El Mar Azul: Pristine Seafood from a Highland Park Truck

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El Mar Azul is a shiny pearl that touches down next to Sycamore Grove Park.

Mexico City native Felipe “El Campeon” Cejudo and El Paso native Rosie “The Texas Girl” met in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day and married on April 14, 1976. After emigrating to Los Angeles, Felipe worked as a butcher before deciding to recreate the seafood tostadas of his youth. Felipe learned to make the tostadas by watching professionals back in Distrito Federal – Mexico City – then tinkering with the recipes back in the States. Felipe decided on the name El Mar Azul because blue (azul) is his favorite color and because the sea (el mar) is the source of his daily bounty. He settled on Sycamore Grove Park in 1994 because of all the traffic along Figueroa Street in Highland Park and because there were already plenty of tables and benches for people to sit and eat.

On a sunny day, when families flood to the park to picnic or party, it can take a half-hour to receive a seafood tostada or cocktail, but it’s always worth the wait. With success, the Cejudos were able to upgrade their truck to a deluxe model painted with an octopus, mermaid and shrimp. They’ve also added employees to keep pace with demand, including son Phillip.

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In the past 13 years, El Mar Azul has gained quite a following in Highland Park.

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According to Felipe, he sets up at 6 a.m. to begin “preparing my secrets.” Felipe heads the kitchen and Rosie works the “front of the house.”

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El Mar Azul sells five varieties of seafood tostadas: crab (jaiva), shrimp (camaron), abalone (abulon), octopus (pulpo) and a mix of all four (mixtiada). There are also four varieties of Cocktails: shrimp, octopus, abalone and mixed. In the past year, they’ve added a fifth tostada, clam (almejas).

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Every tostada is good to great, but my favorite is the most basic, Tostada de Camaron ($2). A fried corn tortilla disc known as a tostada is topped with creamy cole slaw, relish and “secrets,” then fanned with plump shrimp and capped with slices of fresh avocado. When given the option of “con chile” or “sin chile,” ask for chile sauce. A few squirts from a squeeze bottle added yet another boost of flavor. The tostada had it all, saltiness, creaminess from the cole slaw, firm shrimp and spice from the chile sauce. With a squeeze of lime, two or three tostadas form a perfect meal. That’s not a word I toss around haphazardly, but I can’t imagine an improvement on the dish.

Mexican Seafood Los Angeles

Tostada Mixtiada ($3) features the same base of cole slaw, relish and “secrets.” The meal-sized tostada is then heaped with faux crab (actually fish), cubes of tender abalone, hacks of surprisingly supple purple octopus tentacles and more pristine shrimp. Crowning the towering achievement in cuisine are astounding strips of avocado.

Mexican Seafood Los Angeles

Coctel de Camaron ($5) was classic, a cool mix of diced onions, cilantro, plump shrimp and what was most likely clamato and tomato juice. I was given a choice of galletas (crackers) or tostadas, to provide texture. I opted for salty tostadas. After devouring all the shrimp, I drank the ambrosia-like nectar like water.

El Mar Azul’s success has spawned several adjacent imitators, but none of them can match Felipe’s artistry, balance or flavor.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

I love those tostadas de camaron and the coptail are the best.
Simple the best I ever try. I will recommend to any of my friends and family
Edward Quijada

are you still open I have gone twice and haven’t seen the food truck

Reyna, the El Mar Azul truck is almost always parked by Sycamore Grove Park from Wednesday to Monday, from about 9 am – 7 pm in summer, and for a little less time in winter. There have been times that they haven’t shown up due to inclement weather or emergencies, and the owners don’t have a way to alert customers, since they aren’t on Facebook or Twitter, but they’re generally reliable. Trust me, it’s worth another effort to experience their cocteles and tostadas.

Great too know we have our dedicated customers. My parents are dedicated, it is a family business. With exceptions too great employees. We try our very best too satisfy all our clients…have a greatday.

Hi reyna another dedicated customer,

Thank you for your efforts for continiously passing for the one and only best . We apologize for the inconvience. At times we do have to mandatory maintain our wonderful truck for the inspections.and we hope to see soon. We are off on tuesdays for sure.

Thank you,

Jeanette cejudo
Food service manager


your guys truck is awesome! i went to arroyo seco middle school from 2003 – 2006 and we did PE in sycamore grove park. i remember when me and my girlfriends would sneak away to buy a coctel de cameron or a tostada…good memories. me and my girlfriends (now in our early 20’s) still live in highland park and still go to your truck to this day. Delicious mariscos, high quality, and still great prices! thank you guys for being the bomb.

Thank you for your time to comment, always here to serve our clients.

Yes, we are keeping our business to the best quality regardless of the recession. Also with free great customer service..hope for many more years to come.

Thank you,

Jeanette Cejudo
Food Service Manager

We would be happy to provide proper photo credit and a link to your website.

I’m looking for an image of El Mar Azul taco truck for a “Taco World” slideshow on FoodandWine.com. I was wondering if we could have permission to use your image? Please let me know at [email protected]. Thank you so much!

Kelly B

arg, if i don’t go here soon, i might go crazy.

Great post..and we are here to serve you when you have that urge for great cocktails and tostadas..at the same prices..always.

Great Deal,Great Quality and service!

Thank you for your post, we love our clients,and do the very best to continue our artistry of awesome family reciepe.

The food rocks! Jumbo Shrimp.. great deal

Definetly great big shrimp same prices..thank you for the post.

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