Fish, tortilla, sauce, salsa and citrus squeeze. Traditionally, that's what you'll get out of a fish taco list. We're including classic preparations, but we're also pushing the definition of what goes into one. So go ahead and double-take our alphabetically-listed 10. We aimed to name places not usually discussed.
Baja Fish Tacos – multiple locations
20 years strong and growing (Orange opens soon near the 22 freeway), the original is over in Santa Ana off Bristol. We like the choice between grilled, Ensanada-style or blackened. Baja's a chain that doesn't taste chain-like, if you know what we mean.
Cabo Taco Baja Grill – La Mirada
A place need not specialize in tacos to cook a tasty fish version. And while we occasionally crossover into Long Beach, we're crossing into a different bordering city for this one. Using both chipotle sauce and salsa fresca gives Cabo's tacos subtle kick. And enjoy that sizable chunk of golden fried seafood..
Driftwood Kitchen – Laguna Beach
Proof that a fish taco can be something other than Wahoo in a soft tortilla, this ocean front property elevates our humble meal to resort status with yellowfin tuna tartare. Driftwood tucks their seafood into a sesame and miso shell, and finishes with cilantro, greens and a touch of guac. Refreshing without being heavy, you'll have sufficient room for another drink after this small plate.
Fins Poke Fusion – Mission Viejo and Fullerton
Drive-thru poke tacos, anyone? Head to their Fullerton spot. Fins found a fan in our restaurant reviewer. Since this is a custom kind of joint, you can go albacore or spicy tuna; citrus wasabi or kialuea. The choice is yours. Just go easy on the toppings, please.
J Fish Premium Poke & Sushi – Tustin
We promise this isn't another raw taco; it's spicy, deep fried salmon. Covering their bases beyond the poke, J Fish has got their crema, cabbage, corn tortilla and lemon wedge in check. Salmon made it more indulgent . . .not that we have a problem with it.
The choice for old-school Weeklings, this Garden Grove stand does it Ensenada style, with a secret crema and an even secret-er red salsa unmatched anywhere in the OC fish taco universe. Our Mexican-in-Chief, however, prefers the fish burrito, which he describes as “crunchy, fluffy, tart, spicy perfection.” Can't argue with that!
The Pike Restaurant and Bar
Best known for its lively music scene and cheap-but-great drinks, The Pike might also be one of the most underrated seafood taco spots in Long Beach and Orange County. Their Baja Fish tacos are perfectly fried; mahi mahi, luscious; and lobster tacos, decadent. But perhaps the best is the grilled shrimp tacos: smoky, buttery, perfect
Slapfish – multiple locations
Fellow Weeklings have waxed poetic about many aspects of this OC-based menu. Yet Slapfish's tacos are just as legit. Sustainability may be their focus, but photogenic handheld meals are a bonus. With locations along a number of beach cities, rapid expansion begins next year. Their Taco Tuesdays are where it's at.
SOL Cocina – Newport Beach
Beer-battered, deep-fried goodness is right at home in Newport. Chef Deb's extensive menu knows when to keep it simple and when to bring on the creativity. Her other version of fish is adobo-marinated and served with a pineapple-cucumber salsa. We're cool and the gang with SOL's Ensanada-style.
Taco Asylum – Costa Mesa
While the bulk of their menu is blasphemous for a taco purist, a classic cod can be ordered blackened or fried. Squeeze that lime, order a craft beer and contemplate some Asylum ghost chili hot sauce; you'd be crazy not to.