El Bucanero’s humble beginnings started when owner Julio Cervantes went to California from the Mexican state of Sinaloa. After starting as a way to provide for his family, Cervantes recruited his sister Reyna and they began their business selling fresh seafood from the back of a pickup truck.

The backstory

Cervantes soon sought to expand outside of California and found a recipe for success in Texas. The brother-sister duo along with their families moved to San Antonio and opened their first location on the Southeast side, eventually finding a bigger home at 16505 Blanco Road in 2012.

“We are a true family business—most of our staff are majority family,” said General Manager Elizabeth Cervantes.

Elizabeth is also the daughter-in-law to Julio. She took on managing their second location at 13802 Embassy Road, which opened in 2014. A third location opened at 8300 Marbach Road in 2017.

What’s on the menu?

El Bucanero serves Sinaloa-style camarones aguachiles, similar to ceviche where shrimp is cured in lime juice but also packs a punch with green chiles, cucumbers and red onions. The Botana Bucanera is a vessel containing 5 types of fish and shrimp ceviche, with a center of butterflied raw shrimp, cured in lime juice and covered with red onions and cucumbers. Another popular item is El Bucanero's selection of molcajetes, loaded with grilled meats and seafood that can feed up to three people. The Caldo de Mariscos is a seafood medley soup in a rich broth.

“We don’t shy away from portions and presentations and that’s why we're so popular,” Elizabeth said.

Walking into El Bucanero, customers can appreciate the nautical theme with hand-painted murals of ocean life. Drinks like the Pachanga Six make a statement featuring six Modelo beers dressed with shrimp, red onions and cucumbers, and topped with Japanese peanuts, Tajin and their secret salsa.

What else?

The menu has a range of raw and fried seafood items as well as something for just about every palate. Each table includes complimentary tostadas and homemade habanero, green chile and chipotle salsas. Elizabeth encourages everyone to try a different dish with every visit.

“Whether you're a seafood lover or afraid of raw fish, we welcome all our new visitors and have a big menu of options for all,” she said.