Tacos are their own food group. This is a simple fact widely known to most Southern Californians who also find it acceptable to eat them literally any time of day, breakfast included. We have proudly dubbed Tuesdays just for tacos and everyone celebrates this day; young and old. San Diego doesn’t mess around; we have a yearly festival that takes over the city in May where the best of the best come together to boast their mouthwatering creations. Another proud San Diego brag? We have the BEST fish tacos. Now that I have you wanting a taco; let’s go find the best of the best no matter where you are in North County.
(Del Mar to Oceanside)
1. Kotija Jr. Taco Shop
There’s nothing junior about this shop, these tacos are huge. Late night munchies? Open till midnight every day except Sunday (10pm even then). $1.99 fish tacos on Tuesdays, they’ll even make you a fish burrito if you’re still hungry.
2. The Brigantine
Known to locals as simply, “The Brig.” Their most popular menu item is arguably their fish tacos; beer battered, covered in cheddar cheese and ranch dressing. The view from the deck is the only thing that could possibly distract you from this love affair.
3. Solana Beach Fish House
Don’t get distracted by the fish salads, fish bowls, fish soup, fish n chips, fish sandwiches, fish burgers, fish kabobs, fish burritos, and fish pasta dishes; their tacos are a solid menu favorite. The last choice you have to make is to order them Cajun, grilled, or fried, and you’ll be satisfied.
4. Haggo’s Organic Taco
These guys are experts in crafting a catch of the day taco. We’re talkin’ local, fresh, organic ingredients, prepared by some equally passionate chefs who love you enough to prepare cumin-lime crema fresh daily. Expect a unique flavor with cabbage slaw and red inca quinoa, seasonal veggies and organic mango salsa cruda.
*Plan for lunch only 11-3 Tuesday to Sunday
5. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
A new kid to the north county block but the most recent addition to the family of 5 locations throughout San Diego county. They played all shy with us here as well when the location opened months ago, they were sans signage until recently. Just quietly sitting in the corner of the Trader Joes shopping center keeping on the DL their mouthwatering fish taco creations. Word quickly spread and thankfully these seasoned fish taco vets stepped right up and spun out battered fish, shrimp, smoked fish, grilled or spicy shrimp options and the mac daddy: “taco especial” (smoked fish, shrimp and scallops). Stuffed with fresh cabbage, avocado, cheese, cilantro and every salsa option you could possibly want. Take your time and nosh on HOMEMADE chips with fresh quac and a mexican soda while you decide.
6. The Taco Stand
A local favorite located right on Coast Highway; if you miss it, just look for the line down the sidewalk. Handmade corn tortillas hold together either the grilled or battered version topped with their signature chipotle sauce. One word. Yum.
7. Juantias Taco Shop
The happiest little hole in the wall on the best side (west side) of Coast Highway. You’re there for an amazing fish taco, they’re there to give it to you. Your classic beer battered, cabbage topped, crema, and fuego salsa. Major bonus? You want one on the way home from a night out: Friday and Saturday count on them to keep the fryer on for you till 3am.
8. Cancun Mexican and Seafood
You’re not lost, it’s connected to the 7-11. Seriously, you don’t want to miss this place. Fish tacos, ceviche, shrimp burritos, and fish soup plus a 5 star salsa bar. Bring your slurpee in with you, I’m sure they won’t mind.
9. Fish District
This multi-location restaurant chain keeps it clean and classic. Fish of the day comes traditional or coastal, or get it beer or baja battered. Daily happy hour discounts give you another reason to have a taco on your way home from work.
10. Las Olas
Located in the heart of Carlsbad Village you can’t miss this popular spot. It’s a casual spot right next to the pounding surf bringing with it a much needed fresh breeze of ocean air. Fish tacos are a staple on the menu ala carte or as a plate with rice and beans.
11. Miramar Fish Tacos & Beer
$1 fish tacos on a Tuesday: because they get it, they’re hardcore.$1.75 classic beer battered with cabbage, diced tomatoes and crema every day. You might have to come back a few times to get thru the other fish taco options, which won’t be difficult task to convince you of, once you try them. Pick from traditional, grilled mahi mahi, spicy shrimp, or smoked tuna (the best item on the menu).
(Rancho Bernardo to Escondido)
12. Jalapenos Mexican Food
No corner cutting here: Fish tacos PACKED with fish either fried or grilled. Still hungry? They’ll make you a fish burrito or fish soup too.
13. Yesenia’s Mexican Food
A solid, cheap and tasty spot with classic fresh fish tacos, fish burritos, fish soup, and wait for it… fish TAQUITOS!
14. Lupe’s Café
Quality food and a classic sit down café experience; famous for their fish in a variety of versions. The taco on a homemade tortilla, filet with ranchero sauce, burrito, and even a torta (not on the menu – so say pretty please). P.S. You’ll love the fish taco sauce so much you’ll ask for extra.
15. Los Dos Pedros
When you have a craving and really just want to get in and out and enjoy your taco in peace – Pedro’s scratches your itch… and then some. Although they are famous for burritos that are bigger than your arm (no joke), their fish tacos are fresh, tasty, and plentiful.
16. Rancho Viejo
All day. Every day. 99 cent fish tacos. Flaky fish, freshly battered (but not over), topped with cabbage slaw and crema, on your choice of corn or flour tortilla. Top it off: it’s close to the freeway and the service is excellent.
17. Mi Ranchito Mexican Restaurant
If you’re looking for fish taco options you won’t be disappointed. The classic reigns as a top seller on the menu, but the more interesting version? Mixed seafood: Crab, shrimp, and scallops all fresh and seasoned to perfection. Enjoy free chips and the salsa bar while you wait.
18. Marisco’s German
If you’ve been chasing their food trucks around San Diego, you’ll be happy to sit in their new café and feel transported straight across the border. Crafting some of the best fish tacos this side of the border, you can choose from grilled, fried, shrimp or octopus.
19. Cenote Grill
Big, flavorful, and filling just as you need them to be, add in the chipotle ranch sauce and guac and you’re set. Not your “get in and out” joint, rather bring your grandma and have a seat and help her decide between white or “spicy brown” rice as her side dish.
20. Las Brisas Mexican Cuisine
To know the difference between a chef and a cook is to appreciate homemade dishes served at this relaxing family style restaurant. An abundance of regular visitors speaks to the consistently appetizing and flavorful fish tacos that you just know is from an old family recipe.
21. San Marcos Brewery
Famous for craft beer and solid pub food they put as much love and affection into preparing fish tacos the way you expect them to be; fat, fresh pieces of crispy fish presented with a soft shell and delicate crema to top.
22. Taco Bar
Aptly named for its vast menu of top shelf, standard and well items. The battered fish taco is authentic and fresh, be daring and try the smoked tuna taco while you’re in the fishy mood. Head to the salsa bar and prepare to be faced with an equal amount of tasty choices to top off your plate.
23. California Braise
A business park hidden gem, they are only open Monday to Friday for lunch unless you can catch their food truck out and about. They take pride in everything braised but also make a mean, fresh fish taco.
24. Los Junior’s
Quality. Fresh. Price. All on point and found in this little-hidden gem. Don’t be fooled by the eclectic, low-key and colorful little hole in the wall; they serve up a mean fish taco and hot, fresh chips with while you wait.
25. Valerie’s Taco Shop
If a Mexican restaurant was judged simply based off its marinated carrots; Valerie’s would get a gold stars across the board. They alone give you an idea of the food to come while you wait to be satisfied by these crunchy and lightly battered fish taco dreams.
Who makes your favorite fish taco?
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