Cancun Seafood and Mexican Grill
573 W. Channel Islands Blvd., Port Hueneme

We’ve driven by Cancun Seafood in Port Hueneme at least a dozen times, something I’ve sorta shrugged off as another corporate burrito fast-food joint in the Petco shopping center. My companion, however, said he was first alerted to it, a family-owned business, on Facebook. We decided on it for lunch on a recent Thursday afternoon after spending the morning checking out the industrial hemp fields now visible around Ventura County.

Upon entering the restaurant, the feeling of a roadside taco stand in Baja came rushing in. When I was 16, I lived close to Rosarito Beach. At 21, I visited Las Playas frequently, and then at 22 went on a cruise to Ensenada. Inside Cancun, the lights were off, the ceiling fan was on, the décor of tile accents, iron works and glass masks — plus the liquefied salsas on ice — “it reminded me of being in Mexico, Ensenada,” my companion said, especially the fish tacos.

To note, there was only one other patron eating inside. It made me wonder about the true power of social media and marketing, though one afternoon is not a fair way to judge. My companion said he had seen a meal deal on the fish tacos on Facebook and wanted to try it — $2.50 each deal. We kept trying to communicate that deal to the woman taking our order, but understanding was lacking. So he ordered three fried fish tacos, $3.99 each, and I got the Cancun burrito, which came with barbecue chicken, rice, beans, fresh cilantro and sour cream.

To start, we shared the chips and salsa, a charred green watery concoction and an avocado cream sauce. Tangy, applicable to both. I squirted some red sauce from a red bottle into a plastic ramekin — must be cocktail sauce? I didn’t opt for the habanero sauce; maybe next time. The pickled carrots were crunchy and not too spicy. I skipped the pickled jalapeño.

As we waited for our meals, mentioning Facebook landed us two free small bowls of vegetable soup, reminiscent of albondigas without the albondigas. We appreciated the treat in any case.

Out came our meals, the burrito rolled with care, a filling meal in half a burrito. For me, sour cream, fresh cilantro and barbecue were the winning options.

The fish tacos featured finely sliced cabbage, delicately crisp beer-battered white fish — tasted like halibut — diced tomatoes and onions and crema on corn tortillas. Coupled with a nice breeze in the shade, it felt as though we were on the road to Ensenada. The only issue: three tacos, one burrito and two drinks, $28. Kinda pricey for a Thursday lunch, which just stinks since it’s not a place to miss. One suggestion — you don’t need three tacos to fill up. Other than that, worth at least a visit. The man in the kitchen, presumably the owner, and the gal working there were friendly and attentive, the cook with a glowing smile, for real.

I should have asked about those masks, maybe from Pier One Imports, maybe Target, maybe from a home studio. Whatever the case, at the very least, they were little treasures, suitable for a hidden gem like Cancun Seafood, which distinguishes itself from the row of corporate franchises along Channel Islands Boulevard.