While being on the Westside has its perks, and there are some outstanding restaurants in the area, getting legit, high-quality Nayarit-style Mexican cuisine is something you might not expect. But a few years back, on our old board, thanks to folks like @westsidegal @bulavinaka streetgourmetla and others, we found out about Mariscos Chente.
Opened by Chef Sergio Penuelas and his wife back in the day, it has gone through an ownership change, spawned the FTC Legend (“Is Sergio cooking today?” / “Maybe Sergio wasn’t cooking that day.”) and just when we thought we had Sergio back on the Westside, news from Eater LA reported that Mariscos Chente was closing down and being sold back into the Coni Seafood group.
Off we went to pay our respects to Sergio before he disappeared. Our friend called and asked, and when we asked, it was the same answer:
This week marks the last week for Sergio at Mariscos Chente. His last day is either Sunday or Monday (he hasn’t decided yet).
Free Chips & Salsa:
Their Housemade Chips & Fresh Jalapeno Salsa are wonderful. Thick, crunchy Tortilla Chips, and an addictive, aromatic Jalapeno Salsa make this something we need to push away or else we’d get full off the Chips & Salsa alone.
Coctel de Camaron y Pulpo (Shrimp and Octopus Cocktail):
One of our favorites, we first heard about it from @Dommy and @Mattapoisett_in_LA talking about how wonderful the Octopus was in this Coctel. The Shrimp is plump and tender, but truly their Octopus is the highlight here: It’s tender, not rubbery, nicely marinated and meaty. It’s cool and refreshing, an outstanding starter!
Tostaditos Nayarit (Little Tostadas with Shrimp, Octopus and Uni):
Sergio was feeling creative, as he cooked up these Little Tostadas and brought them out to each table, free of charge! The taste here was outstanding, and it’s something he should’ve considered putting on the menu. The Camarones were nicely seasoned, I loved the Housemade Chile de Arbol Salsa, it was more pungent, stronger, and had a nice kick compared to the Jalapeno Salsa (which was also excellent).
The bit of Uni on the bottom helped to add a creaminess to the dish.
Tacos de Marlin (Marlin Tacos):
This was a great recommendation from @paranoidgarliclover @bulavinaka and others. The Marlin Tacos were nice and seared, almost like a Quesadilla, with smoky, moist Marlin and melted, oozing Cheese. Delicious.
Pescado Zarandeado (Grilled Snook):
But the must-order dish at Mariscos Chente is their Pescado Zarandeado, which you can watch as Sergio is grilling it in the kitchen. It sounds simple enough, but it starts with the Snook Fish, perfectly grilled, lightly smoky, moist, tender and flaky.
But don’t forget to add some of the Caramelized Onions (with a Housemade Soy Sauce and Butter base). Combine that together with the Grilled Snook on their Tortilla, maybe a dab of their Jalapeno Salsa and you have one of the Best Bites of 2017!
It is SO GOOD and I regret not coming back to Mariscos Chente more often, just for this dish.
On our last visit, is when we found out about Sergio’s final week (this week):
Camarones a la Pimienta (Shrimp Sauteed in Black Pepper and Butter):
Their Camarones a la Pimienta is incredible! Sergio sautes the Shrimp with Butter, Lime and Black Pepper, and you get this incredible buttery taste, but then a burst of citrus aroma and some tartness, and then some zesty Black Pepper, all with a nice heat about it.
Camarones Aguachiles Sinaloa (Shrimp Marinated with Lemon and a Soy-Chile Sauce):
Sergio said he made this dish special (it’s not on the menu), but it’s an alternate version of his regular Camarones Aguachiles on the menu (that one is with a Green Salsa). This was more savory, earthier from the Soy Chile Sauce.
Camarones Borrachos (Shrimp Sauteed with Tequila, Cut Garlic, Cilantro and Crushed Pepper):
Just when we thought nothing could top the Pescado Zarandeado (and probably nothing can), out comes the Camarones Borrachos. Holy cow!
There’s a reason Sergio Penuelas was so highly regarded on our old board, and why esteemed FTC’ers like @bulavinaka @westsidegal @Dommy @paranoidgarliclover and many others like this so much. I don’t know how he does it, but the Shrimp Sauteed in Tequila is RIDICULOUS!
It’s really fragrant, with the alcohol from the Tequila burned away, you’re left with this distinct, fragrant aroma. The Garlic, Crushed Peppers just enhance it. We felt like a bowl of Steamed Rice was in order, to just sop up the incredible Tequila Garlic Sauce and the Shrimp juice.
In the end, Mariscos Chente is going to be missed. Looking at the restaurant objectively, it’s worn down (a bit of a hole-in-the-wall). The menus are worn out, and they used stickers covering up parts of the menu to write in new prices for the dishes (it just looks tacky, juvenile).
But looking past that, you’re able to find some of the best food in L.A., true culinary excellence, and some of the Best Bites of 2017. We have only the rest of this week (through 10/22/17 or 10/23/17) to enjoy Sergio’s cooking before he disappears (he even mentioned he was thinking of going back to Mexico). If you get a chance, stop by and try the wonderful Camaron y Pulpo Coctel (Shrimp & Octopus Cocktail), the wonderfully fragrant, delicious Camarones Borrachos (Shrimp Sauteed with Tequila & Garlic), and the sublime Pescado Zarandeado (Grilled Snook Fish). They will be sorely missed when he’s gone.
(Note: CASH ONLY)
4532 S. Centinela Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Tel: (310) 390-9241