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Surf and turf represented well at new Mexican bistro

The M & T Mexican Seafood Restaurant is one of the newest restaurants on the local dining scene, and it’s not just another Mexican restaurant.

M & T stands for mar and tierra, which translates to sea and land. It’s a seafood restaurant with a wide variety of delights prepared according to authentic Mexican recipes. The menu runs the gamut from ceviche and seafood salads to soups and all manner of fresh fish and shellfish.

Owner Rosalba Calette likes to call the restaurant a Mexican bistro.

“I love to cook, and every day I have a different menu,” Calette said.

M & T is a family business, and usually one of her children is working at the restaurant. Not surprising, since Calette’s father owned three restaurants and several shrimp boats in Mexico.

When Calette took over the restaurant a few months ago, she changed everything.

“We changed the walls, the floors, everything,” she said. “I wanted to make it cozy and inviting. I’m an artistic person and I’m a teacher, so I’m trying to express our culture, not just serve tacos.”

The seafood offerings alone are staggering. M & T prepares oysters, shrimp, octopus, squid, scallops, crab, mussels, marlin, clams and red snapper, among others. The restaurant even prepares a whole fish grilled or deep fried, and fillings for the burritos run the gamut, including octopus ($7), marlin ($6.50), Baja fish ($6.50), Baja shrimp ($7) and sea chimichanga ($7.50).

Try a mixed appetizer platter ($18.50) and enjoy shrimp, octopus, scallops and calamari. There are wonderful freshly made soups at M & T. We tried the seven seas ($8.50), and it was chock full of shrimp, squid, fish, scallops, crab and mussels.

Another spectacular soup is the salmon soup, which is available on Sundays. You can also get shrimp soup ($8.80) or a fish soup ($7.15).

Everything is made from scratch, and the fish is definitely fresh. Some of the specialties of the house include shrimp with garlic butter ($16), the spicy shrimp a la diabla ($16) and fish fillets with vegetables and melted cheese ($16). Among the fish selections are pollock, mahi mahi and red snapper.

The campechana - a seafood feast of shrimp, octopus, scallops, calamari, clams and oysters - is another popular dish at M & T. It sells for $12.95 and is listed under the large umbrella of seafood cocktails.

M & T is adding many land offerings, such as lamb and chicken. One of the most amazing chicken dishes available at M & T is a chicken breast extravaganza they dubbed Passion Chicken ($16). The chef takes a chicken breast and stuffs it with apple, cranberries and bacon, then tops it off with a cranberry sauce. The dish takes a little while to prepare, but it’s well worth it.

Portions are so big, diners are encouraged to split them. Otherwise, you can expect to take home some for lunch the next day, which isn’t too bad.

M & T has a lot to offer vegetarians, including vegetable soup, quesadilla made with soy, and a taco salad packed into a big shell. Even meatless meatballs with chipotle sauce is an option.

The restaurant features daily specials for $6.99, and these are excellent values. The day of our visit, the special was a combination plate with chile relleno, enchilada and machaca.

M & T Mexican Seafood is at 5721 La Jolla Blvd. Call (858) 456-0197.