El Pescador: Restaurant Review

Katherine Portillo, Photographer

Popular food chain, El Pescador has finally opened its Downey location after a year and a half of construction. The restaurant has taken the space of Elephant Bar, in the Downey Landing shopping center, after the animal safari themed restaurant went bankrupt in 2014. 


El Pescador is a Mexican themed restaurant, specializing in seafood. This restaurant was first founded by Don Manuel Ortiz in 1983. Starting out as a small family owned business, El Pescador has now turned into a 16 location franchise across Southern California.


I was very interested in this restaurant due to my love for Mexican food and seafood. I decided to take a trip to this popular food chain and check out all the hype for myself. I was happily accompanied by my parents, Rudy and Maureen Portillo. 


As we approached this restaurant, in our car, we noticed the lack of open parking spaces and the number of people waiting outside, we knew we were in for a bit of a wait time. The hostess put down my name and told us it was about a 45-minute wait. The restaurant was quite loud, filled with people’s voices and loud mexican music. While I waited to be seated, I interviewed the hostess there.


Alyssa Byone, hostess at El Pescador, talked about the wait times. “We have been open for 3 weeks and every single weekend we get more and more of a crowd,” Byone stated. “The later it gets, the more of a wait there is, but it’s worth it.”


The restaurant was very prideful of its Mexican roots. In the main room, there was a silhouette of the seal on the Mexican flag (an eagle and a snake). Traditional Mexican music was being played all through the chain. On the back of their menus, you can find background on the restaurant and on the family that first opened it in Bell Gardens, CA.


Waiting to be seated, Cynthia Amezquita, shared her opinions on this restaurant. “I love this place. The food and drinks are absolutely amazing,” Amezquita stated. “I am so proud of this place for being so “showy” of their Mexican heritage.”


After a short 45-minute wait we were seated. We were immediately given chips and salsa. As soon as I bit into the chips I noticed the lack of salt (which isn’t a big deal due to their being a salt shaker on the table) but I also noticed the chips were stale. I am not too picky when it comes to stale chips but this was quite noticeable. The salsa was absolutely divine with the right amount of spiciness yet not overly spicy where it would not be enjoyable.


We were only sat for a few minutes when our waitress, Miranada Bustos, came and asked us what we wanted to drink. In less than 5 minutes she was back with our drinks and we were ready to order. I was unsure of what to order so I asked what her favorite dish was.


“You can never go wrong with the Camarones al Pescador, especially if you are a shrimp lover, as I am,” Bustos continued. “[The dish] has 3 different styled shrimps with a side of vegetables.”


After her description of the meal, I decided that is what I wanted to eat. My mother decided on a garlic fish fillet plate and my father, with carne asada and a mole enchilada. Our food took no longer than 15 minutes.


My meal came with 3 different kinds of shrimps, 3 garlic and butter rubbed, 3 bacon wrapped and 3 fried. My least favorite was the bacon-wrapped shrimp. The bacon was wonderful, very crispy yet not overdone. The shrimp alone was also very scrumptious, plain, but in the best way. However, the flavors together did not blend well whatsoever. I ended up taking apart the shrimp and bacon and ate them separately.


 My second favorite out of the 3 types, was the garlic-rubbed shrimp. It was very juicy and quite savory. It tasted very simple but in the best way possible, it was not overdone in any way, very delicious. 


 By far, my favorite was the fried shrimp. As soon as I bit into it you could feel the juicy yet crunchy outer and inner layer of the shrimp. The shrimp was nicely breaded without it being too overpowering to the point where you wouldn’t be able to taste the shrimp. It was an amazing contrast overall.


Along with the entree also came with vegetables, they were steamed to perfection. As well as vegetables came rice and Mexican beans. I thought that at a Mexican restaurant I would be served orange rice but I was surprised when my rice came and it was beige, it did not taste like much and was a bit of a disappointment but it was made up for with the beans. The beans had the right amount of salt and creaminess. It was topped off with melted cheese. That is what sent it over the moon.


Throughout the meal we needed a refill of drinks and could not find our waitress anywhere. We had to wait a while for her to come, which was a bit of a nuisance. On a few other occasions, we did have to wait for her to come check on us, especially when waiting for our bill at the end of our meal but the restaurant was very crowded so that may have been the reason for the slow service.


My rate on El Pescador, the restaurant is an 7.5/10. For the most part, the food was lovely but the service was a bit of a problem. All in all, my parents and I enjoyed our experience at this restaurant. I am excited for the next time I get to experience this chain and to see what has changed about the restaurant.