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Taco Del Mar - no fish tacos in Calgary

About a month ago, we went to Taco Del Mar in Okotoks looking for fish tacos, but when we tried to order, the man working at the counter said that they were out of fish that day. Thinking that this was a one-time occurrence, we reluctantly ordered some beef and chicken tacos instead. Then today we went to the location on 130th Ave SE in Calgary, Alberta. Again, we tried to order the "Alaskan Fish" that was listed on the menu, but the East Indian owner began to lecture us and said that he won't order the fish because it doesn't sell and it sits in his restaurant for months and spoils. he said that 9 Calgary franchise owners had a meeting with the corporation and all complained about the fish, and that none of them were going to carry it any longer.

I think this just plain sucks. I mean, "Taco Del Mar" means literally "taco of the sea." If these franchise owners don't want to sell fish tacos, why did they open a "Taco of the Sea" and not a Taco Bell or Taco Time... And I can't believe that the corporation is allowing these few rogue franchisee owners to tarnish the Taco Del Mar name.


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  1. Don't go there -- problem solved.

    1. I clicked on this thread out of curiosity and I can't believe what I read.

      Or maybe I can.

      Once in my life I ate in a TdM franchise-run by two EIs who had exactly no idea what a Taco was and man was it vile-I mean VILE (and Yes I ordered a Fish Taco)

      But as mentioned things must be tough for the company if they're allowing franchise holders to break the contract like that.

      Of course it's possible that the owner of the 130th St SE place is a liar many times over-it does happen.

      My advice is to contact the head office directly and complain bitterly -just to make someone's day(!)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sam Salmon

        This franchise seems cursed. Have a quick Google on what's going on there.

        1. re: Sam Salmon

          yea, it's funny cause after we asked about the fish tacos and got the lecture from the owner, he then started telling the guy in front of me that he "is all about the customers. i give the customers what they want!" i couldn't believe it. then he started telling the guy that he wanted to start selling samosas and "things that people want to eat" LOL.

        2. That is too bad.

          I was recently at Las Tortillas, and LOVE the place. The beef and pork tacos are both outstanding, fantastic flavours. While not "fish" tacos exactly, they are serving shrimp tacos on Saturdays. It might be worth the trek for you.

          Las Tortillas also has a website now: http://www.lastortillasinc.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: hornvixen

            oh that's great, thanks for the heads up! i've been aware of los tortillas for awhile, but last time i was at their site they were only making tortillas. i'll have to stop in there and grab some tacos!

            can you dine in, or is it take out only?

          2. That's odd. I mean, there are regional differences in what sells but if they've decided no fish tacos why don't they put a sign up or something?

            1. You can also try Mi Tierra Tu Tacqueria in the Oakridge area. I don't recall if they have fish tacos... but the food there is very authentic and I know for sure they have beef and pork tacos. They also have some seafood dishes, I recall, as well.

              Here's the address:
              #2-10015 Oakfield Drive SW
              Calgary, AB T2V 1S9
              (403) 238-1749

              Also, I know Big Fish on Edmonton Trail has fish tacos on their appetizer menu. I don't think they are very authentic but my friend enjoyed them but nonetheless.

              1 Reply
              1. re: miss.foodie

                nope, i have lunch here every weekend and they definitely don't do fish tacos (or baja food, for that matter).

              2. Curious about what it matters if he was east indian, also, is East India a country I am unaware of?

                14 Replies
                1. re: fotze

                  Indeed- go to any resto in the western US (and other parts of the US) and you'll find Mexican kitchen staff, including in Indian restos. I understand nonlinear's complaint but the east Indian part wasn't necessary.

                  Mi Tierra would probably not have fish tacos because fish tacos are cal-mex. I love them but there's nothing "authetic" about them- and you can make the very easily on your own; some decent fried fish, cabbage, tartar sauce and they always go in flour tortillas.

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    "Mi Tierra would probably not have fish tacos because fish tacos are cal-mex. I love them but there's nothing "authetic" about them- and you can make the very easily on your own; some decent fried fish, cabbage, tartar sauce and they always go in flour tortillas."

