Monday, June 18, 2012

El Barco Mariscos

Location: 1035 N Ashland
Cost: About $25 per person

Things were pretty hectic with my schedule around my birthday this year. I had a call shift the day before and the day after which made things pretty hard to make plans. We wanted to have a family celebration, so we scheduled something for the week before. The initial plans were to get some sushi at Arami once my parents got out of the Sox game. I was hoping that they'd be done early enough for us to get in without a reservation. Unfortunately the game went into extras and we were S.O.L. We were all on our way to that part of town anyways, so I called a quick audible which led us over to El Barco Mariscos.

El Barco takes up the northeast corner of Cortez and Ashland. You can't miss the ridiculous sign they've got of what looks like Mister Sparkle as a fish. It's a very lively place that was packed when we walked up. They've got plenty of outdoor seating and some pretty large tables inside. It's a difficult place to navigate because of all the commotion. Still, we were given a table for three on the patio without any wait. It kind of reminds me of a Mexican version of Bob Chinn's.

The waitress was very friendly and helpful. It was hard to decipher the menu since much of it is in Spanish, and in general, it's just not very intuitive what to order. The service was efficient as our food and drinks came out at a nice rate. The cost was solid. A whole snapper which easily served the three of us was $30. Margaritas and beers were cheap as well.

The Food
We pretty much copied the order from the table next to us since everything they had looked so good. For drinks we split a pitcher of traditional lime Margaritas except for my dad who went frilly with it and got the blackberry margarita. In general they were a little weak.

 Our Margaritas

They take a different spin on chips and salsa

For an appetizer we split an order of the Shrimp Ceviche. The portion was large as were the chunks of shrimp. It was topped with an avocado, and I thought the acidity of the dish was well balanced.

 The Shrimp Ceviche

For the main course we split a Whole Fried Red Snapper and a Skirt Steak and Shrimp Combo Platter. The fish came out with the head and everything. They crisped up the skin and scored the sides so that it was really easy to take off chunks without getting any bones. The fish was tender and flaky although we needed to squeeze quite a few limes on their for added flavor. It came over a huge bed of rice, beans, and grilled veggies that were all seasoned very well. As for the skirt steak and shrimp, we were also pretty impressed. The meat was medium rare just like we ordered. It had a nice kick without overpowering anyone. The portion was pretty large for what I recall ended up costing around $17. I could've done without the shrimp which were a little tough for my liking (and just overkill after the appetizer).

 The Skirt Steak and Shrimp

 The Whole Fried Red Snapper

As a nice little touch at the end, they gave me a double shot of tequila for my birthday.

Note: I'd like to throw in a link to my friend Krista's post on El Barco. She really hated it, and I trust her opinions. I've looked over many online reviews, and they seem to be hit or miss. I'll stick with my good experience and plan on going back until they do me wrong. I encourage you to do the same.

From the second we sat down, we were pretty smitten by El Barco. The fish could've used a bit more flavor, and the drinks could've definitely been stronger. Still, I was very pleased that the food met the expectations that were set for me by the unique atmosphere. As a big fan of whole fish, I think I'll be coming back soon. It's a great option for groups. I'm giving them 4 out of 5 Pearls.

El Barco on Urbanspoon


  1. Nice dishes i like it very much i think i should also try.

  2. Hah hah hah. Good times. Cracking myself up at my last line about never trusting a restaurant shaped like a boat. ;)

    We need to get the band back together some night for a fun dinner somewhere!