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The best fish tacos in Los Angeles

Cast your net for the best fish tacos in Los Angeles and you'll find them at these restaurants, carts and trucks

Photograph: Kyle Davis

So you’ve decided you want a taco—more specifically, you want one of the best fish tacos in Los Angeles. Here, you can order fresh-catch fish tacos, Nayarit- and Ensenada-style fish tacos, and inventive, modern versions at the best Mexican restaurants, best seafood restaurants and best food trucks all over the city. You can find grilled or batter-fried tilapia, swai, cod, salmon, mahi, halibut, sea bass, marlin and, rarely, shark. But you’ll need to choose wisely. A good fish taco is a fresh and invigorating treat. A bad fish taco—with overcooked fish and unbalanced, low-quality ingredients—can ruin your day. To save you from this roller-coaster of possibility and disappointment, we offer you our top ten favorite spots for fish tacos in L.A. 

 

L.A.'s best fish tacos

1

Chicas Tacos

Nestled into a small lot in DTLA is Chicas Tacos, a pastel-splattered eatery serving tacos for the modern Angeleno—that is to say, with organic, non-GMO, wild-caught ingredients. The beer-battered fish tacos here come buried under Caesar salad, croutons and queso manchego and just one would make for a decent lunch, though you'll likely be tempted to order another from the short but thoughtful menu. Follow it up with a freshly made agua fresca—we're partial to the lavender cantaloupe— which you can sip on at one of Chicas' outdoor picnic tables.

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Downtown
2

El Coraloense

With one owner hailing from Nayarit and the other from Sinaloa, the influence of both coastal regions mingles at this small eatery, resulting in an extensive seafood menu that includes a variety of flavorful fish tacos ($3.50). Battered or grilled mahi mahi tacos and the taco d’dedo (beer-battered halibut with serrano cilantro salsa and herb crema) are customer favorites. We like the taco a la diabla too, which can be ordered with either fried shrimp or fried fish and comes on a bed of cheese in the tortilla—add some house-made salsa for more kick.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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Southeast Cities
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3

Coni'Seafood

The low-key decor and ambiance at Coni’Seafood might best be described as “chill.” The food, however, is spicy and vibrant. You’ll find two types of fish tacos here—the crunchy battered tilapia tacos with spicy crema and slaw (3 for $12) and the smoked marlin and cheese tacos, which are fried whole for a crispy, greasy treat (3 for $13). The marlin tacos are indulgent smoky, salty, cheesy snacks, and the habanero salsa on the side adds the right brightness and heat. But the most popular dish here may be the pescado zarandeado (grilled snook, $28 and up, by weight) which takes half an hour after your order to prepare—request some tortillas on the side and you can turn this dish into delicious fish tacos too.

Photograph: Anna Beeke

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Inglewood
4

Ricky's Fish Tacos

Yes, we hear you haters—Ricky’s Fish Tacos doesn’t make their own tortillas, and in other Ensenada-style tacos you can occasionally find more traditional angel shark instead of the cheaper basa catfish used here. But there is some serious deep fryer magic going on at Ricky’s. Crunchy oregano-flecked batter surrounds fluffy fish and shrimp to make amazing deep-fried pillows of flavor. Crisp jalapeño slices and a smoky red salsa add wonderful kick, making for a fantastic fish taco ($3) that packs more than a few crave-worthy bites. We aren’t the only ones who feel this way—expect a line. Check Twitter to confirm the truck’s hours each day. 

Photograph: Molly Cranna

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Los Feliz
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5

Best Fish Taco in Ensenada

If the name doesn't tip you off, Best Fish Tacos in Ensanada serves some pretty damn fine fish tacos. Are they the best? That's up to your own discretion, but we know people who will defend that statement to the death. The small, colorful eatery with a thatched patio feels like a tropical break from the busy streets of nearby Hollywood and Hillhurst, one where the menu is simple and to the point: fish tacos for $1.95, shrimp tacos for $2 and drinks for $1.

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Los Feliz
6

Guerrilla Tacos

Check the Guerilla Tacos website to track the truck's location and changing seasonal menu—if you’re lucky, a fish taco will be on the slate. If prices seem high, just remember that the quality of local and organic ingredients used here are expensive, no way for chef Wes Avila to get around that. Past fish taco options have included swordfish belly tacos, Baja shark tacos, and butter-poached grouper tacos, with toppings like chili aioli and microgreens (prices range from about $5-$10 per taco). 

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Carol L. 

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Downtown Arts District
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7

Tacos Baja Ensenada

This beloved neighborhood spot in Whittier makes a classic street food fish taco just the way you’d picture it, with crunchy battered sea bass, cabbage and tomato slaw, crema and red salsa ($1.95). For a little variation, try a Baja taco with a mix of both shrimp and fish ($3.24). Wednesdays are particularly crowded here for the 99 cent fish tacos special, but the busy kitchen staff keeps the line moving. Order a couple tacos, then head to the condiments bar to grab some limes and roasted yellow peppers dusted with chili powder and enjoy a simple coastal meal. 

