Los Ángeles is a city of tacos with new taquerías popping up on street corners around the county on a weekly basis. To help us get through them all, LA TACO presents our new “Taco of the Week” column, where we celebrate the latest taco we’ve eaten that blew our minds.
LA’s sprawling mariscos truck scene has been bound by the same menu items since the first palm tree and ocean landscape were painted on the side of a Mexican seafood truck in the 90s. Stop at any random nautical lonchera anywhere in the city and the menu will most likely be identical to the menu at the last mariscos truck you ate at: a shrimp cocktail, a ceviche, an aguachile, and a fish or shrimp taco of some kind.
When it comes down to it, what else do you really need? Even paradise can become a prison if we overthink things, and something as delicate as seafood is best when kept simple. But if you are an ambitious young chef who just moved here from Oaxaca and is new to LA’s food scene, how can you not try to reinvent the wheel for a new generation of seafood-obsessed people?
This is the story of Francisco Aguilar and his down-ass primo, Alexis Chacon, who both decided to risk it all and blow their life savings on an aqua-colored food truck with the sign “Mariscos Chingones” that currently parks on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake. If you’ve eaten around the Southern part of Mexico’s Pacific coast, you will immediately trip out on the “Pescadillas” they offer. They are an extremely hard-to-find type of crispy fish taco that you’ll see in Guerrero’s Costa Chica and a handful of beaches in Oaxaca, and now also at Simón LA
“The idea is to evoke that ‘taco callejero’ deliciousness that we all find in Mexico, but with seafood,” Aguilar tells LA TACO. He worked at Pitiona, the coveted fine dining restaurant in Oaxaca that’s on every restaurant guide about Oaxaca, and also cooked in Chiapas before moving to LA, which explains his knack for building deep, soulful flavors that are usually only found in the matriarchal cooking of rural villages in Mexico. He went to cooking school in Oaxaca as well, making him an unstoppable cooking force that combines classical training and technique with traditional Mexican ingredients.
The truck has only been in this location for less than two months and had a brief stint in Sawtelle before, where LA TACO Deputy Editor and co-founder Hadley Tomicki first tried Their headier seafood taco approach. The resulting tacos are certainly that; header. Especially those pescadillas which just gave Mariscos Jalisco’s holy shrimp taco some very serious competition. Each order comes with a three-pack of beautifully fried [folded over] Crispy taquitos, filled with a savory filling of seasoned, minced fish served over a tasty puddle of umami-intensive pasta de frijol (black bean paste) and topped with minced purple cabbage, pickled onions, and cotija cheese. It is a hearty seafood taco that reflects the foodways of the Indigenous and Afro-Mexican people who made it the staple food in that region of Mexico.
For now, Aguilar uses fresh corn tortillas from Tortilleria California in Cypress Park and tilapia, because he hasn’t been able to find a consistent supplier for the wild fish he used to work with in Mexico. “Sure, I can import my own chiles from Oaxaca and maybe tortillas too, but part of the challenge of cooking in a new land is adapting to what is available locally for you to use,” he tells LA TACO. The salsa cabinet full of five thick and full-flavored salsas is reason enough to make Simón a destination. They are unlike any other salsas sold from any other taco stand in LA
What makes Simón impressive, however, is that every other item on his menu is as delicious as those pescadillas: the fish al pastor taco (complete with grill mark-kissed ripe pineapple), the soft-shell crab taco, the black aguachile made from Burnt tomatillos, the red aguachile using Oaxaca’s own “Chintextle” dry salsa, made with dried shrimp, that has some XO sauce vibes, and their aguachile de medium-rare rib-eye steak, which is as stupidly delicious as serious as it sounds like.
It is experiences like Simón that provide living proof that LA’s regional Mexican food scene is evolving in real-time. Even as the city’s developer-overlords try their damn hardest to gentrify out the working-class dreams of taqueros like Simón. The primo-owned small business hopes to grow organically and eventually hire someone to help them out, and maybe even open a brick-and-mortar sometime soon. For now, they are rolling with the punches of having a food truck in the heart of Silver Lake. They’ve had to introduce items like shrimp burgers and fish burritos to please their customers who tend to focus mostly on their Baja-style battered fish tacos, but they’re happy to be working for themselves and do whatever it takes to make it.
“It’s just my cousin and me,” says Chacon, who took on the truck’s front-of-house, marketing, and graphic design duties. “ We have no workers and both work more than 80 hours a week and only have taken one day off for the last three months. But I really believe in my cousin’s vision and passion for our seafood tacos.”
3667 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles. Send Simon a DM via Instagram to confirm their latest hours of operation.
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