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A foodie friend of ours took us to El Caguamo – aka K-guamo – for the first time a few years ago, promising us that this was the best marisquería (seafood restaurant) in the city. And since then, it has become one of our favorite downtown stops. For almost 40 years, the Tamariz family has been selling tasty shellfish and seafood on the sidewalk of Ayuntamiento Street, just a couple of blocks away from San Juan market in the heart of Mexico City.

Our favorite item to eat in a hurry – downtown is a place where everybody seems to be in a hurry – is the tostada de jaiba, a perfectly cooked blue crab ceviche served on top of a crunchy tostada with onion, lime juice and avocado. A few drops of the house habanero salsa point up the freshness of the jaiba and give it some heat. Other tostadas that we recommend are the pulpo (octopus), camarón (shrimp) and pescado mero (grouper fish, a house favorite).

El Caguamo's octopus tostada, photo by PJ RountreeEl Caguamo has a big variety of seafood and shellfish dishes that are prepared in a kitchen located in the building right in front of the booth. On recent visits, we’ve tried the caldos. These hot shrimp, fish or mixed-ingredient soups are the perfect item for a chilly evening – as July evenings tend to be in Mexico City – or after a long night of partying. Other items that can be eaten as a snack are the coctéles, shrimp or octopus cocktails with tomato juice, lime, onion, salsa and avocado served cold in tall glasses. Empanadas (puff pastry pockets that are opened right before serving and filled with your favorite seafood item) and quesadillas made with large fried corn tortillas are also customer favorites.

One dish that is very popular in any Mexico City seafood restaurant is empapelado. This dish can be fish or a mixture of shellfish cooked in aluminum foil with tomato, onion, cheese and butter. We have yet to find one better than El Caguamo’s.

El Caguamo, photo by PJ RountreeThe restaurant has been expanding of late. In the last year the Tamariz family has opened two shops just around the corner from the original location, where customers can sit down and have the same delicious experience – but with the added bonus of beer service. The restaurant is capitalizing on this by experimenting with new items. On our last visit we had a dish made with dark beer, salsa, lime juice, shrimp and oyster, which tentatively goes by the name of “Big Daddy,” but only time and customer feedback will tell whether this gets on permanent rotation.

One new item on the menu that we loved was the mixiote de pescado. Mixiote is a traditional pit-barbequed meat made in central Mexico. El Caguamo took the spices from the mixiote and swapped out the meat for a piece of grouper, which was cooked in an oven for 20 minutes, making for a deeply flavorful and satisfying dish.

Mexico City might be landlocked, but El Caguamo makes it a seafood paradise.

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PJ Rountree

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