Friday, March 30, 2012
Las Islas Marias
If you ask someone what they think of when they think of Mexican food, almost invariably you will hear tacos, burritos, enchiladas, empanadas, and possibly tamales and if you ask about the proteins used you will probably hear pork, beef, chicken, beans, and possibly goat. While this does describe a lot of Mexican food. Mexico also has two very long coasts so they also do a lot of very good seafood. I went to an early dinner at Las Islas Marias last week. Located on Milwaukee Avenue just south of Logan Square, it is in a hot area with a lot of traffic. It is pretty small so even with the bright blue exterior it is easy to miss. The interior is pretty nondescript with tile floors and cafeteria style tables but there are a couple of nice murals on the walls showing a tropical beach/seascape. There is also a small bar at the back of the restaurant. I entered and was told to seat myself. After which, I was quickly waited on. I made my order and while I was waiting, was brought a bowl of crisp corn tortillas and the hottest salsa verde that I have ever had. It had a texture similar to relish and a nice tang but while I like my food a little on the spicy side, this was too hot to eat. My first course was a shrimp tostada or as it was called on the menu, a Tostada de Ceviche Con Camaron. While they did give me a plastic fork to assist in eating it, I really didn't need the fork. The corn tortilla base was crisp and the topping was arranged well enough that it wasn't falling all over the place when I bit into it. The ceviche topping had a lot of shrimp of course but there was also onions, cilantro, cucumber, celery, tomatoes, and peppers. It was pretty good, the one issue being that it dripped and ran down my arm while I was eating it.
For my entree, I had a grilled red snapper with a garlic sauce that was served with rice and a side salad or as they called it, "Huachinango Frito Al Ajo". It was really good. The fish was chopped and grilled to a light char. Snapper has a lightly sweet taste to it, the garlic sauce adds a salty, tart, and garlicky taste to it. The rice had some light vegetables and while the salad really didn't add much to the plate, it, at least, was fresh.
While I liked what I had here, I think that it might have helped if I had known a little more Spanish. The food is good as was the service but after asking about another dish on the menu that I was unsure about, I was still unsure about what exactly it was. I may just have to come back sometime and try it out to figure it out myself.