As noted at the time, Islas Marietas opened about a year ago in Paloma's old venue. I was very sad to see Paloma go, but Islas Marietas has proved to be a worthy replacement.
The restaurant is named for a group of islands off Nayarit, Mexico. The specialty is seafood. So far, I've enjoyed two lunches here. A colleague joined me the first time for a lunch meeting. Plenty of space in a sunny restaurant to conduct business.
Tortilla chips are complimentary, and accompanied by two unique salsas, named salsa abuelita and salsa marietas. One is a roasted vegetable salsa de molcajete and the other a creamy but non-dairy chile sauce. Both are deliciously complex and very spicy hot.
My dining companion had the grilled chicken burrote, $7.99, an open-ended wrap filled with choice of meat, whole beans, rice, avocado, crema, salsa and cheese. She pronounced it delectable and too much to eat at one sitting. For me, the small size of campechana, a seafood cocktail, that was good but not distinguished.
Next visit I started with a Shrimp tostada. I opted for the raw, marinated version that was bathed in a slightly sweet, and very spicy chile sauce along with avocado, sweet red onion, juicy cucumbers and diced tomato. A nice version but too incendiary for me.
Then a Tacote al pastor, $3.50, that blew me away. Basically, a taco in double-ply tortillas that's so overstuffed it's wrapped in paper to try to hold it together. Meat of choice, plus whole beans, onion, cilantro, slices of avocado, shredded Monterey jack cheese, crema and salsa, is really enough for a meal. The juicy and tender pork al pastor was a bit caramelized around the edges and tasted great. The one ding was that the corn tortillas were a bit stiff. I'll ask them to be softened on the plancha next time.
While a seafood specialist, so far, the al pastor has been my favorite thing at Islas Marietas. Service from various family members has been warm and welcoming. I'll continue to work my way through the menu.
Islas Marietas Restaurant
330 Main St
Salinas, CA 93901
Phone: (831) 757-4165