Santa Fe's sister Mexican seafood joints make it clear in their names that




are king, but it's important to know that the secret power behind the scenes is the avocado salsa. Slather it on your grilled red snapper in garlic sauce, dish it into your generous helping of beef tacos, toss a dollop or two across a warm bowl of fish soup and don't even consider the deep-fried tilapia without it.


Mariscos "La Playa," on Cordova Road, sets the bar in central Santa Fe for tasty, fresh, authentic coastal Mexican fare with a warm, familial atmosphere and friendly, attentive service. Now that the Cordova location has expanded and retooled its interior, making a pit stop for fried


and Jarritos is easier than ever. Costa Azul, on Cerrillos Road, shares the same menu, warm surroundings and capable staff, making it one of the best options for eating out on the south side. There's a television perched in almost every corner though, so if you don't like nursing your hangover with

leche de tigre

(shrimp juice, Clamato and lemon juice) while Tiger Woods leers at you, stick to the Cordova location.

537 W. Cordova Road, 982-2790; 2875 Cerrillos Road, 473-4594. Lunch and dinner daily. $$