On a Fish Taco Kick

by | Jan 18, 2010 | Main Dishes, Restaurant Overviews

I have been on a fish taco kick lately. I’m not a big fish eater, but there’s just something about fish tacos that I really like. I have found that when ordering or making fish tacos, don’t even think about flour tortillas–corn tortillas really complete the fish taco, as does the finely shredded cabbage and a squeeze of lime juice. The seasoning and/or sauce used can be a real deal breaker too.

So far, the best fish tacos that I have had were at a fast food restaurant called Rubio’s Mexican Grill. Fish tacos are their specialty. I try not to eat deep fried or battered food and unfortunately, Rubio’s fish is battered. The Rubio’s Restaurants that I have eaten at are at the Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara and at the food court at the Nordstrom’s Centre in San Francisco.

Fish taco from Rubio’s

Disappointing fish tacos were served to me at the Ideal Bar & Grill restaurant that is at the entrance to Santa Cruz’s Fisherman’s Wharf. They were, however, served with a nice jicama slaw.

Fish tacos from the Ideal Bar and Grill in Santa Cruz

Below is a recipe and a story for grilled fish tacos that was submitted for our cookbook by our cousin Gary Holm. So, on one of our balmy California winter days, heat up the grill and have yourself some grilled fish tacos. And, don’t forget the Pacifico. ~merry carter~

Sunny Southern California Grilled Fish Tacos

Serves 6

In all my years living at home, I was fed and nourished by my mom and grandmas with healthy, nutritious, tasty foods. But it wasn’t until I was in the Navy that I began to taste a lot of really different foods. I found that I loved spicy foods and especially fish. We ate mostly beef and pork if I remember correctly! Living in Hawaii for somany years gave me an appreciation of fish prepared in many different ways. When Jeri and I moved our family to San Diego, I discovered a local favorite, the fish taco. I have tasted many, from countless restaurants and taco stands, and have been making my own at home for quite some time. I often serve them to visitors, and even reluctant recipients say they would gladly come back for more. This recipe is my best “guesstimates.” The main thing is to light up the grill, throw on some of your favorite fish and enjoy the day. If you enjoy a beer while grilling, now is the time to do it! The tacos work best with a “make‘em yourself ” spread. Put the fillings in serving dishes, and let everyone choose their favorite ingredients. Serve with chips and salsa and maybe some refried beans.

 ~Gary Holm~


  • 1/2 head raw green cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 pound Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 to 3 limes, cut into wedges
  • Fresh salsa
  • Tartar sauce
  • 2 to 3 avocados, cut into slices or small cubes (optional)
  • 2 pounds fish fillets, such as orange roughy, salmon, shark, swordfish, or sea bass
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Seasoning mix, such as a “general purpose” or “south of the border” blend (or one of your favorites)
  • 12 to 15 corn tortillas


Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Put the cabbage, cheese, cilantro, limes, salsa, tartar sauce, and avocados in individual serving dishes and set them aside until you are ready to eat. Rinse the fish, pat it dry with paper towels, rub it with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and the seasoning mix. When the grill is ready, place the fish on the rack. Figure about 10 to 15 minutes cooking time per inch of thickness, or 5 to 7 minutes for each side. Meanwhile, warm up the tortillas by steaming or quickly grilling them on a lightly oiled pancake griddle. When the fish is done and is cool enough to handle, break it into bite-size pieces and put it in a serving dish. Set all the fillings, fish, and warmed tortillas out for your guests to “build their own” tacos. For example, spread tartar sauce on a warm tortilla, add a layer of shredded cabbage, some fish, and cheese. Top with salsa, cilantro, and plenty of lime juice. Wrap it up, and take a big bite, and enjoy!