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Best fish tacos in the San Fran area!

I will be visiting in December from Boston and would like some locals suggestions for great fish tacos. I prefer the sweet ones with pinapple or mango salsa. Any other must try in the San Fran area would also be appreciated.

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  1. Fish tacos are not considered a must try in SF, as they are a southern cal thing. That said, Nick's Crispy Tacos does a nice rendition.

    Some must try's for SF:
    Mission Street burrito
    Sourdough Bread (Tadich Grill has the best)
    Chapino (good version also found at Tadich)
    Dim Sum
    Vietnamese cuisine
    Dungeness Crab will be in season in December (steamed like lobster or try the Vietnamese roasted version if you never have)

    Tadich Grill
    240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Nick's Crispy Tacos
    1500 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94109

    2 Replies
    1. re: Civil Bear

      Yes, the fish tacos here are not the traditional Southern California / Baja California type. My favorites for fish tacos are Nick's, and the Primavera booth that is at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturday mornings (booth in the back of the building, very back of the market). They are on the Primavera menu ~1/4 of the time, I'd guess.

      At Nick's, be sure to order the taco "Nick's Way".

      1. re: Civil Bear

        Nick is now at Underdog. He left the Broadway location a year ago or so. I think they are still trying to copy his style, but if you want the real Nick's Tacos, head over to Underdog in the Sunset.

        The Taco Shop at Underdog Sports Bar & Grill
        1824 Irving St, San Francisco, CA

      2. I wouldn't call myself an expert but the fish tacos at Woodhouse (Church & Market) are very good.

        1. Taylor's Refresher in the Ferry Bldg actually has some good ones but the fish is not breaded/fried which I believe is theytraditional SoCal way of making them. Anyway it gives you an excuse to go to the Ferry Bldg which is always good especially for the Recchiutti Bacon Maple Toffee!

          1. Here is a fish taco list a little dated perhaps.
            How is the taco at Nopalito?
            Taco De Pescado Al Pastor seared adobo sturgeon, ancho chili and chimichurri salsa.

            1. My fav by far = Tracy des Jardins' MIJITA at SF Ferry Bldg; get w extra tortillas. Also recommend the jicama/grapefruit salad as a side > http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.c...

              1 Reply
              1. re: mikeyoke

                I liked the fish and seasonings in the fish tacos at Mijita, but the tortillas were weird.

              2. I like the Flying Fish Grill off Highway 1 down near Half Moon Bay. Nice long wait but if the weather's nice, who cares? Grab a table outside and have a beer.


                1. Kitti's Place in Sausalito makes a nice fish taco with Thai influence

                  1. I love fish tacos but I've never had a sweet one with pinapple or mango salsa!

                    1. Baja (batter fried) fish taco or pan fried fish tacos? I haven't found any Baja fish tacos in NorCal that are really great but there's fish tacos that use pan fried fish. Taqueria Sinaloa taco truck in Oakland does a really good fish taco (pan fried) for $1.25 each. Not fresh fish but it's very tasty. For Baja fish tacos you might have to head to LA or San Diego.

                      Taqueria Sinaloa
                      2138 International Blvd, Oakland, CA 94606

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ML8000

                        They may or may not meet the standards of SoCal fish taco purists, but I really like the batter-fried fish tacos at Taqueria La Familia on Shattuck between Russell and Ashby in Berkeley.

                        1. re: Agent 510

                          I'm a fan of the Baja Pescado at La Calaca Loca, on 52nd/Telegraph in Oakland. The fish tacos at Tres Agaves are also good.

                          Tres Agaves Restaurant
                          130 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA 94107

                          La Calaca Loca
                          5199 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                      2. Half Moon Bay's Flying Fish Grill. It's the best place I've been that does a respectable version with the fruit. The place is a bit of dive with a funky charm to it. Fish tacos are available with a few different types of fish. The Mahi Mahi taco comes with the mango salsa you're looking for.

                        Flying Fish Grill
                        99 San Mateo Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Shane Greenwood

                          Brilliant. I forgot about Flying Fish and second your rec ... and it is a scenic drive down there.

                          As far as SF, As everyone has said, its more savory than sweet ... we search for that elusive SOCAL taco. To see if there was anything I forgot, I took a look at foodiebytes.

