San Diego Fish Tacos
Deep-fried or grilled fish smothered in crema Mexicana, salsa fresca and slapped between a tortilla … fish tacos just might be San Diego’s prime delicacy. It’s even attracted the likes of the Food Network’s Bobby Flay to have a contest with a local restaurant.
This tasty meal has long been associated as the food of choice for surfers, and legend has it that the recipe crossed the border from Baja California sometime in the 20th century. Thanks those Baja taquerias, San Diego is home to hundreds of satiating fish taco eateries, each offering their own delectable flavor and style.
Mamá Testa Taqueria
When Flay had a fish taco throwdown with the owner of this little Hillcrest restaurant, Flay’s tacos couldn’t compare to Mamá Testa. Known for authentic Mexican taste, Mama Testa churns out a “Guerrero style” (deep-fried, but not quite crunchy) fish taco comprising fried catfish topped with Mexican coleslaw and queso fresco, stuffed into a taco that’s once again deep-fried. The taco is untraditional from the San Diego-Baja style, but the combination is a revelation. Although Mamá Testa doesn’t serve à la carte tacos, the meal comes with black beans and rice. A mandatory visit for any fish taco lover.
Mon.–Thur. 11:30 -9, Fri.–Sat. 11:30–11, Sun. noon–8
1417 University Avenue, Hillcrest
George’s Ocean Terrace
Fish tacos at a fancy restaurant? George’s proves they can make divine tacos that are worth the money. Served during lunch and listed as an appetizer at dinner, this grilled mahimahi fish taco practically melts in your mouth. The fish is first marinated in olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Then it’s wrapped with mango salsa, Bermuda onion, cilantro, cabbage, chunky guacamole and jalapeño-lime crème fraîche.
Lunch daily 11–3:45, dinner 5–9:45
1250 Prospect Street, La Jolla
South Beach Bar & Grill
If you enjoy watching the beach and drinking a cold one, South Beach’s fish taco is the perfect accessory to the moment. Often listed as one of the best fish tacos in San Diego, the Baja-style taco is a crunchy mahimahi sprinkled with cheese, dripping with sauce and wrapped in a soft tortilla. Expect to use more than one napkin as the salsa fresca and white sauce frequently spill from both ends of the taco. The tacos are a reasonable $3.25 price; however, during Happy Hour, Mon.–Fri. 3–6, tacos are $2.50.
Mon.–Thur. 11 a.m.–1 a.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 a.m.
5059 Newport Avenue, Ocean Beach
The unhealthiest items on the menu always seem to taste the best. This is also true at The Brigantine, which serves both a grilled and a fried mahimahi taco. The deep-fried fish is divine, and they tweak the taco formula by serving it with grated cheddar cheese. Although these tacos are neither authentic nor served street-style, they still pack a flavor punch.
Locations in Coronado, Del Mar, Escondido, La Mesa, Point Loma, Poway and EastLake
The Tin Fish
Only a block from Petco Park, the Tin Fish is a cheaper alternative to the restaurants nearby. The menu has several different types of fish taco, such as Northern-halibut, salmon or even swordfish. The crunchy halibut, deep-fried and served golden, comes in a large portion for its price. Order the criss-cut fries — a delicious necessity when consuming the tacos. The taco is layered with cabbage, ranch and cheddar cheese. The ranch does Americanize the taco, but it’s probably even better than some Baja-style tacos.
Mon.–Thu. 1–7, Fri.–Sat. 11–9, Sun.10–8
170 Sixth Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter
As one of the most famous fish-taco eateries, Rubio’s tacos satisfy one’s cravings. Additionally, because many Rubio’s restaurants are stationed all over San Diego County, it makes for an easy option. They might not be the best tacos in the world, but they’re satiating — and only $1.25 on Tuesdays.
Many locations around San Diego County and beyond
The Fish Market
Although it generally serves excellent seafood, the Fish Market downtown also serves a great deep-fried fish taco with a side of ranch. The deep-fried fish even tastes fresh from the ocean and the portions are large.
Lunch daily 11–4, dinner daily 4–10
750 North Harbor Drive, downtown, 619-234-4867
640 Via de la Valle, Solana Beach, 858-755-BASS