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This Sonoran seafood truck is a hidden treasure on Tucson's south side
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This Sonoran seafood truck is a hidden treasure on Tucson's south side

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The tostada de jaiba (crab) from Cocteleria La Palma Mariscos Y Mas is as fresh as fresh can be, says Sally Kane.

Why did I keep driving past this Sonoran seafood food truck?

Was it because we are 380 miles from the Sea of Cortez deep in the landlocked desert of Tucson? Was it because it is located at a busy, noisy intersection that is a gateway to the I-10 freeway?

Was it because right across the street is one of my all-time favorite Sonoran hot dog carts, Ruiz Hot Dogs Los Chipilones, so that every time I approach that intersection, I am wondering if I have any cash on me to get a hot dog; wondering if I should really be eating a hot dog; rationalizing that the hot dog ain’t gonna eat itself … etc.

So, for literally years, I was ignorant of my own backyard and was self deprived of the excellence that is Cocteleria La Palma Mariscos Y Mas, 1143 S. Sixth Ave.

Anyone driving by will have to admit that it looks super cool and is totally decked out as far as corner dirt lot food trucks go. They have a really styling truck and a large permanent concrete pad to set up the tables. They rig a good shade covering each day to keep us safe from our sun. This care and attention is wonderful, but what is really wonderful is the food.

The shade is nice at Cocteleria La Palma Mariscos Y Mas, 1143 S. Sixth Ave., but the food makes this a place not to miss.

The tostada de jaiba (crab) is sublime. I know you think I am exaggerating, but I am not. Really. Every time I eat it, I am overcome with how perfect it is. As with all of the offerings here, it is as fresh as fresh can be. I don’t ask how because I don’t want any delusions I have shattered. I imagine the crabs hitchhike each night from the sea and are waiting patiently each morning to be dropped silently into the boil. Shhh, nighty night crabbies.

La Palma opened seven years ago and is lovingly owned and operated by the Romero family — Esther, Mario and Eddie. You can taste the love they put into the slow cooked complex seafood broth of the caldos, the citrus forward brightness of the ceviches, in the homemade lemonade and horchata and in the enthusiasm and patience they show when asked questions or for suggestions.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time intimately describing food. I love food, I live for it in the way that I think about it most of the time. If I am practicing yoga or hiking I am really just thinking about food and making up recipes. I lay in bed thinking about food, leafing through cookbooks, and I spend my days playing restaurant … and even if I can never make my way through even one food article. Ugh.

My goal is to get you to put it in your mouth. To help you find a groove bisecting your rut. A different path to support our town and bolster our mom and pop shops.

Do yourself a favor and visit Cocteleria La Palma Mariscos Y Mas. They are a part of our fabric. They are a family business. They are Tucson.

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