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One man's exhaustive search for the best fish taco in SD. .

My faves are Mariscos German and Bahia Don Bravo in La Jolla.

From HuffPo:


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  1. Thank you for this! About four years ago, I asked this same question here and you guided me to Bahia Don Bravo; it was nirvana. My second favorite (or maybe a tie?) was Kotija, we were staying right up the street on the water. I also got a breakfast burrito on the way to the airport as we were leaving and I am pretty sure everyone on the plane was jealous of us! Unfortunately we only had five days or so, looking forward to getting back and trying out a few of these others.

    1. That Huffpo article struck me as particularly absurd. isn't it silly to eliminate places that have locations outside of SD? The title should have been "The best fish taco you'll have to drive to San Diego to eat". And it has to be within a few blocks of the beach? What, does he think they're tossing the fish directly from the pier to the fryer? This silly criteria allows him to include taco stands from as far away as Carlsbad, but nothing from Old Town or the College area, which are located within the SD city limits.

      We can add irony to this decision when he eliminates Rubio's after retelling the legend of how RR brought the fish taco to SD. Yes, by all means, let's exclude what might be the original SD fish taco stand from our article about SD fish tacos.

      I'm not a big fan of fish tacos and don't argue with his results, just his methodology.

      11 Replies
      1. re: DuffyH

        I don't think his methodology is absurd at all.

        He polled friends and the internet and this is the top of what he came up with.
        As a native, I think he nailed most of the taco shops/resto's that we all talk about on this forum.

        I don't recall La Mesa being a mecca for the fish taco, except for the Brig on Fuerte in Mt. Helix area for their everyday happy hour fish tacos for $3+.

        I'm sure there are other places around the County that have great fish tacos but SD is one huge place.

        No offense Duffy but when you moved from SoCal to Florida, you lost all cred with me.
        ; )

        1. re: Beach Chick

          Yes, I'm impressed by the scope of his search. He hit most (all?) of the spots that people commonly refer to as "the best place in San Diego to get a fish taco". What a great resource for people who would inquire the same of this board.

          1. re: Beach Chick

            Your buddy Sledge isn't going to be happy...he totally missed the taco truck in the Toys R Us parking lot

            1. re: DiningDiva

              I'm sure that is near the top of his list if/when he returns.

              I find it interesting that he seems to agree with many of the Chowhounders, especially with respect to South Beach Bar & Grill. I'm sort of surprised to see Puesto with a 4-fish rating, though - that's one I've never given a fair chance because I thought they seemed like they were aiming more at the vibe than the food. I'll give it a chance.

              Too bad Bahia is such a far drive from me. I guess I could make a late afternoon run when going to pick up my daughter at camp (she's in PB these days).

              1. re: RB Hound

                I can't speak to the LJ Puesto, but the fish tacos at the OPHQ Puesto were pretty darned tasty.

                They certainly aren't lunch-truck-cheap $1.25, though (the other $2.75 is rent for a nice place to sit in the shade and drink, also their produce comes from Specialty Produce).

              2. re: DiningDiva

                Ahh... Little Josh has taken care of that in a post down stream, thanks. Hey, for a 'best list' the huffer didn't do too bad. At least his list has some semblance of finding good places to it. Looks like he did more than look at Yelpers crappy reviews.

              3. re: Beach Chick

                Hi Beach Chick,

                I moved from SoCal to Washington state (Dude's job), then to Florida. I gladly give up all my years of beach cred for the joy of living near my son, DIL and 4 grandsons, who could never afford to buy a home in SD or any other city in SoCal. Also, housing costs here allowed us to take early retirement instead of working till we dropped. And hey, guess what? Great fish tacos here, too, made with freshly caught Gulf grouper. So bite me on that one. :-)

                And unless someone's been messing with the city limits, SDSU used to be located in SD, not La Mesa.

                1. re: DuffyH

                  Did you use to be 'pickypicky' on the SD board?

                  I'm happy for you and your DH, DIL and 4 grandchildren that you can take an early retirement.

                  I was in Siesta Key a couple of years ago, albeit, in July, but my DH and I could not walk a half a block with without severe heat exhaustion.

                  I loved that area and asked how long does this severe humidity and heat last and they said it lasted from April till Oct./Nov.

                  I was more ribbing you on losing your cred for moving to FL but we all have to do what is right for our family and I am glad you et al are happy!

