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Big-time food critics don’t usually write about fast-casual joints, saving their words instead for Michelin-starred spots with white tablecloths. But they've made a telling exception for Señor Fish, a Mexican-seafood outfit launched by siblings Enrique and Alicia Ramirez in 1988. Soon after the restaurant opened, writers from publications such as the Los Angeles Times began to praise the Ramirez's fish tacos, which were inspired by those sold along the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Crowds began flocking to Señor Fish's tiny Highland Park kiosk, hungering for the ocean-fresh fish and handmade tortillas they’d read about in the papers.
Three decades later, diners are still flocking to Señor Fish, which has evolved into five popular locations throughout LA. Enrique and Alicia remain deeply involved in the restaurants' daily operations. We talked with Enrique about the highlights of his iconic eatery.
On Finding Fame: “[In 1988], a top reviewer from the Los Angeles Times reviewed us. Once we got that review, tons of people started reviewing us—Molly O'Neill, a food critic in New York City, did a story on us on the front page of the food section in The New York Times. Afterwards, when people were on vacation [from New York] and came to eat, they’d mention it.”
On the Scallop Taco: "Not too many people have ever had a scallop in a taco. It’s kind of a novelty. We use 10-20 scallops, which means there are 10-20 per pound, so it’s kind of jumbo scallop. And all of our seafood is wild—free-range from the ocean—as opposed to farmed."
On Guadalajara-Style Carnitas: "Our carnitas are traditional to Guadalajara, where our family is from. We make it every day and use good-quality, expensive protein."