My time in Los Angeles has inexplicably involved dozens of trips to South Gate, a town in South Los Angeles that houses plenty of regional Mexican restaurants. However, until Dommy Gonzalez wrote about kibbeh (kibi) (kibe) for LA Weekly, I never knew about Tweedy Boulevard, let alone Mariscos Yucatan, a 16-year-old restaurant from Lula Canto and husband Enrique featuring the cuisine of their native state.
The colorful blue and orange dining room prominently features a map of Mexico. Red and blue arches frame mirrors, and vibrant fish, crabs and parrots add to the decor. The dining room houses only eight tables, along with a flat screen TV and jukebox. Only a couple Yucatan specialties are even on the menu, but a wall-mounted, hand-written specials board tells the whole story.
Of course we had to order the Kibi ($8.49), which were very good, beef and bulgur discs fried until golden brown, juicy inside and topped with with two cuts of acid-rich pickled onion: minced and strips. For customers interested in an added wallop, the center of the plate held a dish of salsa consisting of fiery habanero and more pickled onion.
Papadzules ($8.49) filled the other great plate, similar to enchiladas, filled with hard-boiled egg, topped with tomato slurry, a creamy pastel-hued salsa de pepitas and some sliced hard-boiled egg. We made sure to proceed with caution with the roasted habanero pepper, which was singed but still a well-armed spice bomb. Hard-boiled egg may seem simplistic, but not when paired with texture from tortillas and a pair of complementary salsas.
Cochinita Pibil ($1.50 per taco) was unspectacular, featuring mild strands of roasted, achiote-soaked pork. Yes, the pickled onions and carrot packed some punch, but that couldn’t salvage what was ultimately bland pork.
Pibil came with cool, soupy pico de gallo spiked with habanero and studded with avocado bits.
Pan de Cazon ($2.50) was the only dish that truly disappointed. Twin tortillas sandwiched black beans and shredded shark, which had some funk to it. The tomato slurry didn’t do the tortillas any favors, rendering them soggy. Creamy guac and crisp radish were alright as far as accompaniments go, but we would have been better off ordering more papadzules instead.
Mariscos Yucatan features some solid refreshments, including horchata that struck a good balance of rice to cinnamon, without being syrupy sweet, plus one of my favorite cantaloupe agua frescas to date.
Mariscos Yucatan featured a few other Yucatecan options, including a good looking pork steak known as poc-chuc, plus a full roster of seafood dishes, all at low prices. This may have been my first time on Tweedy Boulevard, but with poc-chuc on the horizon, not my last.