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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]

s
sallyawalk Sep 5, 2008 08:55 PM

[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!

  1. f
    faith Sep 7, 2008 10:48 AM

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

    1. The Dairy Queen Sep 10, 2008 12:47 AM

      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
        h
        HuaGung Sep 10, 2008 06:32 AM

        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
          bob s Sep 10, 2008 07:55 AM

          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
            The Dairy Queen Sep 10, 2008 08:16 AM

            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
              bob s Sep 10, 2008 08:37 AM

              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
                The Dairy Queen Sep 10, 2008 09:59 AM

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

                ~TDQ

                1. re: bob s
                  The Dairy Queen Sep 11, 2008 12:20 AM

                  Ah, so, based on a teensy bit more research, Tin Fish is a San Diego-based chain. http://www.thetinfish.net/right-tinfish.php?nav_ID=104 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
                    bob s Sep 11, 2008 02:26 PM

                    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
                      The Dairy Queen Sep 11, 2008 02:50 PM

                      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. drew13000 Sep 10, 2008 07:52 AM

            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. b
              Brad Ballinger Sep 10, 2008 09:39 AM

              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
                f
                faith Sep 10, 2008 09:26 PM

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

                1. re: faith
                  s
                  soupkitten Sep 12, 2008 12:13 PM

                  ??? 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
                    MSPD Sep 12, 2008 02:33 PM

                    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
                      s
                      soupkitten Sep 12, 2008 03:07 PM

                      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
                      f
                      faith Sep 12, 2008 07:33 PM

                      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
                    j
                    jeanmt Sep 11, 2008 08:31 AM

                    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. MaggieB Sep 11, 2008 02:41 PM

                    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.

                    1. g
                      getgot211 Sep 13, 2008 09:11 AM

                      they weren't ready when I was there, but Chef Shack at the Mill City Farmers Market was going to have grilled halibut tacos.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: getgot211
                        f
                        faith Sep 15, 2008 08:18 PM

                        Just had a walleye burrito at Longfellow Grill. Extremely boring especially at$14.95!

                      2. o
                        orlynbrandon Jan 18, 2010 03:51 PM

                        Baja Sol & Don Pablos.

                        Baja Sol - Yummy and they are easy to find. In some strip malls (for sure Eden Prairie Center) and also free standing restaurants (EP as well). I would get fish tacos to go from baja when I lived in EP.

                        I was surprised to find that Don Pablos has great fish tacos as well last week. I went to the Richfield DP. You have the option of fried or grilled. Unfortunately I found that when you go to Don Pablos you reek afterwards (I've never been there before). At least I know where to get fish tacos to go now. Why are they so addicting?! :)

                        1. f
                          foreverhungry Jan 19, 2010 08:03 AM

                          Best I've had after sampling about a dozen (including some mentioned in these posts) is Sea Salt. By far. Though I haven't yet tried those at La Sirena Gorda (but definitely on my list). Tin Fish was OK. Dominguez Family Restaurant is in my neighborhood, and I've been there often, but I wouldn't put their fish tacos high on my list.

                          On a side note, I find the "SoCal" style fish tacos description interesting. My benchmark for fish tacos is Howdy's Taqueria in Malibu, a place I frequented when living in west LA. If I remember correctly, their fish tacos were grilled mahi-mahi, with some cabbage slaw, a little salsa, a not much else. Most of the good fish tacos I had in the LA area (and Santa Barbara) were similar - grilled mahi mahi, not fried. Funny enough, the vast majority of fried fish tacos I've had have been in Minnesota. So, I wonder: is the SoCal definition of a fish taco as fried fish true? If so, is it local specifically to San Diego? Or is it a Midwest invention?

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: foreverhungry
                            The Dairy Queen Jan 19, 2010 08:24 AM

                            It is somewhat specific to San Diego. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/st...

                            I like the fish tacos at Sea Salt, because they are pretty healthy and "light" which is perfect for mid-summer, but definitely not in that San Diego style. I love La Sirena Gorda, thought it's been awhile since I've been there. Time for a return trip!

                            I read just recently about a place serving San Diego style fish tacos and made a mental note of it, so, now I'm kicking myself trying to remember what that place was.

                            ~TDQ

                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                              f
                              faith Jan 19, 2010 12:55 PM

                              I recently had some great fish tacos but was afraid I couldn't post about them here because they were at a 'c h a i n' restaurant. But since posts are still here from Baja Sol and Don Pablo's..................I'll say it. California Pizza Kitchen..........at Rosedale....I would normally not usually set foot in this kind of place, feel prejudiced against them after reading ingredients on their frozen pizzas in the supermarkets. But needed a quick place to eat after a movie recently and decided to check it out, thinking I'd just get a salad. The server was super nice....very patient as I peppered her with questions to determine how 'chain-like' the food was there. As in, are your salad dressings made from scratch? and other things like that. It appears that they make quite a bit from scratch there! And had recently added fish tacos with wild mahi ! They were in flour tortillas, they were great! Very fresh good tasting fish, 2 good sized tacos on a plate for around $10, included homemade salsa and some good, not too salty chips. My friend had the chopped salad, really enjoyed that, and we split an amazing tiramisu for dessert. Who woulda thunk? especially picky me....

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