December 07, 2021
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Michigan’s Best Local Eats: Los Mariscos de Pancho prepares Mexican seafood with family recipes in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – It’s all family at Los Mariscos de Pancho.

Gabriel Sanchez prepares fresh seafood and birria dishes from family recipes while his wife, Vanessa, children and in-laws work with customers at the northwest Grand Rapids restaurant.

“We don’t imitate anybody,” he said. “Everything is out of heart, out of our own kitchen. All the spices, all the ingredients, we put it all together.”

Seafood is the cornerstone of the Los Mariscos de Pancho menu inspired by Sanchez’s childhood in the Los Angeles area.

“Being from California, we love seafood out there,” he said. “We used to go to Tijuana, which was about three hours away, and we just loved the ceviche, the freshness, everything.”

Sanchez moved to Michigan about two decades ago and opened Los Mariscos de Pancho with his wife in July. The restaurant features homemade sauces crafted by his Californian and Mexican roots.

“The spices we use, you would go and eat that in Mexico. You would taste the same spices,” he said. “A lot of people who lived in that part of Mexico, they’ve gone to our restaurant and said ‘it tastes like I’m back home eating.’”

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A popular dish at the new restaurant is the spicy shrimp cucarachas which cooks head-on shrimp with onion, jalapenos and dried chili peppers for $18.

The shrimp boil with crab legs uses Sanchez’s trademark shrimp recipe: a healthy dose of garlic, butter and spices.

“I started adding crab legs, potatoes and corn and it has a lot of butter in there,” he said about the saucy dish available for $30.

Other unique seafood offerings include ceviche served in half a pineapple, prawns sautéed in garlic and aguachiles, shrimp cooked in lime.

Sanchez says a growing seafood industry has made it easier to “stand out” in Michigan with fresh helpings of shrimp and oysters.

Los Mariscos de Pancho also features a robust birria menu for those who want a seafood alternative. Birria, a Mexican dish traditionally from the Jalisco region, is served as quesabirria, ramen and pizza at the restaurant.

The flavorful beef is wrapped with gooey cheese in tortillas and fried to a crunch for the quesabirria plate. Four tacos are served with a spicy dipping broth, limes, onion, cilantro and hot sauce for $15.

“We had my family’s recipe from Jalisco,” Sanchez said.

Dishes are available for an individual size, which can serve one or two people, or customers can order small, medium or large trays that feed three to 12 people.

A full menu can be viewed on the Los Mariscos de Pancho Facebook page.

Los Mariscos de Pancho, 1358 Leonard St. NW, is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

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