• Mike Sula
  • Rompecolchon, aka the “Mattress Breaker”

Mariscos joints—where huge quantities of occasionally less-than-pristine seafood accommodate not just budgetary deficits, but libidinal ones—abound around town. And it’s fairly easy to spot the ones worth your time. There’s a place in my Albany Park neighborhood I can’t bear to report on, because in the year or so it’s been open I’ve never seen anyone eating inside.* It’s the places that have a consistent following of eaters who hunch over heaping platters of raw ostiones and head-on langostinos, like El Barco and Mariscos el Veneno in the Ukrainian Village, that you can depend on.

McKinley Park’s BYO La Palapa is one too, and also boasts the recommendation of no less a discriminating personage than Goat King Juan Zaragoza. And that’s not just because of the giant gore-pussed great white shark that announces its presence on the carswept corner of Damen and 34th. At least it’s sheltered by fencing and the palm-thatched umbrellas that mimic the Mexican seaside joints that all of these places owe their shtick to.