This is one of those little rowhouse storefront restaurants I'd pass, think looked interesting, promise myself I'd try, then promptly forget about. Well, last night I remembered, and am glad that I did.
El Puerto Jarocho is in Highlandtown, on the same block as and across the street from the fabulous Chicken Rico. We were given a friendly greeting as we walked into the front room, which is pretty much a kitchen/counter area. We headed straight to the tables in the back, which was bright, and had large teevees showing some American Idol-type show in Spanish. In addition, loud music blared from the jukebox.
One of the two friendly servers brought us menus right away. In the next few minutes, she would return to bring us some spicy shrimp cocktail with saltines, apparently EPJ's answer to gratis tortilla chips and salsa offered at most Mexican places.
The menu is about fish. I ordered the seafood soup, a steamy, spicy, huge bowl of shrimp, squid, crab, octopus, and some sort of great tasting white fish. The mister got some sea bass filet with garlic, which came with a mound of rice, and a basic little iceberg lettuce salad. We loved it all. (We also managed to take half of our orders home for lunch today.) And, we promptly deemed EPJ worthy of a spot on The Rotation.
Some other fun facts: Everything on the menu is $10.95. There are some non-fish/seafood items on the menu, but owner explained that he pretty much had to do that, in case there was someone in a group that didn't really eat fish. The affable owner is named Francisco, and he's spent most of his life in the Bronx, in/around seafood industry, but hails originally from Veracruz. His brother owns the Mexican bakery directly across the street, which is where he gets his desserts. (And for which we didn't have one bit of room.) The place is open late (one of the things I lament about Chicken Rico) and serves beer.
Actual address: 3713 Eastern Ave; 410.276.2205
We shall return!
3728 Eastern Ave, Baltimore, MD 21224