18 Essential Mariscos Spots You Should Know in LA
From Peruvian ceviche to Sinaloan aguachile and more.
There are no seasons in LA, the transplants complain, as they sip pea milk matcha lattes outside in February. Little do they know, we have plenty: there’s pilot season and awards season, fire season and allergy season, pumpkin spice season and mariscos season. Thankfully, the season for mariscos (that’s seafood in Spanish, for you transplants out there) starts somewhere around March and ends around Thanksgiving, which makes it just a bit longer than Dodger season.
During these blessed months, we’re privy to some of the freshest seafood in the country, with much of it sourced in Baja California. But LA’s mariscos restaurants draw influence from the entirety of Mexico and beyond, satisfying us with Sinaloan aguachiles, Puerto Vallarta-style seafood burritas, Ensenada-inspired ceviches, and more. To help you celebrate this joyous time, here are 18 of our favorite places to get mariscos:
Mariscos El Yaqui
El Yaqui is Orange County’s lone representative on this list, not because it’s the only worthwhile spot behind the Orange Curtain but because it’s the one you’ll be thinking about when you’re sitting completely still on the 5 North on the way home. Their Sonoran-style mariscos are thoroughly extravagant tostadas of spicy aguachile and tender pulpo piled high. And don’t miss their tacos either, particularly the eponymous taco, with smoked fish, shrimp, griddled cheese, and a whole fried chile.
How to book: Call 714-206-1844 for the food truck, 714-617-4880 for the restaurant, or find them online.
La Burrita Marina
We have Alta California cuisine expert Bill Esparza to thank for putting this Puerto Vallarta-style truck way out in Riverside County on our LA-based radar. The stated specialties are seafood burritas, squishy cylinders deeply infused with smoked marlin and sauteed vegetables. The burritas are worth the drive alone, but they do other killer dishes too, in particular their aguachile with either bright and punchy mango or salty and smoky salsa negra.
How to book: Walk up, call 626-712-4422, or order delivery or pickup online.
Mariscos El Faro
There’s a lot of competition for your dining dollars in Highland Park, but if you happen to be cruising Figueroa on a sunny day you can’t do better than HLP icon Mariscos El Faro, a Mazatlan-style truck posted up outside the rec center. They sprinkle a handful of ground chiltepin chiles on almost everything on the menu, a lashing of earthy heat on their killer ceviches, empanadas, and on their rarely-seen specialty, the thick-cut salt-cured bass known as callo de lobina.
How to book: Walk up.
Having conquered LA’s terrestrial Yucatan-style food scene, chef Gilberto Cetina Jr. turned his eyes to the ocean. Holbox is named for and inspired by the island just off the Northern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, though the seafood is meticulously sourced as close to LA as possible. Dishes are artfully composed, like the electric green aguachile plated around slivered avocado. Wood-grilled fish are consistently excellent, the sopa de mariscos is an under-the-radar banger, and do not miss Cetina’s thrilling work with octopus in any form.
How to book: Walk in, call 213-986-9972, or order online for takeout and delivery.
Mariscos El Garage
El Garage is not in a literal garage anymore, it’s a food truck parked in a nightclub parking lot in Long Beach. But the name pays homage to current proprietor Elsa Barragan’s late father and his long-running mariscos shop that he ran out of the family garage. Don Diego Barragan was famous for his coctel de camaron, and Ms. Barragan has continued his legacy with a killer rendition. The truck also pushes some excellent ceviches, and absolutely knockout tacos gobernador, the Sinaloan specialty of crisp melted cheese and juicy shrimp with a deeply savory salsa on the side.
How to book: Walk up.
If you keep an eye on the décor at the marisquerias around town, you’re likely already familiar with Los Tomateros, the pro baseball team in Culiacan, Sinaloa, the city and state behind some of the best mariscos around. Culiacan style tends toward bold combinations with lots of sauce, and also—as Los Tomateros’ full name suggests—towards Sinaloan sushi. The rolls are lavish torpedos decked out with tons of flavors, piled high with seafood, and often stuffed with Philadelphia cream cheese. Aside from the fully dressed rolls, the relatively austere Yellowtail Roll is also a winner here, as is the ceviche de pescado.
How to book: Walk in or call 323-230-6450 for takeout.
Compared to some marisquerias, El Coraloense is low key. It’s counter-service, and has lately been takeout only. But that chill vibe belies Chef Natalie Curie’s totally wild menu of creative mariscos. Ceviches come with mango, chamoy, and peanuts, the Maleficio soup has coconut broth, lemongrass, and abalone, and there’s a taco of mahi-mahi spiced like al pastor and served with a bright grassy salsa verde.
How to book: Walk in, call 562-776-8800, or get pickup and delivery online.
Mariscos El Bigoton
With a restaurant in Bell Gardens and a rapidly growing fleet of trucks spread across the Southland in Pacoima, Wilmington, East LA, Riverside, and Las Vegas, Mariscos El Bigoton has won hearts and minds with their epic pastelazos, towers of mariscos stacked in layers like a cake, and they also make shrimp tacos dorados reminiscent of—and perhaps in the same tier as—the legendary version at Mariscos Jalisco.
How to book: Walk in or call the phone number of your preferred location, found in their Instagram highlights.
