If you drive up or down Lower Greenville Avenue with any frequency, you've likely noticed Palapas Seafood Bar slowly taking shape next to a tire shop over the past few months. Construction workers gutted the place last fall and dug deep holes to set a patio out front. They laid palms for a thatch roof and installed windows that could open wide and invite a cooling breeze.
Then they didn't do much of anything. The restaurant sat dormant for weeks until it finally opened its windows and opened for business this February. A bartender behind the bar topped in rough hewn lumber says it was the thatch that held them up. Dallas city inspectors didn't know how to permit roofing made of palm leaves, and when they did figure it out, extra fire precautions were necessary.
Palapas pulls dishes and recipes from Sinaloa, a Mexican state with a significant coast along the bay of California. There are several ceviches of different styles available, including some versions you may not be used to like the camaron en agua chiles pictured above. The raw shrimp join cucumbers and thin crescents of red onion in a bath of chili sauce and lime juice so deep they swim. It's spicy, very clean tasting and an excellent way to start your dinner here (or cure your hangover from the night before according to my friend two stools down).
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There are tacos, of course, and for those who care about such things it should be made known that they come on hand-made tortillas griddled along with your fish. And for those who prefer their food from terra firma there is carne asada, and even an "American food" section on the menu that includes a chicken sandwich, a cheeseburger and a po'boy.
But back to the breeze that gently tussles the palm leaves that dangle from the roof and the windows beneath. They frame three sides of the dining room and allow sufficient ventilation that you could pretend you're swilling Tecate at some beach bar without much imagination. Close your eyes, take another pull and breath in deeply through your nose. You might just barely smell the ocean.
Or was that the shrimp?
Palapas Seafood Bar, 1418 Greenville Ave.