Andrea’s View: Dear Reader: I am having such a hard time writing this blog because I am not really sure where to begin. Maybe I should start with the name of the restaurant. El Puerto de San Blas. Ok, good start. Maybe now I should describe the building. It’s a blue 1970’s looking diner with two giant metal shrimp hanging from the awning. Yes, that’s right, you read two giant metal shrimp hanging from the awning. When I saw the two giant metal shrimp, I thought to myself, “This is going to be fantastic.”
Inside, it looks like the bones of a 1970’s Bob Evans or even a Pizza Hut, but redecorated to look like a 1980’s Mexican Red Lobster. With menus in Spanish. With pictures for those who don’t speak Spanish. Not that I expect that many non-Spanish speaking patrons eat here. Though they should. And one should assume with the metal shrimp and the 80’s Red Lobster decor and the pictures of seafood all over the Spanish menu that this is indeed a Mexican seafood restaurant. Eh-hem, Dave.
Our very nice server came by our table with the obligatory chips and salsa and asked for our drink orders. There were actually two salsa options, one being a traditional tomato (albeit VERY hot) and the other, a mild pico de gallo with crab. Both were delightful, although I ended up eating the entire dish of crab salsa all by myself. To be fair, I did ask Dave several times if he wanted some too. I perused the menu, mainly looking at the pictures, and picking out some of the Spanish words I do know and I decided to go for the seven seas soup. I assumed it would be a safe, but not too safe, option. I have never had seven seas soup before, and with this being a seafood restaurant, I decided to go for some seafood.
So as Dave and I are waiting for our food, a mariachi band starts playing. OMG how fabulous is that!!? I’m sitting in a Mexican seafood restaurant, sipping a margarita, with Spanish language menus and a mariachi band is playing right there in the dining room. I don’t even care what my lunch tastes (or looks like), I am loving this experience. Without too much delay our food comes out, and as Dave would put it, I had a momentary “Oh shit” moment.
When I ordered my seven seas soup, my first thought was that I had ordered a safe option. I mean, how weird or bizarre can a soup be? Then I remembered Dave’s fish head soup at Café Korea. When I saw my enormous bowl of soup with crab legs hanging out, I immediately thought to myself, “There has got to be a head of some sort floating in that bowl.” And there were. Shrimp heads. Along with the crab legs, and the crab leg cracking instrument that I have no idea how to work, came whole shrimp with shell, tail, and head. But to the faint of heart, rest assured, there was plenty of de-shelled crab and beheaded shrimp in the soup along with scallops, chunks of white fish, mussels, calamari, and clams to detract my attention away from the shrimp heads. My ginormous bowl of soup even came with onions, cilantro, and lime to dress my soup and freshly made tortillas to soak up the tomato broth. It was delicious. I ate so much, I was uncomfortably full. And to be honest, my exceedingly full stomach was the only part of me that was uncomfortable. It did not matter that I speak little to no Spanish, that our server spoke little to no English, that Dave and I were the only non-Latinos dining there, and that there were two giant metal shrimp hanging from the building. It did not matter because nobody cared. All that mattered was that the food and the service and the live music was kick ass good.
Dave’s View: I’ve never been to a restaurant that will transform you into another dimension. I’ve never been to a restaurant, leave and say, “Was I just in Mexico?” It all started out innocently at El Puerto de San Blas on Lafayette Road. Kind of a strange exterior building with its two ornamental giant shrimps hanging off the sides of the building. You walk in to a fairly small restaurant and then there is the pause. The pause from the wait staff. The stare of two white people coming into a well established Latino restaurant. Andrea and I have seen that stare many times and we both look at each other and say, “Eh, let’s eat.”
Our server sat us down and we ordered drinks. The Spanish accent was thick, but I could understand her and she was very polite. I ordered the Fillet Tips, which are slices of beef with onions and smothered with cheese. Our server said, “It’s not fish.” Now, the sentence, “It’s not fish”, came out three times from our server, because I didn’t catch it the first two times via the language barrier. I also think, my brain could comprehend why she would be asking me, “It’s not fish.” I said, ” Yeah, I know, it’s not fish.” I should have put two in two together. Why is there two shrimps hanging outside the building? This is a seafood Mexican place you dummie! They specialize in Mexican seafood platters. But this adventure wasn’t so much about my food, then it was about Andrea’s food and the atmosphere of the restaurant.
After we ordered our dishes, an older gentleman starts playing his guitar behind me. He doesn’t have the perfect voice, but he does place the guitar quite nicely. I don’t know what he’s singing about because it was in Spanish, but the man has soul and it really relaxes you while you’re waiting for your meal. Our meals comes out and my dish looks typical, but Andrea’s dish is definitely a wake up call. The look Andrea gave to the dish was priceless. It was the “Oh my God, what have I’ve gotten myself into” look. Seven Seas Soup is what it’s called. More like the whole ocean was swimming in there. There’s crab legs, small shrimps, big shrimps, and shrimps with eyeballs and legs, clams, etc. She didn’t eat the shrimp with eyeballs, she would just dunk them down. The faces were freaking her out. She also didn’t eat the crab legs, because she didn’t know how to crack them. I don’t know either, but I didn’t order the dish. I was just having the time of my life watching Andrea eat something she didn’t know how to handle. I wish I had a video.
Now about this time, there was another band striking up to play. It was two guys, one with a guitar and another with an accordion. They were playing and going around to the tables and I just looked around the restaurant. Very family oriented, the place was getting full, Andrea was dunking into her soup and the older gentleman that I was talking about was standing alone by the bathrooms gently touching the strings on his guitar. I didn’t feel sorry nor pity for man, I just wanted him to play. He never did play again while we were in the restaurant, he just stood there waiting for the moment to interrupt the other two guys to start playing. The patient guitar player. So if you do visit this restaurant, all your positive energy needs to go to the lone guitar player. He deserves it and he won’t let you down.
As we left the restaurant, it was surreal, the music, the culture, and the food. I was speechless when I left this restaurant. I couldn’t believe the experience I just had. Amazing!
Service: 9 Food: 9 Ambiance: 10 Total: 28 out 30
$45-$55 with adult beverages.
Note: Go on the weekends. They serve buffets throughout the week. Check out their website. Extremely professional with great pictures of their food.