                    Written by someone who has never been to Mexico and eaten the most fabulous Fish Tacos on earth.

                    My favourite is 'de Cazon'-made with Shark meat-but almost any fish works and not just white fleshed ones I've eaten delicious Tuna and Marlin Tacos as well.

                    BTW-Tartar sauce is never found in Mexican Tacos de Pescado, it's true that there are many bastardised versions around but Tartar sauce would be the ultimate culinary crime.

                    1. re: Sam Salmon

                      I have been to Mexico but not Baja- but I stand corrected. I wonder of it's something that crept back south, though. LIke Taco Bell.

                      Tartar sauce=fusion. Not a crime.

                    2. re: John Manzo

                      hrm, i've never seen a fish taco on a flour tortilla or with tartar sauce. John, have you ever had a fish taco? They are always served on soft corn tortillas (2 of them) with a a white chile sauce! definately NOT tartar sauce.

                      as for the east indian remark, i was just trying to point out that this guy really didn't care WHAT he was serving, just that he could sell SOMETHING. Hell, he was telling the guy in front of me that he wished he could sell "samosas and things that people want to eat" from the shop. I don't know about you, but there are 329485723457473495734590347 indian restaurants in Calgary and not a single location for fish tacos. when I want indian, i will go to an indian restaurant. and I would expect that, when i want fish tacos, I would go to a place called "Taco of the sea."

                      1. re: nonlinear

                        does anyone running a fast food place (or any chain) really care about what they are serving? I don't think so...it's just a business to them, like any retail, manufacturing or service would be.

                        1. re: Dan G

                          I do think that some people care, and i've rarely encountered anything like this at a chain before. as i've said several times, why open a fish taco joint if you're not going to serve fish tacos? if he really wants to sell samosas, he should open an indian restaurant.

                          1. re: nonlinear

                            Don't see a lot of franchises for samosa places being offered... people who own fast food franchises are very seldom, if ever, restaurant people - they aren't chefs, not really food people, they are retailers, selling someone else's product and they might as well own a macs or a gas station or a clothing store... it isn't about food for them, it is about money (this based on knowing people who own mcdonalds, tim hortons, a&w...)

                        2. re: nonlinear

                          Yep, have had fish tacos in SF, LA, Walla Walla (best tacos I've ever had in NA were in Walla Walla), Portland, Hawaii and lMissoula. Every one was on a flour tortiilla (even at real taquerias that did all other tacos on correct corn tortillas), all or most with shredded cabbage and a creamy sauce that I'd call tartar sauce. Never had them in Mex.

                          1. re: John Manzo

                            very strange as I have NEVER seen them on flour tortillas. i'm thinking you confused the corn tortillas for flour.

                            1. re: nonlinear

                              "I'm a vegetarian" :) but when I was living in Mexico I occasionally caved to the fish taco temptation. I have never seen them on flour tortillas either. However, they were often served on corn tortillas that were thicker than normal and had an almost flour-like texture. Sometimes I make tortillas from Bob's Red Mill masa, and they remind me of a normal fish taco tortilla.

                            2. re: John Manzo

                              John - You need to make a trip down to Baja (and not Cabo....) and explore the gustatory wonder of a proper fish taco.

                              Corn tortilla
                              fish (or shrimp or octopus or... etc), fried or grilled
                              radish slices
                              pickled onions
                              white sauce (honest to God...that's what it is referred to... think of a thin creme freshe)
                              green sauce (again... think thin sort of guacamole).
                              maybe a small scoop of salsa.

                              Wash down with ice cold Pacifico and repeat as needed.

                              One of the seven street food wonders of the world.

                              1. re: tex_in_yyc

                                Can I just check something here? My experience with Mexican food is mostly from LA and SF though I've been to Mexico a few times but sometimes not sure if where I have eaten is authentic.

                                I always called the white tortillas flour but when I was given a tortilla press I bought masa harina and the product looks like what I used to call flour tortillas. But that's a corn rpoduct. So now I'm stuck. Are white and yellow tortillas both corn but made from a different corn ingredient? Is the flour/corn distinction just a convenience of speech?

