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Jan 23, 2007 09:05 PM

Fish Taco DEATHMATCH: TBE vs. El Taco Nazo

So yesterday, I was done a little early and wanted to head home. A friend of mine who happens to live in Orange County and work downtown was doing the same thing at the end of the trading day.

"I have an idea," I said. "You stop at Tacos Baja Ensenada and buy us each a fish taco and a shrimp taco, get some of the peppers. I'll stop at El Taco Nazo in La Habra and do the same thing. Meet me in the parking lot of the gas station off the 5 at Lakewood/Rosemead and we'll settle which is better for once and for all."

By some miracle we both arrived within about 30 seconds of each other.

There we were, two grown men in shirts and ties, leaned over the hood of a BMW X3, scarfing fish and shrimp tacos and peppers, sipping horchata.

To wit:

Tacos Baja Ensenada -- the fish was dry and rattled around in the fried batter. The shrimp were better. If you've never had them, the batter is very thin and is obviously fried at very high heat, because it's almost like a thin skin. The flavour was generally good but it needed a lot more salsa to provide heat. The cabbage was shredded more finely and the crema was fresher. The peppers were "cool" today, meaning that they weren't so high on the capsaicin charts. The seasoning on the peppers is much tangier than ETN's.

El Taco Nazo -- their batter is more like a tempura, much crunchier than TBE's. The fish was, again, a bit dry -- perhaps because of the time between purchase and consumption. The shrimp were outstanding -- juicy and wonderful. The crema was a little "old" for my taste (a bit sour) but the salsa was much better. A hit of lime was all this taco needed. The peppers were hotter (capsaicin, not temperature, they were all stone cold by the time we ate them) and the lime powder on them was better, but not as tangy as TBE's.

Overall: fish tacos, no clear winner -- the dressing was better at ETN but the fish was better at TBE. Shrimp tacos -- ETN by a landslide, no comparison. Peppers -- ETN, but only because they were spicier.

In any case, both of these places, as well as SeƱor Baja, blow places like Wahoo's and Rubio's clear out of the water. You will do well to eat at either place, and trying to crown a winner is like trying to pick which sense you like better.

Tacos Baja Ensenada
5385 Whittier Blvd. (btw. Atlantic Blvd. and Goodrich St.)
East Los Angeles, CA 90022
(323) 887-1980

El Taco Nazo
121 S. Beach Blvd. (just south of La Habra Blvd.)
La Habra, CA 90631
(562) 690-8078

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  1. nice description there. although i think ETN is even cheaper than TBE. so you can throw that into the equation.
    yup i always get the shrimp at ETN. personally I've never had a better one. not even in Mexico. that ETN is the best location i've been to.
    (I have a dirty little secret though. There is one in santa fe springs attached to a bowling alley that has these cubed cucumbers swimming in hot sauce and lime next to the salsa's. they're spicy even for me. think of them as an appetizer. the place is more of a dive though.)

    1. Heh, love it... thanks for the post, I'm gonna try both now. So far, I've been pretty much sticking with Senor Fish, where I had my first fish tacos over 12 years ago. Maybe it's nostalgia that keeps me heading back to Eagle Rock for fish tacos?

      Anyway, I'm definitely looking forward to trying TBE and ETN - I've meant to for a while now.

      1. Ya know there is a Senor Baja on Washington Ave. in Pico Rivera, just across the street from the shopping mall. Ya could have bought the tacos at both joints and met up somewhere in Montebello. The food would have been warmer, gotten a better sample of thier real taste.
        Just a thought.

        Senor Baja USED to be Taco Nazo, until the split.

        1. Interesting and instructive - thanks.
          But I have abandoned Taco Nazo since they seem to have taken a major dive about a year ago - I am told they were bought out. For several years, their fish tacos were so good that I would go way out of my way to get them (noon only - other times were irregular). In fact, on a taste bet a group of us got them to give us a plate of the fried fish only, which was a revelation - the tortilla, crema, and greens only detracted. But alas, no more. Less than fresh fish, a tad greasy, and an overall letdown in 3 (no more to come) visits in the past year: Claremont, Azusa, and Pico Rivera. Stick to Senor Fish in Eagle Rock.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Griller141

            El Taco Nazo and Senor Baja were once the same company -- I believe it's Senor Baja that is the "newcomer". The fish at El Taco Nazo in Guadalahabra was every bit as good as I remember the "old" ETN in South El Monte being... fantastic.

          2. Next time go to TBE on Wednesday for the 99-cent fish taco night, then order up a couple of campechana cocteles. Better to eat them on-site, than later. Also try the shrimp burritos. Is it Wednesday yet?