Restaurant Review: Sharky’s

Mexican Seafood At Sharky’s

Ari LeVaux
5 min read
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“They call it Mexican Viagra,” said the man with the shark stitched into his shirt. I had asked him about the stingray soup known as cahuamanta. It’s available on weekends, and sometimes during the week, at Sharky’s, a Mexican seafood place on West Central, between Coors and Old Coors.

The owner, he of the shark shirt, is gregarious, constantly making the rounds of the outdoor dining area and talking up the food. When he got to my table, he asked if the
caracol (sea snails) were tender enough (they were). When I expressed my curiosity about the cahuamanta, he told me about Mexican Viagra, and offered me a sample.

Chunks of stingray flesh, slightly chewy and slightly stringy, bobbed in a light tomato broth with a hint of oregano. The broth, while simple, had a depth and richness to it, as if more was going on below the surface than first met the tongue. As I returned to the ordering counter to get a grapefruit soda, I waited behind a man and a woman. She stood quietly as the man ordered a bowl of cahuamanta, carefully customizing it with extra this and that, like one who has ordered it many times. They sat down. She ate nothing, and attentively watched her companion eat his stingray soup.

It was a hot day, and in the rafters that supported the shade cloth above the long dining area, nozzles released a fine mist of water droplets. In most parts of the dining area, temperatures dropped pleasantly as a result. A few spots were so wet that they needed to be avoided. As it was Tuesday, Taco Tuesday that is, we had indulged in the weekly special of three “Baja-style” tacos for $5. The default order comes with deep-fried fish, but they will grill it for you if you prefer. The tacos were simple, yet amazing, thanks in no small part to the well-appointed salsa bar that included not only a bevy of salsas, but roasted jalapeños and yellow peppers as well. We got more of those same delicious yellows in the
chile caribe, where they were stuffed with shrimp and cheese and wrapped in bacon.

When my in-laws were in town a few weeks later and wanted Mexican food, I brought them to Sharky’s. To be honest, there aren’t too many Mexican seafood places in town that I would bring anyone, much less my in-laws (Mariscos Altamar and El Zarandeado are two other notable exceptions). The in-laws stayed within their comfort levels with burritos—one with grilled fish, the other with fried shrimp. I would never bother to order a burrito at a Mexican seafood joint, but I was pleasantly surprised at how they turned out, especially the one filled with fried shrimp, the crunchiness of which offered nice texture in the middle of the bite. The flatish burritos contained plenty of fresh cabbage as well, adding to the crunch.

Meanwhile, I had taken it upon myself to push those parental comfort zones. I went with a combo coco, a young coconut with its soft flesh scooped out and mixed with an assortment of shrimp, fish, octopus and other seafood in a sharp tomatoey sauce. It was something like a shrimp cocktail in a coconut. The same list of seafood options for the cocos can also be ordered in a large stone grinding mortar called a
molcajete. An order of shrimp guacamole came in one of these as well. Shrimp guacamole was basically what it sounds like, and it sounded pretty good to me. Indeed, it was a fantastic combination, with a lurking sharpness of Mexican hot sauce. An order of shrimp and fish ceviche was bright with citrus and onion; the flesh was fresh, tender and clean tasting. The only disappointment, and a minor one at that, was the botana de camaron. It was only disappointing because it didn’t resemble the picture on the menu, which was of something like a tostada piled high with fixings. Instead it was a plate of shrimp interspersed with slices of avocado and onion.

Not that we went without tostadas, an entire bag of which was casually placed on our table. This may have been the highlight of my father-in-law’s meal. The tostadas went with basically everything, even the dregs of the Sonoran hot dog I had ordered out of curiosity.

When Sharky came around, I asked him about another curious item I’d seen on the menu:

Chile, lime, salt and raw, deveined shrimp, he said.

“Raw shrimp?” I asked, trying to prevent a grossed-out look from consuming my face.

And with that Sharky was gone. He returned bearing a sample plate of aguachile. We ate the quivering, grayish creatures, split in half, with lime and chile and salt, all of which accentuated the sweetness of the raw shrimp.

I would have ordered a beer, but while Sharky’s had plans for liquor license, and even listed beer on the menu, that had fallen through. I ordered a Mexican Pepsi instead, and was suddenly a long ways from the bustle of West Central. I was in a fishing shack, somewhere south of Ensenada, and I was in no hurry to return.

Sharky’s Fish and Shrimp

5420 Central SW


Hours: 10am-9pm Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-7pm Sundays (hours can change without notice)

Booze: Not yet. Beer is on the horizon.

Plastic: Yes

The Alibi recommends: Fish taco special, shrimp guacamole, cahuamanta, ceviche, fried shrimp burrito

Central by the Sea

Shrimp guacamole

Eric Williams

Central by the Sea


Eric Williams

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