                                One time I read the LA CH boards and found a place known for their fish tacos and hated them. The tortillas were white but the fish was battered and I really hate any sandwich like thing made with battered fish. I expected grilled. I liked the cabbage and the white sauce though it was pretty close to mayo but the battered fish was a dealbreaker to me.

                                1. re: sharonanne

                                  i've seen white, blue, and yellow corn tortillas. as the name implies, they are made from corn flour. flour tortillas, on the other hand, are made from wheat flour. so yea, they are two competely different things.

                                  flour torts come in a variety of colors these days, but i think that's more of an american trend and not 'authentic' mexican.

                                  1. re: sharonanne

                                    It's a true distinction. You can get white, yellow and blue corn tortillas. The colour comes from the corn itself - different varieties. I have seen red and green - but I believe those are artificially coloured.

                                    The Fish Tacos most people talk about are the ones purportedly "invented" in San Diego (not true) - deep fried in a batter.

                        3. There have been Taco Del Mars here in Edmonton for a few years, and I don't think they sold fish tacos when they started. And really, do you want a place that bad to even attempt something that requires a bit of skill? Anyone can make beef/chicken/pork filling for a taco, but not everyone can cook fish.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Dan G

                            Dan G.

                            There is a Taco Del Mar in the local strip mall but I have not been tempted to try it but quite frankly I am tired of Boston Pizza. Worth a try but avoid the fish?

                            Completely out of context but whenever I hear of fish tacos I think of Lisa Ahier's "Killer Fish Tacos" from Sobo out in Tofino but unfortunately Vancouver Island is many months away for us......

                            1. re: Bob Mac

                              Do they even have fish? I've eaten at the one in Terwillegar a few times - every few months on the way home decide I'm too tired to cook - and the burittos are OK. How bad can you screw up beans, shredded meat and cheese in a wrapper. I don't consider it good by any means, just acceptable and filling.

                              1. re: Bob Mac

                                Honestly, the more I read about the corporate ethics of Taco Del Mar, the more I am repelled. No good reason to eat their pre-fried pre-frozen fish and patronize the place (...not good for the long-suffering franchisees, however).

                                >>Completely out of context but whenever I hear of fish tacos I think of Lisa Ahier's "Killer Fish Tacos" from Sobo out in Tofino but unfortunately Vancouver Island is many months away for us......

                                @Bob Mac
                                They are very good at Sobo...fresh ingredients, fresh fruit salsa, sustainably caught fish in blue corn meal tacos - (see below) and they cost just a little more than the ones at Del Mar. The tacones from Go Fish and Red Fish Blue Fish are also very good.

                                1. re: fmed

                                  The best tacos de pescado I've had were at a canteen in Loreto, Baja Californa Sur. The next best are the ones from my kitchen.

                                  I think Cactus Club had them on the menu at one time. Less mexican influence, more tropical.

                                  1. re: Office Broccoli

                                    The best are definitely served in the Baja. I prefer the non-deep fried ones personally (grilled is my preference).

                                    1. re: fmed

                                      If I recall correctly, the fish taocs I used to get at Taco del Mar in Seattle were not all that spectatular so if the franchisees in Calgary are not willing to serve deep fried fish stick tacos, good riddance.

                                      Now if someone would open a Wahoo's Fish Taco in Calgary, I would be very, very happy... http://www.wahoos.com/

                                  2. re: fmed

                                    Mention of Sobo's got me thinking of this post from awhile ago: http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2008/07/17... I want to make the drive just for the Key Lime Pie :)

                                    1. re: maplesugar

                                      Haha - Nice one maplesugar. I never did have Lisa's Key Lime pie - next trip to Tofino perhaps (this summer). We make a facsimile of her Polenta Fries regularly at our house.

