The open-air former burger stand feels like an urban approximation of a seafood cocktel palapa on the Jalisco/Nayarit coast. Forget the crash of waves: Lunch here is likely to be accompanied by the sound of subwoofer-jacked bass tracks rattling license plates in the perpetually jammed parking lot. Tostada de ceviche camaron y pulpo—a rustic mess of shrimp and chewy octopus on a crisp fried tortilla—is just as lively. Those purple tentacles are everywhere: in the spiced-up, thinned-down tomato juice cocktail (topped with avocado and a raw oyster) called agua chile, and in Campechana, a slurpable cocktel with raw shrimp and a blast of lime and oregano. Take a pass on anything containing crab. Like the bootleg DVDs hawked by the guy bussing tables, it’s fake. —John Birdsall
Mariscos La Costa. 3625 International Blvd. (at 36th Ave.), Oakland. 510-533-9566.
You won’t get a more concentrated hit of Fruitvale than among the sprawling aisles of this supermarket, a local chain. Sunday is family day: young guys in suffocating suits and stiff fauxhawks, out-of-control kids snagging handfuls of free-sample chicharrones, grannies in lacy headscarves and mid-calf nylons—even the odd Romeo in lace-up pirate shirt. And while you’ll find ingredients to cater to diverse Central American constituencies—Salvadoran crema, quail for Michoacanos, and the quintessentially DF herb papalo—cooked foods at the Deli Mex counter skew Jalisco. Don’t expect fine cooking (everything’s calibrated for steam-table survival) but Jaliscense faves like chicken in red mole and the Lenten specialty tortitas de camaron (spongy shrimp cakes stewed with cactus) are rich and saucy, and the in-store panaderia’s capirotada (bread pudding) is fantastic. —John Birdsall
Mi Pueblo Food Center. 1630 High St. (at E. 17th St.), Oakland. 510-532-2654.
In his pueblito 60 miles from Guadalajara, Luis Abundis learned the art of nieve de garafa: ice cream churned via elbow grease alone, working a handheld paddle in a garafa (“carafe”) sunk in ice and salt. It’s an heirloom treat scarce even in Mexico, but Abundis is still wielding his artisan paddle in a corner of Fruitvale’s Transit Village, churning out seasonal flavors that conjure another world. That’s the case with beautifully unctuous avocado, ricotta-like queso, fresh corn with the sweetness of scraped cobs, and changos zamoranos, made with whey (and the odd curd) leftover from cheese making. The off-menu Jalisco drink tejuino is a puckery brew of lime, coarse salt, and fermented corn masa with a limon sorbet float. In summer, ask for tepache, a fermented pineapple cooler. —John Birdsall
Nieves Cinco de Mayo. 3340 E. 12th St., #2 (in the Fruitvale Public Market), Oakland. 510-533-6296.