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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rubio's Fish Tacos Gets Better and Better

There was a time not that long ago that if you told people you were having a fish taco you would hear choking sounds and see heads shaking NO, sort of the same reaction you would get today if you said you wanted a rat taco or a donkey burrito.  Back then a fish taco was exotic, unusual, and there was only one place in town to get it and that was Rubio's in Pacific Beach.

Well, times have changed and now just about every lousy restaurant has a fish taco on their menu - most of them pretty average.  And though we owe Ralph Rubio a lot for importing the baja fish taco to the states and onto the menus across the US, I have to say that the Rubio's fish taco has lost some of its luster to some tough competitors like The Brigantine (best fish taco in San Diego) and South Beach Bar and Grill in OB.  So sue me if I haven't been to Rubio's in a while, but after coming back I think I'm the one who needs to be battered and deep fried for my long absence.

TIP:  Looking for a last minute stocking stuffer?  Get them a Rubio's Gift Card!

You see, a lot has changed at Rubio's, starting with food being served on actual plates in the San Diego locations.  What?  Plates?  Like a real restaurant?  That's right.  Though you still order at the front the food comes out looking all nice and pretty on a plate, which is nice.  And the food is definitely kicked up a few notches, like the gourmet shrimp taco with bacon and avocado and Mexican cheese on top.  This is good stuff, the shrimp cooked right (meaning not overcooked) and the salty savory flavors all blending together into a perfect concoction of deliciousness.

Getting shrimp right is hard.  Down the street is a incredibly popular Mexican restaurant that was transplanted from Old Town (you know which one) and their shrimp are so rubbery that if you dropped your taco it would bounce back onto your plate like a superball.  This Rubio's shrimp taco puts their version to shame - at a fraction of the price.

I also went for the habanero mango mahi mahi taco and it blew my mind!  The sweet mango contrasted nicely with the hot, but not too hot, habanero chile.  But it was the fish that was the star, a fresh and clean tasting piece of mahi that was tender and moist, perfectly cooked - not fishy at all.  I also had the langostino taco, frankly expecting a disappointment but finding myself surprisingly happy with its lobster goodness.  Seriously, I was forced to go to (of all places) a restaurant owned by (of all people) Carlo's Santana's wife and I ordered a seafood enchilada where the filling could have easily have been string and band aids.  It was terrible!  Even in an expensive restaurant like that lobster can be a disappointment and lantostinos (aka "is it really lobster"?) even higher risk, but this taco was delightful.  I want another one now!  It's a seasonal offering but if you see it on the menu you should not hesitate - get it.

Of course you have to get at least one battered fish taco at Rubio's and it's still very, very good.  The fish has a nice flavor to it and the batter is crisp and light - it may no longer be the best in town but you can do a lot worse than this.  And on Tuesdays after 230 they're only a buck and a half, which is enough motivation for me to come back.

The shrimp burrito was very tasty, perhaps a bit light on shrimp after having those great tacos but not short on killer flavors.  I liked it but there are better burritos in the various taco shops around town so maybe next time I skip this one and stick to the tacos.  Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad burrito!  It's just a bit more pedestrian when stacked up to it's taco cousins.

In the end was the churro.  Like the fish taco, there are a lot of mediocre and downright bad churros out there so I was highly skeptical.  But one bite and I was smiling.  The Rubio's churro has a nice crisp crunch to it and a freshness that tells me that they took some care in this.  If it's overly sweet with the cinnamon sugar, pass it to me.  In fact, gimme it now!  If VG Donuts made churros, this is the one.  Don't let the kids order it and you not get any.  Order one for yourself.

So I left Rubio's with the same sort of excitement and satisfaction I had years ago when I first discovered them and ordered my first fish taco.  Who knew that some of the best seafood and fish tacos were hidden in one of the most obvious spots in San Diego?  Go back, rediscover Rubio's and order something new and I'll bet you'll be smiling as big as me when you leave. 

Various San Diego locations

1 comment:

Rubio's said...

Welcome back Local Wally! We're honored by your review and so glad we could make you smile :-)