Dining With Denise Neil

New Wichita restaurant will appeal to seafood fans

The new La Isla, a Mexican seafood restaurant, will open on Nov. 19 at 748 N. West St.
The new La Isla, a Mexican seafood restaurant, will open on Nov. 19 at 748 N. West St. The Wichita Eagle

If you’re a seafood lover adrift in landlocked Kansas, you’re about to get a tasty new option.

La Isla, a new Mexican seafood restaurant that specializes in ceviche, is about to open on West Street. It will open in the spot at 748 N. West St. where Emilia’s Family Restaurant and Pie Shop had operated for 30 years. Emilia’s closed in October.

Owners Jose and Yuliana Gandara plan to open the new La Isla on Saturday, Nov. 19.

The couple has operated the original La Isla at 1935 N. Broadway since April 2015, and it’s developed a devoted following of people who love ceviche – a fresh seafood salad cooked with the acid from the lime juice added to it – as well as oysters on the half shell and other Mazatlan-style seafood dishes. That restaurant will remain open.

I first discovered the restaurant when Mario Quiroz, the owner of Molino’s, directed me there. It’s one of his favorites, and he raved about it in a story I did earlier this year asking local chefs and restaurant owners to say where they like to eat. Since that story ran, countless people have told me that they tried it and loved it.

Yuliana, who is the cook, is adding at least 15 dishes to the menu at the new restaurant. The tiny kitchen in the original restaurant didn’t allow her to expand the menu beyond what she offers now, Jose said. But her new West Street kitchen will allow her to begin serving dishes like fried tilapia, spicy shrimp, garlic shrimp, soup and more.

Yuliana was raised by her grandmother, whose recipes she uses in the restaurant, in the seaside-city of Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico. She also worked in a Mexican restaurant in Dodge City.

At first, the new La Isla will be open daily for lunch and dinner. After they see how traffic is, the owners will choose a day to close.

The original restaurant on Broadway will be closed from Saturday, Nov. 19, until the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, to allow the owners to get the new restaurant up and running.