99 Essential Restaurants 2014

Mariscos Jalisco

photo by Anne Fishbein

Anyone who has made a habit of driving down Olympic to East Los Angeles for the fantastic taco dorado de caramon (fried shrimp taco) at Mariscos Jalisco surely has spent some time channeling their inner Sherlock to figure out what, exactly, makes it so addicting. While there are some potential suspects — the creamy filling studded with fresh, plump shrimp; the way the filling is folded into a tortilla and then fried wholesale in hot, clean oil, pulled out at just the right time to char the edges and give the taco a most satisfying crunch; the salsa and slices of avocado that top everything off — there is likely something far more intangible at work here. There’s owner Raul Ortega greeting every customer, many of whom have been coming to the truck since it opened a little more than a decade ago. There’s the adrenaline vibrating from the bustle of Olympic. And there’s the kinetic energy of everyone in line, waiting for that one perfect taco. Elementary, after all.

-- Tien Nguyen