Thursday, September 27, 2012

santo taco de pescado!

As I get older, I'm really getting it through my head that some of the best restaurants seem to hide in strip malls.  Everything from nice, "glammy" looking strip malls to dumpy, worn-out looking strip malls.  Guy Fieri has demonstrated time and time again that some of America's best, most original and most popular food is being served up in the most non-glamorous settings.  And, once again, I have proven this to myself.

A few days ago, my mom and I set out with a friend to have Mexican for lunch.  We drove up to the restaurant we had decided on, only to be greeted by an empty parking lot and a handwritten note on the door..."Closed every Monday."  Well, I guess every Monday is better than random Mondays. Having control of the car is certainly an advantage.  As my companions began discussing some meat and three type set-up, my taste buds and my brain were already on the way to the border.  I turned left, just knowing that a Mexican eatery had to be in my path.  That's when I saw it.  It is a small sign in a strip mall marquis that I've seen before.  I haven't ever heard anyone utter a word about this place and have made mental notes when passing by that I need to check it out sometime.  That sometime had come. 

The place I'm referring to is called "7 Mares." This means Seven Seas.  That's right:  it's a Mexican restaurant that focuses on seafood.  If you've ever spent any time in Mexico, you know that seafood appears on menus all over the place, but here in the U.S., especially here in the South, about all you ever find is the cliche taco, enchilada, burrito, refried beans and rice.  Some Southerners only know Mexican fare as #1, #8 or "the Speedy Gonzales."  Mexican food is so much more, as evidenced by Rick Bayless and all his travels and awesome cookbooks and restaurants.  (Did I ever tell you guys about the time I got a table at his place in Chicago?) Anyway, I digress (yet again!)

7 Mares is a refreshing change.  They offer all the usuals, but there is TONS of seafood on the menu as well.  The waitress started us off with a different type of chips & salsa scenario.  These chips were homemade but with flour tortillas rather than corn.  And,the salsa was a tomato base but was sweet.  I'll elaborate on that in a minute. I ordered the shrimp relleno, mom had a combo with chili relleno, taco and guac salad and our friend Cookie had grilled steak & peppers, rice, beans and hot, fresh tortillas.  

This is Mom's

Her steak was could really taste the grill, which reminded me of one of my favorite Mexico experiences.  My parents and my sister and I went to Cancun for a long weekend after K finished Colorado State.  When we arrived at the hotel, we checked in and then headed out toward the beach to check things out. Right on the sand was an elevated thatched deck with two ladies making homemade tortillas and filling them with beef right from the grill.  It was simple and off the charts!

Grilled beef strips

 Mom's was pretty typical, but certainly good tasting.  I tried her guacamole and it was quite nice, although I think my new favorite guac recipe is the best on the planet.  Now mine was the was a ginormous Poblano pepper stuffed (and I mean STUFFED) with shrimp and queso and then covered with a tomato sauce so fresh and light that it was surprising.  My dish also came with a side bowl of "ranchero" beans that were also super flavorful, thanks to lots of bits of bacon in the sauce. This relleno was so large, I could only handle half and brought the rest home for the Neilio to try.  

My shrimp chili relleno

 As we were eating, a male manager came to our table to ask how we liked our lunch.  Always a nice touch, especially if you're really actually enjoying your food instead of just having to say the obligatory "fine."  Later, as we were finishing up, a female manager approached us to also check on us.  We began talking and she confirmed that the sauce on my dish was freshly made & went on to say that they make everything fresh each day.  She elaborated that their "sweet" salsa is designed to compliment their seafood emphasis, but they have spicy salsa available as well.  She also mentioned that the cool drink in the pineapple that we saw go by was their homemade pina colada...uhhh, hello Happy Hour!  We talked more about how it's so hard to find Mexican seafood meals and that we'd happily return to this restaurant.  

Now, here's the funny part of this story. I came home that evening and told Neil about this place and how I want to go back with him so he can try it out.  A little while later, he disappeared for a bit (he always goes outside to use the phone because the cellular signal in our house is schizophrenic).  So, he comes back and announces that he had just talked to our friend "Jeff-ro" who lives near this place and "Jeff says this place is the bomb."  You can probably guess what my response was..."what? you didn't believe me?  You had to get a second opinion?"

7 Mares is a nice, refreshing change for anyone who enjoys Mexican food.  It's in a strip mall, like lots of good places, but ya know, the decor is also kinda strip mall-y.  But that's ok.  The food makes up for it.  And, oh by the way, on this lunch outing, we were the only NON-Hispanic people in the joint.  ALWAYS a good sign! 

7 Mares on Urbanspoon


  1. You plannin' to tell us where it is?

  2. Click on that handy Urbanspoon icon I put up there for ya. Daggum, Cannonista! You're a tough room!

  3. If I wanted to go to another site, I'da gone there already! TRY THE VEAL!!!



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