Eating the World

Mariscos Playa Hermosa: From the Shores of Mexico to a Colorful Central Phoenix Restaurant

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We're hundred of miles from the closest coast, so it's a wonder that diners seek out seafood in the first place. Is it a distance-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder kind of thing? Jose and Maria Maldonado, owners of Mariscos Playa Hermosa think distance from the sea shouldn't matter.

"We serve Veracruz and Sinaloan-style seafood," says Jose Maldonado, who cooks in the kitchen while his wife manages the floor. "About 70 percent of our seafood comes straight from the Pacific, and about 30 percent comes from the Gulf of Mexico."

Jose was taught Sinaloan-style seafood many years ago and has kept the business up ever since. "I try to combine the flavors of Sinaloa, Veracruz, and Guanajuato all into one," he says. "When you put them together, the flavors feel like home."

"We order twice a week -- that means some of it is frozen, but it's mostly always fresh," Maria says. The deliciously crafted ocean dwellers at Playa Hermosa are not only tasty, though, they're very reasonably priced. "I have customers who like to spend money, and I have customers who don't like to spend money," Jose says, "but my idea is to work around that."

That's not a bad philosophy for the husband-and-wife duo when you consider the price of gas these days, and how much it must cost to get seafood here.

When a customer comes in, everything is made from scratch, and everything is made to order. "That's the key," Maria says.

From the outside, Playa looks like it came out of a Little Mermaid display at Disneyland. It may even be the most colorful restaurant on 16th Street -- but have you seen the inside?

It's a blast. The eye-popping interior isn't the only thing that'll wow you, though. The menu, as you would imagine, is chock-full of Mexican seafood options. Everything from shrimp to octopus to filets of fish.

On our visit, we ordered the camaron y filete a la Diabla ($15.99), or shrimp and fish filet in hot chipotle sauce.

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Alex Rodriguez