Fish Taco Quest

Aoili's Fish Taco

No offense to watermelon, drippy Popsicles or potato salad, but when it comes to iconic warm weather eats, fish tacos are the catch of the day. They bring to mind flip flops, sandy beaches, lazy days at the ocean and the apre-swim munchies that require anything fast, fried or finger-food-friendly to be adequately quelled.

A longtime staple of many local taquerias, the fish taco is a constantly evolving snack — transformed from a lowly fish stick on a tortilla to a crunchy, multi-cultural work of art in the right hands. Then again, sometimes a fish stick and some chipotle mayo on a corn tortilla is fine, too.  From haute to humble here are some of the area’s best bets for fish tacos that quench the craving. Here are some of my favorites…

Top Pick: Fancy Fishies at Aioli Delicatessen (Friday only)
Autumn Barber is a fish-frying fool come Friday. On the menu just once a week, her wild rock cod fish tacos are dunked in Fat Tire beer batter  spiced with coriander and cayenne, fried to a crispy crunch and served up with chipotle lime sour cream, pico de gallo and lemon oil dressed cabbage. In a red plastic basket, mind you, as not to get all highfalutin. Worth the drive to Forestville, truly. Just be patient, cause there’s usually a line, starting at noon. 6536 Front St., Forestville, (707) 887-2476.

Top Pick: Las Palmas
Fish tacos aren’t always on the menu, but when they are, jump. Blackened fish tacos here are all about the fish, and less about the batter. Loaded up with cabbage and a side of beans and rice, it’s a meal and a half.  What keeps us coming back to Las Palmas are menu specials like these that go way beyond boring burritos and quesadillas. 415 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, (707) 546-3091.

La Texanita: Hot. Hot. Hot. These are some seriously spicy fish tacos, packing a flavor wallop. For us, they were almost too spicy for comfort, but like everything here, they’re fresh and homemade. If you’re jonesing for the frutas del mar, don’t miss their spankingly good shrimp and ceviche tostadas. 1667 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, (707) 525-1905.

Cafe Zazzle: Fish tacos with a side of Zazzle slaw? Get past the preciousness and prepare to dig in. Fresh grilled fish with cheese, chipotle aoili, salsa and their signature slaw. One of our Petaluma lunchtime faves. 121 Kentucky St., Petaluma, 762-1700.

Third Street Aleworks: Friends raved about these fried nuggets of goodness. And they lived up to the hype. Somewhat similar to Aioli Deli’s, they’re beer-battered cod tacos with cabbage, pico de gallo and cilantro-lime sour cream. But without all the glamor of lemon-oil. 610 3rd Street, Santa Rosa, 523-3060.

Crepevine: Who knew eggs benny and omelets could be menu-mates to fish tacos? Santa Rosa’s new breakfasty-brunchy cafe does a solid lunchtime rendition of fish tacos with mango salsa. Prepare to doggy bag, however. Servings here are huge. In addition to two broiled fish tacos, you’ll end up with a side of Caesar salad and fries.740 Farmers Lane, Santa Rosa,  (707) 577-8822.

Willi’s Seafood: Though it seems almost a shame to adulterate the amazing fresh fish at this Healdsburg fave (where oysters rule, along with the lobster roll), Willi’s keeps their fish tacos simple. Just a simple grill, with salsa, crema and lime. Voila, perfection. 403 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, 433-9191.

And the rest…Fish taco affectionados also suggested Martha’s Old Mexican Grill (305 North Main Street, Sebastopol, 823-4458), Lola’s Markets, La Taquiza (2007 Redwood Rd., Napa, 224-2320) and Rubio’s as their favorites. With summer still playing out, there’s no doubt more and more fish tacos will crop up on local menus.

What about Ceviche?
Seafood of a different sort, ceviche is simply fish “cooked” in citrus. It takes on a variety of hues and flavors, but you’ll most often find mild white fish like cod mixed with fresh pico de gallo, lots of lime and cilantro. Scooped onto a crispy tostada it’s a bit of heaven.  You’ll find some of the best at , Taqueria Don Jose, where off-duty chefs scarf down carnitas, ceviche and cerveza with mucho gusto. 958 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, (707) 545-5747. But there’s nothing like a nice shrimp tostada or ceviche at the El Cache truck at the Saturday Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market. You’ll find me most weekends with a heaping plate of salsa, shrimp and fresh sliced avocados sitting round the oilcloth table. Just leave me a little hot sauce and a spot in the shade.

What are you faves?

Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, BiteClubEats.com is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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25 Comments

  1. Had the fish tacos this week for the umpteenth time at Aioli. They *truly* are fantastic. And i’m a person who likes to eat good tasting food. Just. Like. You. So get yer butt on over there. The line may be long, but service is quick enough for made-to-order food, and more importantly, it is WELL worth the wait.

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  2. Tres Hombres in Petaluma has amazing fish tacos!! Like 5 different types of seafood prepared 3 different ways. Also, on Tuesdays their Baja tacos are only $2.50.

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  3. The fish tacos I crave are from Santa Rosa Taqueria on Mendocino Ave. Shame their closed since that fire but their fish tacos were to die for!!

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  4. The fish tacos I used to CRAVE were at Mi Casita in Guerneville (across from Safeway). But that was many years ago, before Gloria and her husband sold the place. Not sure if the current owners are using the same recipe…or if the place is still open. Perhaps I will make a trip out there. Oh, and their re-fried beans were the best in the area, in my opinion.

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    • Had dinner at Don Pedros Stony Pt. and Sebas. Rd last night.Fish Tacos amazing with their handmade tortillas.Try there Miss

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  5. El Charro in Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa has the best in my book. All their food is great!

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  6. Um, The BEST Fish Tacos I’ve had in sonoma county are at The Lola’s on petaluma hill road…. Both stores do make them, but the petaluma hill road store is the best! and I’ve had them most everywhere else here…including Rubios, which are good. But the petaluma hill road Lola’s kick’s all pretenders to the curb.

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    • I agree about Lola’s fish tacos…good ceviche too!

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  7. I’m NOT sorry to agree with Z, Rubios are the best in the 707 and they’ve were making fish tacos in California when most of you were still thinking Taco Bell for your mexican food fix!

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  8. How can this be a serious review of 707 fish tacos, when there are virtually no actual taquerias on this list? No offense intended, but you’ve seriously missed the mark. There are other very good “classic” taquerias making fish tacos, but one of the best, and least known, is Taqueria Guadalajara in Healdsburg. I could go on for pages about the birria on Saturdays and Sundays, but as far as fish tacos go, they are as good as you can find, cheaper than most, and actually more healthy, as Chef David doesn’t deep fry the fish, instead choosing to treat it on the grill almost like an “asado”.

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  9. The Sweet Spot in downtown Santa Rosa has great fish tacos.

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  10. Based on the post, I tried the fish tacos at La Texanita last night. They were very good, probably the best I’ve had in the area. There was a slight spice to them, but certainly not “Hot. Hot. Hot.”

    Oh, and homemade tortilla.

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    • Did I mention I’m a spice wimp? Maybe just hot to me.

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  11. Don Pedros(where pepes used to be)Bright yellow,crnr Seb&Stony across from Food-Max.Killer Ceviche and Fish tacos or Wholefish Platter for under$10.00. WHEN COUPLED WITH THEIR 6 HOMEMADE SALSAS…TRY THE MANGO HARBONERO IF YOU DARE!

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    • Your right Don Pedros kicks arse,Try their sizzling shrimp fajitas and freshly made Rellenos.Best Ive had.Very inexpensive.

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  12. Santa Rosa farmer’s market on Saturday mornings, where they also serve oysters. Super yummy!

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  13. I am so glad to see you talk about the absolutely yummy fish taco’s at Aioli Deli. I have brought my friend, my kids and my mom who all hate fish and fish tacos and made them try it. They now love them and want them all the time!

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  14. I’m almost sorry to say this, but Rubio’s has the best fish tacos in the area. The only other place that came close was La Palapa at the HSU footbridge in Arcata, CA. Unfortunately, it closed down in the late ’90′s.

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    • Have you tried LA PALAPA on Lewis Rd. in Santa Rosa?

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  15. Sol Bar in Calistoga for fish tacos, Go Fish for Ceviche!

    Some of the best around

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  16. I just had some great ceviche the other day down in Petaluma at Dempsey’s. It was “cooked” in lime and had a great avocado and fresh pico.

    Really tasty, if only we had some warmer weather to go along with such a refreshing bite!

    Cheers
    Brian
    http://norcalwingman.com

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  17. Taqueria Los Altos De Jalisco, 2700 Yulupa Avenue. Simple grilled tuna, the way it is supposed to be done.

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  18. The guy at the Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market on saturday mornings. Sign says Taqueria Mazatlan. Good name, because his fish tacos are estilo Mazatlan. Which is a good distinction to make. Estilo Baja, and Mazatlan are different. Ive never ha d agood fish taco that wasn’t one or the other.

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