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MSP: where to get good fish tacos in the Twin Cities when the fair is not going on? [Split from 2008 MN State Fair thread]

[Split by the Chowhound Team from the 2008 MN State Fair Thread] http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5397...

I spent 4 days at the fair this year (4H, volunteering, etc), so tried LOTS of the items listed on this board. Great stuff! On the last day I tried the fish taco from San Filipe Tacos in the Food Building (with guac added to the basic taco). Unbelievably great! I almost went back for a 5th visit just to have another. So my question is, where can I get a good fish taco around the Twin Cities when the fair is not going on? Don't want to wait a whole year!

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  1. probly should start a new fish taco thread for this-
    I've had good ones at Masa downtown- cheaper in happy hour.

    1. sallyawalk, there are lots of great fish tacos out there...my favorite are at La Sirena Gorda in Midtown Global Market on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Sea Salt has them, too, but there have been some reports here on chowhound that they haven't been that flavorful this summer. The ones I've had (all early in the season, now that I think about it) have all been delicious, although, I confess I do nothing but squeeze a bit of lime on them. I don't look to Sea Salt for great salsa... But, if you're interested, you'd better get there soon before they close up for summer!

      But, the real question is, what is important in a fish taco to you? There are some very serious divisions in preference between SoCal style deep-fried fish tacos (meh!--in case you're wondering where my loyalties are in said debate) and grilled fish tacos... What is your preference? If you're looking for the SoCal style, you might struggle a bit--here's a SoCal style fish taco thread from last year and there weren't a lot of replies. I had a SoCal style fish taco sighting earlier this spring that I posted about in that thread, but, I confess, I didn't try them, so can't say whether they are good or not...

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4082...

      ~TDQ

      8 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        HIGHLY endorse TDQ's recommendation of La Sirena Gorda. My wife and I also love their squid tacos, too (a bit of a reach for some, but we love 'em).

        HuaGung

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          mmmm - squid tacos....

          You can split the difference in the grilled vs. fried department at the Tin Fish on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. (You'd better hurry though since they're winding down their season.) They've got fried calamari and walleye tacos and grilled tilapia, salmon, mahi mahi, shrimp, ponga, haddock, scallop and halibut tacos. I've never had an authentic SoCal fish taco so I have no clue as to authenticity, but the ones I've had are quite tasty. (They've also got chicken and veggie tacos as well.)

          Places links:

          -----
          Sea Salt Eatery
          4801 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55417

          The Tin Fish
          3000 E Calhoun Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55408

          La Sirena Gorda
          920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407

          Masa
          1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

          1. re: bob s

            Good to know! There are some other "rules" about what makes a fish taco SoCal style--presence of sour cream and shredded cabbage, I think. Do you know if Tin Fish dresses their fried fish tacos with both of those? (Not that I like that style of fish taco, but curious for posterity!)

            Wow, I don't think I've been to Tin Fish all season--better get over there soon!

            ~TDQ

            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Shredded cabbage: definitely. Sour cream: if I recall correctly, there is a white liquid that's spread across it - don't know if it's sour cream only or something else as well. There may also be hot sauce and/or bay seasoning involved, but it's been a few months since I have had one. (The bay seasoning is definitely on their fries - so I may be confusing things.) Finally, I think there may be some shredded "cheddar" type cheese involved. (Could be Colby or some other type of yellow cheese.)

              I'm pretty sure that the ingredients are the same in each kind of taco - just the filling changes.

              EDIT: I just checked the Tin Fish website. It lists the ingredients as "Shredded cabbage, cheddar, salsa, ranch & hot sauce."

              1. re: bob s

                Sounds like it hits the mark to me! Good to know!

