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Jul 15, 2009 11:26 AM

SD: Flay fish taco throwdown!

San Diegans set your DVRs. Tonight's episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay is the San Diego fish taco throwdown filmed in Balboa Park earlier this spring. Any predictions?

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  1. Who's he competing against? Who are the "judges"?

    18 Replies
    1. re: araknd

      It's Throwdown with Bobby Flay. His only competition is Bobby Flay.

      I know who won but have been sworn to secrecy.

      1. re: DiningDiva

        I am very familiar with the program and the concept. I was wondering who Bobby Flay is competing against.

        1. re: araknd

          Oh, sorry about that. This was originally on the CA board and thought you knew who was competing since this has been discussed on a couple of threads on that board over the last week.

          He's competing against Cesar Gonzales who owns Mama Testa a taqueria in San Diego. Cesar is from Guanajuato, MX. When he came to the U.S. he was appalled by what passed for Mexico food, especially in SD with it being so close to the border. He decided to open a restaurant and serve better Mexican. He chose to focus on the ubiquitous taco and that's the only thing (really) that Mama Testa serves. He's got a taco representing every state in the Republic of Mexico.

          Mama Testa is a small restaurant but not particularly one of the "hole-in-the-wall" places with great food. It's located in a pretty upscale neighborhood with a lot of food traffic and well heeled, somewhat trendy client. Personally, I don't think his fish tacos are the best tacos on the menu. The empapado (mashed potato tacos in a hard shell) are ridiculously good as is his pibil. The most unusual taco are the taco mojados, rolled tacos cut into thirds after being fried, served floating in a deliciously flavorful broth and served with minced cilantro, onion and lime on the side. Cesar makes his chorizo from scratch because he couldn't get very good Mexican chorizo here in SD. He also offers one of the better salsa bars with 10-12 selections made fresh daily with unique and unusual varieties.

          1. re: DiningDiva

            I didn't like Cesar's attitude so his tacos can't be that good

            1. re: dolly52

              Did he spit in your taco or something?

              1. re: dolly52

                Is that attitude in his shop or on the show? If it's the show, I haven't seen it yet. His tacos are actually pretty decent and he's really a pretty nice guy.

              2. re: DiningDiva

                I found Mama Testa completely overrated. There are much better fish taco places in the San Diego area.

                1. re: Jwsel

                  "There are much better fish taco places in the San Diego area."

                  Let me guess: Rubios. Mariscos German. Brigantine. South Beach in OB.

                  Can you come up with more than those four places that serve "much better fish tacos"? This is not meant to be rhetorical or snide, I really am curious. I live in Del Mar half the year and only know of the above-mentioned spots.

                  1. re: woodandfine

                    Those are some, though I'm not that big a fan of the Rubio's I've tried. Mariscos German, however, is vastly superior. I am far from a fish taco expert, but I have also heard good things about Blue Water Gril and El Zarape. Also, though I hate to admit it, I think Wahoo's are better than Mama Testa's.

                    And, moving north, you can also get better fish tacos at Tacos Baja Ensenado and El Tacos Nazco.

                    1. re: Jwsel

                      Marisco German *are* better than Mama Testa's. So are Blue Water Grill's. El Zarape is probably the best $.99 fish taco, but it can be a little inconcsistent if they're slammed at mid-day.

                      As I noted above, too, I don't think fish tacos are the best taco that Mama Testa does. There are way better tacos on their menu than that one.

                  2. re: Jwsel

                    We live in the Central Valley and while visiting in San Diego tried out Mama Testa's and really enjoyed their food! We ordered an array of dishes and they were excellent! Cesar was very friendly and made us feel right at home.

                    1. re: Jwsel

                      Have you tried Fidel's in Solana Beach....they have amazing fish tacos. Very authentic. Goes really well with their spicy cabbage salad....

                    2. re: DiningDiva

                      Thanks, DD. I caught the show last night. Somehow missed the notifications on the CA board.

                      I liked what I saw except for his use of catfish. I'm not a big fan of catfish; but the other dishes that you described might bear some consideration. I would like to try the chorizo. I was born in a farm town in northern Calif. and almost literally raised on authentic Mexican cuisine, love chorizo and tripe, too.

                      1. re: araknd

                        An suggestions for a menudo throwdown?

                        1. re: paulj

                          LOL. I'd love to be a judge for that one. Here in San Diego county, there are lots of places that produce good to excellent menudo, it just depends on your own sensibilities. I wonder of Bobby would consider putting pig's feet in his stock? I be interested in seeing how Bobby prepared the tripe.

                          1. re: araknd

                            I know this thread is really old, but if in SD, one of the best places to get menudo is Menuderia Don Vicente on the Highland Ave in National City. Pretty sure they could beat Bobby in a Throwdown ;-)

                      2. re: DiningDiva

                        Oh.... I want to try an empapado. I've never heard of one before. (So I don't eat a lot of Mexican).

                  3. re: araknd

                    Check your local TV Guide's website - he's going up against someone named Cesar Gonzalez, it seems, owner of Mama Testa Taqueria.

                  4. i just watched this last night. We visited SD about ten years ago and fell in love with fish tacos. By now you can get them on the East Coast but of course they taste better when you're near the Pacific.

                    When I saw that Bobby was using grilled fish instead of fried fish, I knew he'd lose, despite how good his tacos tasted (and in fact they looked delicious).

                    1. I use to live in San Diego and had my first fish taco in Ensenada back in the 70's. I'm stuck for now in Orlando, Florida, and miss decent Cal-Mex food.

                      There isn't a fish taco withing a hundred miles that's worth eating around here. I envy you folks from San Diego, even the bad fish taco's are better than the ones here.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bkhuna

                        Whoa...they must be pretty bad. Fish tacos are pretty easy to do and we've got lots of choices. Taco trucks specializing in fish tacos are popping up all over SD, and they're G-O-O-D. Condolences for being stuckin Orlando, I feel your pain

                        1. re: bkhuna

                          Sorry to hear of your dilemma. Maybe with Rubio's having been bought out Orlando may be on their target for new stores.

                        2. Bobby lost and as a result Mama Testa (SP) has since started running the most obnoxious radio ads on 94.9. OMG STFU dude your ads suck I have never tried your tacos but hate for sheer annoyance.

                          1. I don't find beating boobie flay that much of an accomplishment.