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Dia de Pesca: Good Atmosphere, Inconsistent Food

January 7, 2012

Dia de pesca literally means “day of fish,” but colloquially it means “gone fishing,” and for the most part, the seafood side of this little Mexican restaurant in San Jose is worth coming for. But many of the dishes we tried should have been a lot better; plus the whole experience would have been enhanced if Dia de Pesca had a liquor license.

Located on Bascom Ave near Stevens Creek, Dia de Pesca looked very inviting as we drove into the small parking lot. A small trailer sat on one side, housing the kitchen, and several outdoor tables lined the way leading to the restaurant’s interior. It looked like the place to spend a warm lazy Saturday afternoon, dining on ceviche and tacos while downing margaritas and Coronas. But for some unfathomable reason, alcohol is not available at Dia de Pesca, much to its detriment, in our opinion.

The menu is fairly extensive, ranging from seafood cocktails and ceviche to common Mexican fare like enchiladas, flautas, tacos, tamales, and burritos. As you might expect, the seafood choices are vast; most dishes can be made with tilapia, snapper, salmon, halibut, shrimp, tuna, octopus (or pulpo), scallops, and crab. Meat choices include beef, pork, and three different preparations of chicken.

We began with the shrimp cocktail, a tilapia ceviche, and a ceviche with shrimp and octopus. The shrimp cocktail looked great, served in a tall ice cream sundae glass. But the dish was very disappointing – we were dying for some seasoning, be it salt, pepper, hot sauce, anything to keep it from just being cold shrimp in tomato juice. But unfortunately that’s all it amounted to. The ceviches were terrific – the lime juice that “cooked” the seafood was sharp but not overpowering, the pico de gallo was very fresh, and after adding a little hot sauce, the dishes came together nicely.

For entrees we went with the enchiladas mojadas, the chile relleno with scallops, chicken flautas, and one pork tamale and one chile and cheese tamale.  The enchiladas contained chicken wrapped in tortillas with sour cream, cheese, and a “zesty sauce.” All of us were taken by surprise at the taste of the sauce – it was more Italian than anything else, making the dish seem confused and just plain strange. It tasted fine, but it was not consistent with Mexican cooking at all. The chile relleno was quite good – a large green ancho chile was stuffed with cheese and lightly fried, then topped with scallops and salsa. Usually combining seafood with cheese is frowned upon, but it worked very well in this dish. The flautas were reminiscent of what you might see at an event being carried around by waitstaff – small fried tortillas rolled around chicken, topped with sour cream, guacamole and salsa. They were average at best. The tamales were disappointing as well – the masa was way too thick, particularly on the chile and cheese one; the cheese was barely warm instead of that lovely oozing quality it should have. The pork one was a little better, but both were topped with “mole de tamal,” which was little more than a red salsa and was fairly bland.

Paring the menu down considerably would really help the cooks focus on quality instead of quantity. We would definitely return for the ceviche and would be willing to try some of the other dishes, but if Dia de Pesca really wants to cash in, getting a liquor license would do wonders. 

The Mouse House Kitchen gives Dia de Pesca 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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