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Fish Tacos - SF Dish of the Month March 2014

Fish Tacos are the March 2014 Dish of The Month!

Now is your chance your try fish tacos you've not eaten before and report back on them.

Here is a link to this month's vote:

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  1. FISH TACOS is a great choice. Good luck with March's DOTM!

    1. Does anyone have suggestions of places to try out, that serve grilled fish tacos? (SF or E.Bay)

      8 Replies
      1. re: escargot3

        La Mission Taqueria on University in Berkeley does a good grilled fish taco (and great Baja-style fried fish tacos). Juan's also has them, but they aren't particularly good--hard shell only, not much flavor.

        1. re: escargot3

          Taco Truck Sinaloa in Oakland, at International and 22nd is very good for a $1.50 taco. That's my go to place in Oakland for grilled.

          Still haven't found Baja tacos in NorCal that are as good as LA/SoCal.

          1. re: ML8000

            Yesterday went to a Taco Truck Sinaloa parked in a lot on the south side of International Blvd (229 or 299, sorry I'm unsure) between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Same $1.50 pricing. Woman said they close at 2 or 3 a.m. Couple of picnic tables to sit and enjoy tacos in the shade.

            Within a short walk of my new residence -- yay!

            1. re: Stephanie Wong

              Wow there's Sinaloa truck there? Thanks good to know.

              BTW, you're also near the Mi Rancho Taco Truck on 1st Ave, International/Lakeshore. I haven't tried everything but the Al Pastor and Barbacoa are very good. High turn-over (and lines) so it's usually very fresh.

              1. re: ML8000

                I've only tried that Mi Rancho Taco Truck once -- convenient as one can call in an order. I don't recall what tacos I ordered, but it wasn't a fish taco, and certainly wasn't very memorable. Just haven't had much motivation to return -- seemed pricey for what I got. Will give Mi Rancho another try sometime, but I'm much more motivated to walk a bit further to Sinaloa's orange truck!

                1. re: Stephanie Wong

                  I guess I should have mentioned the tacos there are only okay...but the burritos are good, at least in my opinion.

                  Actually I rode by there daily for a couple of years and never stopped. Then I got a taco (just one) and thought it was only okay...then I got a burrito. I don't think $5 is too much for burrito (no crema, queso, guac). Any way, since you Sinoaloa's right there, not an issue. I do like the torta from Sinaloa (minus the crema and queso).

                  1. re: ML8000

                    Thanks for the validation on Mi Rancho & the tip on Sinoaloa. Has anyone ever tried their tripitas?

          2. re: escargot3

            La Corneta in SF on Mission or in Glen Park on Diamond has grilled salmon and grilled tilapia fish tacos. I think that the standard default fish is salmon (only once have they asked if I would like tilapia, but I declined and stuck with the salmon). The grilled salmon is very good and I highly recommend it in anything (burritos, salads, enchiladas or tacos). Personally, I prefer the Glen Park location.

          3. Very good fish tacos, as would be expected, at El Molino Central in Sonoma. There was more fish than is apparent in this photo.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

              Another great Ruthven photo. Thanks for sharing it!

              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                I had them last Saturday. Beautifully fried rock fish. Cabbage slaw, Great guacamole on top with cabbage.

              2. Comal's grilled fish tacos are amazing. The tortillas are freshly made and they include a curtido-like slaw that really makes the dish. Worth a BART ride.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I had the grilled rock cod(I think) tacos at Comal on Saturday night. The curtido slaw was very good with some red peppers in it. The tacos came with pickled jalapenos and carrots which added to it.

                2. I like the fried fish tacos at Dos Pinas in SF. Delicious, not greasy, and huge.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mugsysf

                    How is the rest of the food at Dos Pinas?

                    1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                      I've only had the fish tacos. After eating those, I never wanted to try anything else.

                  2. I like the beer battered tilapia taco at Garaje in SOMA. They also have a pretty good seared ahi tuna taco.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Mr_Happy

                      Many of us CHOW staffers love Garaje, and a group of us are probably going to head over there this week for fish tacos. We'll report back!

                      1. re: DeborahL

                        Five of us went to Garaje today. Three people ordered fish tacos, one had vegetarian tacos, and one had the double cheeseburger. Someone also tried the “surf and turf” taco (El Camino).

