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Nicholas Gilman is a renowned journalist and food writer based in Mexico City.

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I’'m Gonna Go Fishing: Marisquería Playa Escondida

I’'m Gonna Go Fishing: Marisquería Playa Escondida

I'm gonna go fishing
That's what I'll do
Think about nothing
Not even you
Catch a real big one, a big speckled trout
Snap in the water I'll pull him on out

- lyric by Peggy Lee

 

Let’s face it: when a French person tells you where to eat you don’t question it, you just go. That’s why when Chilanga-Parisian publiciste par excellence Emilie Fresneau was generous enough to spill les haricots about this jewel of a seafood stand, I ran down to Escandon as soon as I could. Despite its politically spirited sounding location, a couple of blocks from Patriotismo on calle José Martí, this market’s a rather sleepy place, not as well patronized as it should be (support your local Mercado, please!). You enter the dreary ‘50’s Mexi-socialist hangar-like space, passing the usual cheap China clothing, plastic goods and two-bit barbers; barely a shopping Sra. in sight.

But dead center you come face to face with the popular and bustling Marisquería Playa Escondida. Similar in appearance to other seafood stands around town, this one turns out to be just that much better. C’est vrai! A long counter snakes around the corner seating happy eaters fulfilling their aquatic fantasies. The large and surprisingly diverse menu offers the usual marisqueríafavorites: cocteles, tostadas, ceviches, filetes. But there’s more. On my first visit, unprepared, I started with a simple ceviche de pescado. Not the usual mass of shredded mystery fish swimming in an unsubtle acidic pool of brine, it was a deftly fashioned heap of strips of fresh white fish, artfully seasoned. Reminded me of something I had eaten in the Mercado Central in Lima, more Peruvian than Mexican. I was ready to move on to a nice filete al mojo de ajo and I did. I was served a gleaming plate of filets perfectly sautéed and smothered in slivers of sweated garlic – I can still smell that Provençal-like aroma if I close my eyes. But as I ate, I saw the master chef ritualistically constructing a plate of what turned out to be called ‘pata de mula preparada’. These clam-like molusks are ‘prepared’ with chopped tomato, onion, chili, cilantro, lime and a host of seasonings too numerous to recall. I had to order a plate for myself. You slurp up the ‘sauce’, one shell at a time, which reveal apayload of chewy oceanic meat reminiscent of conch.

Perfectly balanced it was. I thought that surely I was done, when two dainty plates of something, pretty as Seurat seascapes, floated by. They were ensaladas de mariscos – seafood salads – and were done Spanish style, i.e. in olive oil and a few drops of lime. They were simple and fresh as could be, as was everything I tasted here.Traditional with a touch of ingenuity - I found the balance I always hope for.

So, Emilie, merci, merci, and as Mrs. Child would have said, “Bon Appetit!”

Marisquería Playa Escondida
Mercado Escandon no. 99 corner of José Martí & Agricultura, Colonia Escandon
'pedidos a domicilio'
Tel. 5525-0215 open daily until about 5PM

 

SELECTED COMMENTS: Luriarte March 30, 2010 Thank you thank you. Since I moved from Hipódromo Condesa to Nápoles I have been quite unsuccessful finding good places to eat near my new home. But this tip is promising. I can easily bike myself to this mercado. Will do it soon and keep you posted. By the way, I also write a blog about food and restaurants in Mexico City. Hope you like it: www.aprendizdesibarita.blogs.com

Hugo March 30, 2010 well, I think your posts are improving, or was it just the food, or the Emilie influence? I enjoyed this piece lots and lots, not only to go there and eat deliciously, which i'm sure I will, but all the other comments on Mexico City crap. Loved it. je t'embrasse.

Flavio Martinez March 31, 2010 As ever, an excellent review my friend! Cheers!

Ed Rothfarb March 31, 2010 Loved your description of the Mercado seafood stand. Lovely writing, my boy.

Nearly perfect:– Rosetta

Nearly perfect:– Rosetta

Surf & Turf in la Condesa: Merotoro

Surf & Turf in la Condesa: Merotoro