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El Peladito imports a better sports bar menu

The bar and grill chain out of Mexico City serves stuffed oysters, grilled seafood, and tomahawk steaks

An oyster "stuffed" with green shrimp aguachile
An oyster "stuffed" with green shrimp aguachile

Baseball rules at El Peladito. Its entire back wall creates the illusion the Otay Ranch bar and grill sits on the first-base line of a baseball stadium, complete with lawn stripes and a replay screen mounted over the centerfield bullpen. Around the dining room and bar area, pro baseball jerseys are mounted alongside the wide screen TVs.

Place

El Peladito

2130 Birch Rd #104, Chula Vista

But screens are not exclusively tuned to the Padres or Major League Baseball here. Spotted among memorabilia are Mexican League jerseys. I see one repping the Tijuana Toros and another for the Diablos Rojos del México.

That last team is from Mexico City, and so is El Peladito. Turns out, this location on the east side of Chula Vista is the restaurant chain’s only one outside Mexico’s capital. And though it mostly looks the same as any American sports bar, there are a couple things it does differently. Number one: those gleaming liquor bottles on the shelves above the TVs, they hold agave spirits. Number two: it offers a wide range of Sinaloa-style Mexican food.

Mexico City restaurant chain El Peladito opened a sports bar in Otay Ranch, its only U.S. location.

Located across the Gulf of California from Baja California Sur, the state of Sinaloa thrives on beef and seafood, so there is plenty of it to be found among the brand’s professed 60 dishes. On the beef side, options range from hamburgers and birria tacos to a 75-dollar ribeye and market price tomahawk steak; each served with blistered chili peppers and corn tortillas.

But it’s the seafood menus that truly distinguish it from any American sports bar chain I could name off the top of my head. Of course, that starts with Sinaloa’s best known culinary genre: Mariscos. Here too, options range from modest to showy, beginning with multiple types of ceviche (two for $15); shrimp or octopus cocktails ($18); and massive molcajete stuffed with shrimp, steak, octopus, and chicken ($45). Plus, in addition to standard oysters on the half shell (six for $12), there are stuffed oysters, including the ostenes don diablo ($16), where the oysters are topped with green shrimp aguachile and finished with microcilantro.

A birria taco, purchased a la carte for $6

Sure, these prices are steep compared to a Mariscos food truck, then in return you get table service and a sports bar atmosphere. Meanwhile, you get a menu that surpasses the sports bar norm both in breadth and quality, for about the same budget, depending how you order. For example, a dozen different $12-18 taco trios ranging from fried fish to surf and turf of shrimp and carne asada.

That said, visiting at lunchtime on a weekend, I was disheartened to find that a few of the seafood taco options were unavailable, which could be a persisting problem for a menu this large, given all the supply chain woes these days. Fortunately, I found my thrill with one of the menu’s more charming and popular dishes — and no, I don’t mean the Hot Cheetos shrimp tempura sushi roll ($18).

Lonja Zarandeada, an updated take on precolumbian style of grilled fish from the region of the Sinaloa coast

I’m talking about a boneless take on zarandeada ($24), an approach to grilling butterflied fish that originated in the coastal region in and around Sinaloa some 500 years ago, before the Spanish showed up.

Seems it’s traditionally served bone, tail, and all, but I was thrilled to order grilled sea bass at a sports bar, and more so that it was marinated with adobo spice and served on a wood cutting board with guacamole, charred chili peppers, and corn tortillas. They assembled into a succulent sort of fish tacos I don’t see very often. I don’t even recall whether there was a baseball game on.

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An oyster "stuffed" with green shrimp aguachile
An oyster "stuffed" with green shrimp aguachile

Baseball rules at El Peladito. Its entire back wall creates the illusion the Otay Ranch bar and grill sits on the first-base line of a baseball stadium, complete with lawn stripes and a replay screen mounted over the centerfield bullpen. Around the dining room and bar area, pro baseball jerseys are mounted alongside the wide screen TVs.

Place

El Peladito

2130 Birch Rd #104, Chula Vista

But screens are not exclusively tuned to the Padres or Major League Baseball here. Spotted among memorabilia are Mexican League jerseys. I see one repping the Tijuana Toros and another for the Diablos Rojos del México.

That last team is from Mexico City, and so is El Peladito. Turns out, this location on the east side of Chula Vista is the restaurant chain’s only one outside Mexico’s capital. And though it mostly looks the same as any American sports bar, there are a couple things it does differently. Number one: those gleaming liquor bottles on the shelves above the TVs, they hold agave spirits. Number two: it offers a wide range of Sinaloa-style Mexican food.

Mexico City restaurant chain El Peladito opened a sports bar in Otay Ranch, its only U.S. location.

Located across the Gulf of California from Baja California Sur, the state of Sinaloa thrives on beef and seafood, so there is plenty of it to be found among the brand’s professed 60 dishes. On the beef side, options range from hamburgers and birria tacos to a 75-dollar ribeye and market price tomahawk steak; each served with blistered chili peppers and corn tortillas.

But it’s the seafood menus that truly distinguish it from any American sports bar chain I could name off the top of my head. Of course, that starts with Sinaloa’s best known culinary genre: Mariscos. Here too, options range from modest to showy, beginning with multiple types of ceviche (two for $15); shrimp or octopus cocktails ($18); and massive molcajete stuffed with shrimp, steak, octopus, and chicken ($45). Plus, in addition to standard oysters on the half shell (six for $12), there are stuffed oysters, including the ostenes don diablo ($16), where the oysters are topped with green shrimp aguachile and finished with microcilantro.

A birria taco, purchased a la carte for $6

Sure, these prices are steep compared to a Mariscos food truck, then in return you get table service and a sports bar atmosphere. Meanwhile, you get a menu that surpasses the sports bar norm both in breadth and quality, for about the same budget, depending how you order. For example, a dozen different $12-18 taco trios ranging from fried fish to surf and turf of shrimp and carne asada.

That said, visiting at lunchtime on a weekend, I was disheartened to find that a few of the seafood taco options were unavailable, which could be a persisting problem for a menu this large, given all the supply chain woes these days. Fortunately, I found my thrill with one of the menu’s more charming and popular dishes — and no, I don’t mean the Hot Cheetos shrimp tempura sushi roll ($18).

Lonja Zarandeada, an updated take on precolumbian style of grilled fish from the region of the Sinaloa coast

I’m talking about a boneless take on zarandeada ($24), an approach to grilling butterflied fish that originated in the coastal region in and around Sinaloa some 500 years ago, before the Spanish showed up.

Seems it’s traditionally served bone, tail, and all, but I was thrilled to order grilled sea bass at a sports bar, and more so that it was marinated with adobo spice and served on a wood cutting board with guacamole, charred chili peppers, and corn tortillas. They assembled into a succulent sort of fish tacos I don’t see very often. I don’t even recall whether there was a baseball game on.

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