Got Shrimp?

At Restaurant Sinaloa, the seafood is splendid

Fresh seafood in the desert may seem like an oxymoron, but at Restaurant Sinaloa, there are almost as many fresh-seafood choices as there are fish in the sea—especially if you're of the Bubba Gump persuasion.

There's grilled shrimp, garlic shrimp, breaded shrimp, deviled shrimp, buttered shrimp, shrimp Veracruz style, spaghetti shrimp, shrimp rolled in bacon, shrimp culichi-style, shrimp in chipotle, shrimp cordon bleu, shrimp Bacanora, shrimp Philadelphia, shrimp in mushroom sauce, shrimp with steak, shrimp soup, shrimp meatballs, shrimp and octopus, shrimp and fish ... well, you get the idea.

Not only are there a bunch of choices; all of the ones we tried were quite tasty. We were overwhelmed by the portion sizes and impressed by the affordable prices on both visits.

Most of the dishes are plentiful enough for sharing, so ordering an appetizer and two or three entrées for a table of four will leave you plenty satisfied—and with leftovers to take home.

One of the true highlights of our dining experience was a whole-fish entrée, the huachinango (red snapper), which was ordered Veracruz-style ($13.99). The large, whole, head-on fish was smothered in a smoky red sauce with garlic, green olives and a plethora of assorted vegetables. The skin was crispy, and the flesh was moist and flaky.

If you're in the mood for more of a sampler platter, or something more easily sharable than a whole fish, the seafood platter ($16.99 for one person; $27.99 for two) is an excellent choice. Each portion includes three grilled shrimp, three breaded shrimp, three shrimp rolled in bacon, two fish filets and a handful of fried fish strips prepared in the style of chicharrones.

All of the seafood on the platter was well-prepared, with the exception of the grilled shrimp, which were just a touch overcooked. The kitchen forgot the bacon-rolled shrimp, but our server caught the mistake before we did and brought them out on a separate plate. They were absolutely delicious: The shrimp were butterflied, stuffed with crab, wrapped in bacon and fried until the bacon was crispy. The fish filets were also quite tasty, and were flaky and well-seasoned.

The ceviche and seafood-cocktail portion of the menu has an abundance of choices, from shrimp and octopus ceviche tostadas ($3.99) to full, table-sharing-sized orders of ceviche with shrimp, scallops, octopus and more ($7.99 to $16.99, depending upon the size and selection). I decided to try the small regular ceviche ($7.99), which was a malt glass chock-full of slightly spicy chunks of shrimp and fish, with a tangy citrus and tomato sauce, served with two tostadas. The ceviche was fresh; the shrimp and fish weren't over-marinated and were still quite tender.

Now let's go back to the shrimp.

They come with nearly everything, and sometimes, they nearly outshine the main dish. On our second visit to Restaurant Sinaloa, we started out with the chicharron de pargo ($12.99), which was fish chunks, breaded, seasoned and fried in the style of fried pork skins. They were accompanied by two jalapeños that were stuffed with cheese and shrimp, and wrapped in bacon. Although the chicharron de pargo were crispy and delicious, the shrimp-stuffed jalapeños were outstanding.

We didn't know what to expect when ordering the shrimp Bacanora ($13.99), since bacanora is both a previously illegal agave liquor and a municipality in Sonora, Mexico. Turns out the dish paid homage more to the municipality, and was an insanely delicious bowl of tail-on shrimp smothered in a gooey, cheesy chipotle sauce.

All of the shrimp dishes are served with rice, french fries and salad. The side dishes were unremarkable but not unappetizing, and were almost unnecessary, given the portion sizes of the main dish.

In addition to shrimp prepared every possible way imaginable, Restaurant Sinaloa also offers a few non-seafood options, including what one might call more "traditional" Mexican restaurant fare, like quesadillas, nachos, tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the like. I ordered one of the combo platters, which included two enchiladas (cheese, chicken or beef, $5.99), with rice and beans. I also tried a shrimp taco à la carte ($2.29) and a smoked-marlin taco à la carte ($2.59).

Before I could even cut into the food on the huge enchilada platter, our server appeared with two more enchiladas—apparently, the kitchen made cheese instead of beef. The beef was tender, and the enchiladas were cheesy, spicy goodness.

As delicious as the enchiladas were, the smoked-marlin taco was absolutely stunning. Chopped smoked marlin, mixed with tomato sauce and a mix of seasoning, was heaped into a corn tortilla. The oily smokiness of the marlin was perfectly balanced by the acidity of the tomato, and despite the disintegrating corn tortilla, every savory bite was truly awesome.

I think next time, though, I'll need to try more of the shrimp.

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