Whas Good? El Barco Mariscos, shuun!
On the barrio side of Ashland there is a place where Chicagoans can actually get dope seafood and avert puking something that looks like New England Clam Chowder the next day.
This place is fresh (both definitions apply). Bustling and lively.
The waitresses wear tube tops to reveal family recipes. Creepy dead fish hang over you and stare with beady eyes. On the far wall is a display case of at least 300 bottles of different Tiquilas. Telemundo and horrible Mexico City Pop feud for your attention while you dine.
Me and ole girl that I used to be having sex with visited this place awhile back as she is a Wicker Park native. In date mode, we are quick to hit the alcohol and get loud with our family from south of the border. El Barco does the classic bucket o beers…If you are a patron, please don’t be that Bobo who comes in asking for Rogue Dead Guy Ale or Fat Tire. Get the Dos Equis or Corona, dummy. In fact, each table has enough limes to cover Cuba’s Mojito addiction well into the next century.
We started lite and get a plate of smelts:
What the hell is a smelt? Well, its actually a sad excuse for fish. Pop these things in your mouth like you’re Orvel Redenbacher. Oh, don’t forget the Achiote sauce or one of the 20 flavors of “mucho caliente” hot sauce, cuz these fry daddies taste just like the North American lakes in which they originated.
We also select the fish tacos (shes a pescatarian) and ceviche which are both winners in my book. But the Creme de la creme was this bastard:
Our server, Rosalita, said, “no mas pescada para dos personas.” I said eff it, were getting the Red Snapper damnit. So we ended up ordering a fish for 4. I spent significant time in developing countries, so I have this obsession to fish with the head still intact.
The snapper poked fun at me…daring me to be a man. I slap a napkin on bib style and clock in. The flavor in this daddy gave me mental images of swimming naked with schools of other snapper around a shipwreck. After 30 minutes I retreated, weak from my seaman’s journey. Soon, Rosalita came offering us a doggy bag and I swear that I heard the fish say, “fuck you.”