Señor Fish: Feasting on Al Fresco Seafood in Eagle Rock

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Restaurant Los Angeles

I prefer Señor Fish's patio-centric location in Eagle Rock, which serves standout Mexican seafood.

On a sunny Los Angeles day, there aren’t many places I’d rather eat than the patio of Señor Fish in Eagle Rock. An icy cup of horchata in one hand, a heaping plate of grilled seafood before me, I’m left with no doubt that moving to Los Angeles in 1999 was a good idea.

Owner Alicia Ramirez grew up in nearby Cypress Park and Highland Park. She learned to cook from her mother, and through trial and error. She opened the first Señor Fish on Figueroa in Highland Park in 1988. The Eagle Rock flagship opened in 1995, and the Highland Park original closed in 1996. She later added a branches downtown, in South Pasadena and Alhambra.

The food is consistent at each location, due to Alicia’s quality control and a group of chefs that have been with her almost since the beginning, but each Señor Fish has its own personality. The Eagle Rock branch is geared toward outdoor dining, with an airy patio and several tables made from slabs of lacquered tree cross-sections. The downtown branch is bright, arty and bohemian. The South Pasadena locale (the biggest money earner) is spare, set in a mini-mall. And the Alhambra site is modern, all metallic and blue, in the heart of Main Street’s business district. Other than a brief stretch where the Eagle Rock location changed to Señor Fresh due to a “family issue,” Señor Fish has thrived.

When I think of Señor Fish, sure I think of the mouth-watering seafood, but I also think of the restaurant’s logo: a fish with a sombrero and Rollie Fingers mustache, grabbing a hook with one fin, the other fin holding a dish towel. Architect Tony Cortez, a childhood friend of Alicia’s, designed the logo. According to Alicia, “I wanted a fish with a hat. The hat signifies the Mexican part of Señor Fish. Tony added the hook and dish towel.”

On what makes Señor Fish superior to other Mexican seafood restaurants, Alicia said, “I really care about the food, make sure all the salsas and guacamole are homemade.” She also buys fresh seafood every day but Sunday from the downtown fish market and various purveyors. On any given day, the “fresh fish fillet” list can run 10-deep. Yellowtail, tuna, salmon, mahi-mahi, sea bass, swordfish, tilapia, cod, and shark make regular appearances. A recent addition is escolar.

Mexican Seafood Los Angeles

Fresh seafood contributes to some special dishes at Señor Fish. Alicia is most proud of her seafood quesadilla.

“I don’t know if I invented it, but I feel like I did,” Ramirez says. Shrimp, scallops, cod, and imitation-crab join melted, gooey white cheese and smoky salsa inside a flour tortilla that’s grilled until the outside becomes crispy. Ramirez then tops her seafood quesadilla ($9.95) with a scoop of fresh-churned guacamole and drizzled with spicy red salsa. I could eat this dish daily.

Mexican Seafood Los Angeles

Senor Fish Shrimp, Scallops and Salmon Sauteed in Garlic Butter

Unless you state a preference, expect cod in your seafood combo plate ($12.50), though I prefer salmon. The plate comes with refried pinto beans and fluffy red rice, both as good as they get. Rice soaks up the garlic butter to great effect. Also on the plate is a vinaigrette-doused salad topped with thin slices of avocado, tasty. You’re even given a choice of tortillas. Go with flour; the corn are good, but flour are amazing.

Señor Fish is locally, and justifiably, famous for their scallop burrito ($5.95 fried, $6.95 grilled). Stuffed with pinto beans, scallops, red rice, cabbage and “pico de gallo” (“beak of the rooster:” chopped, marinated onions and tomatoes). Huge sea scallops are the best taco option. Alicia never heard of putting scallops in a taco before listing them on her menu. The scallops caramelize on the grill, yet remain velvety.

Fish Taco Los Angeles

Señor Fish makes a textbook fried fish taco.

Other good taco fillings include juicy sea bass and shark. The ferocious predators have a meaty taste all their own. It costs an extra $.50 a taco to grill the seafood. Pay it without hesitation, and then squeeze on the lime.

For veg-heads, Alicia offers potato tacos. “The potato taco is more special than I ever imagined. My mom used to make them for me as a kid.”

Salsa Los Angeles

Señor Fish’s salsa bar is also exemplary, touting at least four types of salsa spanning several spice levels: mild green tomatillo, red, orange, and a deep rust-colored salsa of true complexity.

Mexican Food Los Angeles

Señor Fish also stocks their salsa bar with limes, chiles güeros, and crunchy radishes.

According to Alicia, “The salsas are made in Eagle Rock for all the locations, for consistent flavor.” There are also tubs of fresh cut limes, marinated jalapeños and carrots, used for garnishing.

While the Eagle Rock flagship of Señor Fish provides an idyllic Southern California dining experience, thanks to Alicia Ramirez’s guidance, the other three branches still beat other Mexican seafood spots in the area. So head to Señor Fish and enjoy the best of what the ocean has to offer.

Señor Fish: Feasting on Al Fresco Seafood in Eagle Rock


Joshua Lurie

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

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