Thursday, August 22, 2013

El Barco

Location: 1035 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
El Barco on Urbanspoon El Barco on Foodio54
A Quick Word:
When it comes to seafood, Chicago has a variety of speciality restaurants that range in cuisine from Chinese to Mexican.  El Barco has been one of the longer standing establishments located in the Ukrainian Village neighborhood.  This restaurant features seafood with a Mexican twist.  From deep fried whole red snappers to every kind of seafood tostada imaginable, it is easy to see why El Barco is always packed whenever I drive by.  Unfortunately, after sifting through the extensive menu, we were met with one amazing seafood dish and one that was some of the worst fish I have ever eaten.  I was confused because the ceviche was extremely fresh while the fish was not.  I am questioning how there is such a large spectrum of freshness at this restaurant.  The staff is a little on the relaxed side with very little service and longer times to even place an order.  The atmosphere reminds you of a seafood restaurant in Mexico with open windows and even a few flies hovering around.  Because I had one amazing dish and one terrible, I decided on rating them right in the middle... 3 miles.  I will be back and hope to have a fresher red snapper hit my table.

No chips and pico here... Instead, tostada shells, a spicy
salsa verde, and pureed chipotle peppers. 
What We Ate:

Shrimp Ceviche

First my friend and I decided on the shrimp ceviche.  We were both craving shrimp and the refreshing aspect of ceviche sounded like the perfect dish.  Here, the ceviche was made with chopped shrimp, diced onions, cilantro, avocado, and plenty of lemon juice. The acidity of the lemon essentially cooks the shrimp to a point that makes it safe to eat.  We ordered the small and it was perfect for two of us.  Add it to some of those tostada shells with a little salsa verde and enjoy.

Whole Fried Red Snapper in Tomato Sauce

We heard from several sources that the whole fried snapper was El Barco's speciality.  And, when the dish arrived at the table, I understood why.  Not only was the presentation out of this world... the dish was huge, definitely enough to share with two or three people with average appetites.  However, this dish was a huge DISAPPOINTMENT.  Just to be clear... the fried red snapper is prepared deep fried and then lightly topped with a tomato sauce.  It is served on a bed of Mexican rice and accompanied by lightly sautéed mixed veggies and a nice helping of guacamole.  The reason the dish was disappointing was how FISHY it was.  It tasted as if the fish was old, especially for a nice red snapper.  I honestly think we got a bad fish or an old fish.  I will probably try it again just for good measures, but would have my hopes as high.

Pina Colada

This drink may have been one of the tastiest I have had in a while, but unfortunately the alcohol was definitely on the stingy side of the spectrum.  But I can look past that on a hot summer day. The coconut and pineapple flavors are equally prominent, making a delicious and balanced cocktail.  Definitely going to order again, but next time I will request for double alcohol.

The DOs/DON'Ts:
- For $60, they offer a sampler platter of seafood including grab, shrimp, fish, and much more.  It is a little pricey and comes with a few sides like rice and vegetables.  I wish we ordered this... probably next time.  I saw a few people with this sampler... I assume it will raise my rating drastically.

- Be skeptical on the fish.  It appears fresh, but if you dislike fishy flavor, don't order it.
- Alcoholic drinks are on the weaker side.  Good flavor that lacks the punch.

Look at that grin!
How far would I walk for this food?

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