Made-to-Order Mexican

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Señor Fish brings the real deal with fresh, handmade twists.  

By Alli Tong | Photos by Jody Tiongco

Tucked away in Boat Canyon Shopping Center, Señor Fish officially swam out of the Los Angeles area and into Orange County when it opened in January. With locations in South Pasadena, Eagle Rock, downtown LA and Echo Park, Laguna Beach marks its fifth spot for the family-owned restaurant chain. Yet, before the restaurant was a “big fish” in the sea, the original Señor Fish stemmed from more humble beginnings: a tiny kiosk on North Figueroa Street in LA’s Highland Park, which served hundreds of hungry Angelenos a day.

LBM_49_Dine_Senior Fish_By Jody Tiongco-1Founded in 1988 by brother-sister duo Enrique and Alicia Ramirez, who grew up in northeast Los Angeles but whose parents hailed from Guadalajara, Mexico, Señor Fish isn’t just another Mexican place in town. The owners are staying true to traditional dishes made from their mother’s recipes that are nearly 30 years old all the while mixing in what us coastal dwellers love best: fresh seafood, house-made salsas and fair prices (tacos range from about $4 to $7 a pop while other entrees are mostly all under $15).

Take their fried calamari appetizer, which is a great way to start your dining experience. Lightly fried, not too chewy but not too soft, these little bits of golden goodness served alongside house-made tartar sauce are addicting. Sip on one of the restaurant’s freshly made “aguas frescas” (fresh waters), including horchata (a traditional Mexican drink made with rice, cinnamon and vanilla), hibiscus or cucumber-lime to cool the palate. Another great app to munch on is the eatery’s signature chips, which aren’t your typical crunchy tortilla chips; they’re soft and puffy, and served alongside five different delicious house-made salsas from green tomatillo to chipotle.

LBM_49_Dine_Senior Fish_By Jody Tiongco-27But when asked what makes the eatery different from others in town serving up tacos, chef Louis Torres lowers his voice to a whisper. No, it’s not the passed-down recipes, the salsas made fresh every day or the seafood—it’s the garlic. “Shhh, it’s a secret,” he says. “We use garlic in everything.”

Perhaps that’s what makes the mouthwatering chicken mole so good. The dark, rich mole is made in-house with Mexican chocolate, cinnamon, dried chilies and blackened salsa. The tender chicken literally falls right off the bone and into its accompanying pinto beans and rice.

Of course, however, if you’re headed to a spot called Señor Fish, you’re naturally going to want to know how the fish tacos are. Well, they’re good, too. Try the blackened sole taco, which is plump and juicy, and scattered with a sprinkling of lettuce, pico de gallo and slices of avocado.

With a casual atmosphere (no frills or tablecloths here), it’s the perfect spot to hop by after a day at the beach or for a quick lunch. So, in conclusion, is this place worth it? Si, senor!

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