Dec 2009

Taco Taskforce: Los Angeles’ Best Fish Taco


In a city where taquerias can be found on nearly every corner, it is oftentimes impossible to distinguish one shack from the next. While the inverse relationship between cleanliness and deliciousness is usually a reliable guide, it is unfortunately not always accurate. Thus, the Taco Taskforce was born.

Comprised of Bill (Street Gourmet L.A.), Javier (The Glutster), Matt (Mattatouille), Josh (Food GPS), and yours truly, the mission of the Taco Taskforce is to seek out Los Angeles’ very best tacos and to share these findings with like-minded eaters. Some might call this little endeavor a poor excuse for gluttony, but we simply view it as a service to the community; eating bad Mexican food is a travesty that no Californian should ever endure. Iowans? Sure. But Angelenos? No way.


For the inaugural meeting of the Taco Taskforce, we sought to find Los Angeles’ best fish taco. The list of five potential candidates was curated by Bill, a veteran of the city’s taqueria scene. We scored each taco based on its key ingredient (i.e. fish), condiments, authenticity, overall flavor, and cooking soundness. Since I’m more of a qualitative thinker than a quantitative one, my assessments were mostly based on taste and the overall vibe I received from the shops. For the numeric breakdown, see Mr. GPS.

Beginning with the establishment that scored the fewest points, here are our findings:


#5 Taco Nazo – South El Monte

With six locations in the Los Angeles area, Taco Nazo was one of two local chains on our list. Tony and Telma Garcia have been making the “world’s best fish taco” since 1978.


The fish taco ($1.69) arrived dressed with shredded cabbage, crema, pico de gallo, and a roasted guero (blonde chili) on the side. Even though Taco Nazo finished in last place, it is important to note that the taco was not the least bit offensive. In fact, it was actually quite pleasant. Taken on its own, Taco Nazo makes a fine specimen. However, going up against the city’s best, Taco Nazo floundered in a few key areas. This taco lost major points with the Taskforce with its excessive batter to fish ratio, lackluster condiments, and missing seasonings on the fish (pollack) and batter.


#4 Señor Fish No. 2 – Eagle Rock

If atmosphere were a category that the Taco Taskforce considered important, than Señor Fish would’ve finished stronger than fourth place. The outdoor patio here is one of the loveliest around. We placed our orders inside and received our grub while relaxing in the shady courtyard.


Ringing up at $2.50, Señor Fish’s taco was one the day’s priciest. The cod fish taco arrived tableside with a bevy of condiments piled atop including cabbage, crema, a chile de arbol salsa, tomatoes, and cilantro. The Taskforce was impressed with Señor Fish’s extensive salsa bar and the taco’s robust flavors. However, we were unsatisfied with its clumpy batter and messily applied fixins.


#3 Best Fish Taco in Ensenada – Los Feliz

There’s a lot to love about Best Fish Taco in Ensenada. Its concise menu (fish taco, shrimp taco, and drink) is straight up fabulous, and all of the food is made right in front of the customers. Public deep-frying is a mesmerizing sport.


At Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, the tacos ($1.50) were presented completely bare—just like in Baja. Each of us customized our basa (farm raised catfish) taco to our liking with the selection of salsas and vegetables on hand. Mine included La Crema Magica, shredded cabbage, and a bit of Pineapple Kiss salsa. This taco scored big points in the authenticity category. However, Bill proclaimed the bevy of unorthodox salsas “silly.”


#2 Tacos Baja Ensenada – East Los Angeles

Tacos Baja Ensenada is a 10-year-old establishment located in the heart of East L.A. The narrow little shop was full of locals enjoying various Mexican seafood preparations when the Taskforce stopped in.


The catfish taco ($1.59) came slathered in house-made crema, diced tomato, hot sauce, and cabbage. From the ratio of batter to fish to the seasonings and condiments employed, the Taskforce was all around very pleased with Tacos Baja Ensenada’s solid product.


#1 Ricky’s Fish Tacos – Silver Lake

The blogosphere and Twitterverse have fallen head over heels for Ricky’s Fish Tacos. Ricky sets up his little stand on Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (weather permitting). He was the sole street food vendor on our fish taco tour.


Ricky’s fish taco ($2.50) was completely delightful, especially since it was served with a killer smile. Ricky takes care of the toppings (crema, cabbage, salsa) because the hot oil is a little too close to the condiments for his comfort. The deeply seasoned batter and tiny dice of jalapenos in the salsa really made this fish taco stand out among the competition. I find it kind of perfect that a street food vendor makes Los Angeles’s best fish taco.

Next up: Birria (goat) tacos!

Taco Nazo
9516 Garvey Avenue
South El Monte, CA 91733
Phone: 626-442-5671

Señor Fish No. 2
4803 Eagle Rock Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90041
Phone: 323-257-7167

Best Fish Taco in Ensenada
1650 Hillhurst Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Phone: 323-466-5552

Tacos Baja Ensenada
5385 Whittier Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90022
Phone: 323-887-1980

Ricky’s Fish Tacos
Various locations around Sunset Junction (Follow @RickysFishTacos on Twitter)

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23 thoughts on “Taco Taskforce: Los Angeles’ Best Fish Taco

  1. Great write up! I tried going to RFT this weekend but the line was so long they ran out of food! I’ll definitely have to go early and check it out next time.

  2. nice round up!!been to #3 a few times. heard alot about ricky’s but never seem to be in the hood that time. would enjoy any one of these anyday rather then the any of the taco trucks, including kogi.

  3. Great round up! I have to check out Ricky’s he is right in my ‘hood but i never get a weekend off to find him. One of these day… until then I can walk to Best Fish Tacos of Ensenada yum!

  4. Dang! I SO miss fish tacos. I am a lifelong Angeleno who moved to Houston 3 years ago. Glad to hear Tacos Baja Ensenada is holding up so well. It was a great favorite of mine.

    Another place y’all might like is Amapola Mexican Grill, 7414 Florence Ave, Downey, CA 90240 It’s in front of the Amapola Market. Their fish and shrimp tacos are great, or they were three years ago.

    I’ve never been able to figure out the dearth of decent fish tacos in Houston. Houstonians love fish, and we get great fish from the gulf. When I mention this to Chow friends the often refer me to a local chain called Berryhills, but their fish tacos are pretty sad compared to the delicious fisch tacos So. Cal. offers!

  5. One letter away and it would be Taco Nazi.

    Anyway … I’ve only been to one of these five. My local favorite shrimp taco is Via Mar, 5111 N Figueroa St, L.A. And believe me, I’ve had every kind of taco at every taco spot on N Figueroa … it took a while.

  6. Well damn. I guess I shouldn’t have flaked on going to Ricky’s! I love a good fish taco. Hell, I love a mediocre one as well!

  7. Street vendor versus restaurant is not fair comparison. Ricky does care about health dept enforcement rules, does not pay city fees, payroll taxes, and etc. His focus is food and not having a clean and presentable dining area or excellent service. His prices are cheap considering he uses catfish which is not authentic Ensenada style. He might make great food but its a good comparison. Its like comparing those street jalapeno hotdogs to Pinkys. Street are much better and cheaper. Ricky’s are good but not cheap.

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