Mexican Seafood Restaurant. When Alexis Morales, November's Explorer of the Month, tried explaining to me the fare featured at one of her favorite Chicago restaurants, I had a hard time wrapping my head around the idea. Working alongside Alexis in Chicago's Little Village area I have come to sample and love a lot of traditional Mexican dishes but outside of having a hankering for fish tacos I couldn't grasp the correlation between tamales and tilapia. Luckily, my explorer of the month was there aiding me when swimming out to deeper waters.
Mariscos El Veneno
6835 S Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60629
Mariscos El Veneno, loosely translated to venomous seafood, opened at its original location in 2005 at 66th and Pulaski and has since spread out to varying locations such as Ukrainian Village, Brighton Park, Mt. Prospect, and to the location we visited for the evening, just down the street at 68th and Pulaski. But don't get lost in translation as there is cultural richness put into the preparation of this food. Mariscos El Veneno is known for its Nayarit style cuisine which is noted for its tropical influences, highlighting of bountiful sea life originating near the Tropic of Cancer, and very spicy yet flavorful sauces. Each location is different but all joined in the underlining mission of serving delicious yet traditionally rooted meals. I suggest you visit the nearest restaurant near you but here were a few of my highlighted pinpoints at our location:
- Great Service
- Local Entertainment
- No Parking Lot/Street Parking Only
I walked towards the restaurant on that chilly Saturday in worry of some secret street ordinance that would add to the city's booming industry of towing and parking violations. I swung a left and was pleasantly surprised that sitting next to my Explorer of the Month was our mutually beloved workmate, Tonantzin Gamboa. We made light chit-chat, catching up from all the holiday action and antics. I got a chance to look around at the aquatic themed decor and contemplated how I felt about it. It was almost so hokey it was cute. It was so out, it was in. What with the cerulean blue walls, surf board and coral reef wall hangings, and plastic palm trees standing tall.
One of the first perks I noticed that Mariscos offers is BYOB. Large tin buckets of ice lined the aisles of tables and booths containing precious beverages of the adult variety. To commemorate another girls night outing, as well as the fact that just a few days prior we engorged on a small feast, we decided to toast with a glass each of Skinny Girl Margarita. After meal options were considered and taking part in the oh so elegant form of pointing to pictures and nodding, we ordered. Alexis played translator and I was ever so glad seeing as I had left my conversational Spanish skills back in high school along with my Word Up! magazine collection. The menu is in Spanish so if you're proficient in the language or would like to put your pointing, nodding and smiling skills to the test like I did then go for it!
The server brought out our complimentary starters as a twist on the classic chips and salsa. Instead we were given warmed corn tortilla rounds along with ceviche made with swordfish along with what I was told is a customary Nayarit salsa but favored more of molten lava as my eyes watered for several minutes after I tried a dash of it. The ceviche was light and complimented nicely with the twists of lime included. It was soon time for the main dish and I admittedly had some entree envy as I viewed what appeared to be adolescent lobsters stacked on top of one another sitting on Alexis' plate.
These, she explained were langostinos. Apparently they are in the crayfish family and cook nicely in their own juices. I couldn't help but feel I chickened out buy ordering fried shrimp but I was really in the mood for them...and maybe they were more in my comfort zone. There's so exploration on my plate I can do.
I was also intrigued by the local entertainment featured throughout the evening. Staying true to their roots, the Mariachi Trio combo band played a variety of traditional favorites...for a nominal fee of course. Tips aside, the singers were enjoyable. But I was practically captivated when this lady no taller than a good 5'3 stepped up after the Mariachi band left,with her own equipment and amplifier I might add, and practically slayed the crowd. We didn't know her name so we decided to nickname her "Lady in Green...Pants" because she had some severe lime green pants on along with her bling. She got up there, sang her a few songs, did some dips for the kids, collected her tips and said put a hundred on my wrist cause she cashed out and left. All I could think was forget Benihana! Mariscos really gives you dinner with a show! At the end of the meal we marveled at the flavors and jokes experienced. Said our goodbyes and left to partake in our own self plotted explorations for the night.
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