First Look

First Look: Caribbean Shark Offers a Delicious Take on Mexican Food

The Special Sampler House, which includes a mix of shrimp, octopus and smoked marlin in a house-made seasoning.
The Special Sampler House, which includes a mix of shrimp, octopus and smoked marlin in a house-made seasoning. EMayne
Think about one of your favorite Mexican restaurants in Dallas: The sizzling-pop of a mountainous platter of fajitas along with those irresistible aromas. Maybe you’re fantasizing about an enormous portion of steaming, decadent enchiladas shrouded in a creamy blanket of magnificent cheese. If that is the end of your image of Mexican cuisine, you should pay a visit to Caribbean Shark.

This is Caribbean food, but the restaurant's website says it brings "the finest ingredients from Mexico." The Caribbean region is the marriage of 13 countries and several islands including the parts of of Mexico. Most people in North Texas think only of Americanized Latin concoctions like Mexi-Cali or Tex-Mex. Yet, Mexico is a coastal country surrounded by oceans, which makes this restaurant a pescatarian’s paradise.

The restaurant lives in the bones of the now-closed Start Restaurant on the sleepy part of upper Greenville Avenue. The restaurant is sandwiched between two Americano and Mexican-inspired restaurants (Desperado’s and Rusty Taco), so expectations were low. I had none when I finally decided to stop for lunch, but I walked out riding a wave of blissful food satisfaction.

click to enlarge A seafood tostada - EMAYNE
A seafood tostada
The restaurant has been remodeled with a sleek post-modern design with polished silver and minimalistic décor. The massive bar selection and several big-screen TVs will come in clutch when you’re trying to watch the Mavs or Cowboys disappoint you again. The outdoor seating is spacious and will be phenomenal during patio weather season.

After asking the waiter to give me a few more moments to scan the menu, he promptly returned with chips and two small cups of something that was completely foreign to me. Rather than the typical salsa, there was a simple blend of serrano peppers and red onion with explosive flavor. The other was a creamy mix of peanuts and habanero.

Caribbean Shark has a variety of fresh seafood samplers with octopus, shrimp, smoked marlin and more. This is probably not for those who typically only go for crab legs, coconut shrimp and fish sticks. The restaurant does have less adventurous options — like fried red snapper with garlic butter and guajillo and grilled salmon covered in guajillo mango salsa — but this place is great for exploration.

After thumbing through the menu several times on my phone I eventually went with the waiter’s recommendations of the Special Sampler House, a mix of shrimp, octopus and smoked marlin, with their “a la 49” seasoning. We also got the pulpo grill.

click to enlarge The pulpo grill at Caribbean shark is served on a sizzling cast-iron skillet. - EMAYNE
The pulpo grill at Caribbean shark is served on a sizzling cast-iron skillet.
The octopus arrived on a sizzling cast iron grill still surrounded by a beautiful display of eggplant and a fully loaded baked potato. All I can tell you is that though I spent hours in honors classes in high school and AP English along with several years in a liberal arts college studying classic literature, the only way to describe my first bite of the grilled octopus was, “Holy Shit!”

It’s hard to write about eating octopus without sounding like a hentai novel, but the tentacles were extremely succulent and firm with an enriching white sauce on the side.

Everything on the sample platter was prepped to perfection. The avocado and soft cheese tamed the exquisitely briny bath of the marlin, shrimp and octopus. I had never tasted smoked marlin, but immediately it reminds you of a smoked Christmas ham.

With all this, I just had to meet the owners.

Caribbean Shark is the love child of a husband and wife, Mayra and Sixto Alvardo. They just opened this spot on March 25. Mayra is from Guadalajara and has been cooking all of her life; the menu was born from her love and passion for food. Sixto has worked in various levels of the culinary world. The two decided to take a leap and sell one of their other businesses to open up a restaurant. We should all be glad they did because it's definitely a place we didn’t even know we needed.

Caribbean Shark Seafood, 4814 Greenville Ave, Dallas, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday - Sunday
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E.Mayne is an epicurious foodster who loves to eat things he can’t pronounce. He runs a food group called D.F. Grub he hopes to turn into a nonprofit to feed disadvantaged children. He is an avid traveler and plans to visit all seven continents and start a travel club called “Lucky Number 7.”
Contact: E.Mayne