Mariscos Chente’s Zarandeado is Still Amazing (And Only $15/lb For a Limited Time)


The recent trials and tribulations of Mariscos Chente, the westside Sinoloan seafood specialist, have been well documented on the interwebs.  At the beginning of 2009 the spot was elevated to prominence by Mexican food guru Bill Esparza, for serving the best Pescado Zarandeado (whole charcoal grilled fish) outside of Nayarit.  And at the beginning of 2010 a conga line of bloggers followed suit with their praise.  I was particularly excited, not just because I had just moved here from a city that has absolutely nothing even remotely like Sinoloan food, but also because I live in Culver City- a five minute drive away from this seafood heaven.

Then, disaster struck (for me anyway).  It was reported that the grill master responsible for the zarandeado, Sergio Panuelas, had moved to Mariscos Chentes (note the “s” at the end) on Inglewood Ave. near the airport, a branch of the restaurant owned by a different member of the family.  And the message was clear:  Mariscos Chente is dead.  Long live Mariscos Chentes!  But how could this be?  So much of grilling has to do with a well seasoned grill, and Mariscos Chente was still using the same grill, right?  And didn’t Sergio’s co-workers learn anything from watching the master?  There’s no way he could have been manning the grill every single day of the week.  Is it crazy to think that the zarandeado could still possibly be good?  Well, despite hearing some not so great things, I finally managed to take the plunge and return to Mariscos Chente.

And here is what I found…


The chips and salsa were standout great, and exactly the same as always.  But what about the fish!?!


Uh… call me crazy, but that doesn’t look so bad.  Can’t see it underneath the layer of veggies?  Maybe this closeup will help (try not to drool on your keyboard.)


The zarandeado was just as amazing as I remember it.  Charred to a nice crisp on the outside but still beautifully moist and flaky beneath the surface.  I can’t tell you if the marinade was exactly the same, but this fish really was cooked perfectly.  The soy sauce covered onion accompaniment were also super delicious (although admittedly waaaaay more oily than then my visit last year.)


Put some fish and the onions into one of the provided tortillas, and it’s pretty much the best lunch ever.  And here’s the best part…


They’re running a special Monday-Thursday that brings the price of the zarandeado down from $22/lb to $15/lb, so that fish above was only $15, and plenty to share between two people.  I have no idea how long this special will last (for all I know they took the sign down today) but even at $22 it’s a great lunch.  (It’s just better for $15!)

Of course zarandeado isn’t the only thing that Mariscos Chente was known for, and I can’t guarantee the rest of the menu is still good.  I heard from a source I trust that some of the famous shrimp dishes aren’t as good as they were, the marlin tacos are now hit and miss, and the seafood that goes into the ceviches definitely could be better.  I loved the ceviche mixto ($13) the first time around, and couldn’t resist seeing if it was still good.


Looks exactly the same (make sure you get fish instead of the imitation crab) and it’s clear they still make it fresh to order with the same spicy lime juice marinade.  The octopus was as tender and amazing as I remember it, but the little shrimp they use might not have been as fresh.  Of course with seafood like this, and a menu that doesn’t change with the “catch”, I’m sure that quality can vary wildly from day to day. Yesterday the shrimp were just ok.


So, maybe Mariscos Chente is not as astounding as it once was.  But if the zarandeado keeps coming out the way it did yesterday, that’s reason alone to keep heading back again and again.

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Best fish dish of all time!  Crispy and charred on the outside, moist underneath.  Perfect… and for $15 it’s a steal to share between two people.
  • Those soy sauce onions are the bomb!
  • The octopus in their ceviche is so freakin’ tender. How do they do it!?
  • The chips are salsa are so damn good too

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Too hit or miss
  • The shrimp dishes are not nearly as good as they used to be
  • The shrimp in the ceviche tasted not as fresh as the first time.
  • Soy sauce onions were waaaaay too oily
  • You know nothing about zarandeado!  Give me Sergio or give me death!
  • Mariscos Chentes is not that far away… I’d rather just drive down there.

Mariscos Chente, 4532 S Centinela Ave, 310-390-9241


Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.