A San Diego staple, fish tacos have been endlessly discussed and debated in California’s second-largest city. Most San Diego natives have their own favorites that they are willing to defend until they’re blue in the face. And when visiting other locales, San Diegans can rival out-of-town New Yorkers sampling a bagel: “It’s good, but it’s not as good as at home.”
A best-of list for San Diego’s fish tacos would turn into a phone book of addresses and toppings, but here are three places that give a good impression of the breadth of options.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a city as obsessed with brewing as San Diego would find a way to sneak beer into a fish taco. The dish is a staple at taprooms throughout the area, with several brewers using beer to create the batter for the fish. Quiero Tacos, which has set up shop at Seaport Village in cooperation with Mike Hess Brewing, uses the beer maker’s Steel Beach Lager in its batter. Combine the slight kick of the chipotle-infused aioli and the tourist-friendly waterfront location, and Quiero is set to become a taco ambassador to visitors from around the world. (619) 230-5433.
Kiko’s Place Seafood
Considering that the original Rubio’s was located in a walk-up shack, it makes sense that some of the best fish tacos in town can be found in a shack’s spiritual offspring: the modern food truck. Kiko’s Place Seafood in Mission Valley and its OG Fish Tacos have been area favorites for almost four decades, consistently pumping out straightforward Baja-style tacos, along with other interesting options (the garlic fish taco with avocado makes for a tasty alternative). Eating dinner in the parking lot of a gas station has never tasted so good. (619) 341-7397.
The East Village newcomer made a splash early in its existence, being named a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant (one both affordable and of superior quality) in 2019, just one year after opening. Here, the Baja-style taco gets rémoulade, pickled serrano peppers, and purple basil to round out the local catch. You can wash it down with a cocktail from the full bar. Half lounge and half taqueria, Lola 55 is committed to using local and elevated ingredients to stand out. (619) 542-9155.