El Rey Del Pescado is a new place that just opened in Sunset Park. Their website has zero information aside from proclaiming themselves to be "The King of Fish" - or maybe the chef is the King? Or one of the fish is? I dunno.
Anyway, as we found out it was opened by a couple of lawyers - one Mexican, one Venezuelan - who live in and wanted something different / more upscale in the neighborhood, though upscale for Sunset Park is obviously different than upscale up the street in Park Slope. This isn't a place designed to attract the neighbors North of Greenwood, though it is in the vicinity of the first couple pops of gentrification along that part of 5th Ave (Judy's and L'Wren) - it seem to be for the local, younger Mexican crowd.
Nearly the entire menu is under $15. It's all, as the name implies, seafood.
And what we had was mostly very good. First, the tortillas - hand-made to order from fresh masa, and supposedly they're grinding it themselves? I'm gonna guess the latter won't continue, that's a lot of work for no benefit. Either way, they're great quality.
Some of the dish names are... less than PC. "El Chirri" - which is basically "the pussy" - was a tuna-stuffed relleno taco. Suspiro. Tasty if tasteless... Niños siempre serán niños, supongo. The mixed seafood coctele, "El Rompe Colchon" - "The Mattress Breaker" we didn't try. Anyway, "Mete Mano" has no sexual allusions, as far as I know. Just kind of means "give it a shot" - which we did, an octopus taco with a schmear of queso fundido. I dug it, though I'm sure the knee-jerk anti-dairy-and-seafood denizens will not be convinced.
Aguachile was nice and tart with good heat. The seafood soup we had, "La Cruda" - despite the name making no sense as there was nothing raw in it - was really tasty. The actual seafood in there - mussels, clams, shrimp, some baby scallops - was as overcooked by fancy person standards as one would expect. But the broth was delicious, really hit the spot on a chilly rainy night.
House-made hot sauces were uniformly excellent.
There was some confusion regarding the "Catch of The Day" ($14) and what exactly made it different than "The King of Fish" ($20) - no one seemed to know. Or even if the Catch of The Day was normally available on weeknights, or if like the KOF it was weekends-only. Either way, they didn't have it last night, so we couldn't try, and the COD over the weekend was (as expected) tilapia so it might never get tried. That said, a great sauce can occasionally turn tilapia into a serviceable delivery vehicle, as was the case down the street at the late, lamented El Tesoro Ecuatoriano. So we'll probably give it a shot at some point, and hold out hope that some marginally better fish get "caught" every now and then.
Cocktails (as opposed to cocteles) leaned to the sweet side. But easy enough to ask for them to leave out the near-ubiquitous agave syrup when there's already a liqueur in there. Mostly mezcal-focused. Small but decent selection of bottles - Los Amantes, Illegal, a couple others, something cheaper for the cocktails.
It ain't Le Bernardin, but it's outside the nabe's typical food box, great tortillas... $60 each all in (with two cocktails apiece) - not a bad addition. Not a destination restaurant, but worth checking out if you live/work in the area or happen to be down at Industry City and want something different than their offerings. I'll be back to check out the Michelada menu.
They're open nights from 4PM-?AM depending on the evening, but the kitchen will probably only be open until 11 most nights. Appears they're doing Sunday brunch, too, but for now it's the same as the nighttime menu. I suggested seafood chilaquiles should be a thing, but I don't know that the bartender passed on my brilliant expert advice to anyone.
Afterwards, because if we're drinking on a Monday night, might as well go all in, popped into L'Wren. Best cocktail bar in that part of Sunset, for sure - chill vibe, great drinks. The owner, Travis, who is usually tending bar is super-friendly, you can bring in your take-out. Don't know why I don't pop in there more often.