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Jul 18, 2008 07:12 AM

Good-enough fish tacos SD?

I don't want a debate about how SD does/does not have worthy fish tacos. (I mean, Calvin Trillin, one of the greatest food writers of the last 200 years wrote a whole essay on his search for one here.) What I want is your recommendation for a good enough fish taco in San Diego. My criteria: fresh fried fish, good cream sauce, cabbage, fresh pico or salsa. Handmade tortilla a plus. I read about the one at the taco truck in CV in a recent thread, and wondered if there isn't anything half as good closer to home. (if not, so be it. I'll trek there.) Yesterday we went to that (gringo) bar next to OB pier where my man heard their ft's were great. They weren't. So I'm asking you. If I've missed a recent thread on this, please steer me there. Thanks.

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  1. Do a forum search. I'm afraid this subject has been beaten to death.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wanker

      I did search and found no thread on it specifically more recent than 2003. I found plenty of debate, but just want recommendations. If anyone has a direct link to that I'd appreciate it.

    2. The fish tacos at The Brig (Brigantine) get lots of love here. El Zarape at the end of Park Blvd. used to be known for their $ .99 fish tacos. I haven't been El Zarape for at least 2 years but the last time I was there and had a fish taco, they were good.

      I had a straight fish taco at Mariscos German at 28th and Ocean View and thought it was the least successful of the tacos I had. It was good, the others were better.

      You could also try the fish tacos at El Comal. Several people I know really like the fish tacos at Mama Testas, which is centrally located so you don't have to go to south county. Personally, I think MT does other tacos better than fish tacos, but the fish taco is okay.

      P.S. Calvin Trillin also did a piece for Gourmet mag. where he came to SD to find a good fish taco. His bottom line was that he had to go to Ensenada to find it.

      6 Replies
      1. re: DiningDiva

        We'll try El Comal. Haven't been there in a while. The ones at La Fachada taco truck were ok, too. Thanks for the link to your blog. I had looked for it and couldn't find it.

        1. re: pickypicky

          La Fachada is probably one of the top 5 taquerias in town - though their specialty is not fish tacos. Is this all you ordered? No gorditas?

          1. re: kare_raisu

            DIGRESSION: K_R, we love La Fachada and have just ordered willynilly like drunk sailors. What's your favorite? I very much respect your opinion. We're going tonight when my son flies in from nyc at midnight. . .

        2. re: DiningDiva

          Sorry - I forgot to mention the Brig - where I did have an exquisite fish taco about a year ago overlooking the del mar track.

          Though i am still trying to forgive them for the yellow cheese and flour tortilla.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            DD: I remember that essay...

            Also I believe in one of Jeffrey Steingarten's essays, (oh oh, or was this also in the Calvin Trillin essay?), and you kind of have to read between the lines on this one, one of his stops in his search for a fish taco in S.D. (brought there by Tom Chino as a favorite of his) was a place that I concluded must be the Brig. No doubt it's an interesting take on a fish taco, temporarily throwing any "authenticity issues" aside...

            My personal vote goes for Mariscos German's Marlin Taco. (But be prepared for a meal! It's downright huge when compared to their other more traditionally-sized tacos.)

            ...and here's their "regular" fish taco:

            1. re: DiningDiva

              I read Calvin Trillin similar article about fish tacos which he wrote for the Chicago Tribune and frankly I found it to be boring and pedantic. He was completely obsessed with finding fish tacos "just like in Ensenada" and he rejected anything else out of hand without even stopping to ask himself if the food tasted good. For me I care if the food tastes good and experimenting & changing things is part of the process for coming up with great new recipes. It's how foreign foods become localized and how new culinary traditions are formed. However Trillin acted like the recipe had to be frozen as it was in 1975 in Ensenada and any change no matter how minor, or even if it made things taste better, was wrong by definition because it wasn't "just like in Ensenada".

              It's a free country and Trillin can feel however he wants just like I'm free to think the man has missed the boat when it comes to fish tacos.

            2. Here you go -

              not sure why, but it didn't come up the first time I searched either - I had to add specific restaurant names. I agree with you that it's not terribly helpful though - a lot of feedback, but not a lot of recommendations! :-)

              I stand by my recommendation of Don Chuy in Solana Beach - a lot of people like South Beach but they put too much sauce on the tacos - might want to ask for it on the side. The most important thing with a fish taco though is how fresh it is - you really can't let them sit more than a couple of minutes.

              1. Fish Tacos.

                Your Options.

                Senor Baja in Temecula
                Pedro's Tacos in Fallbrook or San Clemente
                Truck in CV Parking lot

                Ensenada as Alice has Mentioned
                or a Place in Tijuas that you'll have to let me know if you willing to trek there

                I have never found a handmade tortilla with a fish taco thus far.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kare_raisu

                  I think the tortillas of my fish taco at La Fachada Taco Truck were handmade on one visit. And that one was pretty good. Fish was probably frozen but very tasty. but I def. want to try the Toys-R-Us truck you wrote about. And thanks Alice Q for the thread. And thanks yall, these are all great recos and just what I wanted!

