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Dec 21, 2009 09:52 PM

Fish Tacos in San Diego?

I'm living in KC right now and I'm going to be in San Diego on the 29th, 30th, and 31st. I really love authentic Mexican food, but I probably haven't seen anything like I will when I go to California for the first time here in about a week. I will be road-tripping, so I will be going through Albuquerque and Pheonix and that area.
If you have any great suggestions for places I HAVE to stop, let me know.
I'm looking for something you might see on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, or something that I might get from a local vendor. Maybe even a local chain. Nothing too pricy, but something that I will be able to tell stories about forever. If there is some 7 pound burrito or the most amazing fish tacos or the hottest salsa in the world or something like that?.?? That is what I'm looking for.
Andrew in Kansas

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  1. El Indio Mexican restaurant was featured on DDD.
    Their claim to fame is they invented the taquito.

    3 Replies
    1. re: monku

      Why the hell would you send anyone to El Indio? That place is the worst!

      1. re: Josh

        OP asked for something DDD like.
        I've been there for breakfast several times and liked it and their tortilla chips are great.
        You have something against a Mexican place run by gringos?

        1. re: monku

          Haven't had breakfast there, maybe that's something they do OK. Their regular food is the pits.

    2. Also featured on DDD was Hodad's for burgers in Ocean Beach.

      5 Replies
      1. re: monku

        Guy Fieri is a smart man, and a friend to foodies everywhere. What he does is hype places that are mediocre, distracting the hordes and diverting them to keep the crowds down at good spots.

        So, by all means eat at Hodad's if you want a totally ordinary burger that has extra-large slices of tomato on it. :P

        1. re: Josh

          "Guy Fieri is a smart man, and a friend to foodies everywhere" - Are you already drinking in the morning ;)

          1. re: honkman

            Read the rest of the post. :-)

          2. re: Josh

            Yah, he also did a DDD, a few years ago, on Ramona Cafe, what a loser. Then there was Rachael Ray doing a stint on Big Kitchen. For fish tacos, I'll hit one of the Marisco's trucks.

            1. re: cstr

              Food Network is indiscriminate. They just want stuff that makes for good TV. I remember one spot DDD did, they started their tomato sauce by frying industrial garlic powder in vegetable oil.

        2. Blue Water Grill was on DDD and has excellent fish in all forms including tacos.

          3 Replies
          1. re: eatemup

            Blue Water is right next door to El Indio and I would strongly suggest it (Great Seafood). You can order fish taco's in a variety of "flavors". One note, they only serve seafood, so I would expect to go with someone who doesn't like fish...however they can walk next door and pick up some "rolled Taco's" from El Indio. Hodad's is an ecclectic burger joint with great burgers (Guy Fieri claims it as one of the two best burger joints in the country).
            If you're looking for something can try the Waterfront. Good burgers from what I'm told and it is supposedly the oldest active bar is San Diego. Another S.D. joint which I have not been to (but was on Triple D) is a pizza place called Luigi's. not sure if anyone has feedback on if it's worth it to go.

            A few other places to look at (I'd recommened searching post here to see if they are what you are looking for)...Corvette Diner, Hash House a go-go, Casa De Pico (or Casa Guadalajara in Old Town), and Sab-E-lee.

            1. re: csils

              "Guy Fieri claims it as one of the two best burger joints in the country" - Normally a clear sign to avoid a place.

              1. re: csils

                Luigi's is very poor pizza. Cheap ingredients, meh.

                Pizzeria Bruno Napoletana on Park is the best in town, easily.

            2. Wow, apart from Blue Water this thread has some really bad recommendations, IMHO. Especially given what this guy is asking for. He's not saying places that have literally been on DDD, necessarily, he means that kind of place. The only story you'd tell someone forever about El Indio is that you can't believe people wait in line to eat there.

              My advice: ignore Hodad's and El Indio. The things you want to get that fit the mold of what you're asking for:

              Super Cocina - Hole-in-the-wall authentic homestyle Mexican food. They only hire home cooks from all over Mexico. More than 100 rotating menu items, with about 14 every day. They let you sample before you order. Truly unique place to San Diego, and great food.

              Mariscos German Taco Truck - Down the street from Super Cocina. Fish tacos like you'd find in Baja, plus all kinds of Mexican seafood specialties. Try the tostada mixta - ceviche made from fish, octopus, and shrimp. The marlin taco is also good - smoked marlin cooked with vegetables and seasoning. They have a delicious, very spicy, fresh habanero salsa.

              Aqui Es Texcoco - Mexican lamb, prepared in a variety of ways. Great homemade salsas and horchata. Try the cabeza, which includes brains and eyeballs.

              Ba Ren Szechuan Restaurant - Spicy, authentic Szechuan chinese food. Try the cold appetizers, dry-cooked lamb.

              Izakaya Sakura - Japanese small plates. Very authentic, crowd is mainly Japanese. Most anything is good here.

              Do you like beer? If so, then we have a number of places with really great beer selections. Hamilton's Tavern, Small Bar, Toronado, and Blind Lady Ale House are all worth checking out.

              14 Replies
              1. re: Josh

                With all due respect Josh (and I usually do dig most of your comments), I think you've misread the stated interests of the OP. Since this site is about getting people to the good chow but also about answering people's questions, this thread is obviously a catch-22 machine. I think your recommendations are not in line with the desires DDD crowd. Dude wants to pull off the road and gorge on 7lb burritos and The Admiral's Platter and stuff. And I agree with your opinion of Signor Fieri: keepin' it clear for the rest of us.

