Hart's Corner has been through many changes since the building at 5201 West Mississippi Avenue was erected more than ninety years ago by the Hart family, which owned the building from 1924 to 1978. Under the Hart's Corner name, the edifice has seen life as a nightclub, dive bar, family restaurant, service station and barbecue joint. But now it's home to something new: Mariscos El Picudo, a Mexican eatery specializing in seafood and enormous micheladas.
The new tenants haven't changed much on the inside or the outside of the venerable spot. The heart-shaped sign still marks the corner of Mississippi and South Sheridan Boulevard, although the Hart's Corner insert has been replaced with El Picudo's. Inside, new tables and comfortable leather chairs have been moved in, but the dark wood paneling and central bar — shaped like a massive dugout canoe — are still there. A mounted deer head graces one corner, and TVs are tuned to Latin American soccer games.
The menu leans heavily toward seafood dishes in the style of Mexico's Pacific Coast, so expect whole fried fish, shrimp in a variety of sauces, ceviches and aguachile. But you'll also find plenty of tacos, enchiladas and combo plates. El Picudo has a full liquor license, but the house specialty is the michelada, which starts with a basic $7 mug adorned with a salted rim, diced cucumbers and a tamarind-candy straw. More elaborate concoctions are also available (prices top out at over $25), some of which come with shrimp, oysters or even three different Mexican beer bottles inverted into a single chalice.
While the wilder days of Hart's Corner (where an ear-biting incident was considered just another day) have come and gone, El Picudo — which is open daily for lunch and dinner — still maintains enough of the old dive-bar atmosphere to please Sheridan Boulevard neighbors and Lakewood longtimers.