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Cosecha: Shrimp Tacos Worth the Trip 

Tuesday, Aug 19 2014
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Friday means different things for people, but for me it's wild shrimp taco day at Cosecha. Dominica Rice's casual Mexican place won me over when I ate my first freshly made tortilla there back when it opened in 2011. Rice is a Chez Panisse alumna and it shows in the seasonality of the menu, her commitment to sourcing locally, and the thoughtful technique that makes the simplest of dishes memorable. On Fridays, when I know I should be thinking about the nearest cocktail or trying a new restaurant, I just can't get that perfect crisp-soft batter out of my head.

Cosecha was one of the first establishments to open in the restored Housewives Market inside Swan's Marketplace in Old Oakland (now home to Miss Ollies and The Cook and Her Farmer). It feels like a food stall at a Mexican market, albeit a pretty polished and quiet one. The counter hosts jugs of agua frescas and chips, patrons sit at communal wood tables that spread into the center of the market, and a long seating counter looks out into the street.

Brunch is served on Saturdays, complete with tortas and egg dishes, while lunch and dinner offer a regular taco and quesadilla menu plus a salad and usually a pozole. The chalkboard menu lists daily blue plate specials that hover between $11 and $13, like Monday's mole verde and Wednesday's fish tacos. While her Chez Panisse pedigree seems to always pop up alongside her name, Rice credits some of her earliest food influences to her childhood neighborhood: She grew up in Los Angeles Chinatown surrounded by urban farmers. She's cooked in New York and Mexico City, and Cosecha was largely inspired by her wanderings through the Mexico City's markets, where casual stalls serve up affordable hot food and daily specials for the area's workers.

Friday's shrimp tacos are served with a bowl of pinto or black beans and avocado for $13. The shrimp are delivered that morning from Monterey Fish, coated with a light batter made with flour and sparkling water, and fried to order. They come out crispy, soft, and salty, and so big that two don't exactly fit into a tidy taco. Chipotle crema adds some smokiness and the cabbage slaw and jalapeño provides the crunch. Come sit outside with a coconut horchata when the Old Oakland farmers market is in full swing and you may make this your weekly routine too.

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Ferron Salniker

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