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‘Superb’ seafood

An early Sunday afternoon repast with our guru, The Good Doctor, at Mariscos La Playa on Cordova Road put us in a Proustian reverie of oysters and oyster bars we have known and loved. That dark little joint on Wabash Avenue under the “L” near Adams in Chi-town (was it called the Blue Star Oyster Bar?); in Memphis, it was dusty old Anderton’s Restaurant for oysters, 50 cents per bivalve and $1.50 Buds in the ’90s; of course, the famous Acme Oyster House in New Orleans, until it got too filled with tourists, and then the place across the street whose name we forget: and, speaking of M. Proust, the indelible memory of a spring Sunday afternoon in Paris in front of Chez Julien across from ÃŽle Saint-Louis, the little cart filled with ice and huitres fraîches from Brittany!

Sorry for the digression, but we never met an oyster we didn’t like. In northern New Mexico, you pay an arm and a leg for a dozen unless you hit Whole Foods on Fridays and Saturdays ($1 per).

Take the Good Doctor’s advice, as we did last Sunday, and check out Mariscos La Playa (with franchises in Albuquerque and Española; no relation to the Mariscos on Cerrillos Road.)

Bright, colorful, bustling, AND intimate with booths and tables, it’s like a cool little Baja beach place. The collection of 1st Place awards in local “Best of” polls (doesn’t say what for) adorn the walls and Mariscos bills itself as having the best seafood in town. And oysters, and how!

Yes, we know, we’re miles from salt water; that’s why God invented airplanes. And we know the old rubric that one has oysters only in months with an R in them. OK, so “July” lacks an R, and “August,” too, for that matter. But “oyster” has an R in it and so does “Mariscos,” and that’s close enough, so we ordered a dozen each ($13.95). Nice, big, meaty mollusks from Louisiana on ice with lime, horseradish and, not ketchup, please, but a little red cocktail sauce next time. Otherwise, wow! And with a beverage, the best Sunday brunch starter in a long time.

Oh, and before los ostiones, a complimentary basket of chips along with three tasty dips; classic pico de gallo, a spicy avocado and half-and-half, and some more pico de gallo, and a creamy bean dip. Excellent and suitably picante.

As a main course, we had to stay on message and ordered el Coctel Especial La Gloria (grande, $13.95) a symphony of a seafood combo in a tall glass with shrimp, octopus, scallops and two more oysters hiding at the bottom, all wonderfully seasoned in shrimp juice, Clamato and onion, cilantro, avocado, tomato and cucumber. La Gloria, indeed, and we had to take half home for a later snack with Saltines.

The Good Dr. opted for el Ensalada la Playa ($10.95), a beautifully presented salad, rather like a horizontal version of what we enjoyed vertically in glass and juice; a seafood medley of shrimp, octopus and bay scallops tossed in a mildly picante sauce over shredded lettuce, with thin slices of perfectly ripe avocado and garden-ripe tomatoes attractively arrayed on top. It could be a lunch entree or shared as a refreshing appetizer. And rated “superb” by The Good Doc.

And don’t worry, Mariscos offers classic fare, from fajitas and tacos to enchiladas and cheeseburgers, too.

As we staggered out from our Sunday seafood brunch, we had to rate Mariscos a First Place on our own scorecard. Fresh oysters at $1.25/ea., 7 days a week.

Life is good on the beach over on Cordova Road.

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