Memorable | One of the Best
Don Pepe Taqueria
Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom
Mexican seafood restaurants are scattered throughout California, but few have a unique repertoire of dishes. Don Pepe is different. It isn’t exclusively a mariscos place, but it really is all about shrimp.
Shrimp botana comes either poached or tossed in a spicy sauce. Either way, the shrimp are presented in cracked shells that preserve the moisture of the shellfish and make for an easy peel. The dish is meant to be a refreshing appetizer, but it easily could be a full lunch. It is a dozen large shrimp served over a cabbage slaw with lots of avocado slices and tortilla chips. If you like heat, try the spicy. It’s in a smooth, flavorful chili sauce with buttery flavor that complements shrimp.
Another good way to start a meal is a ceviche tostada. It’s topped with marinated raw fish that has been minced and heavily seasoned. Don Pepe’s twist is that a couple of halved, gently poached shrimp rest on top with the usual avocado, like pizza toppings. Even beer comes with a chilled cocktail shrimp in the bottle rim, along with salt, chile and lime.
Expected uses for shrimp are tacos and burritos, but these are different from what you’d find in Baja taco. The poached or spicy shrimp come in flour tortillas with jack cheese and Spanish rice. The only difference between tacos and burritos is that the latter is larger, rolled up, and comes with avocado.
Al pastor tacos are a pleasant surprise in so seafoodcentric a place. The meat is not heavily seasoned and does not have that red achiote glow, but its char and marbling are perfect, the meat juicy and plenty flavorful. Oddly, the tacos come with only white beans as a condiment, making for a strange pork and bean taco resembles the canned staple “pork n beans.” However, this taco is more meat than bean, and the beans have good texture.
The salsa bar is a simple selection of tangy ones well suited for seafood. Chips are fresh and crisp. The fresh, delicate food here is especially right on a summer day in the San Joaquin Valley when the weather is brutally hot.
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|