Restaurants & Bars

Chicago Area

Las Islas Marias (Nayarit-style Seafood)

Share:

Restaurants & Bars 4

Las Islas Marias (Nayarit-style Seafood)

Rene G | Jan 7, 2002 01:32 AM

Like shrimp? This might be the place for you. I noticed this little restaurant at the end of the summer and had been meaning to try it ever since. I’ve been twice recently and will certainly return. The big draw here is fresh shrimp, cooked simply and served in massive quantities at reasonable prices.

Las Islas Marias looks like a converted gas station on a corner of the desolate intersection of Cicero and Grand. On the other three corners are a gas station, an automotive electronics shop (a converted gas station), and a car wash (probably a converted gas station). It has a bright sign (Mariscos Al Estilo Nayarit) and a huge shrimp statue on the roof. The parking lot is usually crowded, and in the summer the patio was filled with people eating seafood and drinking beer.

Inside there are about 10 tables, red-painted metal chairs, bright fluorescent lights, a few tacky nautical decorations, a loud jukebox, and lots of people eating huge platters of seafood. Nayarit is on the Pacific coast of Mexico so it’s not surprising that shrimp figures prominently in their cuisine. Well over half the menu is shrimp in one form or another. The cocteles (shrimp, or various mixtures with shrimp) look good but I haven’t yet tried one. The large ($9) seems to be about a quart. There are several tostadas: camaron of course, mixta (includes shrimp), or a simple ceviche de pescado. The latter is very finely chopped fish marinated in lime and chili with lots of chopped onion served on a flat fried tortilla. Very fresh and tasty. A big basket of plain tostadas is served to each table. Lots of people were eating platters of oysters ($8/dozen) and I will certainly give them a try next time.

The rest of the menu is pretty much shrimp served about a dozen ways. I tried the camarones a la diabla and was reasonably pleased. Lots of fresh medium shrimps in a fairly spicy sauce served with forgettable rice w/veggies and salad. Next visit I tried the caldo de camarones al estilo Nayarit, a large bowl of murky orange clove-scented broth holding a huge pile of submerged shrimp. Could have been hotter (temperature) but very good nonetheless. I also tried the empanadas de camaron ($5), 4 deep fried crescents filled with nothing but coarsely chopped shrimp served with a little bowl of spicy green sauce (Mexican chimichurri, probably parsley, jalapenos, and lime). Not greaseless but awfully good.

Just about every table ordered these huge platters of whole shrimp but I’m not certain how it’s listed on the menu. Probably either camarones ahogados or camarones al vapor. Please, if anyone tries either of these, let us know. There are several non-shrimp items available including mojarro frita (o al mojo de ajo) and pescado sarandeado (the most expensive offering at $15 and up). There’s also carne sarandeada ("1 pound of meat cooked in our very special way").

One thing to keep in mind is most of the shrimp dishes are served with shell (plus head with long antennae) or peeled. I would strongly recommend getting them with shell (con cascara, I believe). On my first visit the waitress spoke very good English but when I returned I had a bit of difficulty communicating (and ended up with peeled shrimp).

Las Islas Marias
4770 W Grand Av
773-637-8233
9am(?)-8:30pm, every day

Want to stay up to date with this post?