The final stop on the Fourth of July weekend food and wine extravaganza is Moqueca in Oxnard. For a few years now The Monster has been meaning to hit this Brazilian seafood eatery due to its great reviews and unique cuisine.
Even when traveling in Brazil, The Monster had never heard of the dish which is this restaurant’s namesake. He is soon to be an ardent fan.
This is a large restaurant on the Channel Islands Harbor. Through the bay windows admire boats moored, people cruising by on bikes, kayakers and yachts competing for space. Colorful art adorns the walls, though this is largely a nondescript room. Free parking is an added bonus.
The restaurant starts you off with eggplant tapenade along with spicy Brazilian chilies in oil and toasted garlic bread. The eggplant and garlic bread are a salty combo but in limited quantity are quite pleasing. The peppers in oil are fantastic, hotter than a Jalapeno; they leave a nice strong burn as they settle down your throat.
Moqueca, found mostly in the Santo Espirito State of Brazil are steaming pots of seafood marinated with garlic and lime juice, cooked in a clay pot with tomatoes, cilantro, onions, urucum essence, coconut milk and olive oil. They are served with rice and pirão (fish stock thickened with yucca flour). The pots this dish is cooked in are brought from Northern Brazil so when you come here you’re getting the real deal. Each moqueca is started from scratch be aware this will not be quick eating.
Knowing that, The Monsters start off with the Capa Santa Gratinada, seasoned scallops in the half shell crusted with parmesan cheese and oven baked. When they come out they look tremendous and prove to be. The only complaint, they stick in the shells so prying them off a bit of the scallop is left behind.
The wait for the main course is still a bit long, but given the amount of food consumed the last few days that’s not an issue. When the steaming dish is presented to the table the aroma is tremendous. We decided on the mixed seafood. Shrimp, clams, mussels, squid. There are a few varieties that include lobster or fish as well. With the chilies on top (as recommended by our waiter) this was delightful. While it may have cousins in paella, cioppino, and bouillabaisse; moqueca is a taste combination all its own.
As the last meal on our tour up the coast of California it was a fitting end. And end it must before The Monster bursts at the seams.
Why go? A love of seafood allows you to forget you’re in Oxnard.
Monster rating: 4/5 Monsters
3550 S Harbor Boulevard, Suite 201
Oxnard, CA 93035