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El Paso owner opens Mariscos seafood restaurant

The first clue that Mariscos is unlike its sister restaurants is what’s missing. When you sit down, no basket of tortilla chips arrives, nor bowls of sauce. What’s up?

Mariscos, owner Mauricio Montano’s third El Paso-branded restaurant and fourth overall (he also owns Tequila’s), is a seafood restaurant, mostly. It’s still Mexican — again, mostly, one lunch item is a tuna sandwich with fries — and offers a seven-page supper menu of everything from cheese sticks and oysters on the half shell to deep fried snapper to the $49.99 Parrilla Deluxe skillet — loaded with lobster, skirt steak, shrimp, plantains and vegetables.
Montano said he wanted Mariscos to be different from his more conventional Mexican restaurants on Spartanburg Highway and in the Best Western on Sugarloaf Road. He’s achieved that, both in décor and menu.
A renovated space in Plaza La Fiesta on Asheville Highway, the dining room is spacious and colorful, with walls painted the color of sky and sea. Instead of the chips, a server brings a cup of drinkable fish soup and a mini-loaf of bread.
“It’s a completely different concept,” Montano said. “People come in and ask for what they have at El Paso.”
Mariscos lacks some of those menu items, for sure. There’s no refried beans, for instance. Ask directions to the salsa bar and you’ll find out there’s not one. But there’s still plenty of the regular fare, too.
Lunch specials include chimichangas, burrito wraps, quesadillas and, of course, fish tacos. Marisco’s real ambitions are evidenced in the night-time menu, which includes lobster, 11 different camarone (prawn) dishes ($14.99), eight other seafood specialties ($11-15) and five “famous skillets” with chicken or steak ($14-19). Appetizers include a plate of wings for $8.99, oysters ($18.99 for a dozen), seafood broth with shrimp and crab legs and shrimp ($8.99) and cheese empanadas ($9.99). Dessert includes pastel tres leches ($4.99), fried ice cream ($3.49) and flan Napolitano ($4.99). The restaurant also has a full bar serving beer (including 12 Mexican brands), wine, Margaritas and other mixed drinks.

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Mariscos El Paso, in Plaza La Fiesta at 2111 Asheville Highway, is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Phone: 828-513-4118.