One of the many perks of living in Southern California is the beach, and what pairs better with beach-life than tacos and beer?! We spent many days trekking it through countless locations in search of the best, and here are the results.
With roots dating back to 1939, it’s no wonder that Santa Monica Seafood has mastered the fish taco. Thursdays from 2-5 p.m. at Santa Monica Seafood, a-la-carte tacos are $3 and house beer is $2.50! With tacos from the Classic Baja with battered cod, cabbage, baja sauce, and pico de gallo, to their Marinated Octopus taco, with cabbage, avocado, and lemon aioli, anyone will find a taco that fits their taste.
Native Knowledge: Santa Monica Seafood was originally located on the Santa Monica Pier before opening their Southern California locations.
154 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Tucked away in the corner of the Anaheim Packing District, this taco joint offers a little safe haven from the crowd, as well as some mean eats! Urbana offers a taste of Michoacán in Orange County, with meals that are clean, simple and con mucho sabor! Their one-of-a-kind Baja Fish Tacos are served on handmade corn tortillas, tastefully equipped with the catch of the day, cabbage, guacamole, pico de gallo, and spicy aioli for an extra kick. Show up on Taco Tuesday to get this, and their other specialty tacos, for a two-for-$5 special.
Native Knowledge: Start with the elote, which is Mexican street corn, grilled to perfection. With the right amount of char and a dash of citrus aioli, it is finished off with a roll in cotija cheese and spices. Remember to pair your tacos with one of their refreshing Micheladas too!
Anaheim Packing District
440 S Anaheim Blvd
Anaheim, CA 92806
Located in trendy outdoor mall, The Camp, Taco Asylum serves up unique and flavorful dishes to its diners. With tacos like the Bacon PB&J taco with roasted peanut butter, carrot-ginger jam, fresh greens, sweet and spicy bacon, and pickled fresno chili, you’ll be coming back to try all the dishes that the Specialty Taco menu has to offer. Want to keep it classic? Opt for the Carne Asada taco with fire-grilled steak, salsa negro, onion, cilantro, and a tangy lime wedge. Either way, your taco craving will be satisfied.
Native Knowledge: Quench your thirst with one of Taco Asylum’s craft beers! With six beers on tap, and 40 specialty beers by the can, you’ll have several options to pair your taco with.
2937 S Bristol St Ste B102
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Best Fish Tacos in Orange County Best Fish Tacos in Orange County
I’ve heard great things about this place and after trying a couple of their fish tacos, I now know why. Slapfish started out as a food truck and eventually opened their brick and mortar restaurant in Huntington Beach a few years ago. Their fish tacos are amazing! Owner Chef Andrew promotes sustainable ingredients whenever possible. As a product of using sustainable produce, the menu changes such as the seasons do. Now let’s talk tacos, I loved the freshness of toppings used and the seasoning on each piece of fish. Each taco was topped with an avocado puree, lemon sauce and cabbage. Their menu is tons of fun with things like Chowder Fries and Lobster Rolls to name a few.
Native Knowledge: They have a great happy hour, or Slappy Hour, Monday through Thursday from 3-5 p.m. and 8-9 p.m.
19696 Beach Blvd.
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Located in the historical district of downtown Fullerton, this place has charm with its old building and large booths, which seem tiny compared to the longest bar I have ever seen. Come for dinner to enjoy the dimly lit atmosphere. Chef Dave Dennis does Baja justice with his Mahi Mahi fish tacos. He serves Baja on a plate, kicked up with quality ingredients. This spot had the best cabbage, which was lightly dressed, adding a touch of acidity to the tacos that was greatly appreciated. He also used Cotija cheese, which was a nice change of pace amongst the others.
Native Knowledge: If you like spice, then ask for the salsas the cooks eat!
111 N. Harbor Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92832
Chef Jimmy Martinez not only makes some of the tastiest tacos in Anaheim, but this spot is as Instagram worthy as the latin-inspired food is delicious. While it’s an intimate space with limited seating, there is a large illuminated sign out front that reads “Tacos Are Cheaper Than Therapy.” I don’t know if there’s ever been a truer statement in regard to tacos.
Native Knowledge: Not a meat eater? No problem! Pour Vida has an array of intriguing vegetarian tacos like carrot potato, heirloom tomato and burrata, and more!
185 W Center Street Promenade
Anaheim, CA 92805
Best Fish Tacos in Orange County
Bear Flag Fish Co. displays a case of fresh seafood to pick from, and you can also choose how you want them to make it. Whether it’s in a burrito, a bowl, a taco – you get the point. Obviously, I went for taco style. I couldn’t decide which to try, so I basically tried them all. They offer a wide variety of fish depending on what’s in season.
You have the choice of raw, seared, or fully cooked, but never fried. Bear Flag Fish Co. is a refreshing take on healthy choices with the freshest seafood around.
Native Knowledge: Wear sunscreen when you come, because there is usually a line out the door.
3421 Via Lido
Newport Beach, CA 92663
I felt so cozy and warm in this place with its homey vibe.You can’t miss it with its bright pink exterior. The grilled Mahi tacos with toasted pepitas, cabbage, salsa and cheese were delicious. I loved the crunch from the pumpkin seeds. The Baja fried Ensenada-style tacos tasted authentic, but most of all, I loved the crunchy Halibut fish taco. I suggest pairing any of these with a cold Pacifico, which they have on draft.
Native Knowledge: El Patio Café has been a local staple of Capistrano Beach for over 70 years, serving delicious fish tacos and so much more.
34226 Doheny Park Rd.
Capistrano Beach, CA 92624
Aside from the food, their die-hard fans do most of their marketing for them, talking up the joint at the laid-back, local bar. The first thing they said was, “You have to come on Tuesdays!” Hapa J’s dedicates Tuesdays to tacos, and they are closed most of that day to prep for their nighttime Taco Tuesday regulars, opening from 4:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Come early and still expect a line. Fresh corn tortillas are made from scratch for this event. When you get here, you must try the Ahi Poke taco with seared sesame Ahi Poke, Asian slaw with Yuza vinaigrette and Chipotle aioli. They load their tacos with plenty of fish at a super affordable prices. Pair your taco fare with an almost freezing draft pint of Primo. I seriously could eat tacos every day if I could eat them at Hapa J’s.
Native Knowledge: Hapa J’s brings something different to the table with their Hawaiian-infused dishes and decor. It’s a Hawaii-meets-Southern California local vibe with other Asian influences.
2016 South El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672
Best Fish Tacos in Orange County
I tried the Ensenada Fish Taco, the Grilled Fish Taco Zarandeado, and the Fish Taco Gobernador. All were tasty, so it just depends what mood you’re in to satisfy your craving. During summer, my palate covets those fruity and spicy salsas, so my favorite was the Zarandeado taco, which featured a pineapple-cucumber salsa. Additionally, it featured a secret sauce and a roasted tomato salsa. I’m a sucker for salsas and Sol delivers several fresh salsas made daily. Don’t miss out on Tequila and Taco Tuesday, every Tuesday from 4-10 p.m.
Native Knowledge: Come here for a taste of Baja with a great view. Your arrival is an experience in and of itself, whether it’s by driving down PCH, coasting on your paddleboard or showing up in your boat. Sol Cocina offers dockside service, so I recommend picking the latter.
251 E. Pacific Coast Highway
Newport Beach, CA 92660