Scouting Report: Mariscos El Faro for rare Sinaloan seafood, fried shrimp empanadas


Name of restaurant: Mariscos El Faro. Faro is the spanish word for lighthouse.

Concept: An eight-month-old coastal regional Mexican seafood truck in Highland Park specializing in Sinaloa-style seafood that goes the extra mile to use beautiful wild fish in the ceviche preparations.

Chef: Hector Rayos, a native of El Sitio del Medio de Badiraguato, Sinaloa. He previously worked for 15 years at the popular San Fernando Valley Mexican American restaurant Las Fuentes.

What dish represents the restaurant, and why? Callo de lobina, a coastal preparation of wild bass that involves salt-curing the meaty fish for at least 24 hours. It is then sliced in ridiculously thick sashimi-like slices (or tronchitos) and prepared with the chef’s signature toasty salsa negra sauce chock full of chiltepin chile pepper, a moderately spicy chile typically used in Sinaloan cuisine. The flavor is similar to that of freshly cracked black pepper, except with more heat.


Runners-up? Empanadas de camarón. Such an expertly prepared version of this Mexican beach town staple food is equally as hard to find in Los Angeles as the aforementioned lobina. The coastal Mexican way of preparing empanadas involves deep frying a highly seasoned corn masa-based turnover, stuffed with chopped plump shrimp, until flaky, crunchy and chewy at the same time.

Who’s at the next table? No tables here, just milk crates. They are being sat on by a Mexican family, complete with two toddlers munching on fiery raw shrimp aguachile along with their parents.

Appropriate for: A quick, extremely refreshing and light lunch on a sweltering Los Angeles afternoon.

What are you drinking? An ice-cold pouch of Caprisun, Pacific Cooler flavor.

Service: Order at the window and feel free to ask for lower or higher spice levels while ordering.

Uh-oh: The disposable plates used are flimsy and loaded with salsa, be careful not to spill all over your dog or shoes.

Info: 6113-6139 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, (in front of the Highland Park Recreation Center), (323) 787-9398. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on Tuesdays.