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South Beach Grille Tacos--Ehh...

hope this doesn't cause an uproar, but am i missing something here? first off i love fish tacos. i routinely travel up and down baja and have eaten them at the majority of san diego's restaurants/taco shops. after hearing all of the praise and being in the neighborhood i stopped in for lunch. it does have a good vibe and is a fun place to be. music, good crowd for lunch, close to the beach, and lots of parking (non-summer months of course). as for the tacos i thought they were simply ok. i figured i'd get an assortment and wound up with a fish, shrimp, and calamari. the fish was a huge hunk which made my eyes light up and was good for a taco, but as a whole, the taste just wasn't there. the calamari was decent and the shrimp was somewhat cold and looked to be the pre-cooked versions you can find in a supermarket. the menu also said shrimp were supposed to be grilled, but i saw no sign of that. to me, a fish taco needs some tang to it. the lime, the sauce, the salsa...those flavors just weren't there. the sauce was a little excessive and had a heavy mayo taste to it and the salsa was made up of pale/unripened tomatoes. now i know this place is supposed the be the standard for fish tacos, but i don't know if my idea of a great one is different from most others, this place is too hyped up, or if i just caught an off day. please enlighten me.

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  1. I've been there on 3 different occasions (all happy hours), and never was thrilled. I chalked it up to it either being too busy, or my tastes being unsophisticated.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RB Hound

      Have you tried the Brigatine fish tacos?
      They are on the bar menu and are a bargain.

    2. Your review is spot on. Their tacos are pretty good and it's a fun beach scene, but I never understood the overwhelming love for the place. For gringo style fish tacos, the Brig's are far better.

      1. I'll pile on here - I'm not a fan of S. Beach either. I had the same issue with the sauce. I did just have a Brigantine fish taco the other day, and it was pretty good. In the future though I'd get it without the cheese - they pile on a bunch of cold shredded cheddar, which I just don't understand.

        My favorite fish taco is at Don Chuy, in Solana Beach - large crispy beer battered piece of white fish, with nice tangy sauce and fresh salsa.

        Rubios actually used to have pretty good fish tacos, but their other stuff has really gone down hill in the past couple of years, so I'd hesitate to recommend them. I haven't tried a fish taco there in a while, but I might actually go this evening (the choices near our local movie theater are limited!) If so, I'll let you know! :-)

        1. If you go to the Brig, go at happy hour..1/2 price
          Rubio's on Tues after3pm is $1.00

          1. I've always had great tacos at South Beach -- particularly the shrimp and calamari. I like that they melt a little cheese on the tortilla before filling instead of glopping it on top, and I really like the salsa.

            I always order tacos without white sauce, though (not a fan), so I can't comment on theirs vs others.

            3 Replies
            1. re: menuinprogress

              Me, too, and maybe because I order mine with the sauce on the side. I quit eating fish tacos for a long time because I got tired of the lack of fish options (i.e., always fried). I know that's the traditional way, but I wanted something more. South Beach was the first place that offered different kinds of fish and grilled instead of fried.

              The Brigantine's are okay, and a bargain during happy hour.

              Now I want to try Blue Water Grill's fish tacos, thanks to abacal!

              1. re: menuinprogress

                Interesting that two people who really like S. Beach get the tacos without the sauce - maybe that's the secret - but then is it really a fish taco? To me a fish taco should have a fried or grilled piece of fish, shredded cabbage, maybe some onion, a little white sauce (not too sweet or rich) and a squeeze of lime - maybe some guacamole and salsa. It's all about the balance.

                Another tip, if you live in the E. County, Hooley's in Rancho San Diego actually has decent ones.

                1. re: Alice Q

                  Oh, I do like the sauce - just not as much as they like to put on it! However, I had a visitor from the east coast, and took him to South Beach for fish tacos. The one thing he liked about it was the abundance of sauce. Maybe it's more appealing for those "first-time" fish taco folks.

              2. My absolute favorite in SD is at Blue Water Grill on India. Fish is fresh, grilled, and the taco is stuffed wuth perfectly balanced flavors and textures. They ask if you want avocado - say yes. Not at all like the original Rubios taco, and probably not very authenic to those on the pier in Ensensada. But yummy - and a great value. They are big!

                1. I like South Beach, but not the options you ordered. I used to eat there pretty frequently, and always avoided the fried options (with the exception of the fried oyster taco, which is great). Highlights for me there were the grilled wahoo and mahi, and sometimes the grilled lobster. I *always* order the sauce and salsa on the side, because they put way too much on for my taste.

                  1. I've been to South Beach Grille many times, I like the Mahi tacos the best. I like that they are grilled and it's a nice size piece of fish. I tried the lobster and found it mushy, it tasted like it was pre-cooked (boiled or steamed), still for a duece a piece, during happy hour, it's a good deal.

                    I am on a re-newed Happy Hour quest to find the best food and price. Any recommendations?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: treb

                      Roppongi's in La Jolla happy hour. Half price off the entire app menu.

                      1. re: DiningDiva

                        strongly 2nd Roppongi's. best deal in town, I think.

                        Edo Sushi in UTC has happy hour deals. Their sushi is pretty good, although not to the level of Izakaya Sakura.