I’ll add my digits to Mark Antonation‘s 2-thumbs-up in Cafe Society this week for the camarones agua chile we shared during a recent meal with Denver on a Spit & c. at Torres Mexican Restaurant. Though akin to ceviche, it was different in a few key aspects: the shrimp—not chopped but rather butterflied whole—were, like the sliced cucumber & onion, still basically raw in their marinade of not merely citrus but a red-pepper flake-dusted purée of lime juice & serranos. The electric effect was one of savory melted sorbet—a fascinating discovery I won’t soon forget. (And did I mention healthful? A worthy inclusion in the diet-friendly New Year’s series for sure.)

I’d never heard of vuelve a la vida either until I ordered it; essentially cóctel de mariscos stuffed with scallops, shrimp, squid, oysters, & avocado, it was notable for being much less ketchupy-sweet, more tomato-brothy, than the standard—& thus more refreshing.

Both the tostadas generously topped with diced shrimp, octopus, whitefish, tomatoes, chiles & onions

& the caldo de pescado con camaron (which came with rice & warm tortillas) were simple, honest, generous & fine;

of the chicken mole

& the enchiladas suizas, I took only a small bite of the creamy (but not drippy), well-spiced beans, but I’d take Mark’s word for it that neither dish was worth returning for.

The margaritas on the other hand, might be, at least when quantity takes a front seat to craft—& sometimes it sure does,

especially on a cold winter’s night among friends in a cozy joint filled with regulars who set a festive mood.

Granted, that was broken by my accidental dash-&-dine, as said friends fended off a rather menacing floor manager while waiting for me to answer their increasingly worried calls. It’s all fun & games until someone stiffs the house.

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