Mariscos Ruben: Claw and Fin and Chiltepin
|Bill Esparza / Street Gourmet LA|
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Mariscos Ruben, though, in a gritty-looking (but perfectly safe) part of downtown Tijuana between the Mercado Hidalgo and the clubs of 6th St., aims to change that. It's a huge operation for a mobile eatery, with a permanent building, a truck, and a huge awning connecting the two, allowing you to eat in the shade, and they are proudly Sonoran. All you have to do is ask about the provenance of the seafood, and they'll talk about the arid shores that teem with underwater life waiting for lucky people like you to stop by and eat.
Sonora is also the home of the chiltepin, a small, bomb-shaped chile that blasts your mouth with a few milliseconds of intense, explosive capsaicin burn before fading away to a sweet finish, and Ruben's truck has a beautiful salsa de chiltepin. While there's an array of homemade and bottled salsas on the table against the shed, the bright red chiltepin salsa has pride of place on the counter at the truck. Pair it with anything that contains shrimp; the blast of spice primes the tongue perfectly for the sweetness of Sea of Cortez shrimp.
Find Mariscos Ruben at the corner of Calle Octava (8th St.) and Quintana Roo, just a block toward downtown from Taquería Franc and two blocks from Mercado Hidalgo. Officially, they are open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but many times the ladies are there taking orders as early as 8 a.m., particularly on weekends.