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South Beach for the Best Fish Taco in SD?

I'm a fish taco fanatic and have been told for my upcoming visit to San Diego, I'll find the best tacos at South Beach. Is that true? I only have a weekend so I want to make sure I get the best!

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  1. They are very good and worth the trip, but my favorite fish tacos are at Blue Water on India Street. Fresh fish market and you can view the fish and then choose what you want on your tacos!!

    Huge tacos too. I've had Alaskan Halibut, King Salmon, Seabass, Swordfish, etc., etc

    1. Blue Water and South Beach are close competitors. However, the thing to do at South Beach is get the white sauce and salsa on the side, because they put way too much on. Their normal taco preparation has so much stuff on there you can barely taste the fish.

      Also, their better ones are the grilled tacos, not fried.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Josh

        I usually get one fried and one grilled mahi taco at South Beach. Unless most other places, the grilled fish on the tacos at South Beach is very flavorful. I, personally, think the white sauce and salsa are well-balanced for the amount of fish.


        1. re: dustchick

          Great, South Beach it is. Thanks for your help!

        2. re: Josh

          nice to see a mention of Blue Water on here. I have a friend that has been wanting to go but I hadn't seen anything about it. It would be nice to have a place for good fish tacos besides South Beach which gets too busy on wednesday and friday nights.

          1. re: MrKrispy

            I'm a big fan of The Brigantine's fish taco, especially the Del Mar Brig that has a great view and a fun happy hour.

        3. The Brigantine is also know for its fish tacos, and Rubio's isn't bad -- although it can be inconsistant among its restaurants given its expansion.

          1. I like South Beach best then the Wahoo's in La Jolla. El Pescador next door to Wahoos is another find... best grilled fish sandwich I have ever had!

            1. I've been hearing some good word of mouth about Beaumonts in La Jolla having the best sit down restaurant fish tacos but I haven't tried them yet. Does anyone have a Beaumonts experience they'd like to share?

              2 Replies
              1. re: oerdin

                Very nice little neighborhood joint, but I don't think it calls for a special trip if you are not in the area. The fish tacos are ok in my opinion. Grilled, not fried, with a mango type of salsa. Maureen Clancy, the former food/restaurant writer @ the SD UT (whose opinion I do really respect) really loves them.

                1. re: oerdin

                  I like South Beach, they offer both grilled and fried versions, both are great IMO. I like the hint of ginger and the crispness of the cabbage. I always get the sauce on the side so I can control what I want on the taco. If you go during happy hour they're $2. each a good value.

                2. Depends on what your looking for.

                  This year alone I have tried approximately 25 different establishment’s fish tacos in San Diego and I still would not feel comfortable declaring a "BEST".

                  South Beach does have many of fans, but they are not my personal best at this time. I like my fish Tacos more along the traditional Simple Baja Style. If I’m going hybrid I would chose Brigantine over SB.

                  Flour tortilla, yellow cheddar, excess tomatoes, too much sauce.

                  Don’t get me wrong I’m sure you would enjoy the Fish Tacos at South Beach. I just wouldn’t declare them the best in San Diego. Defiantly worth a try if your in the area.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: Masa Assassin

                    If you happen to be in the south bay area - my vote goes to TJ Oyster House on Bonita Road.

                    1. re: Masa Assassin

                      Like you said it depends on what you're looking for. I prefer to judge how food tastes and not if it fits a ridged "authenticity test". I love it when chefs experiment and come up with new localized versions of older recipes and believe that's half the fun of going to different restaurants. Yes, they do put to much sauce on them and they use a yellow cheese instead of a traditional Mexican cheese but you can order your sauce on the side the different cheese is just different not better. Oh, and they also give you the choice of corn or flour tortillas and while I always order corn I really can't fault a restaurant for giving their customers choices.

                      1. re: oerdin

                        I agree that authenticity isn't necessarily the most important thing, but ranch dressing isn't something I'd file under "chef experimentation". I think it goes under "gringo approximation of white sauce". YMMV.

                        1. re: Josh

                          They certainly use a white sauce but it is something other then ranch. Not sure what.

                          1. re: oerdin

                            Looks and tastes like ranch to me.