                              2. Apparently somebody didn't like their offerings either( from Wikipedia):

                                "During the early morning hours of February 13, 2008, a Taco del Mar franchise in Vancouver, British Columbia was destroyed by a large explosion which damaged several nearby businesses. Police confirmed that the blast was caused by an arsonist who had placed an accelerant inside the restaurant, then set it on fire. Vancouver-area police later arrested [a man] suffering from burns to over 40% of his body. The motive for this act is currently not publicly known."

                                1. I hear ya on this one....in Langley, BC...20min outside of Vancouver. No fish at the fish taco house. Reason? The broken oven is apparently $7000 to replace and no one I was told, repeat no one orders it anyway. I was the only one who ordered in in months apparently.

                                  So the owner didn't want to spend the $7000. So for the first time ever at Del Mar....I order something other than "Mar" Taco. So disappointing. (broke my streak too of not ordering anything but fish taco....darn.)

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: vancouverrob

                                    I spent a week years ago eating almost nothing but fish tacos in Baja. They were on the small corn tortillas (which were white corn), had shredded cabbage and the mysterious white sauce which was indeed referred to as salsa blanca and sometimes a choice of salsa picante but usually thin and red. Most places added the marinated sliced onions and a few had the guac-ish substance. The fish was white fillets that had been rolled in something that got a bit crunchy when *grilled* (never deep fried). They were delightful and I've never had anything like them since, though I've tried fish tacos whenever I've seen them on a menu -- I've even had fish tacos with salmon (ack) and I've often had them with flour tortillas (too big, flavour not right), or deep fried (good if you like deep fried, and I do, but not the same) and also small pieces of fried fish. When I make them at home, I use Japanese mayo in place of MWS, add avocado slices and I pan fry the fish with onions since I don't have a flat grill -- v. tasty but not truly Baja-nian.

                                    I had the misfortune of trying the fish at a now defunct Taco del Mar on West Boulevard in Vancouver a number of years ago. It was deep fried. And it was, to quote the kids, yucky. Then one day I was starving and in a hurry downtown and I tried a regular taco at the TdelMar on Granville. Three bites was all I could stomach. And I normally don't throw away food. Blech.

                                    1. re: grayelf

                                      Thanks for explaining what a good fish taco is. Last year I researched fish taco places on the LA board, chose one with care and did NOT enjoy the taco. I just don't like deep-fried anything inside a bread-like thing. Your description sounds so much better.

                                      1. re: sharonanne

                                        I first read about fish tacos on dinner with julie - The pix make me want to go to Tofino just for a taco - while they're probably not "authentic" they're certainly better than the deep fried version at TDM: http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2008/07/17...

                                        1. re: maplesugar

                                          The fruit salsa really makes the Fish Tacos at Sobo - the sweetness of the salsa complements the tartness of the fish. The ceviche is quite fresh (as you can imagine since Tofino is also a fishing town.)

                                          1. re: fmed

                                            Tofino hasn't been a fishing town for some years now-moorage is too expensive as are house rentals.

                                            Fish are now landed in nearby Ukee-long derided as too downmarket and blue collar by well heeled mainland and overseas visitors who have NFC about who catches the fish they eat or where the fishermen work/live.

                                            1. re: Sam Salmon

                                              Indeed nearly all of the commercial fishing is now handled at Uclulet with smaller operations right in Tofino (Trilogy, the crab dock, and a few who sell from the boats, etc.). The vestiges of its past history as a busy fishing town are still all there - sort of like Steveston that way. Lots of sports fishing there (as in Ukee).

                                          2. re: maplesugar

                                            I don't think I've ever had a fish taco in a hard corn shell -- that would be different!

                                            1. re: grayelf

                                              The fish taco at Sobo is quite different from the real stuff for sure ceviche and fruit salsa in a hard taco shell.

                                              1. re: fmed

                                                The first time I heard of fish tacos was at Aqua Verde in Seattle many years ago.. I don't remember if they matched grayelf's description but they were good ( but perhaps not memorable). If you are ever in Seattle you might want to check them out.

                                        2. re: grayelf

                                          I liked the fish tacos at Go Fish (near Granville Island).

