This past weekend, a pair of restaurant openings got us all riled up about the rich seafood traditions of Sinaloa (not that you needed a reminder in the first place). Chef Ninive Vargas, who recently closed La Puente’s El Cristalazo, debuted El Marinero in Fontana; and Alonso Arellano—owner of Rocio’s Moles de Los Dioses which, as you’ll likely recall, was destroyed by arson—comes in with Centro Botanero Mazatlan. Let’s take a look.
El Marinero by Chef Ninive
There’s good news and bad news here.
Good news: The amazing Escuinapan cuisine found at chef Ninive Vargas’ backyard La Puente restaurant, El Cristalazo, is basically the same at the newly opened El Marinero—plus they’ve acquired a liquor license. That means micheladas and chabelas will now be on the menu, as well as the simpler pleasures of beer and ceviche, which is a basic human right.
Bad news: It’s in Fontana. Fontana?!? Seriously? Might as well be Blyth. How am I ever going to make it out there if La Puente was already a mission? Have no fear Angelenos: In addition to having a required stop on the way to Palm Springs, word on the street is that Vargas is looking at a scaled down version of El Marinero in L.A.
Centro Botanero Mazatlan
Alonso Arellano and his wife, Elsa—also a partner of the shuttered Rocio’s Moles de Los Dioses—have opened a small Mexican seafood concept a few doors down from the damaged space. It has six seats inside, a few tables outside, and its all about featuring the flavors of Mazatlan. The restaurant will serve ceviches, botanas (snacks), a few cooked dishes, and micheladas from the counter prepared by a new cook the pair has acquired from Mazatlan. Look for green and black aguachiles, clamatos, ceviches, and camarones a la diabla (spicy shrimp) served into to go containers because there’s no wait staff.
As for the former Rocio’s space, Arellano plans to reopen in May, but that’s not all. He also has restaurants planned for DTLA and K-Town slated to open by the summer; as always he will focus on the cuisines of southern Mexico. “I have a side of my family from Sinaloa, so that’s why I decided to open Centro Botanero Mazatlan,” Arellano said. “But the other restaurants will be back to the rich cuisines of places like Vera Cruz the Yucatan and Oaxaca.”
El Marinero by Chef Ninive, 17264 E Foothill Bl., Fontana, (909) 355-3598
Centro Botanero Mazatlan, 8257 Sunland Bl., Sun Valley, (747) 223-2103