                            1. re: oerdin

                              Its ranch, unless me and the people I dined with 2 weeks ago there are completely crazy.

                              The batter is way too beer heavy - it shouldn't be that strong of a flavor - it almost interfers with the fish - plus half the deal is batter.

                              1. re: kare_raisu

                                OK, I stand corrected. I haven't been there since January and my friends and I were drinking a fair amount of beer at the time so I could be wrong. If fact it wouldn't be the first time. ;)

                        2. re: Masa Assassin

                          So you didn't say which, of the 25, was the winner.

                        3. No. I would definitely NOT make South Beach my one-stop fish taco destination -- unless you want a taste of San Diego gringo hubris. I like M.A.'s distinction of "hybrid" tacos-- that means too much yellow cheese and some kind of mysterious salad dressing sauce instead of crema. (And who ever thought red cabbage looked appetizing on a corn taco with fried fish?) Consider this recent thread on fish tacos in SD: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/539989 where you'll get some decent recs. But if you want to visit a typical dingy, noisy Ocean Beach joint, then South Beach works -- if you don't mind doing all the waitress's work and ordering your beer at the packed bar. They only deliver food to your table.

                          11 Replies
                          1. re: pickypicky

                            The fried oyster tacos are the way to go at S. Beach (but ask for the salsa and ranch dressing on the side.) Brigantine's fish is better - but without all the yellow cheese. Frankly, as "famous" as fish tacos are supposed to be around here, you'd really think there would be more good ones!

                            1. re: Alice Q

                              Let's see, the OP is 'visiting' and if they went to Brig they would not get a a good FT because of all the yellow cheese, does that translate to unless you customize your order, Brig does not make a good FT?

                              1. re: cstr

                                Yep, we always order "no cheese, sauce on the side" - then they taste pretty good.

                              2. re: Alice Q

                                I agree. I love their fried oyster tacos.

                              3. re: pickypicky

                                I think you are being a bit to harsh on SBB&G PP. I don't order fish tacos there, but I like their lobster tacos and octopus cocktails a lot. I sure have never seen tacos like this in mexico, but those sloppy lobster tacos which I finish with a generous amount of Valentina hot sauce, sure taste good.

                                1. re: Captain Jack

                                  Dear CapnJ, I am a total sucker for the lobster burrito at Bahia's in Bird Rock. I LOVE it. I don't care what the dressing is or if the lobster is frozen, and every friend and out-of-town guest I take there loves it. But I'd never post it here cuz it's a kind of guilty pleasuare. I guess I just freaked out on this post because I've been to 3 different places where the fish taco was nothing like I expected it to be. From now on, I'll specify corn tortilla, no cheese and ask if there's cabbage. The tip on the SBB&G oyster tacos sounded pretty tasty (sort of a mexie po'boy). Can I plead hormones for my earlier testiness, Capn Jack? Thanks for reeling me in.

                                  1. re: pickypicky

                                    No worries PP :)
                                    I will give the lobster burrito at Bahia in Bird Rock a try, it is not far from where I live. If it tastes as good as you say, I may find I have a new guilty pleasure as well.

                                    1. re: pickypicky

                                      I didn't like the lobster taco at SBB&G, too mushy. I'll have to give Bahia's a try, are you sure it's frozen canned that they use? Pretty easy to tell, most of that is claw meat.

                                      1. re: cstr

                                        At Bahia I've had lobster burrios and enchiladas. No lobster taco. It's just a mom/pop-kinda Bird Rock gringos and their children taco dive. I never expected fresh seafood from them, and love the place for other reasons, mostly sentimental. But the lobster burrito sure does taste good! Although the quality can vary. Their fish tacos used to be terrific, too. But last time they came with iceberg and yellow cheese.

                                        1. re: pickypicky

                                          I pass by it daily, I 'll have to stop and give it a taste. Frozen doesn't bother me for lobster used in a burrito or taco, I mean they have to control the price. Thanks for the heads-up on the cheese.

                                  2. re: pickypicky

                                    Friends just went to South Beach last week and told me that they've just changed to complete table service, meaning you don't have to go to the bar to get your drinks. The bartenders must be bummed, but everyone else will be happy.

