Marisco Godoy's gobernador marries a taco and a quesadilla. Photo by Dhanraj Emanuel.Mariscos Godoy651 Palomar St.Chula Vista619-425-8594
Mariscos Godoy is just one of the South Bay's Mexican seafood restaurants with ties to Tijuana, though the cuisine's roots derive from Sinaloa, a coastal fishing state bordered on the west by the Sea of Cortez. Though Godoy's longtime Tijuana location burned down more than a year ago, there's still a Mexicali outpost in addition to the popular Chula Vista location, just off Interstate 5. Godoy, along with other area mariscos shops, is feeding San Diegans what enterprising food seekers north of the border already know—that Mexican seafood is more than just fish tacos.
Meals at Mariscos Godoy start with the customary chips and salsa, plus a small plate of citrusy house ceviche—finely chopped fish mixed with red onion and jalapeño—and, for each diner, a little mug of hot seafood consommé, a concentrated broth imbued with briny seafood flavor. Both are great appetite primers, though the house salsa alone is enough of a treat. A thick mix of tomato, chile and green onion, it's just spicy enough to keep you going back for more.
Best is to start with a shared, chilled seafood dish or two before moving on to the hot plates. If I'm prepared for something fiery, I go for aguachile, raw seafood that's ever-so-slightly cooked in a chilled bath of lime juice and spicy chiles, strewn with half moons of red onion. Slightly less spicy is a shrimp ceviche, raw chopped shrimp flash-cooked in lime juice with chopped cucumbers and rings of raw jalapeño on top that you can take or leave, served with flat crunchy corn tostadas for scooping. Milder still is the shrimp cocktail, plump and clean in a sweet tomato water. Or, if you're with a group, get the fresh coconut stuffed full and pilled high with a variety of seafood in a tangy sauce.
At first glance, the photo on the menu of the torito chiles looks like standard-issue jalapeño poppers—you know the ones, stuffed with melted cheddar or, worse, cream cheese. But when they arrive at your table, you'll see that the peppers used here are small, conical-shaped yellow chiles with a mild, sweet flavor, stuffed with a devastatingly tasty filling of rich, salty, smoked marlin and served with a creamy sauce for dipping.
If you have your heart set on fish tacos, they're good here, too. The Ensenada-style tacos feature fried lengths of flaky white fish topped with cabbage, salsa fresca and two kinds of creamy sauce—one white and one pink. Though, if I'm going the taco route, I prefer one of the shrimp versions, either the spicy shrimp taco or the fine Sinaloan specialty, taco gobernador. The tacos gobernador I've had elsewhere have varied, but most are some combination of whole shrimp sautéed with tomato, onions, celery and peppers, all anchored to a corn tortilla by a bit of melted cheese. Mariscos Godoy's gobernador is almost like a quesadilla, with the tortilla semi-crisped on the outside and the interior a flavorful, gooey mix of cheese, chopped shrimp and vegetables.
Another regional dish worth trying, from the neighboring state of Nayarit, is the pulpo zarandeado, which comes as half an octopus marinated in a ruddy chile-and-garlic adobo and seared. The four tentacles are meaty and very tender but taste slightly under-seasoned on their own, which is where the sauce served alongside, an intriguing blend soy sauce and crushed dried chiles, comes in. When spooned over the octopus, the seafood takes on a moistness and savor from the earthy soy that's lovely, especially all wrapped up in a bit of warm corn tortilla.
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