San Carlos Bay Seafood Restaurant

Until we discovered San Carlos Bay, we never understood octopus. Sure, we'd eaten it as sushi, and were happy enough with the sometimes rubbery, often tasteless seafood. The novelty intrigued us, though never knocked us out. Yet now we know: There's simply nothing better than San Carlos' garlic octopus, impossibly tender, outrageously fragrant, and decadently buttery. It positively melts in our mouths, spooned in messy bundles of flour tortillas wrapped around French fries, rice, beans and salad. In fact, San Carlos has given us an entirely new appreciation for the swimming stuff of all kinds. We adore the authentic seafood cocktail, brimming with octopus, squid and shrimp in a zesty tomato broth spiked with cucumbers, onions and cilantro. Shrimp is always sparkling fresh, served in our favorite culichi style (a tangy green sauce blended with cheese and sour cream) or "endiablados" (meaning the devil, as in hot sauce). Snapper is stupendous, too, prepared Veracruz-style (zesty olives, onions, tomatoes and peppers), or served whole, fried and torn in fleshy chunks, slathered with creamy beans and rice, dunked in zingy salsa and wrapped in warm tortillas.

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