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As someone who grew up in Virginia, I have fond memories of summertime seafood. Grilled, fresh-caught fish, crab boils and pounds and pounds of shrimp. One of the downsides of living in land-locked Colorado is the lack of fresh seafood. But, there’s a local restaurant, Mariscos Altamar (3105 S. Academy Blvd.), that serves a wide range of Mexican seafood dishes at their Mission Trace Shopping Center location.

The menu features a wide selection of Mexican seafood prepared in a variety of styles, from botana platters of shrimp and oysters to filets of fish, served a la plancha (pan-fried), a la diabla (spicy), or with a variety of sauces and flavors. Seafood has a reputation for priciness, especially in a state where must be shipped or flown in, but for just under $30 we were able to get two entrees, and the portions were generous enough for the whole family.

The fried tilapia, or mojarra (a saltwater fish comparable to tilapia), was served whole, with salad, rice and papas (fried potatoes) and flour tortillas. The fish was pan-fried and perfectly cooked. The skin was crispy, but the meat was tender, moist and flaky. Eating whole fish is a bit of an acquired skill for those used to fillets, so watch for bones if it’s your first time. I used the tortillas, rice and the delicious green chile salsa they provided to create make-shift fish tacos.

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The fish was pan-fried and perfectly cooked.

We also tried the camarones borrachos or drunken shrimp. The shrimp are sautéed with a blend of spices and chiles and served with a delicious, butter-based dipping sauce. The shrimp were cooked a bit more than I’m used to, my preference is for a light boil with plenty of Old Bay, but the flavors more than made up for it.

Though we took our food to go, Mariscos Altamar offers indoor dining, and their decor had a wonderful nautical theme. For those not as enamored with seafood, they also have a wide selection of traditional Mexican staples — tacos, burritos and fajitas — with chicken and beef options. 

Heidi Beedle is a former soldier, educator, activist, and animal welfare worker. She received a Bachelor’s in English from UCCS. She has worked as a freelance writer covering LGBTQ issues, nuclear disasters, cattle mutilations, and social movements.