Brae Canlen 8:30 a.m., April 20
Swordfish at a gas station? El Venado, Chula Vista
Down by the Otay river, swordfish plays with Ed’s taste buds
I mean, come on. It’s a gas station.
So how come I’m eating the most scrumptious swordfish taco I can remember, and right here?
This is Mariscos El Venado (3733 Main Street, Chula Vista, 619-476-80710), part of the Cali-Mart gas station.
Can't help noticing: It's a seafood place, but it's called "El Venado," "The Deer." Think "Venison."
Turns out they have plenty of standard land food too, from a pollo asado plate ($6.99 with rice and beans), to rolled tacos (three for($2.99).
I’ve just got a chorizo and egg breakfast ($4.99) and a horchata rice drink ($1.50) from Alba, the gal at the counter.
It goes down well.
But the beautiful surprise comes when I decide to go for one seafood thing. Hey, this is a marisco place.
Gonzalo the cook says everybody loves their swordfish tacos and burritos ($3.49 and $7.99. The burrito comes with rice and beans).
Can't resist. I go for the swordfish taco.
“Actually it’s marlin,” says Gonzalo. “We get it from the Sea of Cortez.”
Pretty soon, Gonzalo comes out with the marlin taco, and ho boy. This is truly a marisco masterpiece. The saltiness of the reddy-pink chunks of marlin is their natural taste, he says. No salt added.
The whole little corn tortilla circle is dotted with crunchy green and red bell peppers, celery, red onion. And the crowning glory is the sour cream and chipotle sauce that comes in a pot. Orange color. I pour it over, and man. Beautiful, fresh, tasty, zippy-hot.
Honestly, I haven’t had a better one, nowhere.
I mean, who knew? Gastronomy at the gas station?
More in upcoming Tin Fork.