Where to Find San Diego’s Best Fish Tacos

San Diego is famous for the beloved fish taco so you must eat it

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If there’s one thing a visitor should eat in San Diego, it’s fish tacos. Determining who makes the best fish tacos in San Diego is a rough task because there are, in all honesty, so many good options. This list has been updated in 2017 because there are now even more San Diego fish tacos to include.

Exactly how the idea migrated north from coastal Baja California is debated, but we’re sure glad it’s here. A standard Baja-style fish taco has lightly-battered fish on a corn tortilla that is topped with cabbage, fresh salsa, a light cream sauce and a wedge of lime. However, San Diego restaurants have added their own flair and grilled fish taco options are very common, too.

Deciding where to enjoy this local staple is a tough choice. Options range from upscale dining experiences at restaurants like George’s at the Cove (pictured above) to Rubio’s, the fast food giant who claims to have started it all.

George’s at the Cove (La Jolla)

George's Ocean Terrace has some of the best fish tacos in La Jolla, if not all of San Diego.

George’s Ocean Terrace, the top level of George’s at the Cove, is my all-around favorite place for fish tacos in San Diego on a sunny day. Between the spectacular ocean view, cool contemporary look, festive vibe and one of San Diego’s best chefs… you can’t beat the experience. About 95% of the time, I start with a bowl of black bean soup and then devour a plate of grilled fish tacos (with jalapeño cream, guacamole, cilantro and shredded cabbage on a corn tortilla made a sister restaurant, Galaxy Taco) paired with a few glasses of Chardonnay. Is that bliss or what?

The downstairs California Modern restaurant serves totally different, yet equally delicious fish tacos… you’ll need to go to see why. They were featured on The Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, if that gives you any clue as to how good they are. Chose the part of the restaurant that suits your mood.

Why go: The view is spectacular, wine and craft cocktail list plentiful, and it’s where many locals take out of town guests for a quintessential San Diego experience. If you’re craving fish tacos, but need a posh place to take a date or meet a group of friends, this is the place to certainly find the best fish tacos in La Jolla at a nice, sit-down restaurant, if not all of San Diego.

1250 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037. Phone: (858) 454-4244

The Taco Stand (La Jolla, Encinitas, Downtown)

taco stand fish taco la jolla

All meals are prepared to order at The Taco Stand. Corn tortillas, guacamole and salsas are also made daily in-house. Walk in, order at the register, gather your salsas from the salsa bar, sit at one of the handful of tables or take it to-go. Pictured above is the camaron spicy shrimp taco (highly recommend) and the grilled pescado taco (fish). The nopale and carne asada are excellent choices, too.

The La Jolla location is where we go most frequently. It shares a super small parking lot with Pizza on Pearl so keep an eye out for street parking as you approach. Go early as it is a very popular place with limited seating.

Why go: You’re in downtown La Jolla and craving a quick fish taco. Sure, there’s Rubio’s around the corner but these taste fresher and are much more flavorful.

La Jolla: 621 Pearl St, La Jolla, CA 92037. Phone: (858) 551-6666

Encinitas: 642 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024. Phone: (760) 230-2061

Downtown: 645 B St, San Diego, CA 92101. Phone: (619) 546-0570

Bahia Don Bravo

This casual Mexican food spot in Bird Rock is only a few block from my house. As I’m revamping this list for 2017, I realized that I had initially left them of which is total blasphemy. They have the best fish taco in La Jolla on the lower end of the price scale for sure. It’s $1.99, incredibly flavorful and well-portioned.

The lobster burrito is another solid choice. Hang tight… I’ll go grab a fish taco in a few days and snap a photo.

5504 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037. Phone: (858) 454-8940

Puesto (La Jolla and The Headquarters Downtown)

Best Fish Tacos in San Diego - Puesto

While you wouldn’t necessarily go to Puesto specifically in search of the best fish tacos in San Diego (because they have a lot of other great choices, too), their salmon taco is delicious. The restaurant is known for their Mexico City-style guisados (grilled meats) which you can have served in a variety of ways. Taco options include grilled shrimp, carne asada, chicken al pastor, carnitas, salmon, soy chorizo, and zucchini and cactus. Don’t skip the cheese as they grill it on to the tortilla. Pictured above is their Baja-style fish taco.

The  light, modern and kid-friendly decor makes it pleasant to sit down to enjoy a quick meal here. My daughter likes the quesadillas.

Why go: You want good made-to-order Mexican street food in an upscale, fast-casual environment in either downtown La Jolla or The Headquarters.

La Jolla: 1026 Wall St, La Jolla, CA 92037. Phone: (858) 454-1260

The Headquarters: 789 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101. Phone: (619) 233-8880

Oscar’s Mexican Seafood (Pacific Beach, Hillcrest, East Village)

Oscars Mexican Seafood - best fish tacos in San Diego

Many reviews claim that Oscar’s Mexican Seafood has the best fish tacos in San Diego.

The smoked fish taco is one of their most popular menu items. You can’t go wrong with a grilled fish taco, prepared with your choice from the available fish (market price), and the fresh ceviche is awesome. Battered fish tacos are available, too, and quite the steal at $1.99. Several sauces and salsas are on the side for you to add.

