Taco Task Force Stop #4: The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, which Joseph Cordova debuted next to a Los Feliz auto repair shop in 2007.
For his fish tacos ($1.50), Cordova’s cooks flash-fry flavorful basa (farm raised catfish) in canola oil and grill store-bought tortillas until crispy. Since the batter isn’t crispy, I liked the tortillas’ texture, but Bill and The Glutster said that simply isn’t done in Baja. This was clearly the most flavorful fish of the day, texture aside.
The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada was the only restaurant that allows customers to dress their own tacos, which is standard in Baja and rang true for the Street Gourmet. The well-stocked salsa bar hosts bowls of shredded radish relish, Pineapple Kiss (“tropical refreshing bite”), Hot Guac, Mad Mango, Mango Less (“all of the passion – none of the mango”), Mild (“delicious, but wimpy”), plus shredded cabbage for crunch and a dispenser of La Crema Magica (“the final ingredient”). None of the salsas is particular stellar, but they are unique options.
Grade of Key Ingredient: 4.5, J 4.5, C 3.5, B 3.5 AVERAGE 4/5
Condiment: 3.5 B 2.5, C 3.5, J 4 AVERAGE 3.375/5
Authenticity: 2.5 J 2.5, B 3.5, C 3.5 AVERAGE 3/5
Overall Flavor: 4, C 3, J 4, B 3.5 AVERAGE 3.875
Cooking 3.5, C 3, J 3, B 3 AVERAGE 3.125/5
OVERALL FISH TACO SCORE: 3.475/5
Taco Task Force Stop #5…postponed. Ricky’s Fish Tacos was going to be our final fish taco stop, but Bill checked Ricky’s Twitter account and it read, “HOLA EVERY 1 & SORRY!! UNXPCTD TRIP, RFT CLOSED TODAY AGAIN. WILL OPEN NXT SAT & SUN. THNX 4 UR UNDERSTANDING. C U LATER…” We’ll have to return to Sunset Junction on another day.
So far, Tacos Baja has an oh-so-slight edge on The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, with Ricky’s Fish Tacos on deck. That means our final determination about the best fish taco in L.A. will have to wait.
UPDATE – December 23, 2009 After enduring rainouts and vacations, every participant in this round of Taco Task Force visited Taco Task Force Stop #5 – Ricky’s Fish Tacos – which debuted earlier this year near Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction.
Ricky is an Ensenada native who grew up making fish tacos from cazon and angelito shark. Those varieties of fish would be prohibitively expensive to source in the U.S., so he opted for basa. Ricky fries his fish to order in a light batter that’s seasoned with salt, oregano and mustard. The fish taco ($2.50) achieved a near ideal balance, with flaky white fish, a crisp, thin-sheathed crust, just enough crunchy cabbage and judicious streaks of crema, in this case a mix of mayo and milk. Ricky also makes a spicy, just right salsa from tomato, jalapeno, onion and garlic. The tortilla may be floppy and pulled from a bag, but it held together well and didn’t distract from the key ingredients. Ricky’s Fish Tacos was our unanimous selection for best Baja style fried fish taco in Los Angeles.
Grade of Key Ingredient: 4, J 5, C 4.5, B 3.5 AVERAGE 4.25/5
Condiment: 4.5 B 4, C 4.5, J 4.5 AVERAGE 4.375/5
Authenticity: 3.5 J 5, B 4, C 4 AVERAGE 4.125/5
Overall Flavor: 4, C 4.5, J 5, B 4 AVERAGE 4.625/5
Cooking 4.5, C 4.5, J 5, B 4.5 AVERAGE 4.625/5
OVERALL FISH TACO SCORE: 4.4/5
If there’s a great Baja-style fish taco in L.A. that we missed, please leave your recommendation in the Comments section below.