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Mar 4, 2008 04:46 PM

San Diego Fish Tacos & Burritos

I will be in SD for a couple of days on business and am looking for a place to eat a good burrito and another place to get some fish tacos. I abhor fast food chains and tourist traps. I am looking for a local mom and pop type of place that only locals know about. We can't get good burritos in Boston and I hear SD is the place to get them. Though we get wicked awesome fresh fish here in New England, no seems to know how to make a good fish taco. Thanks, Bostonbeefeater

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  1. As far as I know, there are no Fish Tacos in San Diego that compares to Ensenada... so bring your Passport with you for that. Not in the same league, but the tacos at Betty's in Escondido are pretty solid... and they do other things well that you wouldn't be able to find in Boston like Mole de Olla.

    25 Replies
    1. re: Eat_Nopal

      You are right thus far - but I am working on it the fish taco situation. Its my current project. There will be more mariscos missions coming up. A worthwhile fish taco must exist.

      Until then - the best fish taco in SD is Marlin Carnitas at Mariscos German

      or II can refer you to El Taco Nazo/Senor Baja in Temecula or Pedros Tacos in Fallbrook with confidence. They have the best proper tacos de pescado - but its a drive.

      1. re: kare_raisu

        Yeah, the tacos here aren't quite as good as Ensenada, but you can still get some pretty damned good ones. Better than probably anywhere else in the country. I personally like the ones at Blue Water Grill and Wahoo's a lot.

        1. re: DougOLis

          KR... do we have consensus that L.A. has better Fish Tacos than S.D.?

            1. re: kare_raisu

              Well that's great and all but it still misses the point, bostonbeefeater isn't going to either LA or Ensenada. They are going to San Diego so saying other places might be better is kind of moot and you're not being very helpful. The op is coming from Boston where they don't have access to fish tacos and burritos, and I still think we have good ones here.

              What you're saying is that I shouldn't eat French food in France because we have French Laundry in California. That's just dumb.

              1. re: DougOLis

                Easy brother.

                "...I still think we have good ones here."


                "I abhor fast food chains and tourist traps."

                -Wahoos is a chain and I believe more known for their grilled fish.
                - Blue water grill? Part of the beauty of a fish taco is that it is street food and should be within reach of everyone. Not neccistate sit-down dining.

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Blue Water isn't formal. It's ultra casual. They do have good fish tacos, IMO. If you haven't been there, it's worth checking out. Their fish is very high quality.

                  1. re: Josh

                    by formal I mean having to order a meal, wait service etc. and I doubt they are "Mom and Pop"

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      Yeah, Blue Water isn't like that. You order at a counter and someone brings it to you. There's no wait service. It's all plastic plates, baskets, etc. True, the fish tacos are a little beyond street food, but no more so than other places in SD.

                  2. re: kare_raisu

                    I would preface the street concept to be your humble opinion, Doug is absolutly correct.

                    I have had good fish tacos at the Bringantine and El Zarape.

                    1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                      hey I agree about the brig fish tacos -if you can get past the cheddar cheese -yet per the OP - they are a chain.

                    2. re: kare_raisu

                      I'm not trying to start a flame war or anything; I just took exception to the notion that good fish tacos don't exist in San Diego. As stated: Mariscos German, Blue Water, Brigantine, and the places you and EN recommended up North (I haven't been to either so I can't judge). That answers your "Where?"

                      I don't really consider either Wahoos or The Brigantine to be fast food chains in the traditional sense. They are small chains but they're not in the same category as Rubio's. Right?

            2. re: kare_raisu

              Second that, I tried the Marlin Taco last weekend. Fantastic, and they kindly gave me a free cup of basic but good shrimp bouillabaisse while I waited.

              1. re: trentyzan

                nice! I think it is great that they offer that rather than chips. One day I had it -it was extraordinary.

                1. re: trentyzan

                  There is a mariscos Taco Truck on 54th that always gives you a great cup of seafood bouillabaisse when you wait.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    Do you have the name and mas information cathy?

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      Lots actually, KR. On the blog soon.

                      Chulos Food Truck...54th at Redwood- the North East corner in the parking lot.

                    2. re: Cathy

                      On behalf of the Mexican people... we object to the use of bouillabaisse to describe our tomato and/or chile based shrimp caldos... we invented them first.

