We went out to eat for Valentine’s Day. And we never go out for Valentine’s Day.
Having been in the restaurant and hospitality biz, we know what happens to the kitchen and wait staff on special holidays. They get slammed with reservations or there’s an hour wait, neither of which I enjoy. Quality goes out the window and they just push the food out to try and turn the tables.
But this year we made an exception because we recently struck upon this little Mexican seafood spot on the southeast side of San Antonio that we just love. Plus, we thought “no one is going to go here on Valentine’s Day since it’s hardly romantic.”
We love this place so much David actually told the waitress that “I’d eat here every day if I could.” She beamed with pride as her face became a big smile, showing a silver front tooth with a star cut-out.
It’s called El Bucanero (the pirate) and it’s located at 2818 S. W.W. White Road, just off of I-37 and S.E. Military, which turns into S. W.W. White Road. You can also get there from 410 and W.W. White Road (just keep going under I-10). The phone number is 333-0909. And it’s BYOB.
Step into this little hideaway and you swear you’ve stepped into a marisqueria (seafood shop) in Mexico. The wait staff all speak Spanish, as do the customers. But they (the wait staff and customers) also speak English, so have no fear, gringos are welcome. And, if you happen to speak Spanish, lucky you because now you are really going to get good service.
The food is simply prepared and absolutely delicious. While they have carne (meat) we have only ordered the seafood and recommend you do the same.
Our favorites include the ceviche de camaron (shrimp ceviche) and the tacos de pescado (fish tacos) which are made with Gulf flounder.
The acidity in the ceviche de camaron is truly remarkable, and spot on every time. David and I end up spooning the leftover juice and drinking it or sopping it up with crackers and tostadas. Don’t let that deliciousness go to waste.
The fish tacos are some of the best we’ve ever had and we’ve had a lot of fish tacos all over the world. They aren’t greasy, but rather unbelievable fried perfection. They come three to an order, but we get four, so we can each have two—and the staff is always happy to oblige…this “para servirle” (to serve you) attitude makes us feel like we’re in Mexico and we love it!
While you wait for your order, they bring you a canasta (basket) of homemade fried tostadas and Saltine crackers along with three terrific salsas. The orange salsa is made with red jalapeno, the green with avocado and the red salsa with chipotle.
So, you crack off half of the tostada, squeeze salsa on it and eat it and before you know it, you’ve magically made the tostadas disappear without even any ceviche yet. Beware of this hidden danger.
The menu is quite large and there are pictures of most of the dishes, which signfies it to be a “true” Mexican restaurant. There are also pictures of the dishes on the wall by the cashier. The truly authentic items are probably the uncooked seafood dishes and that’s what the “regulars” always seem to be eating.
Yesterday was packed. Standing room only when we arrived. And we thought it was “Rodeo Day” as everyone was wearing cowboy hats and boots, but we came to find out that these were the “local saltwater cowboys” who came to feast on pescado (fish) today and not ribeyes.
And we were wrong about no one going there on Valentine’s Day because everyone was either with their maridos (spouse) or their novias (girlfriend). And some possibly with their movidas (mistress)?
While we don’t really think we should let the cat out of the bag, it is a remarkable (and inexpensive) culinary find in this city and if you are even slightly adventurous, you should go. But remember, they are closed on Tuesdays and not open very late during the week, so call first to check the hours.