Few foods are as rejuvenating as a fresh seafood tostada. A crispy corn tortilla topped with anything from lime-cured shrimp and fish, to squid and uni can turn a fine day into a great one. Plus, the Mexican dish is versatile and welcoming to new ingredients, other cultural influences, and spicy salsas.
With LA’s endless selection of Mexican restaurants and access to fresh seafood, you can find delicious tostadas just about anywhere in the city, but these are the nine spots serving the very best of them right now.
Truth be told, you don’t need much to make a delicious ceviche tostada, but if you’re interested in being extra, head to Holbox. This food stall in Mercado La Paloma in the Figueroa Corridor immediately takes an itamae-like approach to classic Mexican mariscos. The crispy pulpo asado in almond pipiánis as beautiful as it is delicious, but the kanpachi and uni tostada is the real showstopper here. After snapping 20 photos and shooting a hype video of this masterpiece, take a bite of one of the crispiest homemade tostadas we’ve come across. It’s topped with a meaty Baja-style sea bass ceviche that comes in thick pieces with plenty of fresh tomato, onion, lime, and cilantro. Afterward, it receives some creamy avocado puree and smoky arbol-guajillo sauce for extra heat. This little disk of perfection is then topped with a very large serving of sweet Santa Barbara uni because why not?
Coni’Seafood in Inglewood (with a second location in Del Rey) is a neighborhood institution that’s been serving Nayarit-style seafood since 1987. This mariscos spot is particularly famous for its whole grilled snook that comes generously marinated in their salty house sauce, as well as with warm tortillas and caramelized onions served on the side. But our favorite thing here is their mighty tostaditos platter. It consists of five mini tostadas generously smeared with savory marlin paté before getting topped with shrimp and octopus ceviche. The marlin’s deep smokiness is perfectly cut by the ceviche’s citrus, and the whole dish is frankly like a gourmet version of those StarKist tuna salad crackers you may have been sent to school with as a kid. The only downside is that they’re more like “bites,” and you’re only given five, so share at your own discretion.
A meal at LA Cha Cha Chá isn’t complete without a few of our all-time favorite things: a rooftop bar with a great view, sipping on tequila in nice weather, and enjoying some top-notch Mexican food. While this Arts District rooftop looks like another trendy cocktail bar to take dates or out-of-towners to, the food doesn’t disappoint. And more than anything, we recommend their monumento tostada. It comes with charred octopus that’s tossed with juicy cherry tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, habanero chilis, and creamy cilantro aioli. The char of the grilled octopus pairs so well with the acidic elements that transport you to a chill beach grill-out in Tulum, or maybe that’s just us because we need of a vacation. Their terraza tostada is similarly magical, with its smokey chile morita aioli complimenting chunks of fresh ahi tuna with a crispy cilantro topping. Get both.
Between blasting Latin radio hits, heavy traffic flying by, and a front-row view of the car wash across the street, eating at Via-Mar is always an experience - and the food here also happens to be great. This Highland Park counter-service restaurant has a fantastic whole fried mojarra that comes out crispy on the outside, flakey on the inside, and pairs well with a generous squeeze of lemon. When it’s time to migrate towards tostadas, the salmon and avocado ceviche version alternates between fresh, sweet, and spicy with its cucumber, soft mango, chili powder, and bright citrus. It also comes with some non-traditional mix-ins like carrots, which add an extra crunch to the fatty salmon as it melts like butter from sitting in lime juice. Via-Mar offers some Japanese and Chinese condiments as well, like soy and oyster sauce, to complement the fresh fish. All in all, something about this tostada feels like a lavish salmon sashimi dinner, but for only $12 - and all while sitting on a stool with Karol G playing in the background.