                      Tlazohcamati (Thank You)

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Well, then it was a great caldo de camarones :)

                          1. re: Cathy

                            Its not called bouillabaisse if you are referring to a Mexican dish that is more ancient than the French version.

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              I KNOW....please look at the thread. I was commenting on another one, and not correcting him.

                2. Actually, I have it from good trustworthy sources (Kare_Raisu, Josh, Dinining Diva & gang) that Mariscos German should not be missed.... well beyond Baja style fish tacos... like tender Octopus, Garlicky Shrimp tacos and other good stuff.

                  1. I lived in San Diego a few years ago. I've never been to the other places mentioned, but I thought that Ortega's on Newport Ave in OB had THE best fish tacos ever. In fact, everything was amazing (I've traveled a lot through Mexico too, I feel entitled to know :) My dad said it was the best swordfish he'd ever had. Definitely a fun hole-in-the-wall, mom and pop place too. It's on the north side of the street, a block west of Sunset Cliffs.

                    1. Try Don Chuy in Solana Beach - it fits all of your criteria.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: Alice Q

                        I too must place a vote for Mariscos German as the best Mexican seafood place in San Diego I have discovered.

                        Highly reccomend the Gobenador taco (shrimp grilled with peppers and cheese) and the Pulpo Mexican (octopus grilled with onion). The smoked Marlin taco is also amazing.

                        I have yet to try their standard fish taco but it is next on my list...

                        Way off the beaten path, very mom and pop.

                        1. re: Ewilensky

                          I've had the standard fish taco a Mariscos German. It's good, but it pales in comparison to most of the others. The taco de callo (scallops) is wonderful. An item that hasn't yet been mentioned are their quesadillas. Phee had the shrimp quesadilla the day we were there and it was excellent. It's kind of a Mexican/American quesadilla - meaning that it was made with a flour tortilla - but the flavor was good, the shrimp delicious and the crustiness from grilling added a nice smoky touch.

                          1. re: DiningDiva

                            OK DD, on my way home from work today I will order a taco de callo and a quesadilla (as well as a Marlin and Octopus taco) for dinner tonight. I should probably get one of everything for my wife as well. Hell if I am going to share... ;-)

                            1. re: Ewilensky

                              Don't miss the aguachile tostada.

                              1. re: Josh

                                Josh, I had the aguachile tostada my first visit and found it to be the weakest thing we ordered -- it actually tasted very fishy. A few more limes and 10 minutes helped it greatly. But I'll give it another go this evening.

                                1. re: Ewilensky

                                  Huh, interesting!

                                  I suspect that's a dish that is highly dependent on the freshness of the shrimp. When I had it, there was no fishy flavor at all. Sorry to hear that, but it's good to know.

                              2. re: Ewilensky

                                The taco de callo was excellent and gave the pulpo mexicano a run for its money. These are my two favorites now. My wife enjoyed the quesadilla de camerones very much and the little bite I was able to steal from her, warrants another trip down there in a few weeks. They already know my by name. Is 3 times in 1 week too much???

                                I'm eating a salad tonight...

                                1. re: Ewilensky

                                  "They already know me by name. Is 3 times in 1 week too much???"

                                  Awesomeness! :^)

                                  1. re: Ewilensky

                                    On that scallop taco there is something magical about the pairing of the white sauce and maggi seasoned sauteed callos! I think scallops are one of my favorite foods texturally.

                                    1. re: kare_raisu

                                      I will add I needed to get all of this 'to go' and the execution was different than on previous visits.

                                      Whereas the first and second time I ordered the pulpo mexicano when I was eating there I got the usual cabbage and white sauce, etc...

                                      Last night however when I unwrapped my tacos at home I got none of that -- just a corn tortilla heaped with grilled octopus and nothing else. I must say, there was more meat on these tacos than my last 2 combined. It was simple and it was excellent but different than I expected.

                                      The same with the scallop taco -- nothing but scallops piled high, and almost more than I could eat in one sitting (but I managed).

                                      The gobenadores taco was excactly the same however.

                                      This is not a complaint, and perhaps if my Spanish was better I could ask for all the fixings. Still, on their own, these were excellent tacos.

                                      But damnit, now I need to go back to try the other versions...

