Ever since my wife Jun and I moved to DC from New York City last year, we were continuously looking for a go-to Mexican restaurant in the area. That quest became even more urgent after we had had a number of duds since our move, such as a constantly packed spot nearby our Bethesda home that turned out to be an utter disaster. When I saw that Mariscos 1133 was listed as the number one restaurant in Washington Post’s spring dining guide earlier this year, I was really hoping that this could be the spot for us going forward as I have had a number of successful visits to other restaurants following the WP restaurant critic Tom Sietsema’s recommendations. Fortunately, our dining experience at Mariscos 1133 was a very pleasant one so much so that only a few weeks later when a friend of ours was visiting from out of town, we decided to take her there for a second meal.
The restaurant from siblings Alfredo and Jessica Solis, as the name implies (mariscos means “seafood” in Spanish), focuses on seafood dishes, inspired by the siblings’ upbringing in Mexico City and travels throughout other parts of Latin America. The smart way to tackle the rather large menu at Mariscos 1133 is therefore pick the seafood dishes that come to your attention first. Tuna tostada with avocado and chile de arbol sauce is not a bad place to start, but if you have to choose one starter dish to kick off the meal, I can’t recommend the blackened shrimp taco enough. Jun and I have had a fair share of shrimp tacos elsewhere before but at the moment we took a bite out of these tacos at Mariscos 1133, we were struggling to think of a better one in our life. The texture of the shrimp was absolutely wonderful, especially with the way it was lightly grilled to perfection with smoky flavor. We were so enamored with these beautiful tacos that we ended up ordering a second plate (and of course, during the second visit with our friend, ordered another two plates).
In the larger entrée department, the dish to go with is the whole crispy founder. Accompanied by charro beans, rice and a variety of different sauces, the fish was more or less perfectly fried with just the right amount of batter. When it comes to fried fish, I bet it will be difficult to find a dish that tops the beauty coming out from the kitchen here. You can wrap a piece of the flounder in tortillas that come with the fish, but we preferred to just eat with beans and rice along with one of the tomatillo, molcajete and chipotle sauces. If you are inclined to try some meat dishes, I also liked the birria tacos with slow braised beef a lot, and the kitchen’s spin on lomo saltado consisting of New York steak and French fries was also delicious. If you have room for dessert, don’t skip the delightful churros, too.
Mariscos 1133 is a pretty popular dining destination in DC at the moment, especially during the summer season where you can grab outdoor seating (although the streets around the restaurant can get somewhat chaotic so we chose to get seated indoors both times). If you are looking for prime time dining spots on the weekend, booking in advance via Resy is always highly recommended. The well-crafted and potent cocktail list is another strength at the restaurant; start your meal with classic margaritas then move down the list with other drinks such as Oaxacan old fashioned or pisco sour. One slight miss from our experience at Mariscos 1133 was that service can be somewhat of a hit or miss especially during peak hours; on our second visit, the restaurant was absolutely packed even during the early dinner hours we were visiting, and there were a number of service delays while we were anxiously waiting for the food, and it didn’t help that the restaurant seemed to employ a fair number of young (and presumably inexperienced) service staff. Despite that shortcoming, Mariscos 1133 is an absolute gem in the DC dining scene that you should check out, ideally in a large group so you can try as many dishes as you want. While we had our favorite dishes at the restaurant, we can’t wait to go back again to try other dishes on the menu.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.25/10)
Address: 1133 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Reservation via Resy