Fish Tacos: What to Eat in San Diego, CA

With its glorious beaches and big city life just a few hours from the glitz of Hollywood, San Diego is definitely one of the must-visit destinations in California.

All those combined with some of the best local cuisines in the States, it's definitely a great place to go if you're looking for a relaxing vacation with hearty meals in between!

Among so many Mexican-American cuisines in San Diego, fish tacos have become one of the signature staples and a must-try when you travel to San Diego. So if you're not sure what to eat in San Diego, make sure to give it a shot!

In this post, Christina from Explore Now or Never will share some insights about fish tacos in San Diego, CA, as well as some of the best places to try fish tacos in the city. Let's dive in!

Why You Should Eat Fish Tacos in San Diego, CA

San Diego offers a lot of things to do in the city, from the famous San Diego Zoo to the regular hop on hop off trolley city tour. The coastal city of Pacific Ocean also allows you to join some of the best excursions like whale watching or sunset sailing around the Bay

If you're not sure what to eat in San Diego, I'd recommend giving fish tacos a try!!

This makes the perfect lunch after a day spent surfing, paddle boarding or lounging on one of the dozens of soft sandy beaches on San Diego’s scenic Pacific coastline.

Spending a day on a San Diego beach is the best free activity there is!

Baja fish tacos are so named because they hail from Mexico, the 800-mile Baja California peninsula to be specific. And here in San Diego, you can find them at little Mexican taco shops up and down the coast and even inland.

They can be served grilled or battered. It's a personal choice… And everyone has a strong opinion!

How Fish Taco is Served

Typically, a mild white-fleshed saltwater fish like snapper, mahi mahi, grouper or other wild, local fish are used.

They're typically served with “curtido,” a lime-pickled cabbage slaw, a spicy cream chipotle sauce, and a spoonful of your favorite pico de gallo salsa in two corn tortillas each. You can add refried beans and rice and still be under $10!

Fish taco.

Where to Eat the Best Fish Tacos in San Diego

San Diego has gone crazy for fish tacos ever since Ralph Rubio, a local surfer, opened up his first restaurant Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill in Mission Beach after becoming completely smitten with them on surf trips south of the border in the eighties.

He discovered them in San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez, back when he was a college student at San Diego State University.

In one interview, Rubio said that he initially urged a taco vendor named Carlos there to open up a restaurant in San Diego. But Carlos didn’t want to leave Mexico.

So in a flash of inspiration, Rubio decided to do it himself after hitting his dad up for some seed money. Since then, Rubio's has sold more than 50 million of them at franchises throughout the US Southwest… Even though lots of naysayers said Americans would never eat fish tacos.


Today, the most authentic and delicious fish tacos in San Diego are not to be had at Rubio's, however, but rather at independently run Mexican taco shops and restaurants everywhere.

In Pacific Beach, try Oscar's Mexican Seafood. In La Jolla, try The Taco Stand. And further north, in Encinitas, my favorite fish tacos are at Kotija Taco Shop.

Contributor: Christina from Explore Now or Never

Christina Román is a San Diego-based writer and photographer. Her blog inspires mid-life professionals to see the world with fewer crowds and more magic moments. When she's not indulging her wanderlust, you can find her curled up with her two cats in her tropical garden.

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