The original location on Turquoise Street has virtually no seating other than a small bar area outside that’s usually crowded and uncomfortable. The new Emerald street location has some seating and is a bit more spacious. Yes, they are the best fish taco in Pacific Beach with two locations in this neighborhood alone. New Oscar’s locations include Encinitas, Hillcrest and East Village. Bring cash.

Why go: You want an authentic, delicious fish taco to-go and to see what the hype of best fish tacos in San Diego is all about.

Pacific Beach: 746 Emerald Street, San Diego, CA 92109. Phone: (858) 412-4009

North Pacific Beach: 703 Turquoise Street, San Diego, CA 92109. Phone: (858) 488-6392

Hillcrest: 646 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103. Phone: (619) 798-3550

East Village: 927 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101. Phone: (619) 564-6007

World Famous (Pacific Beach)

Best fish tacos in San Diego - World Famous

Located right on the boardwalk with spectacular beach and ocean views (as well as entertaining people watching especially during the summer), World Famous is an excellent day time spot to relax over multiple drinks and tacos. During peak times, it can get really busy so have a back up plan in order to avoid the wait as they don’t take reservations. The menu is seasonal. I can personally vouch for the Bloody Mary’s and Benedicts as well as the grilled shrimp taco. Fish tacos are Baja-style and they do have a Puerto Nuevo-style lobster taco option, too.

Why go: You want to linger at a casual, not-too-pricey restaurant by the beach (though wear shirts and cover-ups over your beach gear).

711 Pacific Beach Dr San Diego, CA 92109. Phone: (858) 272-3100

Pacific Beach Fish Shop

pacific beach fish shop - best fish tacos in San Diego

Pacific Beach Fish Shop’s super casual ambiance draws families, PB’s young professional crowd and anyone craving a customizable fish taco. Choose your fish, choose your marinade and choose your preparation (taco, salad, plate or sandwich). The TKO mahi mahi fish taco (pictured above) is award winning and distinguished by a sweet and slightly spicy mango salsa. I also highly recommend the ceviche.

They have a decent-sized parking lot, counter-ordering and a large outdoor patio in addition to some seating inside. This dog-friendly San Diego restaurant (they’ll usually bring my dog water and treats) serves wine and a nice selection of beer. Discounted oyster nights and other specials happen throughout the week.

Why go: You like the ability to DIY your fish taco.

1775 Garnet Ave (Corner of Garnet & Kendall), San Diego, CA 92109. Phone: (858) 483-1008

Taco Surf PB (Pacific Beach)

Taco Surf PB has some of the best fish tacos in Pacific Beach

Taco Surf PB is not much to look at when you first walk in. The metal screen door has old surf and skate stickers all over it, the old linoleum flooring is stained and the menu is written in part on pieces of paper. But, aesthetics aside and most importantly, the food is very good and is priced in line with similar places. The fried fish soft taco (corn tortilla) is really good, especially with the lime and salsa provided along with it.  The piece of fish surprisingly runs pretty much the entire diameter of the tortilla, which is rare.

The grilled fish taco (mahi mahi last time we ordered) is even better, again with the lime and salsa provided.

Why go: You’re on the PB boardwalk or headed to the beach and need a good fish taco to-go.

4657 Mission Blvd., San Diego, CA 92109. Phone: (858) 272-3877

Blue Water Seafood (Mission Hills)

Blue Water Seafood - Best Fish Tacos in San Diego

Blue Water Seafood was featured on The Food Network’s Diners Drive-ins and Dives a few years back. Choose your fish and they’ll marinate it in their spicy chipotle sauce prior to grilling and topping it with cabbage, cheese, onions, tomatoes and special white sauce. The tortillas are from nearby El Indio Mexican restaurant, also featured on the same TV show. It can get busy so you might be better off planning to eat elsewhere as seating is limited (as is parking). The tacos are actually pretty big.

Why go: They probably have the widest variety of seasonal fish to choose from. It’s a no-frills seafood market so take some fresh fish to grill at home, too.

3667 India St San Diego, CA 92103. Phone: (619) 497-0914

South Beach Bar & Grille (Ocean Beach)

South Beach - best fish tacos in San Diego

This option is out if you have kids and tow as it is a 21+ establishment. However, their fish tacos (pictured in the top post photo) are amazing and some fans claim that these are actually the best fish tacos in San Diego.

Choices range from grilled wahoo, mahi, shark and lobster or fried pollock. If not health conscious, go fried. Otherwise the lobster taco is amazing. The generous heap of fresh salsa on top makes the taco. Go on Taco Tuesday when tacos are $2.75 all day.

Why go: To have a bunch of drinks at a bar and one of the best fish tacos in San Diego in funky OB on a nice day. You’re not a parent yet (the crowd can skew young) or the kids are elsewhere.

