Karina’s Ceviche Bar ‘n Tacos: Smart Tacos

Marina Mixto: Shrimp, octopus, bay scallops. Serrano peppers, lime juice: sabroso!

“Oh no!” It’s Diana. New to ‘Diego. she just got it back governor taco, chewed and watched a stain of orange taco juice squirt onto his shirt. His white shirt. ” Tacos ! ” she says. “I knew this was coming.”

Five minutes ago we were walking along National Avenue, wondering where we might find something to tide us over until tonight. Because, truth be told, it’s lunch time, but it’s going to be breakfast.

“How far are we from the city center? ” she asked.

“Hey, that’s better than downtown,” I said. “It’s the Barrio. All kinds of interesting dishes.

Second equal – Gobernador taco (left), all shrimp and cheese, and pulpo (octopus).

“Any kind of interesting tacos?”

So good, on the menu side, she asked for it. And wouldn’t you know, right now we’re passing a fish market that’s…well, was. The fish market is not a moment. Now, that’s been inflated; now the sign says “Karina’s Ceviche Bar’n Tacos”.

“OPEN,” says another sign.

Abiertosays Diane, to show that she knows a little Spanish.

Loncha?” I say.

Almuerzo?” said Diana.

Bocadillo?” I say.

Comida?” she says.

“You won,” I said. “Hunger?”

Loncha, if. Nope! The last to pay!”

OK, so all of this results in both of us struggling to be the first through the narrow entrance, and both of us bursting into this large space where the fish market used to be. Now, wow, it’s this blue-gray space with a counter to the right, a fish counter behind, and long community tables filling up where the fish displays used to be. One or two people hang around the counter.

Surf and Turf, $6.50 and worth it.

“For here?” Alejandra says, and she hands us the menus.

Being seafood, things aren’t always cheap, but I see plenty of deals. And exotic stuff: Mango Tuna Jalapeño Sashimi, anyone? Costs $12. It’s ceviche, and as Alejandra’s friend Rosa points out, the acids in the lemon juice serve to “cook” the flesh of the tuna, so you don’t have to worry about the dangers of eating it raw. A plastic cup of campechana (shrimp, octopus and scallops) costs $13, a whole fried pescado is $13 a pound, and quesadillas start at $10 for cheese, go up to $12.75 for al pastor chicken, $13.75 for rib eye, $14.25 for shrimp. And a usual range of ceviches, seafood cocktails ($13) and even surf & turf fries ($15).

But it’s the tacos that grab my attention. Why? Price! Here we’re talking $4.50 for fish tacos and $5.50 for a whole range of other tacos: shrimp, rib eye, marlin, bacon-wrapped shrimp, seared ahi tuna, and Del Mar: a mix of octopus, scallops and shrimp. “You choose,” Diana says. She’s not so familiar with tacos or more specialized Mexican food presentations like Molcajetes – the $22 volcanic rock bowl filled with grilled shrimp, steak, mushrooms and cheese – or my other favorite, the fajitas (a combo of shrimp and rib eye, sautéed with tomatoes, onions and peppers, which they serve over rice with tortillas, for $17.50). Not cheap, but almost worth it, just for the sizzling presentation of the griddle. I’m sure they will. Everyone does it.

So I suggest taco ideas to Diana: “How about shrimp, Baja style? Or pulp – octopus?”

“No octopus,” Diana said. “Too smart.”

“Seared ahi tuna?”

“Too smart.”

“Tuna? They’re just fish.

Mrs. D’s eyes light up. “Fish learn faster than dogs! Not following research? Let me look…yes. University of Oxford: “In many areas, such as memory, the cognitive powers of fish match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates, including non-human primates.”

Alejandra has her electronic notepad hanging in front of her as she watches the ping pong match. Diana finally compromises on a pulp Tacos, governor (shrimps and cheese), and a surf and turf (steak and shrimps). This one costs $6.50. Diane also desperately needs a Mexican Coke (a big plastic bottle for $4), and I get a Sangria Senior, this Mexican wine tasting grape juice classic ($4).

Alejandra (left) and Rosa – Party life!

I must say that these tacos are outstanding. Big, freshly baked and full of flavor. The pulp is not too rubbery, but the cheese governor is Diane’s favorite. “It’s against all my principles. I usually don’t like to mix cheese with fish, but it worked. For me, it’s surf & turf. Delicious marinated steak with, yes, prawns Something about squelchy but utterly enticing shrimp, with the stronger steak flavors and avocado – lots of avocado – all wrapped in a browned, marinated corn tortilla. wild crispy fried onions on top.

So we end all that, and then I get greedy. I see Alejandra pass with mixed seafood on an enamel plate over a bed of ice in a bowl. Ceviche Mixto plate. Oh man. “Let’s share it!” I say. Diana nods her head. I order, and we get this big sea of ​​cooked shrimp and octopus, plus bay scallops, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers, and serrano peppers, all “cooking” in lemon juice. green, with a pile of tostadas on the side. It’s good, but it’s too much. “Too many,” says Diane. “How was that idea?” The worst thing is that we ordered the plate ($14.50) and not just the tostada ($6.50).

We pack it up and start leaving. “It’s the Contreras family’s new place,” says Rosa. “They started in Chula Vista maybe 30 years ago. Now they have six locations in the county. All family run. It is the most recent. They get all their fish from Ensenada.

“It was the most delicious meal since I arrived in California,” she says. “Except…”

“Except what? »

“Except I spilled that sauce on my white shirt!” Do you all eat with your hands in Southern California? »

“Speaking for me, yes,” I said.

  • The place: Karina’s Ceviche Bar ‘n Tacos, 1852 National Avenue, Barrio Logan, 619-876-5050 Hours: 11am-8pm daily; Close on Sunday ; Happy Hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily
  • Prices: Campechana (shrimp, octopus and scallops), $13; pescado frito (whole fish), $13 a pound; cheese quesadilla, $10; chicken al pastor quesadilla, $12.75; ribeye quesadilla, $13.75; shrimp, $14.25; seafood cocktails, $13; surf & turf fries $15; fish tacos, 4.50; shrimp tacos, $5.50; bacon-wrapped shrimp taco, $5.50; seared ahi tuna taco, $5.50; ceviche mixto, $14.50 (plate), $6.50 (tostada); molcajete (seafood volcanic rock bowl), $22
  • The buses: 12, 901, 929
  • Nearest bus stops: Logan and Beardsley (12); 10th Street and Park Boulevard (901); Main and Beardsley (929)
  • Cart: blue line
  • Nearest tram stop: Neighborhood Logan
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