Mariscos El Bucanero, down at 2818 S. W.W. White, has never pretended to be fancy . It’s just a great, one-room hideaway where you can concentrate on the fresh seafood that comes to your table, swimming in Mexican flavors, from ceviche to shrimp tacos. It has its quirky side, as we found out a couple of times. The Spurs were playing — and the restaurant had slapped the closed sign on the door so the staff could go home and watch the game. Don’t get us wrong, we like the Spurs, but when you have a platter of oysters or a big bowl of ceviche in mind, and you’ve driven such a long way, basketball seems a very poor trade.
So, El Bucanero opened a second location way up at 16505 Blanco Road, just inside Loop 1604. We were going to be in the neighborhood, so we stopped in, settled in at a table front and center to see if the new sibling were going to measure up. We’d heard good and bad — particularly complaints about the service. And, this, a location with several hundred more square feet for those servers to hustle.
To their credit, they were doing just that and our server was doing just fine until it came time for the check. You know what I’m going to say — she vanished, never to be seen again that evening, at all. So, yes, where we might have given four stars for top service, we’d have to drop it to one and a half.
The food, however, was still good and the flavors of our meal were true to the original.
The proper condiments were on the table as were the basket of fried corn tortillas (whole, smallish rounds) and saltine crackers. Two salsas were offered: regular tomato with a unique, dark red chile flavor (chile de arbol, perhaps?) and the plastic squeeze bottle with the orange, recognizably habanero, that seared the tongue.
We ordered margaritas and opened the familiar menus to the list of familiar combos and dishes — fresh, fried, baked, raw — you name it. We ordered the guacamole, which has been as close to flawless for restaurant guac as any in town. It’s not just mashed avocado, it’s a bowl of freshly mashed, lumpy, well-seasoned guacamole — and best of all, a nice big serving of it. We agreed that it could have been a meal all by itself, but we, of course, had more in mind.
My fellow diner and SavorSA compadre, John Griffin, ordered a cheese chile relleno smothered in a spicy tomato sauce that held a feast of king crab, calamari, mussels, shrimp and fish. This is quite a two-fer — get your seafood fix and a chile relleno.
We don’t, however, like El Bucanero’s refrieds. They are processed to an ultra-smooth, baby food-like texture, and have a an odd orangey tint to them. They don’t taste bad – but they don’t taste good enough make us forgive the appearance.
Shrimp tacos at El Buc No. 2, the dish that usually is my motivation to drive down to the W.W. White location, were as good as the originals. The sweet shrimp encased in a light, corn flour breading, tucked into steamy warm corn tortillas, are wonderful. Either the creamy salsa served with them, or the table salsa, work equally well to top it all off. This topping was shaved lettuce, and plenty good. Pretty sure we had cabbage down on W.W.White. Either way the message is right: Come back for more!
Mariscos El Bucanero 2
16505 Blanco Road