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The ‘Perfect’ Fish Taco and Where I’ve Found It

opinionatedchef Oct 29, 2012 02:12 PM

Probably because I’m late to the game/ a recent convert (4 yrs maybe; before that i thought ‘ugh’...NOT!) I’m wicked demanding of my makes-me-happy-fish taco.
Some of you have read my related posts, but there are many new CHs around, incl. visitors,
and I wanted to share with them. And since i just finished a wonderful lunch of same, I thought
I’d finally try to codify my experience.

These are my requirements for a great fish taco:
- Haddock or Cod or Skate but NOT flavorless/off-tasting Tilapia;
a good size piece (1 1/2-2 ou. is great)
--Fish lightly Battered and lightly Fried, not in a heavy cornmeal crust that masks the delicate flavor and silky texture of the fish. and not grilled naked. and not dry/overfried.
-- Corn tortilla, single for proper flavor balance- but i’m happy to remove one if i’m given two.
-- Chipotle mayo or chipotle sour cream (not tartar sauce of any version)
-- Lime wedges
-- Cilantro

Shredded cabbage is fine but not required. Same with crema, avocado or guac.

So, I’ve codified the model, now where do I find it?
Well, so far, in just one place>> La Verdad Taqueria (the cafe/takeout part w/ 2 tables; not the restnt-which seems to have garnered a number of unhappy CH posts in the past.) And what else have I found as meal addendum?>> The refried beans, quac, corn w/ queso fresca . And the carne asada, pork belly or chiles rellenos- tacos and tortas . But i don’t recommend the other fillings myself. Ymmv of course. (p.s. Whenever we go there, we go at off hours so we can easily street park.)

I would love, of course, to find my ideal fish tacos in more places. Have you seen them elsewhere? I feel like i’ve tried so many other, lesser, versions- El Pelon, East Coast Grill, Dorita.... I do keep trying them all over New Eng.,but so far to no avail. As it is, when we eat at La Verdad, we always get some deconstructed fish tacos as take- out. The fish reheats really well in our toaster oven; i grill the tortillas over a cake rack over a lit burner on my gas stove; the toppings are all there, and voila, i’m in repeat heaven, w/o the drive from the hinterlands. :-}
I hope you have or will try them at La Verdad; and plse tell me if you've seen 'My pretty' s in other Boston/New Eng. restaurants! TIA.

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  1. Niblet RE: opinionatedchef Oct 29, 2012 03:54 PM

    The Precious may also be found at Barracuda Tavern.

    1. viperlush RE: opinionatedchef Oct 29, 2012 04:38 PM

      Haven't been in a while, but Green Street's is good. Serve both a grilled and fried. But their taco menu does change, so I can't guarantee that they will have it each Wednesday. Better than both El Pelon and East Coast Grill (though I have enjoyed their seared tuna tacos in the past).

      1. nsenada RE: opinionatedchef Oct 29, 2012 04:58 PM

        "Codified" - very good! I haven't had a lot experience with fish tacos, but I have had La Verdad's (thought they were great) and Pedro's, the new place in downtown crossing. Not sure I would travel a long way for either, but I think Pedro's meets your criteria, and I did think they were very good.

        1. a
          alsaman RE: opinionatedchef Jul 17, 2013 09:30 AM

          Hey Opinionatedchef, I know this is an old post but if you're still looking for that perfect fish taco, I think I have a great suggestion. There's a new place at 93 Revere Beach Boulevard called Sabroso's next to Sammy's Bar and Nick's Pizza. It's a take out only, window service joint that serves a mix of Mexican, Mediterranean (gyro's) and burgers/wings. They've been open only 6 weeks or so. I've had their chicken burrito which is decent and holds its own but the winner there is the fish taco. Don't let the odd mix of cuisines color your judgement. I've had their fish tacos twice now and I have to say it hits every one of your requirements. Fried haddock, lightly battered, two corn tortillas, spicy chipotle mayo, sprinkle of cilantro and lime wedge on the side. Comes with lightly pickled cabbage on top. Two tacos for 8 bucks. I just wolfed down two and am sorry I didn't get another one. My mouth still has that nice tingle from the chipotle mayo. I've included a pic of the taco and they have another picture of their taco (along with some of their food) on their Facebook page.

