Opened as a seafood market in 1966 by a family of fishermen who escaped communist Cuba, La Cameronera became a fish-fry in 1976. It’s still a good place to buy fresh seafood, but what draws crowds to the little shopping-center storefront is lunch.
#1 dish: fried shrimp. Firm pink crescents come enveloped in fragile, crunchy crust seasoned only enough to halo the sweetness of the meat inside. A good fried shrimp meal includes 7 or 8 of the hefty 2-3 bite fellas, a timbale of yellow rice, and a sheaf of tostones (fried green plantains).
Beyond shrimp, entrees include fish fillets, fish tacos, seafood chili, fried grouper cheeks, snapper sandwiches, and — when available — lobster sandwiches and stone crab claws. Conch fritters are a good shareable appetizer. They’re little crisp-surfaced balls with creamy insides that are dotted with chewy bits of conch and occasional pops of pepper.
Key lime pie is the right dessert. It is vividly tart, heavily creamy, and just-right sweet atop its tender Graham cracker crust.
When La Cameronera started cooking meals, it was a stand-up-only fish fry. It remains a consummately casual place, but now there are tables. Spirits run high in the dining room, which hums with the good cheer of customers who are thrilled to be here and happy to have found a seat. Expect to wait for a table at peak lunchtime, and do note that business is cash-only.
Weekdays, La Cameronera closes at 5:30pm, but it is open until 9pm Friday & Saturday.