                          Anyone tried the fish and fruit tacos at Zazil, Jovino, Q,

                          I can't imagine they would be any good at Crepevine, The Cheesecake Factory, Left at Albuquerque

                        2. I grew up on the San Diego border and used to cut classes at San Diego State to dash across the border for fish tacos. The Pineapple/Mango salsa thing is NOT traditional whatsoever. The original, classic fish taco is batter-fried fish with fresh lime, cabbage, and a white sauce made with queso fresco.

                          The best chain for these is Rubios but I also like the offerings at Tabucaya on 4th in Berkeley.

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                            So I was afraid to mention Rubio's, but there IS one in that big mall near Union Square in San Francisco.

                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                              The devil is in the details ... "The best CHAIN for these is Rubios"

                              And probably the only chain in the Bay Area that serves them, ergo the best.

                              I wasn't a fan of Rubio's even in SOCAL. If going with a more classic version, Nick's is a lot better.

                              1. re: rworange

                                Meh to Nick's. They serve one piece of fish (like a fish stick) in the taco as opposed to fried bits. I've been twice and the fish was fishy and small for $5 bucks a taco. In SoCal you get 2 for $5 and a taco is twice as big as Nick's.

                                Fried bits of fish adds a different texture and it allows for the use of fresh, cheap fish to be used...not that Rubio's uses fresh but it uses bits. Rubio's is okay for a chain.

                                The place I keep hearing about but haven't gone is Día de Pesca in San Jose.

                                Dia de Pesca
                                55 N Bascom Avenue, San Jose, CA

                                1. re: ML8000

                                  Ah, that's what I didn't get ... Rubio's is SUPPOSED to not taste like fish and be tasteless ... from my ancient visit ... perhaps it has improved ... I won't even waste 99 cents ... not to mention the calories ... to eat that mess again ... ask me how I REALLY feel about Rubio's.

                                  "I was sensing trouble when the paper wrapping was a little soggy. This was on a trip from the counter to a table.

                                  The taco had a flabby, almost flesh-like consistency. I'm still game. Sometimes the things that aren't pretty taste good.

                                  As I opened the wrapper a white liquid oozed out on to my newly dry cleaned slacks. I guess the lack of flavor in the fish was a blessing. It COULD have tasted bad fishy. There was this crispy stuff, separate from the fish that at first I thought was bacon. Oh...the batter. The cabbage was crispy but pale in both color and taste. I'm guessing by it's palid look and whisper of flavor, it was grown in a basement. "

                                  I was new to Chowhound at the time under a different nom du Chow and it was the first time I found Chowhound was ... fallible ... or to put it another way, different people have different tastes. I did actually try Rubio's in SOCAL a few years later to see if it was a location thing or fluke. Nope. Just as awful there.

                                  Just to be clear. Nicks uses a real piece of fish, not fishsticks. Someome mentioned La Calaca Loca which I understand is where Nick landed after leaving "Nick's Crispy Tacos".

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Lulus Authentic Mexican Cuisine does a decent job with a grilled mahi mahi taco - great creamy chipolte saucs, fresh salsa, and avocado - they are in Palo Alto on El Camino Real- cost is $4.50 - quite addicting

                                    I can't get the link to work

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      I give Nick's credit for using real fish...but twice and both times it was fishy, well no. The price is still nuts -- $5 bucks for a small taco is wrong unless it's exceptional and it is not.

                                      Rubio's is like a Mickey D's hamburger, it's okay for what it is but there's better. I never go by choice but they do have the bits of fried fish. The chain in SoCal to check out is Wahoo's. Use to be pretty okay but haven't been in a long time. It's the mom and pop places that usually make great Baja fish tacos.

                                      1. re: ML8000

                                        FYI.. there are Wahoo's locations in Palo Alto, San Jose and Cupertino

                                        Wahoos Fish Taco
                                        19626 Stevens Creek Blvd, Cupertino, CA 95014

                                        Wahoos Fish Taco
                                        2305 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                                        Wahoo's Fish Taco
                                        3055 Olin Ave. Suite 1030, San Jose, CA 95128

                                      2. re: ML8000

                                        Nick's strength is not fish anyway, it's the other dishes. Great place, but maybe not the best example of a fish taco in the area.

