SoCal has two stellar new Sinaloan seafood spots

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The molcajete at El Muelle 8 features "some of the best calle de hacha I've ever had," says food writer Bill Esparza. Photo by Matt Kang.

Sinaloa, located on Mexico's western coast and home to the country's largest shrimp fleet, is a surf-and-turf state where seafood is a way of life. Food writer and musician Bill Esparza explains that in the southern part of the state, simple ceviche is predominant while further north, near Culiacàn, candied flavors of tamarind and Tajín add oomph to dishes. "The big difference is the industry itself is driven by chefs," he says.

When the owners of El Muelle 8, a wildly popular restaurant in Cuilacàn, wanted to open a second branch, chef Luis Vásquez chose Downey. Located in a strip mall, the Downey outpost features a barra fría (cold bar) with agua chile and ceviches as well as a barra caliente (hot bar) offering guisados with shrimp and tacos. Vásquez jumps between both locations. Esparza suggests going with a group so you can order larger dishes and try more items.

Esparza describes Del Mar Ostioneria as a "game changing food truck." Parked in the Miracle Mile neighborhood, its plates have a contemporary flair with Japanese touches. Owner Roberto Pérez spotted Francisco Leal serving ceviche out of an ice chest on the streets of Los Angeles and recruited him for the truck. Serving seven ceviches, including salmon, on Del Mar Ostioneria's roster, Esparza says, "You're on the truck but you think you're at Nobu." 

Del Mar Ostioneria parks in Miracle Mile and serves contemporary ceviche with a Japanese touch. Photo by Cesar G. Peñaloza.