                  In regards to Grouper, this is where FL shines..still craving me some Jazzy's in the Cape..

                  You mentioned College area and I believe the east side of College Avenue is considered La Mesa.
                  If you have good fish taco rec's for the La Mesa/Old Town area. .please let us know.

                  I just don't agree with your 'silly' assessment but that's what makes the world go round.

                  Wishing you all the best!

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Hi Beach Chick,

                    Nope, I've always been Duffy. I have no fish taco recs to add. I just thought it was completely goofy to mean only a very narrow strip of the county, as opposed to the complete city. I have a different definition of SD than the author does, I guess.

                    You're right, different strokes and all that.


              4. re: DuffyH

                > isn't it silly to eliminate places that have locations outside of SD?

                In theory but what places can you name that would be excluded by this but have good fish tacos?

                1. re: mig0sd

                  Assuming this part of the conversation is about the City rather than the County of San Diego, the Mariscos El Pescador truck is in the parking lot of the Chula Vista Toys R Us.

              5. I could have saved him a lot of money by sending him to Mariscos German off the bat. Of course he still missed the best one, at Mariscos El Pescador in Chula Vista.

                (And lol at Tin Fish, what a choice to end on....que lastima)

                7 Replies
                1. re: Josh

                  Josh from the North!
                  Any good fish tacos up in SF?

                    1. re: Josh

                      Going to Pad game (to see them sweep the Giants ;) for a long weekend and appreciate some places you would rec..staying at St. Francis in Union Square, since I'm a die hard Lefty's chica.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        OMG - Lefty's! First bar my father took me to in SF. Did you ever hear of the Iron Horse on Maiden Lane Chica?

                        1. re: foodiechick

                          Best bar evah. .
                          Piano bar at night is a riot and most of the MLB guys hang there after the game.
                          Sounds like your Dad was one cool guy!

                        2. re: Beach Chick

                          My favorite vegetarian burrito is located quite close to the ballpark: Victor's on King St. They do a nopales burrito that is really outstanding. I used to order it with mushrooms added, which was also good. Union Sq. area is more touristy, so I don't eat there very often. The Ferry Building is a pretty short walk, and Cowgirl Creamery makes some fantastic toasted cheese sandwiches.

                  1. Interesting read. My biggest take away was learning that South Beach serves their fish tacos in FLOUR tortillas (never eaten there). Who does that?!?!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: foodiechick

                      But the bottled ranch dressing kills them.

                    2. Very funny how the fish taco has become this elusive food item. I'd be happy with most of the ones on the list, and nine times out of ten it's still going to be frozen fish put on the same generic factory tortillas you can get at any local market. There was a time when Mariscos German would even board up the unused windows in their truck using the boxes that the frozen fish came in.

                      So, as far as ingredients go, the "best" fish tacos are still about as difficult to source as a pre-packaged hotdog served on a white bread roll.

                      And yet, so many places still get it so wrong...

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: cookieshoes

                        Probably because of all the moving parts to a good fish taco. A typical taco has 2-3 ingredients besides the tortilla. A fish taco has 4-5, all of which need to be good to make a good fish taco.

                        1. re: cookieshoes

                          yes, for a city with an abundance of fresh seafood, it kind of stinks that nearly every place relies on frozen processed fish parts.

                          1. re: MrKrispy

                            I'm betting that the lake trout in the fish tacos you had in Grand Rapids was fresh.

                            1. re: DoctorChow

                              It was! I asked about it after I was done eating.

                        2. It's incomplete and inexhaustive without Mitch's Seafood. Fantastic local dive at the top of the sportfishing docks. Friday happy hour special.... one amazing rock cod taco and beer for $5.

                          15 Replies
                            1. re: Susangria

                              I wish more people (and restaurants) would refer to "fish" tacos with this level of specificity; e.g., your use of "rock cod taco".

                              Ditto for "fish" and chips.

                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                Puesto's menu lists theirs (they have two kinds) as either mahi mahi or (for the baja fish) "crispy wild cod." I didn't see where they get their fish, though, so not sure if it's from Catalina or some other place.

                                1. re: The Office Goat

                                  Seems like the Puesto in LJ doesn't get the same praise as the one in the HQ.

