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Dining out: Fishing for the best taco

Grilled or fried? Who cares, as long as it's delicious.

December 21, 2012
  • Leonardo Sandoval from Victoria's Tacos & Grill holds the fish taco, with Beatriz Lopez in the background, on the 4200 block of San Fernando Road in Glendale.
Leonardo Sandoval from Victoria's Tacos &… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

If someone were to ask me what food I'd eat for the rest of my life if I could only eat one food, it would have to be fish tacos. I crave them at all hours of the day. So I embarked on a quest to find the best one in a 15-mile radius. I went to old haunts, new finds and friends' recommendations.

Right off the bat I was confronted with the question “grilled or fried”? Grilled fish tacos have fewer calories and a nice smoky flavor. But deep-fried are more authentic, and if the batter and fish are good, nothing compares. Fried is easier to come by, so at every location I got one of those and when available, a grilled taco as well.

Here are the results (in alphabetical order):

Fish King, 722 N. Glendale Ave., Glendale

Maybe you didn't know that Glendale's best fish market also sells prepared foods. As you would imagine, it's all about the fish here. The fried version is moist and juicy with a creamy sauce that tastes more of cocktail sauce and black pepper than chili pepper. The grilled fish taco stands out here. The wood-burning-fire aroma hits you as you unwrap the paper, the red snapper striped with grill marks. Grilled ($2.50) A-; Fried ($2.25) B


La Estrella, 502 N. Fair Oaks, Pasadena

This popular spot has great al pastor and carne asada tacos, but you might want to go elsewhere for the pescado. Though larger than any other taco tested, with an ample cabbage salad on top, the frozen, breaded fish was dry and lacking flavor. Fried ($3.59) C+

Norma's Tacos, 950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

Only four bites big, Norma's tacos are small but mighty. The fried version is the more flavorful with evenly dispersed fish tenders, razor-thin cabbage, a tangy ruby-red tomato pico de gallo and a creamy sauce. The grilled is tender and juicy with a salsa de arbol that rocks. Since they're small, get their amazing cochinita pibil taco, too. It has pickled onions and blasts of cinnamon, clove and citrus. Grilled ($2) B+; Fried ($2) A-; Pibil ($1.50) A+

Ricky's Fish Tacos, 1400 N. Virgil, Hollywood

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