                And what's with the change of heart about Luigi? You used to love the artichoke slice...Your trip to Italy must have scrambled the Italo-American appreciating portion of your brain. I like Bruno AND Luigi, but don't even consider their food to be in the same family of cuisine.

                But, I continue to disagree with your opinion of El Indio as I've mentioned before: one of the better places for ranchero Mexican breakfast in SD if you order with care. Sure, there are some real boners on the menu, but I reiterate that a large percentage of their clientele is indeed Spanish-speaking, and they do grind their own corn. I'll leave it at that. I don't appreciate when people make casual racial descriptions of a clientele- i.e. gringos only or whatever. Gringos have tastebuds (yes, I know, for yellow cheese sauce, but then I've seen many a European chowing down on some pretty heinous things, even by American standards) too.

                As a neighbor and a fan of Blue Water- the only thing on the menu that I do not recommend is their fish taco- aside from the fish, which is always great, they destroy their tortillas by grilling the shit out of them and there is no "cohesiveness" to this particular taco, y'know? Mariscos German it is.


                1. re: SaltyRaisins

                  Change of heart about Luigi is because when I ate there after returning from Italy I was revulsed by the tinny, aggressively over-spiced tomato sauce and the obviously cheap toppings. I liked Luigi before knowing any better, simple as that.

                  I concede that El Indio may have good breakfast, that's not a meal I have eaten there. When they demonstrate their chile relleno on TV by using canned Ortega chile and a block of yellow processed cheese, that doesn't speak well
                  of their commitment to authenticity. More to the point, if someone is visiting for a limited time, then why not go to one of our best places?

                  I don't read the OPs request quite the way other have - I take it to mean that they want hole-in-the-wall places, which is ostensibly the motivation behind Fieri's show
                  in the first place.

                  1. re: Josh

                    Hear you on all points. Canned chile on yaller wedge is an abomination indeed. I stick to an occasional breakfast burrito early in the morning when the tortillas are still warm or a once annual huevo ranchero plate. Very good. I also have a fondness for their tamales- the same kind a family member used to haul from her inlaw's kitchen to our New Year buffet, even down to the black olive. Neither authentic nor inauthentic- just good.

                    You're right about steering people to the best on their short visits, but I've come to realize that just as you and I appreciate the finer nuances comida casera, there are twenty others who just want the aural fiesta of a "sizzling" fajita platter. I'm such a snob, but I bet Fieri would love Super Cocina- and I bet it would make better TV than his trip to Hob Nob Hill.

                    Fajitas, if allowed to reassume their original format, could be great: the faja, or diaphragm of the cow, used to be left over after butchering, and Texas cowboys on both sides of the border would cook them up on a piece of hot metal and eat them with tortillas and salsa. Not sure how the bell pepper became involved- I think it had something to do with the Texas state fair.


                  2. re: SaltyRaisins

                    Also, I am not surprised El Indio grinds corn since they make tortillas and chips. If the OP likes authentic Mexican food, there are numerous places in town to get it that are far better.

                    I do agree about Blue Water fish tacos. The tortilla is bad.

                  3. re: Josh

                    Don't forget Mama Testa, which beat Bobby Flav in his throwdown. Relatively inexpensive (under $10).

                    1. re: Green_Turtle

                      Mama Testa is definitely a must-try for fish tacos. They're not exactly traditionally made, but they're super nummy.

                      Mama Testa
                      1417 University Ave Ste A, San Diego, CA 92103

                    2. re: Josh

                      Josh, you forgot to add Okan for homestyle Japanese.

                      I've been numbing my mouth all week on Ba Ren's spicy fried lamb ribs....yum!!

                      1. re: daantaat

                        Actually haven't been to Okan. Need to go.

                        1. re: Josh

                          You need to. I think you'll enjoy it!

                      2. re: Josh

                        Great list.

                        You should be the host of that show instead of that guy with the bleached blonde hair and backwards sunglasses.

                        Side note:

                        Blue Water kind of sucked that last two times I have been.

                        Place is vastly overrated.

                        1. re: stevewag23

                          The quality of the food at Blue Water seems to be dictated largely by whether you are a) ordering off of the blackboard or not, and b) avoiding the heavier marinades. The standard menu stuff is totally average. The special fresh items on the blackboard are usually (though not always) much better.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Yeah, I agree.

                            I think their salads, rice they serve and chowders are all way under par.

                            Nothing special, like something you would get at a fish house in the mid west.

                            Nothing really seems to be that outstanding either.

                            But I am open to suggestions, I really want to like the place.

                            1. re: stevewag23

                              Just get the fish, take it home and prepare it there. I've never purchased a bad piece of fish from their fish market...including the mahi we just had for dinner tonight (Veracruzana style)

                              1. re: DiningDiva

                                I think you are right.

                                The fish is quality, its just there cooking is so bland.


                      3. For Baja style fish tacos try the following locations:

                        The Brigantine (various locations) -- Americanized but very good. Available only in the bar;
                        Don Chuey (Solana Beach) -- a bit on the heavy side, but very good;
                        Mama Testa (Hillcrest) -- his fish tacos beat Bobby Flay on his silly FN show;
                        Mariscos German (various locations) -- Mazatlan style. Locations area bit off the beaten path;
                        Rubio's (various locations) -- closest to true Baja style, but quality is wildly inconsisent.between locations.

                        For non-fried fish tacos try Blue Water Grille (India St.), The Brigantine; and South Beach Bar and Grille (Ocean Beach).

                        For great Mexican food that you could never get in Kansas, try Super Cocina (University Ave) and Las Quatros Milpas (Barrio Logan)

                        All these suggestions can be located through Google/Yahoo and Yelp.