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Best fish tacos between Santa Barbara and Los Gatos?

Where can they be found?
(So far, the only rec I have so far is Taco Temple in Morro Bay)

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  1. The New York Times Travel section did a story on tacos up and down the coast, including the section you mention, a few weeks ago.

    1. Another choice in SLO is Cabo San Luis on Foothill Blvd. near Santa Rosa St. (Hwy 1)
      Their fish tacos are the best I've had in SLO.

      1. Stopped at Pete's Pierside in Avila Beach (on the far pier) and had a great fish taco last Sunday. Their regular one is Mahi Mahi (that day at least) and for $2.50 you get a soft corn tortilla piled high with great tasting fresh grilled fish chunks, nothing else. They have a salsa made of peppers, tomato, orange, red onion, and a little cilantro iirc in a tray on the outside counter, along with a nice red hot sauce, whole jalapenos, and lemon wedges. If you load it up like I did, grab a plastic knife and fork because that single tortilla ain't gonna hold up.

        You can also get halibut (3.50) or salmon (4.50). The halibut that day had been caught that morning by an 80 yr old fisherman that goes out daily at 2:00 AM according to the somewhat younger fellow (Pete?) in the fish market section.

        2 Replies
        1. re: PolarBear

          Pete Kelly is a big, burly (athletic-type burly--he's an ocean swimmer) fellow in his 50's who owns the place. So yes, he'd be somewhat younger than the fisherman! He has been serving great seafood in the area for years, and his place is a little jewel.

          Some background: he started back in the late 70's with Pete's Seaside Cafe on Front st. down by the Avila Pier. It was connected with Barbara's By the Sea, the original bar in town. You could get a drink in the bar and order tacos from Pete's. Wonderful. Pete's was very tiny-mostly just a counter--10 seats?-- and a couple of small booths. It had probably been a diner since the 30's or 40's.

          Pete moved into San Luis sometime in the mid-80's when he opened Pete's Southside Cafe up by the depot in SLO. It was the same Mexican-inspired menu, but with more of a causal sit-down atmosphere (servers!).

          Pete then sold the Southside, which continued for several years under new owners. IMO it suffered w/o Pete.

          Pete got back to the ocean he loves by opening Pete's Pierside Cafe and fish market on the Harford (working) Pier in Port San Luis, at the far end of Avila Beach. Great food and wonderfully friendly staff. Can't beat the scenery!

          When I'm craving comfort food after a harrowing day I head to Pete's for some fresh fish and chips and those wonderfully melting red potato fries.

          a little background of Avila Beach:


          1. re: toodie jane

            I recently visited Pete's Pierside after several years of avoiding the place because it got such bad reviews when it first opened.

            I broke my vegetarianism to have a shrimp and rice burrito, which I am happy to say was an exact replica of the ones I ate 20 years ago at Pete's Seaside.

            Mr Snackish raved over his fish tacos. Raved. Said the fish was wonderful.

        2. I think the best Fish Tacos you'll find are at the California Market at the Highlands Inn just south of Carmel. You'll also get the best view and ambience. However, they will probably be the most expensive ones you'll find.

          1. There is none better than Taco Temple

            1. Chili Pepper's on Broad St (nesr South St)in SLO makes a good salmon taco. Grilled marinated tomatoes, onions and peppers go with flaked salmon in a corn tortilla. Tasty and satisfying.

              Full range of beers and horchata, etc.

              Most of the menu is not anything special but but definitely tasty and filling. Owners/cooks are from Mexico. Mama is sometimes in the kitchen. Nice covered outdoor patio for dining.

              1. I'm sure a lot of people will contest this, but I think humble old Taco Roco has the best fish tacos I've had. Their tacos are not as showy as many places, but they are exactly like I like them: warm (but not dry) corn tortillas, battered fried white fish (probably Cod), some chopped cabbage, tomatoes, white...stuff, a squeeze of lemon. Perfecto!!
                There are several locations, but the best by far is the one in Buellton.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cecil G.

                  I admit, I like Taco Roco as well - good value too.
                  But I'm curious about the fish they use - the one I had last week in Lompoc (Central Ave location) contained breaded fish, not battered, and it was uniform enough for me to wonder if it isn't some prefab stuff from Mrs Fridays, or a like company. That would be a serious demerit in my book. Not sure it's cod either - could be pollock or whiting, much less expensive.

                  Oh to go back to the source - the Ensenada fish market - to reset my benchmarks. It's been too long......

                2. When I was in the mood for a fish taco and I lived in SLO, I'd head down to Pismo Beach and have the fish taco plate at El Mirador down near the Pismo pier. The place has an old-school taqueria vibe (as opposed to the fresh-Mex vibe at places like Taco Temple and Cabo San Luis), the fish tacos are definitely messy (which is why, I suppose, I liked them), and the lines are shorter than up the street at the celebrated Splash Cafe.

                  I haven't been there for two or three years, though. As far as I know, they're still there.

                  El Mirador
                  187 Pomeroy Ave
                  Pismo Beach, CA 93449-2639