                ~TDQ

                1. re: bob s

                  Ah, so, based on a teensy bit more research, Tin Fish is a San Diego-based chain. http://www.thetinfish.net/right-tinfi... Given that, I'm pretty sure their fish tacos are going to be about as authentically "Southern California" style as we're going to get here in MN. So, great news for all of you SoCal fish taco lovers... Also, if you're okay dining at a Southern California-based chain, then my previous sighting of SoCal style fish tacos on the lunch menu of California Cafe at the Mall of America seems (on the surface anyway), to be equally as good a solution. CA Cafe has the added advantage of being open year-round, which is offset by the disadvantage of not being located on Lake Calhoun as Tin Fish is. I've personally not tried the fish tacos at either Tin Fish or California Cafe, but since I'm not a lover of most things Southern Californian, I'm not sure my opinion on that topic would be of much interest to someone for whom authenticity in this particular matter is really meaningful anyway. ;-).

                  http://www.californiacafe.com/bloomin...

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I understand that there are several Tin Fishes around the country, but my guess is that it's basically a franchise of the name and not a full franchise where every menu is the same at every store. I know, for instance, that the Rainbow Burger that they serve there is a recipe from the old Rainbow Bar in Uptown, which (I think) was owned by one of the owners' relatives.

                    1. re: bob s

                      Hey, as long as it's delicious, I'm okay with however they choose to organize themselves!

                      EDIT: they do refer to their famous fish tacos on the main page of their website, which made me think theirs would be particularly likely to be "authentically" Southern CA in style...for those who crave those, and I know there are many who do.

                      ~TDQ

          2. I agree with the recs for Sea Salt, La Sirena Gorda, and Masa. I've also had really good fish tacos at Dominquez Restaurant and El Paraiso. But all of those tacos are a little different than the ones at the state fair. The biggest difference--state fair tacos came with a mango salsa, IIRC. The tacos at the places I mentioned were really basic--mostly fish, cilantro, onion, maybe some salsa, and a side of lemon. Different versions, both really tasty.

            -----
            Dominguez Restaurant
            3313 E 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55417

            El Paraiso
            3501 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

            1. Baja Sol does a pretty good job as well. They are located in malls, which may not be 100% chow-ish, bt the fish tacos are nice.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                I have also enjoyed fish tacos at Common Roots in Minneapolis.

                1. re: faith

                  ??? hmm. did they use local, freshwater fish? seems like CR would. seems like they could be very good indeed. was the fish deep fried, pan fried? a seasonal or temporary item only? what were they like, do you remember, Faith?

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    soupkitten, not to preempt faith's response but I also enjoyed Common Roots' fish tacos back in May. Here's a link to the thread...my description is at the bottom. Short version (since I kind of blathered on in my other post): Pan fried marinated tilapia

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/505201

                    1. re: MSPD

                      ah. thanks very much for the description! but now i have (another) evil little bug in my mind-- how to make all-local ingredient fish tacos.

                      hmm. local cabbage is in-- now: to bread and panfry the trout, or grill briefly? can't do a squeeze of citrus, but could do a little lemongrass sauce drizzle, i'm thinking, or fresh farmer's cheese with dill. . .

                      does *anyone* already feature a local fish taco? la sirena gorda maybe? dang i wish i got over to MGM more often-- or does sea salt or tin fish do a catfish taco?

                      apologies to the op-- i know we're getting away from the canonized socal fish taco with my musings-- just curious to see what else is out there, you know

                    2. re: soupkitten

                      When I was there the tacos had walleye (probably Canadian) that had
                      been sauteed , a citrusy creamy sauce and cabbage, possibly
                      some salsa. I much prefer walleye to tilapia, and am rather sure that
                      tilapia is always farmed, so I'd say that would not count for 'local' even
                      if the fish farm was nearby.

                  2. re: Brad Ballinger

                    I second Baja Sol. A chain restaurant (also in strip malls) with a "salsa bar." I have to say, I crave their fish tacos.

                  3. I CRAVE good fish tacos. Having moved from Tucson over 4 years ago, these are something I miss dearly.

                    Went to Barrio last night and tried the fried mahi mahi taco. Excellent. Freshly fried, light and flaky, fresh corn tortilla, tangy sour cream sauce, cabbage and a little pico.

                    Also, rumor has it that Minnesota is about to be inundated with the Del Taco fast food chain. They have a decent fish taco on the menu. It's by no means the best but it's cheap, accessible and tasty, especially for those late night runs.