          1 Reply
          1. re: alsaman
            opinionatedchef RE: alsaman Jul 17, 2013 05:54 PM

            Way to go, alsaman! whenever this heatwave passes, i'll be screeching over there to check it out. Def. would NEVAH have known about it w/o your post, so Th you so very much!

          2. Small Plates RE: opinionatedchef Jul 17, 2013 09:36 AM

            Have you tried Atwood's $3 fried fish taco? I do love Verdad, but it is a little off the beaten path of my regular Camberville haunts. So the next best for me - or perhaps even *the* best - is Atwood's. I think you will like it. And as I say to my husband every time we go, "bet you can't eat just one!!" Try it.


            EDIT - oops, sorry - did not see this was an old post. My opinion still stands! :)

            5 Replies
            1. re: Small Plates
              maillard RE: Small Plates Jul 17, 2013 10:41 AM

              It is NEVER too late for sharing info on good fish tacos. Thanks for the tip!

              1. re: Small Plates
                opinionatedchef RE: Small Plates Jul 17, 2013 05:58 PM

                SP, i never knew anyth about this place (not a beer drinker) so i'd like to check out those fish tacos. would you plse advise on other exc menu items there? and what is the seating like- do they have banquettes or regular tables (not all high tops)? If we went early, do you think the noise level would be conversable?thx again!

                p.s. i just found this from you. any other recs there?:
                <... Atwoods Tavern, which has a very serviceable menu that is also very inexpensive. I love their fried fish tacos, mac and cheese, veggie burger, and roast chicken.>

                1. re: opinionatedchef
                  Small Plates RE: opinionatedchef Jul 19, 2013 09:27 AM

                  Hmmm - so, I still stand by those recs, and in fact - give another boost to the Mac and Cheese. They have changed their menu again, and I admit I have not been there in probably 3-4 months. Our favs (Ben, Liam) have long departed, and the service has dropped off - so we don't hit it up as often as we used to. We mostly tend toward the apps, and the grilled cheese and tomato soup is good as are the Mayflower (Poultry -- down the street) buffalo wings. I did not like the pork belly - it was lacking seasoning, and was just a blob of fat. I know that is hard to imagine pork belly every being bad, but it just didn't succeed in its prep. The Meditteranean Plate is good and the Sloppy Joe sliders are great. But I will say, the best bang for the buck and reason to go to Atwood's are the $3 tacos. (Well, that and the Dennis Brennan band :)

                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                    opinionatedchef RE: opinionatedchef Aug 27, 2013 05:24 PM

                    i called atwoods; they use hake and pollock.both of those are considerably less $ than haddock, which accounts for Atwoods' $3 v.s. la Verdad's $4 and smaller portions.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                      Small Plates RE: opinionatedchef Aug 28, 2013 07:19 AM

                      Hake is good - I've bought it at New Deal where I know Atwood's gets their fish, because we see Patrick (owner) in there all the time. :)

                2. ScubaSteve RE: opinionatedchef Jul 18, 2013 10:11 AM

                  I'm with you except for the fish. I find the fishes you mention, except the skate, too flaky and flavorless. I prefer Mahi Mahi or other firm flesh fish. And always too tortillas.

                  1. a
                    addiez RE: opinionatedchef Jul 18, 2013 12:04 PM

                    I'm a big fan of Dorado's fish tacos! Highly recommended. It sounds like they'd fit your requirements, too.


                    11 Replies
                    1. re: addiez
                      Allstonian RE: addiez Jul 18, 2013 01:01 PM

                      I personally like Dorado a lot, but opinionatedchef has rather emphatically not cared for their fish tacos (she refers to them in her original post above - under the name "Dorita" - as one of the "other, lesser versions.") She has said a number of times that the fish tacos she ate there were sauced with tartar sauce, which she dislikes, although I have not had that experience there myself.

                      1. re: Allstonian
                        StriperGuy RE: Allstonian Jul 18, 2013 01:19 PM

                        The two or three times I have eaten at Dorado were absolutely forgettable.