                                        1. re: ML8000

                                          Dia de Pesca is good, but they don't really serve what the OP is looking for. No mention of the fruit salsa. I've had a few different types of fish tacos and some of their other dishes. It is good if you're in the area, but not special enough to warrant a special trip of more than a few miles. All of the tacos I've had there were as described on the menu, cabbage, chipotle sauce, avocado.

                                    2. re: CarrieWas218

                                      The fruit salsa may not be traditional, but it is what the OP is asking about.

                                    3. if you are ever in the east bay area and need produce, go to Concord's Thursday market, Alameda's Saturday market or Jack London Square's Sunday market and visit the Cholita Linda stand to get their fish tacos. Really good!

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: majordanby

                                        Is the Sunday market near Jack London Square worth attending, apart from the fish tacos recco'd by majordanby? We've been to FPFM and Civic Centre but are thinking of a ferry trip to this bit of Oakland. TIA

                                        1. re: grayelf

                                          The Jack London Sq FM seems to be coming along. They move things over to the newly developed area near Reinhold's and what is planned to be a large market place (along the lines of Pike's Place in Seattle?).. The FM is on the small side, not as many prepared food vendor (like 10?) mellow not nearly as crazed as FPFM. I'd go for the ferry ride (which is nice) but I might hook up a trip with a walk to Oakland Chinatown.

                                          1. re: ML8000

                                            "The Jack London Sq FM seems to be coming along" The JLS farmers market on Sunday is the 2'nd oldest in Oakland after the Old Oakland Friday market which started in 1988. The JLS farmers market has some of the best prices I've ever seen at any local venue. 3 baskets (8 oz.) of raspberries or mixed berries for five bucks!! Gorgeous heirloom tomatoes for $1.50 lb., summer stone fruits for 1.50 lb. potatoes and onions and fava beans for less than $2.00 lb. the Jack london sunday market rocks with a mix of "organic" and "decline to state" vendors. The only reason most farmers don't go "certified organic" is the cost for them to do so- They have to pay big bucks to be vetted and it's not worth the cost. See Martha Stewart's comments re: getting Organic Certification. adam

                                            1. re: adamshoe

                                              I was talking more about how they re-arranged the vendor lay out at JLS along the newly developed stuff. JLS might be the 2nd oldest in Oakland but it's been sort of a step-child at JLS given its many configurations and the crafts market. It feels more cohesive now. Also, there are vendors at OOFM and JLS that go to both and charge more at JLS for the exact same thing. Go figure.

                                          2. re: grayelf

                                            Hopefully im not too late in answering your question. I bike to JLS from Berkeley, so I like going there for the bike ride and the exercise. People usually feel the Grand Lake or the JLS farmers markets are the "best" in Oakland. That doesnt mean they have the best deals or farmers attending, but are more attractive because of their locations. I've been to Grand Lake, Old Oakland and JLS at least a half dozen times (and been to Temescal [and their absurdly high prices] once), and I would say JLS is my favorite of the three (I usually go to the El Cerrito market because it is nearer to me [and cheaper than the one in Berkeley]). Old Oakland's prices are cheaper, largely because it has a lot of Asian vendors that sell seemingly non organic, non pesticide free produce. Grand Lake has the most vendors and likely the most shoppers (and is the most expensive). That could be a product of location, as many families attend the market and then take a stroll around Lake Merritt afterwards.

                                            The market at JLS is mid sized. They have a variety of farmers, some you have likely seen at FP or Civic Center (Rainbow Orchards, J&J, Diaz). There are a few that are East Bay centric (Ibarra, Hillview). I think you can get a variety of produce, largely organic and pesticide free, for reasonable prices at this market. Asian produce, unlike in Old Oakland and Civic Center, is rather limited, but there is one farmer who attends that sells that type of produce (long bean, bok choy, upo, eggplant).