                        We had three kinds of fish tacos: the Plancha Grilled Mojo Fish + Guac (sustainable tilapia, cabbage, cilantro, lime mayo; $5), the Seared Wild Ahi + Avo (chimichurri, chipotle mayo, cabbage, pico de gallo, corn tortillas; $6), and the Ale-Battered Farmed Tilapia (cabbage, chipotle mayo, flour tortilla; $5). Consensus was that the beer-battered fish was the best. It was also the simplest, just a *hefty* serving of deep-fried fish (the size you’d find in fish and chips rather than in a taco) on top of a nicely spicy chipotle mayo and some cabbage. The chimichurri on the seared tuna taco was very good, but the tuna itself was (for me) disappointing--tough and fairly tasteless. The grilled tilapia was pretty good, and the avocado on top was delicious. However we agreed that all of the fish tacos were on the bland side and really needed spritzing up with the lime wedges provided--even could’ve used extra lime (only one wedge per taco was served)--and for my money, using real coleslaw instead of plain tasteless cabbage would be a big help. The tortillas were lovely though, whether corn or flour.

                        As for the Street Style veg tacos (grilled corn tortillas, onions, cilantro, salsa; $3 each), they looked great--in addition to the listed ingredients it looked like they contained beans and corn--and the person who ordered them seemed happy, though he commented that they were more like a snack than a meal. (Note that options for vegetarians are extremely limited at Garaje. The vegetarian in our group would’ve appreciated a tofu/tempeh/fake meat option among the tacos.) The El Camino taco (skirt steak asada, plancha Gulf prawns, Jack cheese, roasted salsa, guacamole, corn tortillas; $6) earned a meh. But the double cheeseburger (1/3-pound hand-formed Marin Sun Farms grass-fed chuck, double American cheese, grilled onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato, Thousand Island, Acme bun; $9) elicited oohs and ahs from the table, even this pescatarian. The person who ordered it said it was good but that it had a bit too much char on the meat for his taste.

                        We all agreed that the portions were exceptional for the price, and friends/coworkers tell me the beer selection is good. (I don’t drink so can’t say.) Service is fast and friendly.

                        Note that Garaje is CASH ONLY.

                        Garaje Mexican Restaurant
                        475 Third Street near Bryant, SF

                        Order of photos: grilled tilapia, seared tuna, beer-battered tilapia, vegetarian, El Camino skirt steak and prawns

                        1. re: DeborahL

                          Very accurate review DeborahL! The Ale Battered Farmed Tilapia Tacos were certainly the best, but I would have liked more seasoning and balance to the dish -- perhaps a zestier (or spicier) mayo and a tangier coleslaw vs. the plain shredded cabbage garnish.

                          El Camino taco was bland, but I have to say, I'm going to have to try the Crazy Dave's Double burger next time. It looked like the perfect meat to bun to condiment ratio.

                          I'll definitely give Garaje another try -- especially if it means sampling a beer or two from their extensive tap and bottle list!

                          1. re: CACulinary

                            thanks for all the info- a group of us will be doing a crawl this week!

                    2. Cholita Linda's new restaurant on Telegraph—my first time trying their Baja fish taco, which had such large pieces of fish it made it impossible to eat as a taco. Delicious, fresh, crispy, hot fillets of fish. The chipotle salsa had a creaminess that together with the crema on top made for a very rich tasting taco. It was delicious but I like having a salsa verde on fish, esp if fried.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Armoise

                        I had a very good Baja-style fish taco at the Jack London Square Market a few years ago by Cholita Linda. They were talking about a bricks and mortar -- same folks, do you think?

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Thanks, Melanie -- will have to check it out since the one I enjoyed was (eep) five years ago now, according to a post in that thread. I'm glad they finally got settled somewhere as that was a long time in the planning.

                        1. re: Armoise

                          Do you know the name of the restaurant, Armoise?

                          This was the person who used to run the pop-up in Jack London Square, right? I never made it to her weekend food stall but I'm glad to learn that she now has a permanent place. I'd love to know the name if you can think of it.


                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              Can't speak for the fish tacos (don't eat fish), but the carnitas was great and the pollo pastor was very good. I felt it was a bit expensive for tacos ($3.50 per) - I needed 5. That and my agua fresca came in a mason jar half full. If they are only going to put that much in there, downsize your glasses. There is something wrong about receiving a half glass of anything. Sure it was half full, but still.

