Baja Fish Market: Tacos to Make the Baby Jesus Cry
San Pedro is one of the last truly working-class port towns left in California. Unlike its fancy-pants neighbors Palos Verdes and Long Beach (well, at least the parts of Long Beach that are, you know, along the beach), you can still find a diverse population, low-cost housing, and most importantly, good cheap eats.
A friend of mine introduced me to Baja Fish Market a few months back, and he swore up-and-down that “the fish trucks come straight from the docks to deliver the day’s catch at their back door!” Ever since, my boyfriend and I have made it our solemn duty to trek out to this unassuming strip-mall seafood shack at least once a month to consume some of the freshest, most flavorful fish the Pacific Ocean can muster. Normally I would hesitate to make such a bold claim, but I’m pretty sure these are the best fish tacos in Southern California. (Make a liar out of me and send me your recommendations!)
While the place offers fish plates with beans and rice, burritos, sandwiches, wraps, and quesadillas, it's really the tacos you want. You can pick from tuna, salmon, cod (the classic Baja choice), shrimp, mahi mahi, and our personal favorite, halibut, which come on flour tortillas rather than corn, and are so good they'd make an atheist believe in the Baby Jesus. The tacos are served in the traditional Baja style, topped only with grated cabbage and a savory, lemony crema mexicana. You could eat them as-is, but if you're like me, you won't resist the urge to dress them up a bit. There are three homemade salsas at the condiment bar to choose from, which range from moderate to hot to oh-my-aching-bowels! spicy. Throw on some diced onions and cilantro and you have got yourself a first-class ticket to fish heaven.
The girls working the counter are always super friendly, and will even giggle kindly at the poor white girl who remembers only after she's ordered the jamaica that it will most likely end up dribbling all over her white tee. (Yes, they've got horchata as well - don't you even DARE think about drinking any Crapa-Cola with your calamari burrito!) You can even purchase fresh-from-the-sea tuna, salmon, mussels, oysters, tilapia, and much more from the freezer display case if you want to try your hand at making some tacos at home. I also highly recommend the ceviche, raw fish marinated in lime juice and liberally spiked with jalapeno and cilantro.
The place itself is sparkling clean and lavishly decorated with all manner of marine-themed tchotchkes - you want to buy that life-size replica of a swordfish hanging from the wall? Well, it's priced to sell! And so are the tacos - one will run you anywhere between $2.50 and $5.50 (depending on the type of fish), and three of those babies are guaranteed to fill you up.
True happiness, in San Pedro at least, is still affordable - and like so many of life's little pleasures, it comes wrapped in a tortilla.
Baja Fish Market
611 S. Gaffey Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
Photo by Dave Gorman via Flickr