El Berraco is Pretty Badass

El Berraco is Pretty Badass

Foodie Review

At the urging of my son, I agreed to try a very unusual restaurant on a recent visit to Tucson. Knowing that I like unique dining spots that you can’t really experience anywhere else, he described the place as something that looks like a submarine and serves seafood. It’s called El Berraco. My first thought was, “Oh great, it’s probably some gimmicky get-up that serves fried fish strips and french fries.” Yawn.

2 berracoSometimes you give in to your kid because, well, that’s what parents do. But I was nothing short of amused when we pulled into the parking lot and, indeed, the place looks incredibly submarine-like; steel walls, portholes for windows, the whole bit. There were antique scuba helmets on the walls and the porthole windows were shrouded in blue film to make you feel like you were underwater. My scuba addict kid loved it.

I have to say it was anything but boring – and I’m proud to say my son’s tastes have grown up a bit since he left home. Yes, they serve seafood, but it’s not like any seafood I’ve ever had in my life. It was a mix of fresh raw, grilled and fried ingredients in combinations I’d never seen together. At first glance, you think it’s going to be typical Mexican seafood, but it’s more than that and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. What the heck is this place?

I asked our server, Angela, what El Berraco even means and how she would describe the menu. She said El Berraco is a Colombian Spanish slang term that means “badass” and the menu is Mexican-Colombian fusion with some Peruvian thrown in. She explained that the seafood dishes are inspired by flavors and combinations you’ll find in the Latin Pacific region. That made sense. I was seeing some of the foods I’d tasted in Mexico mixed up with foods I’d tasted in the Caribbean. The rest came from countries I have yet to experience, but El Berrraco took me on a mini-adventure that certainly piqued my appetite.

3 berraco
The La Berraca Tostada

First, if you love a good tostada, you’ve got to try this place. They assemble the most interesting combinations of tostada toppings I’ve ever seen, some cooked and some raw. I ordered the La Berraca (pictured above), a crunchy tostada piled high with your choice of raw or grilled thin-sliced tuna, salmon, scallops, shrimp, salseado, cucumber and fresh guacamole. I ordered mine grilled. Delish.


El Triple!

My son ordered Tacos El Clasico, which comes with your choice of shrimp, jaiba, octopus, or swordfish with grilled cheese. Both of our entrees were great, but there are much more creative menu items which caught my eye, such as the El Triple! (pictured left), a set of three ceviche-like seafood cocktail “shots” filled with various flavor combos containing fresh shrimp, oysters and scallops in a sauce of salseado, beer and a twist of lime.

Mr. Faro
Mr. Faro

Or the Mr. Faro (pictured right): fresh tuna, salmon and scallops stacked with tamarindo, orange and pineapple salsa and crunchy beets.

They offer seven varieties of seafood cocktails, including El Gorrion: cooked shrimp, escargots, oysters, scallops and octopus in a chilled chavela sauce with tangy chamoy and chili on the rim. If you’re really up for something different try the La Gordita: stingray machaca on a corn gordita, covered with chipotle ahogo sauce and served with lettuce, picked onions, avocado, cream and radish. Their cocktail menu was quite tempting, too, with all sorts of tropical concoctions that take you to a lower latitude where life is slower and the fruit is sweeter.

Angela told us they’ve only been open for about a year and people are really starting to appreciate their unique brand of Latin seafood. They offer live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Currently, they’ve earned 4.8/5 stars on Google Reviews, 4/5 stars on Yelp, and 4.5/5 stars on Trip Advisor. Reviewers consistently comment that the food and service are great, as was our experience. If you’re in Tucson and up for something totally different, give El Berraco a try.

El Berraco

2960 N. 1st Avenue

Tucson, AZ

(520) 620-9828

Hours: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. From 10am to 9pm
Thursday, Friday and Saturday. From 10am to 11pm

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