                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    Just back from the Puesto at HQ. Their Baja fish taco was tasty but hardly thrilling -- and no pico de gallo. (OK, there was one, maybe even two, little chunks of tomato.) I'd give it three fish, max. The Maricso's at Toys-R-Us does it much better, IMO.

                                    Very nice fresh-lime Margaritas at Puesto, though.

                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                      since I know you are in the area, have you tried Kiko's mariscos truck that is parked at the liquor store on Via Las Cumbres between Fashion valley and Linda Vista? Had a fish taco and gobernador taco over the weekend and liked both of them. I believe the truck is called Kiko's and the owner is related to one of the Mariscos German trucks from years back.

                                      1. re: MrKrispy

                                        I know the liquor store you're talking about -- across from Peabody's. But I don't pass that corner often and don't recall seeing a food truck there. I'll definitely check it out -- soon. Thanks!

                                        1. re: DoctorChow

                                          It seems like it is there every weekend now. They have the normal array of tacos, seafood cocktails, etc.

                                          I got the free soup (consumme) while waiting, I think that is normal.

                                          edit* just saw a recent review on mmm-yoso

                                          My gobernador had the peppers and onions well grilled vs. his review

                                        2. re: MrKrispy

                                          I used to live (and study) just up the hill from there. Is the truck there all week, or just weekends?

                                          1. re: The Office Goat

                                            I've only seen it on weekends, but I am not in the area during weekdays until 7pm or so. I think a different truck is there at night, a new BBQ truck that stays in the Linda Vista area

                                            1. re: MrKrispy

                                              Swung by there around 5 pm today and there was no sign of anything. Maybe too late or too early. I'll check again on Saturday.

                                              BTW, that new BBQ truck you mentioned was also AWOL today, so far as I could see. Might have missed it.

                                              Also, I haven't seen the Marisco's truck that was hanging out in Filiberto's lot for some time now.

                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                Kiko's was there around 6pm Tuesday, but I think they leave by 7:00pm.

                                                The BBQ truck seems to shack up by the Casa Linda apartments (on LInda Vista Road between the 7-11 and Super Bronco) in a small driveway that also has a coffee shop. I am not sure if they are open for business there. I have seen them located in the Dollar Store lot by the Post Office as well as the Del Mesa liquor lot. Haven't tried it, and can't find any reviews.

                                          2. re: MrKrispy

                                            I eat at Kiko's for lunch rather often, since it's close. They are there every weekday, but I'm not sure about weekends or evenings. The large portions of fish are what stands out. Especially for the grilled fish taco. Not in the same league as Mariscos El Pescador, but very solid. Ceviche and cocktails all good. Gobernador and marlin tacos are borderline. Really nice folks too.

                                            1. re: y6y6y6

                                              Kikos was there today (a Saturday) when I went over around 1:30.

                                              I enjoyed their fish taco. It was nicely battered and fried crispy outside, tender inside. Nice amounts of the cabbage, crema and pico de gallo, and the single corn tortilla held up throughout.

                                              I also stopped at that new BBQ truck, which today was in the Joes 99 Cent Store parking lot, at the corner of Comstock and LV Rd. It's called Black Jack International (!), I think. I tried a free sample of pulled pork which was tasty. They said they're going to set up a smoker at a nearby location on Comstock in about ten days, and after that they'll be found either there or in the Joes 99 Cent lot.

                                              1. re: DoctorChow

                                                I've been back to Kiko's a couple of times, really enjoying trying the various seafood tacos on the menu. Word seems to be spreading about the Fashion Valley truck as there have been lines the last few weekends when I was grabbing beers at the liquor store where they park.

                                2. JR's Fish Taco and JR's Tijuana - always fresh cabrillo and superlative, sublime and other adjectives, and each one less than a dollar.

                                  Oh wait, I forgot (smack my face) that they are just a couple of mileas south of the Rosarito Beach Hotel.


                                  23 Replies
                                  1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                    One of the best things evah is Cabrillo Fish tacos, grilled or fried, with cream, cabbage, hot red salsa and a cold Carta Blanca on a oceanfront patio in Baja with some Mexican music or mariachis wafting through the warm breeze. .
                                    Calgon take me away. .

                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                        Hola Papi Fakey!
                                        A donde?
                                        Mike's Sky Ranch and doesn't look like your KTM..did you get a new bike with all the gussied up GPS et al?