                          1. re: Armoise

                            I happen to love Cholita Linda's fish tacos-- the fish is so fresh and and moist, and the chile crema sauce gives it a perfect kick. Thankfully, its not too much cabbage, either. I could eat them every day; it's far and away my favorite fish taco in the east bay-- in Marin I like The Taco Guys Truck and in the city I like the fish tacos Nick's Way at The Taco Shop at Underdogs. I think the carnitas at Cholita Linda is delicious too., and my husband raved about the chicken. It's funny how the decor is SO similar to Sol Food in San Rafael down to the numbers that you take to your seat- are the businesses connected in any way?

                            1. re: Armoise

                              I finally braved the long line at the downtown farmers market yesterday for the fish tacos. They were worth the wait and definitely the best fish tacos I have had. Better than El Molino's and better than Cosecha's and Nick's Crispy Tacos.

                              I had started to shy away from ordering fish tacos a few years ago because most versions were either bland or soggy (if fried). CL's version was neither. They had plenty of the flavorful red sauce and the batter was crunchy enough to stand up to the sauce, even after the tacos endured the 5 minute walk back to my office under foil. In fact, I am glad the batter had some time to soak in the red sauce.

                              1. re: felice

                                I find Nick's to be terribly bland, Underdogs the same, and Tacko only slightly better but way overpriced for what you get.

                                I only ever get fish tacos from Sinaloa in Oakland, but that's no great shakes either.

                            2. I LOVE fish Tacos. Still remember grilled fish tacos I had from a vendor on the beach in Baja over 20 years ago. I tend to prefer grilled fish tacos over fried because when the quality of the fish is good it gets showcased more in grilled tacos.

                              During the summer we make our own version of fish tacos using fresh salmon or halibut with a spice rub of cumin, coriander, cayenne and black pepper. We grill the fish and serve it in corn tortillas with some sliced avocado, tomatoes, onion and sour cream.

                              The past week I tried fish Tacos at two different restaurants:

                              On Saturday we were in the Marina and I spotted Pacific catch on Chestnut which seemed like a good place to try fish tacos. First time trying this place. I was skeptical since it is a chain. But the fish tacos were very good. We tried the Traditional Baja (made with fried cod) and grilled mahi tacos. Both were excellent but I preferred the grilled because the mahi was very moist and fresh.

                              Husband works in Napa so he occasionally stops at Gotts roadside near Oxbow (there is also one in the Ferry building in SF) to pick us up mahi grilled tacos for dinner. These are also excellent and the quality of the fish they use is very high. These tacos are heavy on the cabbage, which I remove some of to be able to appreciate the fish more. We regularly get tacos from here and while they are usually very good, there can be slightly inconsistent interns of cooking. Sometimes they are spot on, once they were undercooked and sometimes they are overcooked. This last time they were good but the fish was slightly overcooked and drier than usual. We have had better ones from Gotts in the past.

                              Look forward to trying more fish tacos.

                              1. I've been to Sinaloa in Oakland and while they're decent for the price, they aren't anything special; especially compared to what you get in Southern California. I've also been to Tacko (horrible name!) several times and find them overpriced and mediocre. I remember reading about a woman who was running a weekend pop-up in Jack London Square who was doing authentic Baja style fish tacos... does anyone know if she's still around or have any similar recommendations? I'd be willing to drive for great fish tacos...

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: OliverB

                                  I don't know about a pop-up per se but that's an apt description of La Cholita Linda at the Sunday JLS Farmers' Market, mentioned upthread in connection with their new brick-and-mortar, which is now open.

                                  1. re: Pius Avocado III

                                    Thanks, their brick-and-mortar is the one on Telegraph- also called Cholita Linda?

                                    If so, I look forward to trying it out!

                                2. I had a happy hour fried fish taco at Tropisueno yesterday. A nice amount of fish, not too much slaw, some spicy mayo. The tortillas could have been better. They're medium thickness, without much flavor. I preferred the ceviche.

                                  1. I went to Baja Taqueria on Piedmont Ave. last Friday and got two fish tacos. The batter on the fish was really crunchy, almost like breading, and the pieces of fish were small so I couldn't taste any fish inside-- it was just crunchy. Coupled with a bit too much cabbage, brightly colored but flavorless salsa fresca, and a little crema, as well as a thinly sliced radish or two on two fresh corn tortillas, I actually found the whole thing bland and flavorless. It wasn't bad- just sort of more about the texture than flavor. I won't go back again, especially with Cholita Linda so close by.

