Hot diggity, dog diggity, boom what you used to do to me.
I mean just how many Costco hot dogs can you eat? As good as they are and as essential as they seem to be on any shopping expedition to Querétaro or Celaya, once in a while you yearn to wander.
Our chauffeurs on our latest trip to Costco Querétaro were Mike and Key He Pearce and Mike said, “We have a place we have to take you to, a little hole-in-the-wall seafood place.”
“With this amazing oyster dish”, chimed in Key He.
Hole-in-the-wall. Seafood. Amazing. Oyster. Say goodbye, hot dog.
The place is called La Costa Cantabrica which I think refers to the north coast of Spain. Which is where Spanish pescadores have fished the Bay of Biscay for a few centuries.
The restaurant is close to Costco but, just as I wouldn’t recommend climbing Everest without a Sherpa, I wouldn’t recommend trying to find La Costa Cantabrica without a GPS.
Lunch begins with a complimentary plate of ceviche. The fish is muro which you (and I) might know better as grouper. It’s made with jalapeño…just the right amount of jalapeño for expat palates…plus cilantro and lime. It was not too acidic, not too vinegary. It was just right.
We asked what fresh fish were available and the waiter told us, “We have mojarra and we have huachinango.”
I looked at Mike. Mike looked at me.
“Huachinango. Red snapper in English”, Mike said. “And I think we’ll need two.”
The waiter returned with a clear-eyed snapper on a platter to show us the size.
“Yes two, definitely two”, said Mike.
Off went the fish for a deep sea dive in bubbling fat for a few minutes. And back to the table came the waiter with our first official course.
This was the one Key He said we had to have. A dish of roughly chopped ostiones (though it took us a while to remember the Spanish word for oysters when trying to order) bubbling in olive oil. The waiter called the sauce pimienta but it was more remiscent of the bourguignon sauce that traditional French restaurants bake snails in. It was though, as Key He said, amazing, particularly for double dunking the bread in.
The red snappers were now ready. We had ordered one al ajillo (with garlic) and the other a la Veracruzana (with tomatoes, onions, garlic, capers and olives.
We gently picked the firm and flaky flesh from the body ending up with the sweetest meat from the cheeks. Mike had never had Veracruzana sauce and declared, “This one is definitely the winner.”
On the counter at Costa Cantabrica is a massive mysterious jar of I didn’t know what.
The chef opened it up for us. Inside were garlic, almonds and chiles de arbol in olive oil and that’s what came next on the firm shrimp and tender octopus that had been cooked on the grill.
Key He Pearce and I have a similar disability. Neither of us can stop ordering more food.
“One more order of shrimp?”
“Of course, one more order of shrimp.”
We were as stuffed to the gills as the huachinango that we’d eaten. A thank you went to Carmelita and her staff whose farewells were as warm as their welcomes.
Costa Cantabrica has been there for 45 years. I’m sure it will still be there next time you shop at Costco.
La Costa Cantabrica is located at Calle Jimínez 12 in Querétaro, Mexico. The restaurant is open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm everyday but Tuesday. There is public parking through the archway directly across the street.