Our Critics' Picks


El Coraloense

6600 Florence Ave
Bell Gardens, CA 90201
Critics' Pick
El Coraloense

Katherine Spiers Ceviche tostada sampler


  • Tue.-Sun., 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Lunch, Dinner
  • Catering, Takeout
  • Parking Lot Available
One can live his entire life without ever saying the word “Orgasmo.” It’s not a word often uttered among close friends or even casual hookups. But at El Coraloense, the delightful seafood spot in Bell Gardens, it’s common to hear the word wafting through the air, backed by bellowing accordions of vintage Colombian cumbia on the radio or the cheers of football fans watching the flatscreen TV. This small but cheerful restaurant specializes in Mexican seafood whose style originates in the coastal states of Nayarit and Sinaloa. And here everyone is ordering the Orgasmo, a savory siete mares soup featuring a melange of sea creatures including shrimp, octopus and an entire crab. From the murky depths, the crab’s spacey face peers up from the broth, while one claw drapes over the side of the bowl’s edge, like the poster for Roger Corman’s midnight movie Attack of the Crab Monsters. El Coraloense balances kitsch with guilty pleasures, such as the decadent coconut-milk blended horchata or the highly addictive “fish wings,” fried swordfish blanketed with tangy Buffalo wing sauce. But behind its wide spectrum of incredibly fresh ceviches and seaside eats, El Coraloense holds high-end culinary philosophies. The Bell Gardens restaurant was launched by Maria Curie and her husband, Nayarit native Leonardo — who dreamed up the funny dish titles such as viagra.com, which includes shrimp and avocado spooning an oyster in its shell. After studying at Le Cordon Bleu, their children Natalie and Leo Jr. took over the operation in 2008, adding new approaches to their parents’ more traditional fare. The results are transportive. Each bite evokes Mexican beach shacks and pushcarts along the Pacific, where merchants shill mariscos straight from the ocean. —Drew Tewksbury

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