Despite having a Spanish teacher for a mother, I know very little Spanish and what I do know is mostly what’s on menus. I took French in high school and college, like that’s ever going to come in handy writing about food!
Thanks to Dr. Google, it’s usually not much of a problem navigating Mexican restaurant menus, but it’s always best to go with an actual Spanish speaker and food expert, like The Pritchard executive chef Shelby Sieg.
After I hit Mariscos Los Arados for The New OKC Taco Tour (Part 3), I knew I needed help digging deeper into the menu, so I grabbed Shelby and headed to south OKC for another fabulous meal.
Two things you should know before you make your own pilgrimage: 1. This is primarily a seafood restaurant. 2. The staff speak very little English. If either of those is a dealbreaker for you, consider the deal broken. There are plenty of Mexican restaurants where the staff speak more English and serve more livestock.
It’s a nice little restaurant. The prices are good. The food is amazing. I mentioned it to a chef the other day and his ears perked up immediately. He’d been. He’d loved it. He’d already gone a second time. That’s a solid endorsement.
Hey, I know that some people can’t eat shrimp. To those people, I am sorry for your loss, whatever the cause.
I also know some people won’t eat shrimp. Those people are dumb. I am not sorry for you. Shrimp are ocean candy and your refusal to enjoy them is proof that you are a bad person.
Sorry for the formalities, but this review is roughly 75 percent shrimp and I don’t want people whining that there’s not enough tuna representation. Tuna gets plenty of love. Let shrimp have its day!
As covered in the New OKC Taco Tour (Part 3), the shrimp tacos here are outstanding. The base model ($3.74) is full of fried shrimp, lettuce and onion. It’s good, if a touch dull. The diablo taco ($4.95) is shrimp and cheese inside a corn tortilla that’s then dipped in hot sauce and grilled until it gets a touch charred. It’s hot, but it’s damned good.
My favorite is the taco governador ($4.95) is stupid good and probably deeply unhealthy, due to the ingredients being shrimp, butter, cheese and more butter. I loved it.
For my meal with Shelby, she wisely chose the tostada aguachile ($5.95), which she’d first had during her time living in Mexico. It’s essentially a spicy shrimp ceviche on a tostada with chiles, tomato, cucumber and pickled onions. But it’s a true shrimp ceviche, in that the meat is chemically cooked in the acid of the lime juice, giving it a much different texture. There’s a big spicy kick here, too, but I fell in love with the tender feel of the shrimp against the crunch of the corn tortilla.
I was a little disappointed in the cocktail de camaron y pulpo ($11.95 for medium, $13.95 for large), but for an unexpected reason: there was too much meat. Or maybe it was just that the meat was too prominent and the cocktail too subdued. Mexican shrimp cocktail is different than the kind you might find in a fine dining restaurant. You get big pieces of shrimp in a goblet that’s also filled with a semi-sweet tomato juice cocktail rather than a thick, horseradish-rich ketchup-style sauce. In this cocktail, I also got octopus (pulpo), which was cooked perfectly — tender, firm, not rubbery at all. The problem was a too-watery cocktail. I’d like more tomato, maybe a little thicker, with more pico de gallo flavors. Of course I could have just gone on an off day, but that was my experience.
It was definitely not an off day for filetes culichi ($12.95), which is a white fish filet prepared with a culichi sauce, made with roasted poblanos and crema. This is a luxurious dish. The fish is tender and mild, acting as a staging ground for the flavorful (but not spicy hot) sauce. I was especially taken with the fish and sauce combined with Mexican rice. It just hit all my spots at once.
I’ll be honest, I was a bit apprehensive about mojarra frita ($10.95) based on the picture alone. I know what you’re saying, “Greg, you can’t judge a fried fish by its menu cover.” Lesson learned.
It’s a whole fried fish with slits cut in both sides to allow more surface area to get crisp. And, yeah, the head is there and the tail is there and the bones are there. It’s a fish. It was alive and now it’s dead and you’re eating it. It’s got crispy, salty skin on the outside and moist, flaky fish inside. If that doesn’t appeal to you, I don’t know how to make you want it. It’s just really good.
Los Arados is one of those restaurants that justifies my faith in OKC’s food scene. There are so many amazing restaurants in this city that most of us have never heard of, much less experienced. If I ever worry that I’ll run out of great eateries left to review, I just remember Los Arados — a place no one told me about that I now can’t imagine living without.