My favorite place for mariscos in LA is Tacos Baja Ensenada in East LA. I know Ricky’s gets higher marks, but when all is considered—menu, ambiance and location–Tacos Baja Ensenada is where I want to be. That said, I put up no blinders to new fish taco experiences, and my curiosity was riled when I heard that Highland Park’ s Via-Mar Seafood also has a strong fan base.
I pass by Via-Mar almost daily, so I was excited to finally be placing my order at the window. The menu includes the expected tacos, grilled fish plates, cocktails and burritos along with a good selection of soups. I was still pregnant when I visited, so I had to play it safe with cooked fish, but I longed for an octopus cocktail and that mixed ceviche tostada pictured above.
Both the fish and shrimp tacos were done well (shrimp pictured above). Golden brown and crispy, the batter didn’t overpower the actual shrimp or fish, both of which remained moist. Condiments can make or break a fish taco, and there was no shredded cabbage overload here. However, there was a little too much crema for my tastes, but I always say that.
On the other end of the spectrum is the grilled fish taco. The fish-to-condiment ratio is good, but if you’re ordering this for the health benefits, don’t kid yourself. The tortilla is still greasy, and the crema is still plentiful. The texture of the white fish is really good, though, and grilled until it’s lightly browned but still succulent.
The seafood quesadilla was nothing short of outrageous. No doubt it was tasty, but I can’t really say that I liked it beyond the most base/pornographic level. Dripping with butter, it was stuffed with cheese, fish and shrimp. Also included in the mix is crab with a k, but I don’t fault Via-Mar for that because “krab” is standard at mariscos joints, and that’s just the way it is. If you’re going to brave this quesadilla, be warned that you can’t order it a la carte—it only comes as part of a combination plate.
The fried shrimp taco wasn’t exactly subtle either, but it was a hit. All sauced up, and covered with three gorgeous avocado chunks, this thing was hard to deny. The crisp corn tortilla kept its crunch even under all that tangy salsa.
I’ll still head over to Whittier Boulevard when I’m having a major Baja Ensenada ceviche craving, but I’ll also be found on the patio at Via Mar, lunching on a Tostada Mixta De Marisco. I suggest you consider the same the next time you’re driving down Fig and looking for a good weekend lunch spot.