Mariscos El Culichi
El Culichi represents Culiacan from deep in the San Fernando Valley, but you’re not heading out there for the stacked seafood towers or Sinaloan sushi. Instead, you want the tostilocos de mariscos, an oceanic twist on the popular antojito with various types of ceviche in addition to the usual hot sauce, chamoy, vegetables, and fried peanuts built right into a sliced-open bag of Tostitos chips. Even as pumped full of flavor as they are, the tostilocos only work because they’re built on an ideal foundation of fresh, well-seasoned seafood.
How to book: Walk in or call 818-365-6346 for takeout.
Mariscos Tocho loudly claims Northern Mexico’s Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point) as their style, and that’s evident in the carne asada that they wrap into their signature tacos. But there’s also some unmistakable Sinaloan influence in their luxurious tostadas, overflowing with fresh fish and generously coated in their standout salsas. They’re all worth a try (perhaps in the tostada pariente, which comes pre-dressed with the works) but the real showstopper is the salsa negra, smoky and spicy and gently sweet, a perfect match for any sort of sea creature.
How to book: Walk up.
Mariscos El Camaron Pelado
The best marisquerias are high-energy and fun, bordering on chaotic, and perhaps no place walks the line between fun and chaos better than Lincoln Heights’ El Camaron Pelado. The seafood is fresh, the preparations are clean, but it’s all about the vibe—which, it should be noted, is driven in large part by their over-the-top micheladas. They come stacked with seafood, painted with chamoy, built right into cans of tecate or with multiple modelos turned upside down in the glass, and just about any other way you can imagine.
How to book: Walk in or call 323-505-7544 for takeout.
The Cossio family are giants in LA’s mariscos game, starting with Vicente Cossio and continuing on to his daughter Connie Cossio, who runs her namesake Coni’Seafood in Inglewood. They rose to popularity on the strength of their pescado zarandeado, snook butterflied and grilled and served whole, but their other Nayarit-style specialties are just as magnetic. The many varieties of cooked shrimp in sauce are a delight here—smoky Camarones a la Barbacoa, spicy a la Diabla, and sharp and boozy Borrachos, among many others—and their aguachile is the one by which all others should be measured.
How to book: Walk in or call 310-672-2339 for takeout.
Mariscos Los Lechugas
There’s usually a crowd in front of the El Sereno library, but they’re not there for books (but books are awesome! Take advantage of your local library!). Instead they’ve come to grab a bite of the area’s best Ensenada-style mariscos. The cocteles are great, and the tacos are done in perfect Baja style, but the tostadas are the thing here, especially the Ensenada-style ceviche de pescado, fish chopped to tiny, tender bits with a firm smack of lime.
How to book: Walk in or call 323-537-3234 for takeout.
It’s impossible to have a discussion of mariscos in this town without the giant truck looming over everyone—Mariscos Jalisco, the beloved icon owned by Raul Ortega, whose salsa-doused and avocado-topped deep-fried shrimp tacos have been featured on TV, in the Michelin guide, and in every publication that covers LA food (plus some that don’t, too). There’s not much more to be said except that it’s good as hell, man. You’ve probably been already, but you should go again. Like, now. See you there.
How to book: Walk in or call one of the phone numbers listed on their Instagram Bio for takeout.
Most Sinaloan-style marisquerias are doing torres these days, and for good reason—the tall cylinders of mariscos are gorgeous, perfect showpieces for technique and for social media. They’re also a way to get an entire aquarium on one plate, an extravagant flex with a heaping helping of seafood and every conceivable sauce. At El Paradero, the torres feel a little more restrained, almost like a chef-driven, vertical omakase. If you want exuberance, though, they’ve got that too—see the marispiña, pineapple ceviche sauced and served in a half-pineapple, or any of their Sinaloan sushi rolls.
How to book: Walk in or call 562-219-5121 for takeout.
La Cevicheria is another raw fish icon, a Guatemalan marisqueria in Mid City that puts out a long and versatile menu of ceviches, cocteles, tacos, and appetizers. They’re best known for the Bloody Clam ceviche, made with dark brown pata de mula clams swimming in a sharp tomato and Worcestershire broth. The menu is full of bangers, though, including but not limited to their vuelva a la vida (“come back to life”) coctel and the sauteed shrimp tacos.
How to book: Walk in or call 323-732-1253 for takeout.
LA’s mariscos scene is understandably dominated by Mexican influence, but it would be unwise to overlook Peruvian takes on seafood. Lonzo’s in Culver City is a fantastic example, driven in large part by their creative twists on traditional Peruvian seafood. There are scallops in the half shell with parmesan, yuzu kosho, and aji amarillo butter. There is passion fruit ceviche, and coconut mango ceviche, and a particularly rich chupe de camarones (shrimp chowder). The classics are great too, but Lonzo’s is a place for adventurous ordering.
How to book: Walk in, call 310-842-7876, or order via CraveUp.
106 Seafood Underground
Chef Sergio Peñuelas became famous for his pescado zarandeado, a whole-grilled snook so good that it prompted Jonathan Gold to chase his cooking to restaurants all over the county. Now he’s back in Lennox, serving that legendary snook and much more just across the 405 from LAX. The snook is as good as ever, but if you don’t have a small army to eat it all you may be better off loading up on ceviches and cooked shrimp dishes. Some are subtle, gently sweet with green apple and bright lemon, and some, like the camarones a la diabla, roar right along with the jet engines passing overhead.
How to book: Walk in or call 310-980-3893 for reservations.