                                        Years ago, I was asked to ride along as crew for the Baja 1000..after going to Puertecitos, just outside of San Felipe and that brutal, wicked washed out mountain that one has to traverse, I said no frigging way, Jose.

                                        Feliz Compleanos mi amigo. .

                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                          I have two KTM, this is the bigger, but both use the same 2 GPS. Not that I know how to use them- one is for XM radio.

                                          That's the much-vaunted El Pescador on my birthday. I should have just stayed there rather than dinner at ...well...look elsewhere.

                                          1. re: Fake Name

                                            Where's the beloved KTM Orange?
                                            Lusting for a KTM Enduro 150XC 2014.
                                            Octillo Wells throttle down, bro..hee hee

                                            What did you have at El Pescador?

                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                              I always get the Tostada Mixta- best in town.

                                              I don't do color, nor Ocotillo Wells.

                                              1. re: Fake Name

                                                Confession time..never been to Mariscos El Pescador..I know, loser. . .Looks like my kind of place, low rent, fresh Mex seafood.


                                                Orange rocks and where pray tell, does lil Fakey b. go to ride his all black KTM..Gordon's Well, Glamis, Mike's Sky Ranch?

                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                  Big Bike: California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Baja.

                                                  Locally: Corral Canyon, Anza Borrego, Lark Canyon, Baja.

                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                    Both bikes are ga ga gorgeous!!
                                                    DH had a Maico c400 that is much like your Enduro.
                                                    Solid Fakey. .

                                                    Now, I'm craving a couple fish tacos, tostada mixta and a orange Mex Fanta!

                                                    1. re: Beach Chick

                                                      Do yourself a huge favor, get there! I always carry a folding chair in my trunk to sit and relax while noshing in the parking lot.

                                            2. re: Fake Name

                                              Best in SD I've had, no question. Their gobernador is quite good. If you're ever feeling like taking a nap, the marlin burrito is ridiculous.

                                              1. re: Josh

                                                I understand the marlyn is grass-fed.

                                              2. re: Fake Name

                                                Is you GPS programmed to stay within an 8 mile radius of city center.

                                                1. re: cstr

                                                  There is an alarm, yes.

                                                  But I embrace travel and other far-flung cultures.

                                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                                    Maybe like a dog fence, your collar will give you a shock if you go out of bounds. Remember to bring your passport if you plan to enter east or north county. BTW - nice ride!

                                          2. re: Beach Chick

                                            Sing it sista!

                                            (This said with a self-deprecating shrug at my attempt to sound hip.)


                                            1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                              Can I drum it?
                                              I've been trying to sing like my beloved Gladys Knight and the other 'soul sista's' all my life but sad to say, I've got the rhythm but not the pipes.

                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                My beloved #1 daughter used to look at me cross-eyed when I sang her lullabies as an infant.

                                                When she learned to talk, amongst her first sentences were these two, delivered at bedtime, "Mommie, stop. Makes head hurt."

                                                1. re: Gypsy Jan

                                                  I know this is getting far away from fish tacos, but I've always wondered if many women they are realizing when they are off key, or do they just don't care? I always assumed it was the latter, but I've learned that not everybody has the ear for that.

                                                  1. re: RB Hound

                                                    If you have a tin ear, you don't know it until someone tells you straight up.

                                                    I can still see the pained look on my high school music teacher's face as he tried to "find the right place for me" in the choir.

                                                    i just thought that was because I was taller than the other girls.

                                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                                      That's for sure.

                                                      This thread has certainly digressed -- more than just somewhat -- from the original topic!

                                                      But what the hey?

                                                      I think it's interesting that the food at the various Mariscos trucks can be so different, quality-wise.

                                                      Why is this so?


                                                      (1) Some treat each taco with quality in mind more than others;

                                                      (2) some ensure that their ingredients are very fresh and kept separated on the taco more than others;

                                                      (3) some have a lot of local notoriety which by itself enhances the flavors and pleasure of eating, such as the "Pescador" truck; or,

                                                      (4) some just have the knack of putting together a great fish taco more than others.

                                            2. re: Gypsy Jan

                                              Sorry GJ, not going to TJ or Mex till they free our marine.

