Pescados y Mariscos Fantástica
La Auténtica Comida Mexicana
First visit: August 28, 2010
Fourth Visit: December 3, 2011
This is perhaps the best relatively unknown restaurant in The Duke City.
Frida Kahlo would, were she still alive, surely dine here. A stunning and well lighted portrait of the beautiful unibrowed one graces the wall by the first table on the left as you enter the handsome dining room. Stare at her and she will stare right back. When you make your reservation, ask for table 10.
We first ate there on a Saturday evening with our dear friends and neighbors Paul and Judy Pacheco, who have been living in New Mexico all their lives. We were all surprised and delighted with the entire dining experience, from food to ambiance to service. This is Mexican fine dining. Heavy tablecloths, heavy flatware, proper stemware. Beautiful presentation. You will feel pampered.
I had Camarones al Tequila — large grilled shrimp topped with a mildly spiced tequila cream sauce. The large shrimp (there were seven on the plate) were perfectly grilled, tender, and tasted as sweet as if they were just pulled from the water. Sop up all the sauce with the excellent tortillas when you’re done — it is unbelievably good.
Jane had Huachinanga Lemon, a special that evening. This is red snapper cooked to perfection in a rich, lemony cream sauce. Delicious.
Paul tried the Carnitas De Puerco — marinated chunks of pork tenders deep fried, served with guacamole, tomatillo sauce, rice, and beans. He pronounced the dish wonderful. Judy had Enchiladas de Pollo — chicken enchiladas (rolled, of course) with tomatillo sauce and tomato sauce, served with rice and beans just like in Mexico. Excellente!
Save room for desserts. Flan is good, but Pastel De Tres Leches is exemplary. This is among the very best Tres Leches in the State. Very moist, sweetly balanced, finished with Chantilly Cream, it rose nearly to the top of my unofficial Tres Leches hall-of-fame list. It was not soggy, but properly moist and amazing.
Finish the evening with a cup or two of the excellent spiced Mexican coffee (don’t you dare put cream in it!). I asked our fine waiter what was in it, and he recited the recipe in Spanish. I said, “Hey, amigo, I’m a gringo,” and he said, “I know that — I just don’t want you to steal it.” No matter; Paul and Judy are native Spanish speakers from Moro.
Our second visit was on a cold and blustery Friday evening, and we were delighted to find the restaurant nearly full. Cold and hungry, I blew my diet wiet Caldo de Camaron, Huachinanga a la Veracruzana, and more of that superb Pastel de Tres Leches. Wow.
The Caldo De Camaron (Fresh Shrimp in a Spicy Sea Food, Tomato and Vegetables Broth) is a hearty soup loaded with large shrimp and some pieces of fish, and it will tickle your tastebuds while warming your soul. The shrimp were succulent, and neither soggy nor crispy, but just right. Greal lunch for a dreary day. Or any day, for that matter.
I first ran across Huachinanga a la Veracruzana in the late ’80s at Tia Queta in Bethesda, MD. That remained my benchmark for this dish until I had it at Los Equipqles, the new champion. This dish — Grilled Snapper Filet Served with a Classic Veracruzana Sauce, Poblano Rice and Vegetables of the Day — was perfectly done. The snapper remained tender and lightly flaky, and the sauce was exemplary. Moderately thick, it was herbed and spiced correctly. And there were plenty of green olives, on which many other places skimp. The bed of poblano rice was just right. Delicious plate of food.
I. of course, finished with the terrific Pastel de Tres Leche again. And it was again perfect. If you’re going to get mired in a rut, this is one of the very best ones to be in. Jane, again, had the flan, and she exclaimed that it was the very best flan she had ever had (she is a expert flan baker). The caramelized sugar was just shy of burning, and had that indescribable taste that leaves me speechless. And it was served atop chopped walnuts. Brilliant stuff. And we finished the evening with several cups of their wonderful Mexican cinnamon coffee. Andrea Lin would love this potion.
Los Equipales is so good that people should be standing in line to get in. It was only about two-thirds full on our first visit— shameful for a restaurant of such high quality on a weekend evening. It is a favorite of several gastronomes whose opinions I trust. You need to show up here, gentle readers. Often. Say ¡Hola to Frida on the way in. Table 10. Get it. Unless I’m there.
Top Ten Rank: #10