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Mariscos Los Arcos
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on the plate, Fri September 22 2006

Restaurant Critic
by Larry Lipson

Many Mexican restaurants bring forth complimentary salsas and chips to dinner patrons, especially if they order drinks.

But the new Mariscos Los Arcos, with its bright blue sing beaming down De Soto Avenue in Canoga Park, also presents free cups of a pretty good red clam chowder to kick to kick off the meal. And the restaurant's pert, young waitresses will smile and ask if you want more when you've spooned up the last drop.

Unless you have a prodigious appetite, it's best to refuse the second cup, simply because the generous portioning here can result in way too much food for one sitting, especially after going through a basket of types of salsa.

Though the kitchen doesn't cook a large variety of fish, it does a fine job with either filets of Mexican sea bass or whole tilapia. Its seafood options consist of shrimp, octopus, abalone, oysters and lobster.

For those who prefer Mexican beef or chicken dishes to ocean fare, Los Arcos has them.

But this is no Margarita emporium; it doesn't even pour tequila. Only beers, a few house wines and several soft drinks are stocked to provide liquid refreshment with its mariscos. My choice happens to be Negro Modello ($4), Mexico's enticing dark brew.

Reasonable pricing

Although most entree dishes here go for less than $12, you wont go wrong spending $16.99 for single-person orders on either lobster (at the current market price) or the house combo seafood platter called "mariscada".

The former is quite enjoyable grilled but may also be tempting done with garlic, sauteed mushrooms and onions. This is also the way the sea bass fillet ($10.99) was ordered. Plated with rice, fries and salad, there's certainly plenty to eat.

Abalone, Octopus and more

The seafood combo dish brings forth diced abalone and octopus mixed with onions and mushrooms, a skewer of shrimps and a fair-size piece of filleted Mexican sea bass. No restraint on portioning, for sure.

Even enchiladas or quesadillas (with cheese $6.50, with chicken $7.50) are well-filled plates- really too big, we found out one night, to order as a shareable starter.

Best for the purpose could be one of the tostadas ($3.99), either stuffed with tart and crunchy shrimp ceviche, or with firm, chewable octopus.

Tacos are good and cheap here, starting with the chicken- or beef-stuffed versions for only $1.99 each. (There's also a beef tongue taco at the same price.)

Fish or shrimp tacos run $1 more. A side of guacamole ($3.99) is inconsistent, the texture almost runny on a second visit.

A shrimp cocktail ($10.99) at the second visit materializes in a circular glass container container crammed full of shrimp, the entire production large enough to be considered meal-size.

The staff will make sure you get whatever you need here; an extra tortilla, more pico de gallo salsa.

Simply said, you'll leave happy and definitely not hungry.

Jaime and Alfonso Perez

Mariscos Los Arcos 
Food ***
Service ***1/2 
Value ***

Where: 6846 De Soto Ave., Canoga Park. (Also 14038 1/2 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys, 818-902-0892.) Phone: (818) 703-7171. Meals/hours: Open for lunch, dinner and snacks from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 
Food type: 
Mexican seafood. 
Cost: Tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, enchiladas and burritos from $2 to $9; seafood, fish and meat plates from $8 to $17; desserts $4 each.
Credit cards: MC, V.
Patio dinning: No.
Parking/valet: Free parking in shopping center lot.
Full bar: No. Beer and wine license only.
Music/entertainment: No.
Takeout/delivery: Yes on takeout, soon on delivery.
Reservation: Taken, but walk-ins welcome.

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