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A revelatory trip to Ensenada last November brought me closest to some of my favorite food experiences in recent memory. Filled with fish tacos, tostadas and ceviche (of too many varieties), that were not only bountiful, but incredibly fresh (oh yeah, and wildly affordable!). In addition to sight-seeing at La Bufadora and doing as much touristy stuff we could pack into three days, our Baja visit was too short. Vowing to return soon, it isn’t always feasible to drive down three and a half hours, despite the perk of tracing the beautiful California coastline, so when I have an urge for some new-found favorites there are a few go-to’s in Los Angeles that can put me into that delighted state—one being Jesse’s Camarone’s—my eatery of the month.

In an eighty-five-seat restaurant off West Adams Blvd, nearest USC, with red vinyl booths and a couple TVs piping in telenovelas and deportes (depending on the time and day), there lies an unassuming seafood joint that turns out delicious fish tacos and the best damn aguachile I’ve had yet.

While better fish tacos might be had elsewhere (arguable, but that isn’t where I will hang my hat), I’ve searched for far and wide for aguachile—a shrimp and serrano pepper ceviche in simple terms—everywhere and Jesse’s has perfected it. Served in parfait glass, agchile_jesse_img_3162overflowing with a deep green of cilantro, raw red onions and shrimp that is accompanied by a basket of tostadas, soda crackers and halved limes.

I will not make the claim for authenticity, a tricky subject that is better left to a food historian’s thesis, but I will say that there few things, for my money (around five dollars), as perfect as this. I have had many other takes including refined and dressed up versions, where shrimp is forgone for bay scallops, or the sauce is concentrated, but those constantly seem to underwhelm. There is something to that dripping broth and intense spice of undiluted proportions that leaves me wanting more. A lot more! The best part is that it is fresh and light, so while your taste buds will be nearly spiced-out, there is still room for more… like their fish tacos or something even more substantial.

Jesse’s doesn’t skimp on flavor; the prices and portions are generous and the wait staff is always friendly. This is a neighborhood gem and I am happy to have found it. It’s with their consistency and quality that I write that they are worth a stop if you are itching for a spicy starter or just in town to catch a show at the Shrine. Not the same as a trip to Baja, California, but indelible all the same.

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Wine of the Month

Roumier Morey St. Denis 'Clos de la Bussiere' 2008

Eatery of the Month

aguachile

Jesse's Camarones Restaurant

Musical Accompaniment

Glenn Kotche’s ‘Ping Pong Fumble Thaw’  by The Brooklyn Rider Almanac