                      2. re: addiez
                        Spike RE: addiez Jul 18, 2013 07:12 PM

                        Ditto Meh. Can't taste the fish..

                        1. re: Spike
                          tatsu RE: Spike Jul 19, 2013 09:38 AM

                          I think Dorado's grilled fish tacos are the best fish tacos bar none. You want to taste the fish? Skip battered and deep-fried fish in your tacos.

                          1. re: tatsu
                            Spike RE: tatsu Jul 19, 2013 10:23 AM

                            On the other hand, the octopus taco they had was good.

                            Honestly didn't like the fried fish that much there...I've had it at Picco and thought that was better (lighter, more flavor, not fish that was a bit overcooked/dry, condiments that didn't overpower it a bit too much). And Picco isn't supposed to be that great... :-P

                            1. re: tatsu
                              StriperGuy RE: tatsu Jul 19, 2013 09:26 PM

                              Only a genuine baja style fish taco is fried.

                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                9lives RE: StriperGuy Jul 20, 2013 05:01 AM

                                The "original" Baja fish tacos were fried.

                                Over the last 15 years or so, grilled has become almost as common..usually dorado/mahi mahi...at least in Southern Baja.

                                1. re: 9lives
                                  opinionatedchef RE: 9lives Jul 20, 2013 10:58 PM

                                  nothing beats On Site Experience! thx, 9.

                                  i guess i can now add fish tacos to my list of preferences for "the old fashioned kind." :-}

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                                    9lives RE: opinionatedchef Jul 21, 2013 04:31 AM

                                    I wouldn't call 'fried" old fashioned; just traditional.

                                    Grilled came about because of health and calorie concerns and consumer demand.

                                    I personally think they both have their place but grilling generally requires a higher quality fish. Frying allows for the use of lesser grade fish.previously frozen, pre battered...A good fried gives you that nice texture contrast.

                                    OC, You might enjoy checking out the site for Rubio's..rubios.com. He is generally considered among the first to bring fish tacos to the US. from San Felipe. MX. and popularize them. He only served fried but now offers both.

                                    Dorado was mostly used because that was what was caught locally in Baja. Rubio's now uses an Alaskan pollock or cod . In New England, while dorado is available (not easily) cod or haddock makes for a good substitute.

                                    1. re: 9lives
                                      opinionatedchef RE: 9lives Jul 22, 2013 10:48 PM

                                      "I wouldn't call 'fried" old fashioned; just traditional."
                                      yes, i was just kind of joking/future tripping there.....

                                      i think el pelon uses pollock but its pretty impossible to taste anything under their thick clunky cornmeal crust. that said, can you blind-taste the diff between haddock, pollock and dorado?la Verdad uses haddock so i have become very familiar with its flavor but i feel unable to describe it except that it does have somewhat of a sharp 'ocean' flavor to me.

                                      (btw, a bit OT but i did think of you (all your fresh -caught sushi shots) when i saw Life of Pi!)

                                      i'll look up rubio's; thx for the education!

                                      1. re: 9lives
                                        Spike RE: 9lives Jul 24, 2013 11:12 AM

                                        I thought they used Dorada/mahi because it held together better when grilling? Can't imagine grilling cod/haddock...I'd think they'd fall apart, though it probably doesn't matter on a fish taco :-)

                          2. l
                            latertater RE: opinionatedchef Jul 18, 2013 12:33 PM

                            I really liked the fish tacos from the Baja Taco Truck. It was parked outside the Boston Public Library and it was a long line and a long wait - too long for a taco, but it attests to how good they are.

                            Here's the menu:

                            The truck can be found in Boston, Brookline and Waltham. If you are a Twitter user, it may be followed at @BajaTacoTruck

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: latertater
                              opinionatedchef RE: latertater Jul 20, 2013 01:09 AM

                              Do you know if their schedule is nearly the same week to week?Looks like they are on Mem Dr near Western ave on sundays. anyone know- Is that part closed to cars on sundays?the greenway could also work for us....... Thx much.

                            2. m
                              mkfisher RE: opinionatedchef Jul 18, 2013 01:24 PM

                              Have others tried the fish tacos at the Shuckin' Truck? The first time I went was fantastic. Second time was a watery mess. Haven't been back since.