                                            JLS has a couple of bakery/pastry vendors, including Dot's baking pantry, Feel Good (http://www.feelgoodbakery.com/home.html) , Beckman's and Margaret's. The market has a number of prepared food vendors, including my favorite pasta place Il Pastiao (http://www.ilpastaiofoods.com/) (the guy who sells for them is really nice...he wears a tie dyed t-shirt and gives you a good discount if you buy more than one), an Italian pasta/sauce vendor, Sukhi's and the Bolani folks (who attend damn near every market!). I don't think there are any meat vendors, but there is a fish vendor and an old crazy looking guy selling jerky. Lastly, there's a place that sells flavored almonds.

                                            As far as street food vendor types, there is Scream Sorbet, which sells an unusual variety of sorbet flavors, a turkish vendor (a lot of the people go here to buy their kebob wraps), cholita linda (http://cholitalinda.com/) (best fish tacos, in my opinion), another Mediterranean type vendor (pretty good gyros), a sausage place (doesnt get a lot of business when i am there), a pizza place with a wood burning oven (really good), nella's soul food, and the ubiquitous kettle korn. There is also a vendor that sells organic coffee and tea.

                                            And there's a arts and crafts portion to the market, which is fairly large relative what most markets have.

                                            I would probably visit the market. Plenty of parking. Very mellow and low key. There's usually music. There are some good restaurants nearby. You can kayak at the harbor. Go to Chinatown and get some bahn mi. You could also take BART to Lake Merritt.

                                            BTW, Cholita Linda goes to two other farmers markets: Sat at Alameda and Thurs at Concord. And make sure you taste their aguas frescas if it's a hot day.

                                            Scream Sorbet
                                            5030 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA

                                            1. re: majordanby

                                              Not too late at all, major, thanks. We are planning to hit JLS next Sunday, coming by ferry. Looking especially forward to Cholita Linda...

                                          3. re: majordanby

                                            I had the Baja fish taco at Cholita Linda. They were good and fresh but not memorable. The fish was nice but the batter wasn't very crispy which I can understand more or less. For me the value -price was a deterrent, while not bad ($3.00 p/taco) they were the small tacos on the small tortillas.

                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              Thx for feedback on both market (v. helpful as I wasn't sure about the two Oakland venues, and I don't mind about the non-organic at all), fish tacos (the ones in Baja I've loved were grilled not deepfried so this sounds just right and since they don't exist at all in this form at home in Vancouver I'll cough up), and for alerting me to the Oakland Chinatown option, which I was sadly ignorant of and will now research. There is a museum in Oakland we wanted to check out but I just discovered it is closed for renos till May 2010 so we are looking for another divertissement to make the ferry trip even more worthwhile :-).

                                          4. I have not been to Joe's Taco Lounge on Miller Ave in MV in over 10 years, but I see that its still in business, and back when I worked nearby I thought the fish tacos were pretty decent. Any recent reports?

                                            I can still vividly recall the fish tacos on the pier at Ensenada. I had 10 in three different visits one memorable day. Perfectly batter fried bits of white fish done with the cabbage and white sauce. O. M. G. I wish I was there now.

                                            Joe's were no match for the real thing, but they were really quite good. A long time ago...

                                            1. Not very many good options compared to So Cal but I like Picoso on Shattuck in Berkeley for both the fish and shrimp. Their tortillas are awesome.

                                              1511 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                              1. If you are coming from out of town please go to the Ferry Building!!!!

                                                Then head over to Mijita over by the ferry platform and get their very very good fish tacos. Also get the meatball soup and a mexican coca cola made with real sugar cane. Perfect lunch.

                                                1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                Ferry Building
                                                One Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Johnny E

                                                  I don't think the Mijita fish tacos have fruit. Do you know if they offer that as an option?

                                                  Ferry Bldg Bldg, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                                2. As a few people mentioned... Half Moon Bay (a ltitle bit of a drive, but a beautiful one) has THE BEST fish tacos at Flying Fish grill.
                                                  Yum Yum Yum - mahi mahi with mango salsa. Never had a bad one. Cheap and delicious!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: missmacc

                                                    I had lunch over Labor Day at Flying Fish. The fish and chips were excellent, crisp, not greasy and reasonably priced (3 pieces $8 bucks). The menu says they use tempura batter and rice bran oil to fry. Best I've had in a long, long time.

                                                    Friends had the fish tacos and it looked like the same fish or at least fried the same way. I didn't sample (didn't ask about the cabbage or sauce) any but the fish was excellent.