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Photograph: Jeremy Bolen

Rating La Palapa's outdoor eating space

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2000 W 34th St (773-376-9620)

Let’s get something out of the way: This mariscos place is in a dusty parking lot on a stretch of Damen Avenue that could generously be described as urban. But many factors make up for this drawback: a loud norteño band, thatched umbrellas, a giant rubber shark perched atop the restaurant. The mushy ceviche and tough tortilla chips get things off to a shaky start, but once you’re busy with a big plate of garlicky langoustines (see fig. 3), a bucket of your own beer and an entire roll of paper towels, that dust might just start to resemble sand.

FOOD 8 Simple, straightforward seafood
DRINKS 5 The BYOB corkage fee here is $1.50 per person—for an unlimited number of beverages.
CROWD 8 Mostly families, and plenty of open seats
VIEW 1 It’s a parking lot.
SPACE 8 But if you sit facing the restaurant…it’s the Gulf of Mexico!
TOTAL TOTAL

Illustration: David Preiss
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