                                      2. I went to Taco Del Mar okotoks last friday and I tried Fish taco and Steak Taco Salad they both were very delicious.The food was very fresh, customer service was great and there food portioning is huge. I ask the secret of the freshness and tenderness of meat from the employee who was placing meat from steam oven, told me that they make everything fresh at the resturant every day. When I came back home and had some search done on the net I found that health magazine has selected Taco Del Mar in top ten as healthy fast food chain in nation and that was very immpressive for me. I will go back agin and recomand my friends as well.

                                        1. was at TDM in Kamloops over the weekend and they had fish tacos available...tried it but won't be ordering it again...ever.

                                          in a pinch the fish tacos at Moxies work....quoting from their online menu "crispy chipotle-lime marinated cod, grilled whole wheat tortillas, shredded greens, guacamole and salsa fresca served with side spring mix salad with feta and dried cranberries"

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: babettesfeast

                                            Don't go to TDM for tacos or fish anything. It's all about the burritos, especially the shredded beef. Very close to a SF mission burrito.
                                            Note that I've only ever been to the location downtown at 5th Avenue Place.

                                            1. re: 23skidoo

                                              I went to the one at 5th Ave Place for the first time Tuesday- first time also for TDM in Canada. I got a huge mission-style burrito with FISH, thank you very much, and it was excellent. Not like the best I've had in SF or Portland, but as good as some I've had in SF and Portland and that's saying a lot. I got it with sour cream and quac (75 cents extra) and was more than pleased. Just wish we had one in the inner city that was open weekends, but this is better than nothing, especially as I don't work downtown and can make it to 5ave pl foodcourt after the lunch rush.

                                              1. re: John Manzo

                                                Its not fish but the shrimp tacos at Chilis were pretty darn good. They came with cole slaw in the soft taco (they said it was corn, but it tasted like flour tortilla) and came with rice and beans. Also, for good value, the bowl of chili is only $6.95.

                                          2. I visit Taco del Mar is South Edmonton once in awhile for a Cabo Salad. This location always serves fish tacos. However, they do not offer everything that they are supposed to. It seems like the franchise owner has the ability to offer whatever they want. This location does not offer the reward cards, they did at first but stopped. I have never been to a franchise where they don't offer the full menu and promotions before this, and frankly can't believe it. Maybe the parent company should be made aware of what is going on.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: nsstampqueen

                                              I've been to a couple of locations and I guess they've all started serving fish tacos since I first posted this thread over a year and a half ago. (I'm guessing Taco Del Mar head offices finally forced these rogue alberta franchises to carry the fish.)

                                              I've only had the fish tacos a couple of times though, because the franchises here use a crappy frozen breaded fish and heat it upon request. (One time a Taco Del Mar owner in Calgary told me they didn't carry the fish because no one ordered it, and it would spoil. I'm guessing the frozen fish is a compromise between not carrying it at all, and having it go bad.) I thought the fish tacos were pretty terrible; it was essentially like a breaded frozen fish stick (/me pukes) in a taco shell. NOTHING like i've had in california.

                                              Taco Del Mar
                                              420 2 St SW, Calgary, AB , CA

                                              1. re: nonlinear

                                                That's how TDM does it everywhere. Approximates a fried breaded fish filet that's in pretty much every fish taco I've had. I think it's damn tasty in a burrito, and the burrito is what I get at TDM.

                                                1. re: John Manzo

                                                  The problem is that at TDM the fish sticks are breaded, microwaved and soggy - not battered and deep fried, as they should be. Kind of like how falafels are served in Calgary! :(I

                                                  1. re: nonlinear

                                                    At 5th Ave Place they aren't microwaved! They came out of convection oven, like the toasters at Subway.

                                            2. Just an aside
                                              I notice that Petite has Halibut fish tacos on their lunch menu (subject to menu changes of course).
                                              @ $12 not a bad price.
                                              Might give it a go but I have no 'authentic' fish taco experience to compare it with.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: cancowboy

                                                I've had those and they are tasty. I think they are only available with a spring salad.
                                                Also from what I recall you only get two so if you are actually hungry def get a third taco. I like a light lunch but that was too light imho.