Seafood and Coastal Views Shine at This New Mexican Restaurant in Aptos (2024)

Ambitious new seafood restaurant Dos Pescados opened in Aptos on Wednesday, July 3, thanks to two industry vets with plenty of experience between them. Dos Pescados took over the former Palapas Restaurant y Cantina location in May, which closed after 30 years in business, and now chef Trent Lidgey takes the helm of the new restaurant with prolific Fresno restaurateur Brandon Smittcamp. Lidgey is the executive chef and owner of One Fish Raw Bar in Campbell, but in his career, he’s also worked for three-Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn, Australia’s acclaimed Brae restaurant, and the Lexington House in Los Gatos. Smittcamp, meanwhile, owns and operates the Lime Lite, Heirloom, and Butterfish in Fresno. Together, they’ve created a restaurant that leans into coastal Mexican cuisine informed by Lidgey’s cooking background and the views of the space. “I think there’s a lot of potential for good restaurants coming in,” Lidgey says. “My cuisine is largely seafood-based, and if you’re looking at the coast, that’s what I want to be eating.”

For now, longtime Palapas customers won’t notice many changes — the decor is mostly the same, although the kitchen underwent a remodel where much of the equipment was upgraded. In the upcoming months, the restaurant will remain untouched until a “significant renovation” that is tentatively scheduled for January 2025 with Studio Unltd. “It’s the same coastal views,” Lidgey says, “and a majority of the staff from Palapas. They’re still here and they’re awesome, so we’re really lucky to have them.”

But what will be noticeable to diners are the updates to the food and drink menus. Notably, Lidgey installed a raw bar and crudo section, which should please those who know his food at One Fish Raw Bar. Oysters are a given, dressed in a spicy margarita mignonette, but diners will also see items such as leche de tigre with kampachi as the focus, or ceviches highlighting either local halibut or snapper. The taco selections are now a larger part of the menu, with tortillas still made in-house but with a larger variety of toppings. There are seafood taco options, of course, such as a “Baja style” battered and fried cod version, but also in the mix is a pollo asado in an adobo sauce, plus carnitas in a hard shell taco with sour orange salsa. One standout taco that Lidgey points to is a vegan menu item, a summer squash taco with salsa macha served in a blue masa tortilla. “They’re one of my favorite tacos on the menu,” he says.

Those who prefer larger menu items will find a standout kampachi collar al pastor served with pineapple salsa or pan-roasted salmon with hoja santa chimichurri. Meanwhile, a vegan enchilada might call out to vegetarians, featuring huitlacoche with salsa verde. On the easier, snacky side of the menu, diners can try the restaurant’s street corn topped with a guajillo aioli, plus cotija cheese, and lime, guacamole made with “good avocados” as the menu proclaims, or taquitos filled with chicken tinga and a spicy crema on the side.

Seafood and Coastal Views Shine at This New Mexican Restaurant in Aptos (5) Albert Law

The co*cktail menu also received an overhaul, featuring “crushable” drinks and juices made in-house, Lidgey says. Three margaritas anchor the menu, with two classic takes on the drink and a mango-centric version featuring blanco tequila, mangoes, and fresh lime, plus hot honey and a Tajin rim for a bit of heat. Those longing for an espressotini will want to try the restaurant’s tres leches version, made with reposado tequila (or vodka, if one wishes), and fortified with coffee liqueur, cold brew, and crema. El Pepino is another chef favorite, mixing tequila with refreshing cucumber and citrus, then topped with ginger beer.

Bringing up the restaurant’s stellar views, Lidgey says he looks at potential restaurant locations often, but was wowed by the space and the possibilities of Dos Pescados. “I think it’s about keeping the standards super high as far as the product is concerned,” Lidgey says. “Trying to try to push the boundaries a little bit, but still stay in the realm of approachable at the same time.”

Dos Pescados (21 Seascape Village, Aptos) debuted Wednesday, July 3, and is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Seafood and Coastal Views Shine at This New Mexican Restaurant in Aptos (6) Albert Law
Seafood and Coastal Views Shine at This New Mexican Restaurant in Aptos (7) Albert Law
Seafood and Coastal Views Shine at This New Mexican Restaurant in Aptos (8) Albert Law
Seafood and Coastal Views Shine at This New Mexican Restaurant in Aptos (2024)

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