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Saturday, June 28, 2014

How to Find Sustainable San Diego Seafood in a Town Filled with Fish Tacos

Check out this photo from 1905 in front of the Hotel Del Coronado.  This is not some crazy Photoshopped image.  Back then you could actually catch giant sea bass off our coast.  Heck, San Diego once had a thriving tuna fishing industry.  Not that long ago there were so many fish being caught off our coast that it drove the development of the canning industry so we could sell it to other markets.  There were so many fish in the sea, as the saying goes, that no one thought it would ever end.

Today it's a bit different.  Overfishing and destructive fishing techniques have put the oceans into serious jeopardy.  So what can you do?  One of the better ways to know whether you should order that sushi roll or not is to use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch app on your phone.  It lets you know quickly whether the fish you are thinking of ordering is sustainable or whether you should avoid them.  Of course, you can also just go to Rubio's where they lead the way with their sustainable offerings labeled with a easy to see blue icon.  See it? 

I was hungry so that's what I did.  I was feeling a bit nostalgic for the original Rubio's Fish Taco joint in Mission Bay area.  I used to go there and wait in long lines back when it was the only place to get a fish taco.  I hadn't been there in a long time so I wondered if it was still the funky joint I remembered or if was cleaned up like the ones in the mall.

 Psssst - want to Win 2 Rubio's gift cards?  Just add a comment to the end of this post and go to my Facebook page and Like me and you might be the lucky winner!

Thankfully it hadn't changed much at all.  I like the new Rubio's restaurants but the original has a cool San Diego taco shop vibe that makes it feel like you've come to someplace special.  You line up inside and order, then grab a seat outside and wait for your name to be called. It's old school.  In fact, the speaker they use to call out the names is so old school that there is no way you can understand who is being called so pay attention and keep an eye on the pick up window.

I love shrimp but have been shying away from them a bit after reading about how terrible the farming practices are in other countries and how net fishing has so much "by-catch" waste.  Farmed shrimp from Asian countries are highly destructive to the environment and imported wild shrimp from outside the US uses bottom crawling nets that catch everything - a pound of shrimp often has 5 pounds of other sea life caught with it that is tossed away or left to die.  Thankfully Rubio's uses sustainable shrimp so you can eat as much as you want - and you will want to eat a lot of these shrimp enchiladas!  The green sauce had a nice tang and the enchilada was overflowing with plump, juicy, perfectly cooked shrimp.  Sustainable.  Delicious. What more could you want? 

My friend got the trio of tacos, all sustainable.  Blackened talapia, a grilled shrimp taco, and the classic battered fried fish taco.  All were delicious, but does Rubio's make anything that's not?  And it's good to know that the standard battered fried fish taco, the one that started the entire fish taco craze across the U.S., is 100% sustainable. That's really good to know when Tuesdays roll around as you can get one of these original fish tacos for a buck and a half after 230PM.

In fact, most of the offerings on Rubio's menu are sustainable.  There are a few that are not - sadly the Mango Habanero Mahi Mahi taco, one of my favorites, is not.  Maybe Rubio's could do a Mango Habanero Talapia taco???  Man, I would eat that for sure!

So thanks Ralph Rubio for bringing us the fish taco, and thanks for keeping an eye on the ocean that we love and the sea life in it.

(Don't forget - Win 2 FREE gift cards to Rubio's by posting a comment on this post and going to my Facebook page and liking me!)

Local Wally
The original San Diego local guy.... since 1996


diego said...

Sustainable seafood is so important. Thank you for all the information. I love fish - I love San Diego and pay attention to sustainability! did you know Trader Joes now has a certified label on it?

Pierce Aero One said...

Thanks. Good to learn, always.

Chesh said...

A September trip to San Diego is in the works where I plan to convert my mom to the ways of the fish taco. I will need an artillery of persuasions to get that taco from the menu to her mouth. So cheers for the heads up regarding sustainable seafood! I will be sure to be mindful of this whilst I coax her out of her shell.

Local Wally said...

Chesh, Local Wally here. Rubio's might do the trick but if you want a more restaurant setting take your mom to The Brigantine in Del Mar. They have a terrific fish taco combo - 2 classic fish tacos, fries or home cooked chips, and cole slaw - for $11. Get that and then get one with grilled fish and split up the tacos. I took my Mom there for her first fish taco and she is hooked. I only wish The Brig would label their fish as sustainable or not like Rubio's does.

Suzy/Stan said...

My husband and I have not been on a vacation for 20 years, and we have never been to California. Coming out for our sons graduation of becoming a Marine in a few weeks. Would love to Rubio's out why we are in San Diego!!

Chesh said...

Thanks heaps Wally! I could have fish tacos every day for the whole week I am there, so consider The Brigantine added to our itinerary. Even though they don't label their fish, do you know if it's sustainable or not?

diego said...

I sent your link to my friends.