                2. South Beach Bar & Grill
                  5059 Newport Ave.
                  Ocean Beach, CA
                  (619) 226-4577

                  I had the marinated mahi mahi, but the whole taco was KILLER!!

                  Best Regards,

                  STeven Garsson

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: STevenGarsson

                    Caveat: South Beach Bar and Grill uses commodity flour tortillas, yellow cheese, and ranch dressing.

                    1. re: Josh

                      thanks! yellow cheese, flour tortilla, and ranch dressing are not on my fish taco list.

                      1. re: pickypicky

                        Kinda figured, hence my comment. ;-)

                      2. re: Josh

                        Awww, come on. Add some Pio Pico hot sauce to some Ranch Dressing and you've got a damn fine fish taco sauce. And, unfortunately, I'm not kidding. These two ingredients are a match made in heaven and the stuff goes well on just about anything <sigh>. Is it authentic? Authentically gringo. Is it good? Yes, even if you don't like Ranch dressing.

                        Sometimes we need to get over ourselves and just eat what's good, or in this case just "good enough", and for a "good enough" fish taco Ranch dressing is just fine. Ranch dressing with Pio Pico sauce is more than just good enough ;-)

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          I really dislike commodity ranch dressing. I've had some varieties that are made from scratch that are OK, but the commodity product grosses me out, as do all commodity creamy salad dressings.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Hey Josh, Ranch dressing isn't one of my favorites either but I've had to work with it for years I guess I've just developed a tolerance for it. I'm not wild about it on salads, but as a sauce for chicken it's not bad (add a little wasabi and some cucumber and it's really good). Ranch Dressing = California Catsup

                            1. re: Josh

                              I agree, Josh. Personally, I require that all of my Ranch dressing actually be produced on an operating ranch. Preferably by 3rd-generation cowboys (although 2nd-generation will do in a pinch).

                              1. re: menuinprogress

                                I've often wondered what the genesis of this stuff is, actually. (Thank you wikipedia:

                                Pretty awesome it's now made by Clorox.

                                I generally prefer light dressings, like olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Does anyone actually eat thousand island on salad?

                              2. re: Josh

                                As a response, Josh, it sure seemed like more of a garlic mayo/buttermilk housemade dressing than out of a jar for the "commodity ranch dressing" to me, but you might know something/someone that I do not.

                                The cheese they use tastes like cheese, and cheddar at that, for $3.00+/- for a fish taco, I am not expecting Beecher's Flagship....

                                Corn tortillas are available upon request.

                                My advice to DiningDiva was/is....try South Beach.

                                If you are down on Newport for some reason, and hungry, you might like it.

                                Best Regards,

                                STeven Garsson

                                1. re: STevenGarsson

                                  I wasn't trying to offend you, Steven. The OP had some pretty specific requests, and South Beach doesn't meet them. No need to take it personally.

                                  I've eaten at South Beach more times than I can count. I lived in OB for many years, and went there for fish tacos quite frequently. If you watch what goes on in the kitchen, you'll see the ranch dressing comes out of a big plastic jar, just like their refried beans come out of a can.

                                  They get pretty good fish, which is why I always got my tacos there without the white sauce, and salsa on the side, because they tend to put way too much condiment on the taco, rendering the fish nearly impossible to taste.

                                  I don't dislike South Beach, but you have to admit that their fish tacos, while good for what they are, are a far cry from authentic Baja ones.

                                  1. re: Josh


                                    You didn't offend me......I just wasn't sure from DiningDiva's post if she was referencing SouthBeach or not, and wanted to make sure she knew about it. I had the marinated mahi-mahi(like I said)....which was pretty danged good on corn tortillas, and you obviously didn't hate it, otherwise you wouldn't have gone back.

                                    It's all good.....and thanks for your thoughtful response

                                    Best Regards,

                                    STeven Garsson

                                    1. re: STevenGarsson

                                      Steve, I am well aware of South Beach and have recommended it many times. I was just teasing Josh about his dislike of Ranch Dressing. (Although Ranch and Pio Pico sauce really *is* pretty good)

                                      The DD

                                      1. re: STevenGarsson

                                        It's all about the fried oyster taco.

                                        1. re: Josh

                                          What's funny to me, is that my OP WAS South Beach. I just didn't know the name of the place. What I was served there was great bar food-- a tortilla with fried fish, non descript white sauce, packaged salsa, RED cabbage (visually unappealing but the bar was dark) and grated yellow cheese! Wash that sucker down with a really good beer and I'm as happy as the next non-picky eater. However, we didn't want bar food. We wanted a bonafide good-enough fried fish taco, hence the OP. I've loved the dialogue here, and am further convinced that my new attitude of good-enough will make me much happier in SD. signed Good-Enough, aka PickyPicky

                              3. re: Josh

                                I swear to god they used to offer your choice of corn or flour tortillas. Also I wouldn't call their sauce ranch much less "commodity ranch" but maybe they've made recent changes to cut costs and have gone down hill.