sinaloa—and seasoning to order. Sliced cucumbers and red onions are added for garnish. Mariscos El Faro’s recipes come from Mazatlan, Sinaloa, and their tostada de aguachile comes with clean, delicious shrimp cooked in lime, sliced cucumber, purple onion, and avocado that’s dusted with chiltepin, one of the most expensive, flavorful, and fiery chiles in Mexico. There’s no palapa (thatch umbrella or roof) on Figueroa, but sit under the rainbow umbrella with a cool seafood tostada and you might feel like you’re at a beach hut in Mazatlan.

redarrow Mariscos El Faro, Figueroa and 60th Ave., Highland Park, 323-787-9398