                                      1. re: Ewilensky

                                        "E" next time you could ask for "con todo" which basically means with everything.

                                    2. re: Ewilensky

                                      When I was there a couple weeks ago with Alex I noticed that they had several regulars come in. The gal taking orders at the counter was asking them if they wanted their "usual". Most did. I think you're headed towards "regular" territory.

                                      The worst part of Marsicos German for me is the proxcimity to Panchita's at 25th and C. Tacos followed by their palmiers or macaroons is perfect.

                                  2. re: DiningDiva

                                    That's what I love to see. So many people are obsessed with having food identical to country X (insert what ever country you like) but often the best local food doesn't try to imitate some where else and instead it is a hybrid mixing foreign with local to form a uniquely local end product. The important thing is always taste first and for most. If it tastes good then who cares if the regional version is different from country X?

                                  3. re: Ewilensky

                                    I think both KR & DD have very good references to compare, if they think its amazing... I don't think it is unreasonable to compare Mariscos German with the very best Mexican Seafood places in the entire U.S. (E.L.A. Serenata de Garibaldi etc.,).

                                2. Thank you for all of the awesome feedback. It is looking like Mariscos German may be the place to go. I am in SD for two nights starting on Friday so I will be able to check out a couple of places. I hope that either I or my wife can reciprocate someday on suggestions on where to eat in Boston. Bostonbeefeater

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: bostonbeefeater

                                    I am sure that you have other things to check out other than Mexican... and everybody here has played nice respecting the boundaries of your requests... but if you really are interested in Mexican... in addition to Mariscos German, you should give Super Cocina a try... and go sample some prepared foods at Northgate Gonzalez Market... also I think the locals in the know might also vouch for some Contemporary or Alta Cocina places like Romesco... and I know KR has found some Panaderias he really digs.... as well as some highly specialized places near the border like Menuderia Don Vicente etc.,

                                    The San Diego Mexican offering (well still litterred with a bunch of really, crappy "Taco Shops") goes well beyond Fish Tacos & Burritos... and in my personal experiences at Super Cocina, Betty's & even Frida (which is still quite uneneven)... Fish Tacos & Burritos are the last thing that would interest me about San Diego.

                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                      Amen to that. I was going to say it's always disappointing to me how often Super Cocina recs are couched in commentary about the neighborhood where it's located, followed up with suggestions for places with lesser food, that are in "safer" neighborhoods. The neighborhood isn't fancy, no, but it's a varied and mixed ethnic environment, which is why it's home to so many great places to eat. It's certainly no worse than where Mariscos German is located.

                                      Part of the problem here is surely the narrow perception a lot of Americans have as to what Mexican food even is. I can't even remember the last time I ate a burrito, or at a taco shop, since being exposed to Super Cocina.

                                      1. re: Josh

                                        Yup, our friend is coming from Boston... I don't think the Super Cocina neighborhood is anything that would bother him/her.

                                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        I hate to burst everyone's bubble about the Mexican food at Northgate but a lot of it is frozen prepared that they heat and serve. My source is pretty reliable.

                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                          Let me broaden my meaning of prepared foods....

                                          1) One of the few Mexican grocers NOB that actually has an attendant dispatching artisinal sweets

                                          2) Ceviches of various sorts (not likely frozen)... including 3 types of Agua Chile preparations (Green, Red & the more traditional White)

                                          3) Blue Corn Tortillas straight from the line

                                          4) Nopales & other types of Salads

                                          5) Carnitas including choices of cuts, that don't look like they could be from frozen (well maybe the raw meat was frozen at one point)

                                          etc., etc., etc.,

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            I need to go back and get some more of those coconut-filled limes. They were incredible.

                                            1. re: Josh

                                              I can't imagine someone from Boston not walking into this store & being completely fascinated and ruined for his/her local Mexican markets.

                                          2. re: DiningDiva

                                            what do you mean...the stews and tamales?

                                            1. re: kare_raisu

                                              Most likely their carnitas, barbacoa, bulk salsas, pozole, menudo, rice, beans...

                                          3. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            They should try a good birria stew. There are a number of places with some really good goat stews and while he's at it there are some great mom & pop places on convoy with excellent Korean BBQ. I'm just offering these ideas to provide a bit more local flair.