This weekend I had a ceviche making lesson from my girlfriend's sister, Anna. She took me to her favorite seafood markets in Sacramento and her favorite taqueria. Here's my report.
4408 Del Rio Road
This large supermarket caters almost exclusively to Asian shoppers. Here we bought fresh shrimp because Anna believes they carry the best quality at reasonable prices. Tiger prawns, white, and freshwater shrimp are all about $5/lb. The tiger prawns we bought were excellent. Live shrimp, crab, lobster, and several fish are also sold, as well as a variety of already dead fish. We also purchased a whole frozen octopus for $8.
Some of the other interesting things I spotted were: a small but eclectic (i.e., I didn't know what half of the items were) collection of produce, fresh rice noodles, and durian fruit. The last item is in a refrigerator back by the fish counter, with a sign that forbids customers from opening the fruit inside the store!
Lee's Food King
3710 Franklin Blvd
While this large market is also staffed mostly with Asians, they carry far fewer Asian products than Welco and instead carry more items found in traditional American and Mexican markets. Here we bought filets of fish (bass and dover sole) that were ground to order in a meat grinder (which is used only for fish). This is where we purchased our produce, including some excellent onions and a variety of chiles.
7870 Florin Blvd
We stopped into this market briefly because they have the lowest prices around on premium tequilas. The selection is not large, less than a dozen different bottles of the good stuff. But the prices are typically between $25 and $30 per bottle, about $10 cheaper than usually seen elsewhere. We picked up a bottle of Herradura Reposado and Corralejo Reposado. The Corralejo is nearly clear, has a slightly oily body, a light fragrance of fruit and flowers, and extremely smooth and easy drinking taste. The ubiquitous Herradura has a darker color, more oaky aroma, and more aggressive taste.
La Favorita #2
Franklin Road and Florin Blvd
This is the newer, more spacious branch of the La Favorita on Florin near Rainbow. The menu includes tacos, burritos, ceviches, seafood coctels, birria, menudo, and seafood caldos. They also serve squeezed-to-order orange and carrot juices, several fresh aquas, and beers. You help yourself to chips (unfortunately, not fried on premises) and salsas from the salsa bar.
We ordered the following items:
Tacos ($1.25, 4" tortillas, modest portions of meat)
- Carne Asada -- flavorless, boring, not recommended.
- Al Pastor -- saucy, okay, a little gristly.
- Chile Verde -- again okay, might have been good without any salsa.
- Lengua -- Very good, very tender. Great tongue.
- Carnitas -- Extremely good. Pork was shredded after cooking then reheated on a grill, resulting in a crispy, delicious bramble of shredded meat. A little saltier than necessary, but otherwise fantastic.
- Fish -- grilled fresh fish with lettuce and salsa. Fish could have used a little more seasoning. $1.85 for fish.
- Chicken -- Didn't try this one myself, but Erika said it was good but not as good as her favorite, La Corneta.
Tostada de camarones -- A fresh fried 6" tortilla was covered with a thin layer of mayonnaise and then topped with large shrimp, tomatoes, and onions. The shrimp were very good, flavorful and firm, but for me the mayonnaise distracted from enjoyment of the dish.
- Tomatillo and Arbol -- very good, unctuous, moderately hot, was our favorite for the chips and tacos.
- Rojo -- Good, slightly sweet, tomatoey, mildly hot, with interesting addition of oregano.
- Pico de gallo -- standard mixture was fine, nothing special.
- Nopales -- Same pico de gallo with strips of cactus paddles. Nopales were well made (thankfully, no slime). Good.
- That bottle of hot ass stuff -- On each table was a bottle of Tapatia, ketchup, and a blend of chile and vinegar that was extremely hot and delicious. I wanted to put it on everything. My tongue was burning long after I finished eating.
- Fresh Orange Juicy -- Good, pulpy, tasty orange juice, it's fresh squeezed, after all.
- Aqua de melon -- Made with fresh melon. Good sweetness and a bit of melon flesh. Very good.
Our total bill came to just under $20. I'd definitely go back for the lengua, carnitas, aquas, and that bottle of hot ass stuff. Anna also said the seafood caldos, which are made to order and take about 20 minutes to arrive, are very good, so I would definitely try those next time.
I'm going back to Sacramento sometime in October, when I hope to try more of the Franklin Street places.