                                  3. I guess it's a matter of taste. My friend raved about the lobster tacos at SB but I did not really like them.

                                    1. I agree with the rest of the posters here. You can't go wrong with Blue Water, South Beach, or Brigantine for fish tacos. Hit up any of the mexican seafood establishments/trucks for that take on the local cuisine.

                                      As for my opinion of the places individually, I'd say that Brigantine is the best overall experience. For the simple fact that it pairs a very nicely run restaurant with great food and service. Their fried fish taco is hands-down the best in the city (come on people, you all know this). They have a very good happy hour ($3 fish tacos), and an excellent taco tuesday ($2 fish tacos). They have locations in pretty much all of the "nice" parts of the city, and the ambiance tends to be laid back and intimate. Great bar areas in all of the restaurants. And if you don't feel like their fish tacos, get one of their other entrees.

                                      Where South Beach and Blue Water come in is for the grilled fish tacos. South Beach is, let's face it, a rather filthy and crowded joint. It's work to find a table, work to get your beer, and noisy and congested in there. But it's a popular bar in a popular part of town, so that's par for the course. But, it should also be mentioned that since it is a bar, they card religiously at the door. So, if you happen to be out for a walk and don't have your ID with you, or want to bring your kids or underage relatives, you're out of luck. But the variety and quality of the fish they serve is excellent. So, if you can deal with the atmosphere, you will enjoy yourself.

                                      As for Blue Water, the quality of fish is excellent, as is the selection. Personally, I adore this place, but I tend to get the fish sandwiches and oyster shooters here to go with the excellent Ballast Point local beer, rather than the fish tacos. But this place is a little on the pricey side in comparison ($8.95-$10.95 for a sandwich, depending on the fish), which adds up quick. Not expensive, by any means, but not "cheap" if you get my drift. But you definitely get what you pay for. Excellent quality fish in a very clean and comfortable deli-style restaurant. On a side note, I'm not a fan at all of their fish and chips (they bread and fry the fish, instead of batter and fry). But the plates, sandwiches, and tacos are outstanding. Perhaps the only drawback here is that you order at the counter and drink out of plastic cups. Not a biggie for me at all, especially since the people who work the counter and bus the food and tables are very quick and friendly.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: cookieshoes

                                        how about el zarape? their fish tacos are $1 all the time, and the scallop tacos are even better.

                                        1. re: smile81

                                          I dig El Zarape. Great place, definitely. Not a normal "rotation" type of place for me because it obviously tips more towards fast-food. Not that that has that much to do with the food, but it makes a teeny difference. Although, the stretch of neighborhood is great, and you can get bottled beer there. But I tend to grab and go there rather than sit, snack and chat. To which, there are lots of excellent places like that around. All the way up the coast to Carlsbad (Offshore is great) down to IB, and of course the aforementioned Mexican seafood stops and trucks, as well as Point Loma Seafoods.

                                        2. re: cookieshoes

                                          Yeah cookieshoes, I used to order the sandwiches more often than the tacos at Blue Water and I may switch back.

                                          Last time I was there, two tacos and a Snapple cost me $15!!

                                          They definitely raised their prices a bit since the early days, when you order custom fish tacos!!

                                          I'll have to see what they do on the sandwiches now!

                                        3. The Prado at Balboa Park has really good fish tacos. Better than South Beach. Not the most authentic though.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: SD Native

                                            Can you elaborate a bit, type of fish, grilled? fried? componets in the taco, thanks.

                                            1. re: cstr


                                              Grilled. They're make 'em yourself style. It arrives at the table with two white corn tortillas with the fish inside and you get bowl of ranchero beans, a bowl of marinated red cabbage with jimica, a sweet mango salsa and a magno-mustard sauce. They're not bad. Especially with a cucumber mojito or three and the nice view. I prefer the tacos at South Beach myself, but then I prefer the fish tacos at Mariscos German over just about everything else I've had in San Diego.

                                              Still, not a bad choice on the Prado menu.

                                              1. re: Ewilensky

                                                Actually, the ones I recently had at the Prado were breaded and fried mahi mahi. They were already put together and had a very good sauce on top.