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.

Bull Taco

Their fish tacos are made fresh, topped with queso fresco, onions, cilantro, cabbage and Sriracha sour cream.  They totally won me over. The sour cream combo was like nothing I’d ever tasted. They also have all day taco Tuesdays at this joint. If you can’t make it to Encinitas, they also offer catering. If you’re taking a trip farther south, then check out the other locations in Oceanside and Cardiff by the Sea.

Native Knowledge: Inside Bull Taco, you’ll find Shibari, a Japanese organic ramen deli.
101 N. Coast Highway 101
760.753.1421

Best Fish Tacos in Orange County

Santa Monica Seafood

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
949.574.8862

Best Fish Tacos in Orange County

Slapfish

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
714.963.3900

Best Fish Tacos in Orange County

Matador Cantina

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
714.871.8226

Taco Nazo

When I think about fish tacos, the first thing that comes to mind is the style of tacos that Taco Nazo serves. Two corn tortillas topped with hand battered Alaskan Pollock fish, cabbage, pico de gallo and drizzled with secret sauce. Taco Nazo sets the bar a little bit higher though, especially with the chile they serve on the side, it’s lightly fried and rolled in their secret spice blend, which has notes of lemon pepper. It’s amazing. This place has a great condiment bar with salsas, radishes, jalapeños as well as my favorite – pickled carrots.

Native Knowledge: This location is one of two that sells beer!

121 South Beach Blvd.
La Habra, CA 90631
562.690.8078

Best Fish Tacos in Orange County

Bear Flag Fish Company

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
949.673.3474

Best Fish Tacos in Orange County

El Patio Café

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
949.496.9074

 

Hapa J’s

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
949.276.6657

Best Fish Tacos in Orange County

Sol Cocina

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
949.675.9800