Tacos de Pescado Los Originales: Naked, Flaked, and Sacred

Categories: Tijuana Sí!
Dave Lieberman
Accept no imitations!
It's time to take back the fish taco.

Enough with the soft, mushy, grilled "healthy" fish tacos. Find a different name for it--tacos de guacareada come to mind--and leave the original tacos de pescado estilo Ensenada alone. A real fish taco is a piece of deep-fried fish--preferably shark, but any moist white fish will do in a pinch--on a tortilla.

Again--if it's not deep-fried, it's not a real fish taco. Period.

There are dozens of fish taco stands in Ensenada, naturally, and at least half of them don't give a damn about the product they sell. I've seen frozen Canadian fish from the Walmart on the south end of town being defrosted in fish taco stands while fishermen haul the day's catch out of the water a dozen meters away; I've seen people use Van de Kamp's, for God's sake. Who wants to drive 200 miles to eat what you can buy in the freezer section at 7-Eleven?

Dave Lieberman
No, you need a place that starts with fresh fish, cuts it in front of you, dries and seasons it before dipping it and frying it just until it flakes, but not so long it gets dry. You need a cazo of oil that is hot enough not to leave the fish grease-soaked. In short, you have to see the process from start to finish to avoid being overcharged for porquería.

Say you find that place--and there are plenty of honest fish tacos in Ensenada--and you order a taco. Ah, but now the flame wars start. Crema or mayonesa? Cabbage or lettuce? Do you squeeze the lime on the fish or squeeze it on after? Is guacamole ever appropriate? Fish taco lovers, even ones who understand what a fish taco is supposed to be, get into stupid fights online about this. The best stands, then, play Switzerland and just hand you fried fish on a double tortilla, then gesture toward an array of sauces and condiments.

Dave Lieberman
Tacos de Pescado Los Originales, on Av. Gastélum just inland from Juárez (5th Street) is one of those places. There are others nearly as good, but Bill got me hooked on this one, and the lines are usually mercifully short. The fish is cazón--school shark, which is plentiful off the coast of Baja California despite its overfished status in Europe--cut into meaty slabs, seasoned with enough salt, then dipped into a simple batter and deep fried. I always go the canonical route with my tacos, which cost 19 pesos ($1.50) each: cabbage, crema, salsa fresca (what we call pico de gallo), lime juice, and a few dots of the darkest salsa de chile de árbol I can find.

There's nothing fancy about this place--there are stools around it where you can sit and watch the action as you eat--but the tacos are absolutely amazing, and the stand is visited almost exclusively by Mexicans (the bus station is a block away), because tourists don't wander that far inland.

It's just the apotheosis of the Ensenada-style fish taco; once you eat the tacos here, you won't accept the crap dished out in this country in the name of tacos de pescado ever again.

Tacos de Pescado Los Originales is located on Av. Gastélum between Av. Juárez (Calle 5a) and Calle Sexta (6a) in the central tourist zone of Ensenada. From the enormous Mexican flag on the pier--as good a landmark as any--walk inland on Av. Alvarado to 5th Street (the Pemex station), turn left, walk three blocks to Av. Gastélum (Waldo's store), then turn right.

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