Being Mexican-American and growing up in Los Angeles has made me privy to some of the best tacos outside of Mexico. From ordering carne asada tacos con mi abuelita as a kid to hitting up Taco Zone after a late night at the Echo, I have always felt fortunate to have such delicious street food at my fingertips. Though I was born and raised in a taco wonderland, it wasn't until my mid 20s that I discovered the glory of mariscos, particularly tacos prepared Ensenada-style. I can still remember my first fish taco moment, which involved me indulging in a crispy breaded concoction at Senor Fish in Alhambra. From that moment, I was forever changed. This year, I’ve been on a quest for what I think is the perfect summer fish taco. Usually all you need is $5 in your pocket for this, the perfect meal. Check out my fish taco roundup and pair yours with an agua fresco, Pacifico or Mexican Coke; I guarantee the combination will lead to a refreshing afternoon.
by Fashion Intel's Natalie James.
1. Senor Fish
Growing up in Alhambra I frequented the local Senor Fish on Main Street. While my mother regularly ordered fish tacos at this establishment, I was less daring and I always settled on the carne asada variety. Now that my palette has matured and my tastes widened, I head on over to Senor Fish with pescado in mind. Although I still love hitting up this chain in Alhambra, I prefer to travel to Eagle Rock now as their Senor Fish has a bit more to offer. Why the little drive? Because at this spot on Eagle Rock Boulevard you can enjoy your fish tacos whilst drinking your afternoon away with cheap margaritas or sangria on their enjoyable shaded patio.
Bonus: All the Mexican crema you can eat at their condiments bar!
Senor Fish, 4803 Eagle Rock Boulevard (at Norwalk Avenue); 323-257-7167.
2. Taco Nazo
Jonathan Gold always gives major props to Garvey Avenue in South El Monte for their incredible Pho houses, but I often drive on down to this unofficial restaurant row to enjoy a late night fish taco at Taco Nazo. This bright and decorative spot has been serving up some tasty fish tacos since 1978 and it's easy to tell that you'll soon be partaking of some delicious food once you swing open their door. Order some fish tacos and say hello to a plate of hand battered Alaskan Pollock topped with crispy cabbage, pico de gallo and crema. Don't forget to check out their salsa bar where you can load up on pickled carrots and jalapeños. They have bottled beer available which is a great companion to these crunchy bites.
Bonus: Don't want to miss your favorite novela? They've got you covered with two TVs usually set to Telemundo and Univision.
Taco Nazo, 9516 South Garvey Avenue (at Rosemead Boulevard); 626-442-5671.
3. Tacos Baja Ensenada
If you didn't already know that East L.A. is home to some of the best Mexican food this city has to offer, you just might need to widen your group of foodie friends. Cruising down Whittier Boulevard you'll see candy apple vendors, lots of bionico storefronts and meat being grilled on the sidewalk but don't let that detour you from your fish taco expedition. Pull up to Tacos Baja Ensenada on a sunny afternoon, order up combo #3 (1 fish taco, 1 shrimp taco, rice and beans), grab a Jarritos soda and take a seat on the side patio. Don't forget to listen for your number! The fish tacos here are widely considered someone of the best fish tacos in L.A., so you can expect a long line of people vying for their own piece of battered fish heaven. Not to worry, the food comes quick and is always piping hot.
Bonus: All you can eat roasted guero yellow peppers to go with your order.
Tacos Baja Ensenada, 5385 Whittier Boulevard (at South Oakford Drive); 323-887-1980.
4. Via-Mar Seafood Restaurant
When deciding on a fish taco spot, my motivating factors are often "what else can I get from there?" At Via Mar I know that I can order pretty much anything I want from the sea, whether it be oysters, crab, octopus, ceviche of every kind, and even seafood quesadillas. I also know that if I show up on a Wednesday afternoon, I can scoop up their "special of the day," which is two fish tacos for $2.45. I dare you to beat that deal! Highland Park seems to have a mariscos joint on every other block, but it is at this umbrella-lined stand and patio that I feel most relaxed. Join the locals under the shade and get your grub on.
Bonus: Their ceviche is some of the best I've had at any stand; I recommend the shrimp.
Via-Mar Seafood Restaurant, 5111 North Figueroa Street (at South Avenue 52); 323-255-4929.
5. Brisas del Pacifico, Huntington Park
Huntington Park is a city often over-looked by some Angelenos. That’s shame as this city has something interesting on every corner. Just a few minutes from L.A. on the 710S and, you'll find yourself in a land filled with homemade paletas, unbeatable pan dulce and fish tacos for under $2.50. Nestled on the corner of a very popular food crawl, Brisas Del Pacifico serves up a basket full of crunchy goodness with their shrimp and fish tacos. What sets this place apart from many stands that I’ve tried is their red chili sauce, which is made fresh with Japone peppers. A big thanks to my friend Anita for showing me the ropes in her town. If you are two young ladies like us, I guarantee that if you stay long enough the staff will ask you "where the party is at."
Bonus: Once you're done with your tacos, head next door to Apache for killer chicharrón sopes!
Brisas del Pacifico, 2754 E Gage Avenue (at Stafford Avenue); 323-583-9148.
6. Ricky's Fish Tacos
When Ricky first hit the fish taco junket, he was slinging his fried goodies and agua frescas out of a rock garden and gallery in Silver Lake. Though his location might have changed, his out-of-this-world fish tacos remain the same. Ricky currently holds the number one spot in my heart and stomach, these are the best fish tacos in L.A. I never thought I would bump my regular spots down on my list, but there is something that about Rickys fish tacos that I haven't tasted anywhere else. I once asked Ricky what made his fish tacos stand out from the rest and he quipped "it's the spices I use in the batter." Whatever his secret spice mix is,Though his secret was not revealed, his answer has only kept, my taste buds are yearning for more. Make sure you follow him on Twitter so you know when he is selling @RickysFishTacos
Bonus: This is one of the only spots you can pair your fish tacos with delicious homemade agua frescas.
Ricky's Fish Tacos, 1400 North Virgil Avenue (at West Sunset Boulevard); no phone.
7. Best Fish Taco in Ensenada
Hands down the best salsa bar for fish tacos in this town. They pull out the big guns by offering up a flavorful mango salsa! What can I say, I’m a sucker for mango. This is a fun spot to visit as; you can watch your tacos being prepared just a second after you order them. Linger by the glass and watch the young women make magic with your fish. Dipped it in the batter, tossed in oil, and, within minutes, they are wrapped in warm tortillas ready for you to nosh on.
Bonus: Everything at the salsa bar!
Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, 1650 Hillhurst Ave (at Prospect Avenue); 323-466-5552.