                                    1. Woodhouse Fish C. does really nice version. 3 for $15 with plently of lightly battered cod. Was at the Filmore location this weekend split the tacos and a great simple Dugeness crab roll and a grilled squid over salad. All fresh and clean flavours.

                                      1. I tried a bunch of places in Berkeley over the past week. Unfortunately, I wouldn't recommend them, and I'm beginning to wonder whether I like fish tacos at all. The fried versions all had thick batter coating, and various levels of greasiness.

                                        Taqueria La Famila (Shattuck at Ashby). The greasiest of the three, decent amount of fish.

                                        La Mission (University Ave). A little less greasy on the fried version, good flavor but nothing special. I had hopes for the grilled version, but the fish was tough and stringy.

                                        Picante (Sixth at Gilman). The least greasy, but also the smallest amount of fish. A couple of dollars more expensive.

                                        I don't think any of them were any better than the ones at Rubios, the chain in El Cerrito Plaza. I guess I should go back to Comal to try theirs.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: ernie in berkeley

                                          I love Picante but I hate their fish tacos. The thing I remember about them was as you mentioned a small amount of fish. And the breading was thick. The overall taste was not satisfying. I haven't had them in a long time and was going to retry them again for DOTM in hopes that they have gotten better. But reading your post I may skip them.

                                          1. re: Ridge

                                            I've found them quite bland in the past, but I'm curious to see what you think.

                                          2. re: ernie in berkeley

                                            I haven't been to La Mission for Baja fish tacos but I agree with the other assessments...and that they're not better than Rubio's. Sadly I don't think Cholita Linda is better than Rubio's either but they have their fans.

                                            Like many fried items, it's best freshly fried or it will suffer. Also the tortilla, cabbage and dressing/sauce has to be right as well. I thought the sauce at Picante was just weird and awful.

                                            1. re: ML8000

                                              Uh oh, no better than Rubio's? Really??

                                              There goes all hope for me of finding real baja fish tacos in the Bay Area. Darn, I guess I can scratch it off my list...

                                              1. re: OliverB

                                                IMO the price of doing real fish tacos in the Bay Area would be far beyond what the market would bear -- I think it would end up costing over $6 per taco, sometimes well over that, depending on the season. Additionally, I think frying fish in lard wouldn't fly here and they don't taste right in canola (or other vegetable) oil. Plus, serving shark, which I think is the most characteristic taco fish in Ensenada, is difficult. Even sustainably caught small sharks from robust fisheries tend to generate negative energy in California, a la Patagonian Toothfish/Chilean Sea Bass.

                                                Personally, I've come to just enjoy that fish tacos are a Baja thing that don't translate to other places. It's nice that there are still some things like that.

                                                1. re: jayporter

                                                  I don't really eat fish - not allergic, just hate the "fishy" taste, but when I was in Alaska last summer, I had some really good halibut tacos, and they weren't fishy at all. Anybody local do something similar (or have a non-fishy-fish taco)?

                                                  1. re: mdpilam

                                                    Very fresh fish does not taste "fishy" which is probably why you enjoyed the local Alaskan halibut. That is more difficult to find from small street vendors in the Bay Area, as mentioned above. It's kind of funny that I can get better fish tacos in Florida than I can in San Francisco, which is a heck of a lot closer logistically and culturally to the cuisine South of the border down Mexico way, to quote Gene Autry. It's because the catch is cheaper and more readily available, which also makes it a lot fresher and tastier.

                                                    1. re: mdpilam

                                                      Sabrosa in San Francisco changes up the fish it uses each day depending on what's freshest in the market. The day I tried the taco de pescado, the catch of the day was black cod (sable fish) and it was not "fishy" in the least. I was told other days it might be mahi mahi, rock cod, etc. Here's my post,

                                            2. I had some fish tacos at Liberty Cafe (Bernal Heights) on Saturday. They were quite good. They use flounder...that's unusual isn't it?

                                              From their menu: "Cilantro-Crusted Fish Tacos --
                                              Fresh wild flounder, avocado mayo, jicama slaw, ranchero salsa, black beans" $15

                                              1. Got a fish taco yesterday at Calafia in Alameda. It looked very good, with a nice tortilla, but I found it rather flavorless. I took half the cabbage off but still had to doctor it up quite a bit with hot sauce.

                                                1. Here's my picture of the seared ahi taco at Garaje in SOMA. DeborahL describes it pretty well--sauces were good, fish was only OK. Adding the lime helped boost the flavor.