                              1. Kip McSkipster RE: opinionatedchef Jul 19, 2013 06:38 AM

                                I'm a fan of both fried as well as grilled fish tacos. If you're willing to try the latter, I really like them as Los Amigos in West Roxbury. Two for $7, super fresh, great balance or flavors and textures, nice kick, larger than Dorado's (about the size of El Pelon's). Pretty much takeout only, just a little counter with four seats.

                                1. h
                                  hsiehdy RE: opinionatedchef Jul 19, 2013 09:58 AM

                                  My favorite fish tacos are from El Pelon, however, I wish they would put two tortillas per taco, as the single one just falls apart.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: hsiehdy
                                    maillard RE: hsiehdy Jul 19, 2013 10:02 AM

                                    Those are my favorites as well. You can get two tortillas if you ask. :)

                                    1. re: maillard
                                      hsiehdy RE: maillard Jul 19, 2013 10:55 AM

                                      Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure to do so next time! :D

                                  2. m
                                    mkfisher RE: opinionatedchef Jul 19, 2013 10:19 AM

                                    I just had the fish tacos from the Baja Taco Truck for the first time. The fish was lightly fried. They were really good, especially at $3.50 per taco. Much better than the Shuckin' Truck (which was parked right next to Baja) for a lot less money. Shuckin' is 1 for $7 and 2 for $11.

                                    1. croutonweb RE: opinionatedchef Jul 22, 2013 11:58 AM

                                      Myers and Chang have very good fresh fish tacos. I think they used hake the last time I was there.

                                      I've been trying for years to get my wife to eat seafood, and due to my pestering, she tried a bite of my fish taco there. She immediately got the waiter over for her own order.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: croutonweb
                                        opinionatedchef RE: croutonweb Jul 22, 2013 10:35 PM

                                        M+C? well, that's a surprise. I still have never tasted hake.if you closed your eyes ,would it tell you it was hake and not haddock?

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                                          croutonweb RE: opinionatedchef Jul 23, 2013 06:43 AM

                                          They are both flaky, white and mild-flavored. I love haddock and I don't think I could tell the difference.

                                      2. enhF94 RE: opinionatedchef Jul 22, 2013 05:00 PM

                                        No surprise, but the fish taco at Tamo (Seaport Hotel's bar) is woefully underseasoned, non-crunchy, crappy tortillas, and a with a ketchuppy sauce on the side. Skip it, even for research purposes.

                                        1. opinionatedchef RE: opinionatedchef Aug 24, 2013 08:47 PM

                                          Today we tried the fish tacos at Picco in the South End. V. good tortillas, larger than others and semi crispy; generous filling includes cabbage, avocado, black beans and some sauces.Their fish is cod and is floured and sauteed; generous size piece. Looked very appealing and colorful but I just did not get the flavor I do at la Verdad. Too many other flavors maybe, plus I found that I def prefer haddock to cod for these.

                                          Hoping to try Baja Taco Truck and Sabroso's in Revere but i would really like to know what fish they use and if they have a wood grill (for the carne asada, our other fav) before hauling out to them.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: opinionatedchef
                                            mcel215 RE: opinionatedchef Aug 25, 2013 04:18 AM


                                            I love, love, love fish tacos. I actually used to love the ones at Baja Fresh in Stoneham... lol! It was the only item I ever ordered there.

                                            My search continues, but I won't be driving into Boston and have been searching since. I will drive to Revere though, so thanks for the suggestion. :)


                                            1. re: mcel215
                                              opinionatedchef RE: mcel215 Aug 25, 2013 11:48 PM

                                              it was alsaman's suggestion(way above in this thread); we hope to get there this wk!

                                              1. re: mcel215
                                                kewpie RE: mcel215 Aug 31, 2013 09:37 AM

                                                Thanks for all the recc. About 1/2 way thru all of the suggested fish taco deliciousness .

                                                1. re: kewpie
                                                  enhF94 RE: kewpie Sep 18, 2013 04:56 PM

                                                  I'll be looking forward to a report if you're willing to keep some notes!

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