Ah…warm weather…when a San Diegan’s food cravings turn to FISH TACOS. With such a wide variety to choose from, the question remains-Where do I get the BEST of this SAN DIEGO-BORN culinary delight? From Barrio Logan to Oceanside, check out this list of the BEST of the BEST Fish Tacos in San Diego. And let’s give a “shout-out” to our own Ralph Rubio for inventing the dish in 1983 that has become a basic staple in every Southern California diet, year ’round.
“What’s with that line? Here’er’s what: A full quarter pounds of super-fresh, cut-to-order fish from Blue Water’s shop (I chose the local halibut), grilled in chipotle marinade, piled onto a fresh corn taco from El Indio’s next door, with all the fixings. It’s two-fisted perfection.”
3667 India St. San Diego (619) 497-0914 bluewaterseafoodsandiego.com
“Formerly housed in a postage-stamp-sized mini, the stylish new Tres opened on Cinco de Mayo 2015. It’s got a ginormous menu and serves the best value in town: plentiful fish taco, chips and a glass of wine, all for under $5.”
101 W. Washington Ave., El Cajon. (619) 440-8226 440taco.com
“Popular caterer Cecilia Cortazar Peterson just opened her first shop at the even-more-popular new Liberty Public Market. Make sure to drizzle your taco with her roasted tomato salsa.”
2820 Historic Decatur Road, Liberty Station (619) 955-8550 ceciliastaqueria.com
“Chef Luisteen Gonzalez turns out grown up, spiced-just-right Baja tacos with beer battered wild cod, shredded cabbage, avocodo, chile crema and red tomatillo sauce on tortillas made before your eyes.”
789 West Harbor Drive, at The Headquarters (619) 233-8880 and 1026 Wall St., La Jolla (858) 454-1260 eatpuesto.com
“Whether at the brand new downtown San Diego storefront or from the roving food truck, Famoso’s fish tacos get a tasty tropical twist from finely diced pineapple.”
815 C St., East Village (619) 800-4144 or eatfamoso.com
“With so many fish, tortillas and toppings to choose from, go for the knockout: the TKO Taco, featuring a punchy tropical salsa, won the 2011 Fish Taco TKO Competition.”
“What started as a taco cart in Tijuana has grown into a three-location mini-chain with arguably the best fish tacos in South Bay and even the county.”
4246 Bonita Rd, Bonita (619) 267-4577; 4410 Bonita Rd. (619) 434-4780; 601 E. Palomar St., Chula Vista, (619) 421-4787. tjoysterbar.com
“He should know: Ralph Rubio shared with us his top 5 (shameless) essentials for making a perfect fish taco:
- Start with a fresh, stone-ground corn tortilla (yellow corn) and heat on a comal or griddle until hot and soft so that the tortilla delivers a nice toasted corn flavor.
- Use a mild, white fish like pollock or cod that is moist and flaky when fried. The mild fish will complement the crispy beer-batter, which carries the flavor through the spices in the mix, like mix, like mustard, oregano, garlic and pepper.
- Keep it simple with a creamy white sauce (we use mayo and sour cream), a fresh red tomato salsa, with jalapeño, cilantro, onion and sea salt, or a classic pico de gallo salsa, and then top with fresh, shredded cabbage. Always squeeze your lime wedge before you take a bite for a clean, fresh finish.
- A cold cerveza is highly advised (it’s always 12 o’clock somewhere!)
- And when it doubt … go to Rubio’s!” Rubio’s
“This brewery does everything big (See: $1 billion price tag), so it’s fitting that its fish taco is a jam-packed two-fisted wonder. For the biggest flavor, slather the smoky, grilled tomato-jalapeño salsa on on those thick, crunchy pieces of fried opa.”
2215 India St., Little Italy, (619) 255-7213 and 9045 Carroll Way, Miramar, (858) 790-6901. ballastpoint.com
“A local favorite since 1969, the Brig is synonymous with seafood in San Diego. Go healthy with the grilled Sonoran spiced swordfish tacos or the classic, fried Baja style. Either way, the secret to the Brig’s success is the creamy ranch dressing.
Multiple locations. brigantine.com
“Like the many variations on Roberto’s, there are plenty of Rosarito’s but this La Mesa strip mall location is the real deal. A hole-in-the-wall in the cheap and delicious kind of way (as in iceberg lettuce subs for shredded cabbage), the tart crema is lip-smacking good.”
7941 University Ave. La Mesa, (619) 462-2447.
“Co-owned by pro surfers and founded on the principles of using local and sustainable fish (“After all it’s where we fish and where we play!” their website says), theirs is a righteous threesome of fried Baja-style tacos (avocado optional).”
1468 N. Coast Hwy. 101, Leucadia, (760) 943-6221.fish101restaurant.com
Mariscos German Lonchera Taco Truck
“Lots of Mariscos trucks out there, but the five star fish from this food truck in a kinda creepy parking lot is the definition of “hidden gem.” And if you think the Mariscos German in South Park had a devoted following, fans of the South Bay Beyer location are rabid.”
3269 Beyer Blvd., San Diego, between Dairy Mart Road and Highway 905.
“Hip, yet authentic, this artful Barrio Logan spot is an offshoot of The San Diego Taco Company — aka “The King of All Tacos” — and right at the heart of the neighborhood’s delicious roots. Beer-battered deep-fried catfish is the star of this foldable little feast.”
2196 Logan Ave. Barrios Logan, (619) 255-3856. saludsd.com
“Add another hyphenate to the Baja-Cali fusion party: Chinese. BLVD’s spunky Tacos Chinos will win over everyone but the strictest of purists. Pat close attention to the taco’s creamy chili mayo sauce and you’ll almost get a Thai coconut curry taste. Why not?”
514 S. Coast Highway, Oceanside, (442) 500-8006. blvdchinese.com