5059 Newport Ave Ste 104. San Diego, CA 92107. Phone: (619) 226-4577

The Brigantine (Multiple Locations)

Best fish tacos in San Diego - Brigantine

The Brigantine’s fried fish tacos are reliably good. I’ve probably eaten hundreds of them at the Del Mar when I lived there during and shortly after college. Huge, battered chunks of fish swimming in ranch dressing, cheddar cheese and cabbage are worth extra time on the treadmill. I can’t believe I used to pair these with an order of potato skins. I miss that metabolism.

Menu items range from salads to sandwiches to higher-end seafood dishes so you’re entire party isn’t locked in to fish tacos.

Why go: You want to pair a hearty fish taco with a craft beer or nice glass of wine in a contemporary sit-down restaurant with an otherwise sizable menu.

Coronado: 1333 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 92118. Phone: (619) 435-4166

Del Mar: 3263 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92104. Phone: (858) 481-1166

Escondido: 421 West Felicita Avenue, Escondido, CA 92025. Phone: (760) 743-4718

La Mesa: 9350 Fuerte Drive, La Mesa, CA 91941. Phone: (619) 465-1935

Point Loma: 2725 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego, CA 92106. Phone: (619) 224-2871

Poway: 13445 Poway Road, Poway, CA 92064. Phone: (858) 486-3066

Brig HQ (pop-up test kitchen only open for lunch): 7889 Ostrow Street, San Diego, CA 92111. Phone: (858) 427-0961

Rubio’s (Multiple Locations)

Rubios - Best Fish Tacos in San Diego

Rubio’s is everywhere and it’s a cheap, fast and reliable source of fish tacos if you need a quick bite to eat at the mall or in between running errands. Some locations sell beer, too. While it’s not nearly as inexpensive as other fast food, keep in mind that a majority of their seafood is sustainable. Ralph Rubio lives in La Jolla. I met him at a private lunch to talk about his restaurants, he could not have been a nicer guy. The original fish tacos are a $1.75 after 2:30 on Tuesdays (Taco Tuesday).

The salmon taco is pretty good and I know that other people rave about the blackened fish versions. Some Rubio’s locations sell beer and win.

Why go: This regional chain has locations all over San Diego so the odds are that you’re probably near one anyway.

Find a Rubio’s near you using their store locator.

Is Your Favorite San Diego Fish Taco Missing?

Side note: I have heard amazing things about Tijuana Oyster Bar so will go check it out for inclusion on this list. Aside from this, let us know which restaurant you think has the best fish tacos in San Diego and why. Your input will help guide those visiting San Diego and is much appreciated!

Photo credits: South Beach, Flickr/WordRidden; Point Loma Seafood, Flickr/Shoshanah; Blue Water Seafood, Flickr/cogdogblog; Puesto fish taco, Puesto

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11 Comments

  1. February 17, 2016 at 8:22 am — Reply

    I moved from SD almost 20 years ago and I miss Rubio’s.

  2. Dez
    January 9, 2016 at 1:54 am — Reply

    TJ’s. I can’t stop coming here. I’ve tried plenty of SD offerings. Local’s and out towners alike will come here 2-3 times a week.

  3. November 27, 2015 at 3:26 pm — Reply

    The TKO Fish Taco at The Sandbar sports grill in mission Bay SD is excellent!!
    Also highly recommend the oyster tacos at South Beach Grill in Ocean Beach SD

  4. Vania
    July 14, 2015 at 12:56 pm — Reply

    All of South San Diego is missing from your list. Tijuana Oyster Bar and Mariscos Isaac Taco Truck are the best fish tacos in town and best priced, hands down!

  5. Robert
    March 6, 2015 at 9:34 am — Reply

    I’ve Tried most of the places shown here on this page. The Bluewater market and Grill by far has the best fish tacos in San Diego. There fish and chips, their clam chowder, and everything is just outstanding at this place. The selection of fish is also fantastic.
    This place is real small, seating is very limited but it’s worth the wait in line to get one of their tacos.

  6. Lauren Burns
    January 18, 2015 at 4:10 am — Reply

    Spike Africa’s (downtown SD) fish tacos on their lunch menu should be added to this list.

  7. July 2, 2014 at 8:43 pm — Reply

    To whom it may concern,

    Having tried all of the above mentioned restaurants, I opened a new taqueria in north park because of the lack of creativity, quality and authenticity currently available in San Diego.

    I invite you to try our mahi al adobo with a mango habanero relish and kindly ask you to decide for yourself who truly has the best fish taco in San Diego

    Hope to see you soon

    Best regards

    Gerry

  8. Noël Ehlers
    June 22, 2014 at 4:09 pm — Reply

    The Taco Stand in La Jolla has the great fish tacos too. I look forward to trying Puestos salmon taco.

  9. David Lupica
    May 8, 2014 at 5:36 am — Reply

    Oscars is still the absolute best! George's are also phenomenal, as well as the shark tacos at south beach. Great list! PB fish shop as robbin recommends below are excellent as well. Also, the fish market downtown I'd add 🙂

  10. Danielle Morales
    April 9, 2014 at 3:54 am — Reply

    I still think Bravos in OB is the best

  11. Robbin Watson
    March 11, 2014 at 7:52 pm — Reply

    You should try the TKO taco at PB Fish Shop! Amazing!

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