Jackson Heights’ hidden seafood cocktail spot

Jackson Heights’ hidden seafood cocktail spot
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A hidden, yet delicious spot in Jackson Heights is serving up some good seafood cocktails and coastal Mexican specialties. Located in the back of a bodega on the corner of 80th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, La Esquina del Camarón Mexicano was originally a food stand in front of the business, and later moved to the inside of the bodega itself. Owner Pedro Rodriguez told Food Insider that he learned how to make this Mexican seafood specialty from a coworker  on the coast of Veracruz when he was eleven. Once he immigrated to the US, he brought the recipes along with him.

When eating at this restaurant, the seafood cocktail, with a mix of shrimp and octopus, is a must-have. The shrimp and octopus are simply boiled, plump to perfection, with a savory, flavorful tomato sauce akin to a homemade tomato V8 that are all mixed into the cocktail. In addition to the tomato sauce ingredient, olive oil, salt, clam juice, and freshly squeezed lime are added into the mix, giving the seafood cocktail its distinctive sweet and sour flavor. It is then topped with cilantro, raw onions, and freshly sliced avocado, with saltine crackers on the side.

The cocktail incorporates a variety of flavors without being too heavy. The tomato sauce is mixed in with a combination of a taste that can be best described as sweet and sour with a little salt to balance the flavors. While the tomato sauce provides sweetness, the freshly squeezed lime provides a fresh, sour acidic taste. In addition, the acid from the raw onions and the creamy, slightly buttery avocado help balance out the sweetness from the tomato sauce. The clam juice provides a slight savory ocean flavor to the seafood cocktail, alongside the combination of plump, boiled shrimp, and octopus. If you want a little extra kick, add a moderate amount of their hot sauce to take it up a notch.

Alongside the seafood cocktail, some good accompaniments would be an octopus taco and sea bass empanadas. The octopus taco is simple, yet delicious, with sautéed octopus and onions, lime, and chili sauce on the side. Unlike most places, in which empanadas are usually served plain with the sauces on the side, this restaurant’s version involves empanadas stuffed with sea bass, fried and cut at the seam, filled with mayo, avocado, and cilantro. For those who aren’t big octopus and shrimp fans, there are also fish tacos (both in fried and grilled varieties) available, as well as fried fish with french fries ($7.00). Although it will cost you at least $9.00 for a small size of the seafood cocktail and $4.00 for the octopus/fish tacos, it is well worth it for the value and quality. However, for $2.00 each, the stuffed sea bass empanadas are a steal considering that other places sell them around the same price for an undressed one. As a side note, they only accept cash, and takeout and outdoor dining are available.

If you are in the mood for a light, flavorful,  seafood cocktail or authentic coastal Mexican cuisine, La Esquina del Camarón Mexicano  will satisfy your cravings for fresh and appetizing seafood with an abundance of flavor throughout.

Photo by Matthew Merino