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Seafood Darling El Cristalazo Closes as Chef Moves New Restaurant Out to Fontana

La Puente's culinary star has faded.

Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

There’s one less culinary feather in La Puente’s cap these days, as it appears that Sinaloan seafood specialist El Cristalazo has called it quits. After earning praise from food writers, bloggers, and locals far and wide when it opened around the turn of the year 2015, the former illegal backyard dining operation seemingly couldn’t hold on.

El Cristalazo was a specifically Escuinapan-style cevicheria with a strong sense of place, doing regionally-specific versions of fresh, raw seafood dishes like their namesake El Cristalazo — an outsized martini glass filled to the brim with scallops, raw shrimp, and more.

Per LA Magazine, the Vargas family behind El Cristalazo hasn’t simply given up, however. After a strong run as a backyard street food sensation, there are still plenty of fans of the family’s cooking, and so the decision was made to relocate all the way out to Fontana under a new name: El Marinero. They’ve apparently secured a liquor license, which should help out foot traffic from the locals — just don’t expect L.A. bloggers to drive that far for their next meal. Instead, says writer Bill Esparza, co-owner Ninive Vargas has plans to potentially bring a smaller version of El Marinero back into the fold somewhere near L.A. proper.