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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East LA
8

Fishbar

You can have your tortilla-wrapped seafood in several different styles here. There are seared ahi tuna tacos that get a hint of Asian flair from Thai chilie sauce along with avocado crema, or more typical white fish tacos, offered either fried or blackened. If you want to get extra fancy, upgrade to the lobster tacos, available fried or grilled and topped with cabbage, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, taco sauce and avocado cream. 

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Manhattan Beach
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9

James' Beach

James' Beach fish tacos have a Hollywood connection: They were featured in the movie I Love You, Man, which, just in case you missed it, the resturant helpfully points out right on the menu. Are they really as good as Jason Segel's character boasts on-screen? You'll be the judge, but the grilled mahi mahi filet offering is certainly a popular order at this beachy restaurant, though at $27 (served as a plate with beans and guacamole) these certainly ring in a bit spendier than the average street taco. 

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Venice
10

Mariscos Jalisco

One of the long-standing heroes of the old school taco trucks (aka loncheros), Mariscos Jalisco has earned a deservedly loyal and devoted following. Their signature tacos dorado de camaron lives up to the hype with flavorful and fresh shrimp folded into a corn tortilla that is then fried to a golden brown and topped with thick slices of avocado and a vibrant and complex salsa roja. You’ll also want to save room for their legendary tostadas like the Poseidon topped with shrimp ceviche, octopus and a fiery red aguachile of shrimp. Follow them on Twitter and don’t forget to bring cash.

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Boyle Heights
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11

Taco Nazo

It can take a few bites to appreciate the full appeal of the fish taco at Taco Nazo. It’s a familiar concoction—a Baja-style taco made with swai fish ($1.99). But the batter is tasty, the fish is flaky and the crema is rich. The seasoned and roasted small yellow peppers (“famous chili gueritos”) and the roasted chili salsa made here add nice spice and flavor to the taco. While the original location in La Puente is still going strong, there are now several other independently owned locations, too.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Tony A.

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San Gabriel Valley
12

Petty Cash Taquería

We’re inclined to enjoy tacos at Petty Cash Taqueria because of the freshly made corn tortillas and great house-made salsas. The fish taco here features a battered piece of mahi with a little crema and slaw on one of those fresh tortillas. Be sure to add some of their green salsa (pineapple, tomatillos and chilies) and red salsa (roasted tomatoes and chilies) to finish off the balanced taco. There is a catch—the little 3-inch taco costs $6. But if you’re in need of a fish taco and both your pockets and stomach are full, you’ll enjoy this well-made morsel. 

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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Beverly
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13

Guisados-Echo Park

Handmade tortillas are made to-order and filled with grilled white fish, black beans, chile arbol, pico de gallo, cabbage and an avocado-cilantro crema. If you're looking for a different seafood option, they offer a fajita-style shrimp taco with onions, peppers and chipotle cream. Snag a table on the outdoor patio or sit inside to watch the kitchen in action as you dig into the mouthwatering tacos washed down with refreshingly tart jamaica aqua fresca or creamy, spiced horchata. 

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Echo Park
14

Sky's Gourmet Tacos

At this comfortable little spot in Mid-City, you’ll find several clues that the menu features fusion soul food. The hibiscus juice on the menu is sorrel (not agua de Jamaica), which is the Caribbean version of the drink, and the taco filling options include Cajun-spiced crawfish. The fish tacos here are low key: grilled tilapia ($3.99) or salmon ($4.29) with cabbage and lemon slaw and just enough oily grilled flavor to keep things interesting. A dash of Tapatío salsa from the bottle on the table kicks the excitement factor up a bit, and you’ve got yourself a light but satisfying meal.

Photograph: Anna Beeke

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Mid City
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15

Captain Kidd's Fish Market and Restaurant

Part fish market and part restaurant, this casual Redondo Beach seafood spot manages to combine fresh fish and an oceanfront setting without breaking the bank. You can get the sea creature of your choice prepared just about any way you want it here, but, if you're like us, the way you want it is usually a taco. They're happy to oblige with fish tacos, available either grilled or fried, served with a view of the open waves.

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Redondo Beach
16

Via-Mar Seafood Restaurant

You’ll find a variety of fish tacos on the menu at Via-Mar in Highland Park—tilapia ($2.75), swai ($2.50) or mahi ($2.95) can be grilled or batter-fried for your taco. In our experience, the battered swai is prepared the most consistently, generally coming out nice and tender with fluffy batter and a lot of rich crema and slaw. The salsa served on the taco is not spicy so if you like some heat, use the bottled hot sauces on the table liberally. The fried fish tacos here can be a little oily and, in short, a hot mess—the thin tortillas can’t withstand the wet toppings for long—but that’s all part of the addictive fun at this outdoor stand, a neighborhood favorite spot for seafood snacks. 

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

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Highland Park
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A guide to Taco Tuesday in L.A.

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By: Erin Kuschner

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