                                                  This taco was prettier than the fried fish taco, but the fried one tasted better.

                                                  1. I just tried some Baja style fried fish tacos at Primavera Mexican food at the Saturday farmers market at the Ferry building. They were very good. The batter was perfectly crisp and the fish inside was moist and flavorful. Lots of cabbage and a good spicy sauce on top. I would get these again.

                                                    1. Stopped into Tropisueno in SF for lunch today (located in Yerba Buena Lane, next to the Four Seasons Hotel). I ordered the Baja Fish Taco ($3.95). Based on the quality of the other tacos I've had here (mostly meh), this was surprisingly better than I expected. Still not great, however.

                                                      Details: the fish was tilapia and it was a nice sized filet, and was perfectly fried. Not greasy, nice batter to fish ratio. Unfortunately, the batter itself was bland and the fish should have been salted as it came out of the frier. This meant the entire dish ended up being bland. Two corn tortillas, and the slaw was shredded purple cabbage and a little bit of carrot. There was just a tiny amount of crema and it was bland. And the tomatillo salsa that comes in the taco was also bland. Adding additional salsa and lime didn't help - a salt shaker might have. I really think the key to the fish taco is to have fresh corn tortillas, but not too fresh, so that they stay together, to cook the fish properly, to have the right fish/slaw/sauce ratio, and the crema/sauce component has to be over the top good. This didn't come close.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: farmersdaughter

                                                        I had lunch at Tropisueno today, too, but did not order the fish taco. I had it once a couple of years ago and I also found it bland.

                                                      2. I had a very good fish taco at Picante in San Rafael today. Picante has been there for many years, is usually quite good, and serves a very diverse clientele. The fish taco had largish pieces of grilled tilapia, large enough that it was mostly impossible to eat it as a normal taco; I resorted to knife and fork. The fish was moist and flavorful, the tortillas moist with good flavor. I'm not experienced with fish tacos but I definitely liked this one. On the small side, about $2.


                                                        Picante Taqueria
                                                        340 Bellam Blvd
                                                        San Rafael, CA 94901

                                                        1. Yesterday I dropped by El Farolito in Windsor (northern Sonoma County) to try the fish tacos. My first time here, I used to go to the original branch near Healdsburg's plaza. The Windsor location has a patio and a drive-through window though I chose to take a table inside.

                                                          The fish tacos are made with fresh rock fish (the waiter said red snapper but it tasted like rock fish to me) that's seasoned and grilled. Dressed nicely with finely shredded red and green cabbage, lacy chiffonade of cilantro, and pico de gallo and a drizzle of chipotle aioli. This tasted fine other than there being too little fish. The very thin double-ply tortillas were not sweated and seemed rather dry and papery. Sold two to an order with so-so Mexican rice and some black beans sprinkled with cheese for $12.95, the price seems too high to me for the very average quality and quantity.

                                                          El Farolito also has ahi tuna tacos on the in-house menu.


                                                          1. Has anyone been to Taqueria San Bruno in the industrial section of San Mateo Ave? It is directly across the street from Sky Park. I have never even heard of this place until a co-worker told me

                                                            Their Shrimp Taco was really excellent and judging from the food I saw on the tables really makes me want to go back.

                                                            1. The Codmother, San Francisco

                                                              The fresh Alaskan cod fried in a light batter and dressed with the signature chile-spiked Baja sauce makes for a terrific fish taco. More details here,

                                                              1. Uno Dos Taco, San Francisco

                                                                As might be expected, the taco shop backed by the folks who own Pesce knows how to cook a piece of fish. But what's really commendable is how good their corn tortillas are, made from fresh masa daily. They have a toasted corn character to them. More details here,

                                                                1. I finally tried the fish tacos at Talavera on Solano. I usually get the mole burrito to go, but sitting outside today by the mini-park was pleasant.

                                                                  They offer grilled and Baja-style, two per order. My friend and I got both and shared. The flavor of the grilled fish is really nice. The fish is diced small and served with raw tomato and fajita-ish grilled red and green bell peppers and onions. It all tastes pretty good, but the taco are over-filled and the flimsy tortillas fell apart.

                                                                  The fried fish wasn't as flavorful, but wasn't greasy, either. With cabbage and crema. Easier to eat.

                                                                  These are rather expensive tacos, but not bad. The house white was a generous pour. I noticed that the tacos came with lemon wedges, instead of lime. Is that becoming common because of the shortage? It's really not the same.