Best Fish Tacos in San Diego
In the words of the (in)famous public speaker, Dan Quayle…
“If you give a person a fish, they’ll fish for a day. But if you train a person to fish, they’ll fish for a lifetime.”
And I say, if you’re really lucky, one of these persons will make you one heck of a fish taco…
Rumor has it that fish tacos originated in the Mexican port town of Ensenada back in 1958. Possibly…but, I think it’s highly likely that many an ancient native wrapped a maize tortilla around the catch of the day and groaned with pleasure. Wherever they started, they’re everywhere now…even on the East Coast where authentic Mexican cuisine is about as easy to find as a tan.
Thankfully, San Diego has both tans and fish tacos in great plentitude. Okay…some are the real thing, but many are not. Hence, we set out to do some taco taste testing to find the première tacos del mar.
If you’re not intimate with fish tacos, these few basics will get you started.
The “musts”…flavorful fish (deep-fried or grilled), crunchy cabbage, savory sauce, and several lime wedges per taco. Corn tortillas are traditional…flour ones are a twist.
The “extras”…like marinades, tomatoes, cheese, onions, or a signature something or other…keep it interesting.
TJ Oyster Bar is a tiny place serving up a big crowd. For $1.00 (a BUCK) you get the traditional…for an extra buck, you can lose calories and gain flavor with the grilled version….throw in a few more coins and you’ll get something that used to have a shell, may or may not have tentacles or shares a name with San Diego’s red light district. You don’t get atmosphere for mere bucks, but you’ll be happy you waited in line.
I was told that my research would be incomplete without a visit to Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill. (I now consider this person a genius.) First, I was impressed by the choices…no less than T-H-I-R-T-E-E-N options for the fish inside my two white corn tortillas AND S-I-X different marinades. Then, I was impressed by the gift of an entire filet buried under a mound of cabbage, onions and cheese in said tortillas. These artistic creations are just a few shakes of salt away from flawless. The price tag? Mere bucks once again…cuatro, to be exact. This deserves a “Wow”.
Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in San Diego any more. La Fachada is not only iconic, but the real Mexican deal. Heavier on the mayo, their two buck fish taco is definitely worth diving in to. If you’re a meat lover, their carne asada is not to be missed.
Ditch all your apprehensions about food poisoning and don’t blink as you cruise down India Street or you might miss Mexican Fiesta. Sorta like a food truck without wheels, it’s just big enough to house a compact kitchen, a cash register, a tiny walk-up window, and one of the city’s best fish tacos. Deep-fried fish (check), cabbage (check), savory sauce (check)…and, a deliciously tangy tomato salsa with a kick. A parking place and two bucks is all it takes.
I have nosiness to thank for my discovery of Marisco’s German Taco Truck. Curious as to the source of the small crowd milling about the parking lot of Gala Foods on South Park’s 30th Street, I whipped around and pulled in the parking lot. One free cup of seafood soup and a mixta ceviche tostada later and I was reeling. Only $5 for a small fortune in seafood??? Their La grilled Plancha Fish Taco is prepared my favorite way…grilled and filled with all the “musts”.
The Pacific Beach Fish Shop was my personal Numero Uno. It had choices (T-W-E-L-V-E varieties of fish and E-I-G-H-T different marinades), no lack of flavor, and all the “musts”. A higher price tag ($3.50-$5.50 per taco), but well worth the investment. This place isn’t a secret, so be prepared to do your devouring outside…hopefully you’ll score a spot by the fire pit.
If we’ve managed to get you salivating over tacos del mar, here’s your next hot date: San Diego Fish Tacos Crawl!