                                            3. Close. So close. But no. 1) His choice for the best fish taco is spot on, 2) but only because his choice of the 19 best was so awful. Once he tried the fish taco at the mariscos truck the light should have gone off in his head - "Oh. Lunch trucks have great fish tacos. I should try other lunch trucks." But no. The dim bulb stayed dim. Problem is, the truck he tried has great fish tacos, but not the best. The Mariscos El Pescador truck in the Toys-R-Us parking lot has the best. ´╗┐

                                              1. No flames but Rubio's on Tuesday after 2:30pm has $1.50 fish tacos that hit the spot.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                                  I'm no snob and will freely admit my love for a Rubio's fish taco, especially the especial with guac. Way better than most taco shops around here, although I generally like the ones from most of the mariscos trucks better.

                                                2. Some three decades ago I had a peak experience with Ensenada fish tacos. Right from a cart on the fish pier. Everything super fresh, super tasty, especially the small battered chunks of fish.... In one day I ended up visiting about 4 times and just couldn't stop eating. I think I ate 13 of them. Burned into my memory, I suspect I will always be trying to replicate that day and those tacos.

                                                  So, having heard that San Diego is known for fish tacos - and knowing that S.D. Mexican food in general bests what I can get in San Francisco - I thought I'd make fish tacos part of a quick visit to the North County. After some searching, I found this thread, and the HuffPo article with its helpful map, and identified Kotija's as the best bet near me.

                                                  Wow, what a disappointment.

                                                  The first warning signal was the agua fresca. From a soda machine. Not fresh. Too sweet. Uh oh. But the condiment counter was promising. Good salsas. Good spicy pickled carrots and jalape├▒os. There was hope as I took the to-go order to our spot on Moonlight beach.

                                                  The fish was... a fish stick. Clearly frozen. I'm not positive these fish chunks were reconstituted fish cake. There may have been some flake to them. But they were flavorless, odorless, over fried, with leaden batter. Nothing could salvage tacos that use this for main event. The rest of the fixings were OK but not spicy enough for me. If there was pico de gallo in there, it was wimpy. Their tomatillo salsa along with a twist of the limes they included helped. The tortillas were meh, but at least they held up.

                                                  I guess next time I need to head further south. Maybe all the way to Ensenada?

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: BernalKC

                                                    No one thinks Kotija's has good fish tacos. Have you read any of the post you just commented on? Try some of the ones people actually say they like. There is a huge post about that right here that you're ignoring.

                                                    1. re: y6y6y6

                                                      Huh? The HuffPo article gives it 4 out of 5. Above I read "My second favorite (or maybe a tie?) was Kotija." And I found nothing negative about it on other fish taco threads. Since I was staying in the North county, it stood out as recommended. Not sure what cues you think I missed. Wish I'd found them.

                                                      1. re: BernalKC

                                                        BKC. . .I think you really just proved the point that one man's search for the perfect fish taco really wasn't very exhaustive nor was it definitive.

                                                        Since half of the world erroneously believes that the fish taco was invented in SD and the other half seems to think it's our signature dish, there are a lot of threads about them. It's a topic that gets covered, or at least talked about, a lot here. A lot of the replies on this thread were really about how inaccurate the artcles' author's choices were, and/or what he missed.

                                                        Pretty much the bottom line is that noone one this board would go to Kotija/Cotija for a fish taco because we all know better places to go whether we posted on this thread or not. . .Just be happy you didn't truck on down to South Beach another one of his favs that is pretty universally scorned here.

                                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                                          Lesson learned.

                                                          But I have to ask, are great fish tacos still available at the fish pier in Ensenada? This failed attempt has left me wanting to continue searching for the real deal.

                                                          1. re: BernalKC

                                                            There are several places in Ensenada doing great fish tacos. Don't think most of them are on the pier. Poke around on the forums for the Baja Nomad site, I think I recall seeing several threads over there about fish tacos.

                                                            1. re: BernalKC

                                                              No fish taco stands on any pier that I know of in Ensenada. You may have confused it with the "Black Market" open-air seafood market just adjacent to the docks. It's where you probably got your fish tacos. The market is still there and you can get any sort of Mexican seafood concoction there you might wish for or any sort of fresh fish or shellfish you may want. There are also numerous fish taco stands around town that serve sometimes creditable versions.

                                                      1. re: Stiflers_Mom

                                                        Hmmm... Colorado, not surprised are you, Stif.

                                                        1. re: cstr

                                                          They had already discontinued their weed tacos at the beginning of the year...