Mariscos 4 Vientos in Boyle Heights is a one-stop shop for every mariscos craving we’ve ever had. Whether it’s cocteles, tacos dorados, or a dozen oysters with salsa verde to sweat out last night’s tequila, this place has it all. The truck’s tostadas also run the seafood gamut by offering toppings like shrimp, fish, octopus, and even imitation crab. But unlike other places that cut their fish into small chunks, they finely mince their fish ceviche to create more of a seafood paste that gets slathered on the salty tostada. The tomato, onion, and cilantro really come through here, and the large slices of creamy avocado make for a rich final touch. We’re also fans of their tostada mixta that comes with the same fish ceviche and large chunks of shrimp and octopus on top. After adding generous amounts of salt and tapatío, eat this one curbside for a brief moment of uninterrupted satisfaction. Or, in some cases, regret for wearing white pants to a ceviche truck (again).
La Tostaderia is a casual spot on Abbot Kinney that serves some of the best Mexican mariscos on the Westside. If you’re on the hunt for aprés-surf tacos, their fried fish taco comes with flaky black cod that’s lightly battered and fried before getting a serving of crispy slaw, avocado puree, chipotle aioli, crema, and spicy salsa roja. But naturally, a trip to La Tostaderia wouldn’t complete without a tostada. Their sizable tostada mixta comes with a massive pile of fresh shrimp, octopus, and tender scallops that almost eclipses its crunchy tortilla base. The seafood combo is also tossed in a mixture of tomato, radish, red onion, cilantro, bell peppers, and copious amounts of lime juice before serving. Be warned - the accompanying habanero salsa is seriously spicy, but if you don’t mind the runny nose and sensory overload, a habanero-infused ceviche might sound like your love language.
With locations in Downey and Pico-Rivera, Mariscos Choix our go-to spot for Sinaloa-style mariscos. Known for its aguachiles, meaty scallops, and Asian influences, Sinaloa has a strong seafood tradition that is unique from other Mexican regions. Our personal favorite here is their massive tostada de callo de hacha, also known as fresh scallop ceviche. Coming with large chunks of beautiful scallop, cucumber, red onion, avocado, and fiery chiltepin chilis, this dish is a full-body detox disguised as a seafood feast. While the scallops are silky smooth, the chiltepin packs a serious punch that always has us sweating, mouth breathing, and craving more all at once. And if that’s not enough, Mariscos Choix prepares a separate chiltepin salsa on the side that’s also seriously addicting and goes excellent on fresh scallops.
If you’ve heard of Mariscos Jalisco, then you probably know about their tacos dorados de camaron. And while they are actually that good, this famed food truck offers more than just deep-fried shrimp tacos. For starters, they make an excellent aguachile tostada that is just as pretty as the taco dorado, but unique in its own special way, OK? For those who might be unfamiliar, an aguachile is raw seafood, usually either shrimp or scallop, that is gently cured in a spicy citrus-based sauce. In this case, their shrimp aguachile is prepared in a spicy red salsa that could be the answer to many of the world’s biggest problems. The fresh avocado on top helps cool down the heat and balances out the strong acidic flavor, but frankly, I’m usually eating this tostada way too ferociously to notice anything besides how good it is. The shrimp is extremely tender, never overly chewy, and perfectly mops up all of the salsa that gets drenched over the crunchy tostada. And if you’re still not satisfied after this bite, then sure, get the tacos dorados too.
Tostadas are known to be extremely versatile, which is why we were excited to see what Enrique Olvera and his team could do with them at DTLA’s Damian. In many ways, the tostadas here are the least traditional on this guide, but their novelty is kind of exactly what makes them great. For example, there’s a homemade tostada topped with a creamy caesar salad and a very generous serving of fresh uni. The lemon and serrano chilis in the salad really shine through the rich dressing and pair great with the delicate uni. But we know what you’re thinking: how is that ceviche? Well, it’s not. But everything about this dish is still true to its roots. The fresh seafood is the star, the acid and chiles are present in the salad’s bite, and in case you didn’t know, caesar salad actually hails from Tijuana.