You could cast a global net and not come up with better fish tacos than the ones in San Diego. So close to Mexico and the Pacific, it’s a no brainer. Flaky fried fish in a corn tortilla with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, lime and crema. How often can you hold joy in the palm of your hand?
The Moby Dick of the San Diego fish taco scene is Rubio’s, whose owner, Ralph Rubio, introduced the dish to America in 1983. Rubio’s has been the standard in the area since and now has more than 200 locations in the region. People flock to the restaurants for the cilantro-lime sea bass, mahi mahi, tilapia and salmon.
The details: If you’re cutting carbs, order the grilled fish and opt for a taco bowl instead of a shell. And don’t miss Taco Tuesdays when you can get an original Rubio’s fish taco for $1.50.
The next time you take a drive up historic highway 101, stop at Kotija Jr. Taco Shop in northern San Diego county. Seafood just tastes better with your toes in the sand, or in this case, outside on a patio a block from the Pacific Ocean. Just like the street food served in Ensenada, Mexico, the fish tacos here are spicy, splashed with lime and served in generous portions.
The details: Don’t let a full patio and a line of people snaking out the door scare you away. Service is quick, though you may have to sit on the beach to eat. And that’s not such a bad deal at all.
The fish taco isn’t just T-shirt and bare-feet fare. It regularly surfaces on menus of fancier restaurants where they actually expect you to wear a shirt with a collar. Brigantine Seafood and Oyster Bar has added three fish tacos to their already impressive line-up. You can get the traditional fried fish taco, grilled pollock with cilantro aioli, and blackened swordfish with salsa fresca, cheddar, red cabbage and ranch dressing.
The details: Tacos as fine as these deserve a pepper vodka oyster shooter or two on the side.
Food Truck Delight
Waiting for you just east of Balboa Park, in a parking lot on Grape Street, is Mariscos German Taco Truck. Don’t let the name throw you. They have the finest fish tacos on four wheels or within four walls. Yelpers rave about the fresh corn tortillas, which don’t overwhelm the creamy texture of the fish. Lime juice, crema and pico de gallo complete the bliss.
The details: Sip a cup of their seafood tomato soup while you wait; it’s on the house, or on the truck, in this case.