Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This fish taco blogger goes home for the holidays.

So Long Saloon
The parental units moved to Manhattan, KS a few years back, so heading home for the holidays now means heading six hours west to the Little Apple. Being curious if this Midwestern town could offer up some fishy goodness, I set my mom on a mission - find out who serves the best fish tacos in town. Her investigations led us to the So Long Saloon. This drinking establishment is located in the heart of Aggieville, the name given to campus town by the locals. The centerpiece of the place is the beautiful and lovingly restored mahogany and maple bar. As for the decor, it is a strange collection of Dia de los Muertos skeletons (all decorated with some Holiday cheer this time of year). Upon checking in on foursquare, the following tip popped up on my screen: "get the fish tacos - you won't regret it." They can be found on the Appetizers & Fancy Goods portion of the menu. For $2.50 each, you are served a deep-fried flour tortilla filled with seasoned whitefish, spicy slaw and cheddar cheese. A side of salsa comes on the side. The fish was flavorful, the slaw was tangy and the salsa had a nice little kick to it. Although certainly not traditional, these were some tasty fish tacos. And they went down well with the local brew - a Tallgrass Ale.

1130 Moro
Manhattan, Kansas
(785) 537-9292


4 out of 5 fishies.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

This fish taco blogger heads to the burbs.

The word on the street is that the best fish tacos around these parts are actually found out somewhere deep in the county - a scary concept for this city girl. But when my original fish taco compatriot rolled into town, we knew we had to sample the fabled suburban tacos. We however failed to realize that in the county places are usually closed on Sundays. After some aimless driving around we finally stumbled upon another fish taco serving establishment - Mi Lupita in Ballwin, MO. Located in a strip mall - is there anything else in the county? - the interior is surprisingly inviting. The fish tacos, however, are as bland as the burbs themselves. Some random frozen breaded fish topped with iceberg lettuce, yellow cheese and tomato (no sauce!) and served on a flour tortilla. Comes with rice and beans. Reminded us of middle school cafeteria food. Just look at the photo, I have nothing further to write. It will be a while before I brave the county again...

15307 Manchester Road
Ballwin, MO 63011
(636) 394-8686


1.5 out of 5 fishies.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In the pursuit of greatness, there are no guarantees.

It was the day after Thanksgiving and we decided to lunch at SqWires in Lafayette Square. Amazingly enough I was actually hungry and hours before our lunch plans I was already perusing the menu online. The Gourmet Grilled Cheese with white cheddar, sliced pears, bacon and almond pesto on sourdough was calling my name. But when I sat down at the restaurant and was presented with the specials of the day, there it was, the Friday Fish Taco. How could I say no, right? I had an obligation as a fish taco blogger. A pursuit for greatness to follow! It certainly sounded appealing on the menu - three tempura Alaskan cod tacos wrapped in warm flour tortillas with shredded cabbage, cheddar and chipotle ranch, served with a black bean salsa and corn chips. For a whopping $14. But what I was served was the blandest version of fish tacos I've tasted to date. The tortillas were stale and wrapped like rolled-up crepes. The fish portion was hardly generous and the chipotle ranch, cabbage and cheddar would have needed magnification to spot. The black bean salsa was really the only edible portion of the meal. I kept drooling at the Gourmet Grilled Cheese that my mom had ordered with pangs of remorse. But fear not, my resolve to find the Holy Grail of fish tacos was tested, but has not faltered.

1415 South 18th Street
Saint Louis, MO 63104
(314) 865-3522


2 out of 5 fishies.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

La Esquina del Sabor

La Vallesana is my favorite little Mexican joint on Cherokee Street. The food is delicious and the prices can't be beat! But while everything on the menu - the burrito, torta and quesadilla - comes with a "camarones a la diabla" (spicy shrimp) option, the taco for some reason does not. Since the quesadilla is prepared with cheese, mayonaisse and lettuce, it will have to do for this fish taco blogger review. The spicy shrimp quesadilla is served on a wheat-flour tortilla, which is a little bit crisp here and there, so it's not that far removed from a taco. The spicy shrimp is spicy indeed and is cooked up perfectly. And if the spice factor is not high enough, then you can add one of two salsas - a smoky red with a medium kick to it or the green chile spicy salsa. The quesadilla is served with a side of fresh and chunky guacamole and chips (a bit on the bland and stale side unfortunately). They do not have a liquor licence, but be sure to try one of their fresh and homemade agua frescas. The seating is primarily outdoors on their patio, so this is the first place I head to once the temperatures thaw (something I can only be wistful about seeing as it is mid December). They recently opened up a La Vallesana 2 across the street with indoor seating and a more expansive menu... I'll have to check it out and update the review when I do.

2801 Cherokee St.
Saint Louis, MO 63118
(314) 776-4223

4 out of 5 fishies.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tools of the Trade: Fish Bone Tweezers

Check out this helpful article on fish bone tweezers from one of my favorite food blogs "Serious Eats."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This fish taco blogger gets cooking...

Strangely enough, this fish taco blogger has never cooked fish tacos. An easily remedied situation!  So from now on, I will be reviewing an assortment of recipes as well as fish taco serving establishments.

Our first recipe stems from buying a lovely bunch of radishes at the Farmers Market and (with holiday gluttony around the corner) from a craving for something on the lighter side.  Martha Stewart has a scrumptious sounding recipe "Fish Tacos with Salsa Verde and Radish Salad" that called out to me.

The ingredients are as follows: cilantro, lime juice, a jalapeño chile, scallions,radishes, tilapia fillets, corn tortillas, olive oil and salt, pepper and coriander for seasoning.

I loved the colors of the salsa verde and the radish salad (the latter of which was a nice crunchy topping alternative for the standard cabbage).

And the coriander gave the tilapia a lovely little kick!

Who is to say if there is a right or wrong way to make a fish taco? As much as I appreciate battered fish and the Baja sauce, basically a fish taco is a tortilla with stuff on it. And as long as the stuff tastes good and creates a lovely presentation, it is indeed a delightful thing.

P.S. A word of warning... The oils in the jalapeño peppers can irritate your skin, so be sure to wear gloves when seeding and chopping the hot peppers! Wash your hands well with soap and water and be careful not to touch or rub your eyes and nose. Trust me, the oils will really burn! Let's just say I've had a near death by jalapeño experience bringing you guys this blog post!

4 out of 5 fishies. Go make it today!

Monday, September 13, 2010

El Borracho - meh

A half-assed review for half-assed service. So they have two fried fish tacos on the menu. The "pancho" style comes on a soft corn tortilla and is served with cilantro and onion - $3. The "gringo" style is served on a flour tortilla, with lettuce, cheese, tomato and onion - $3.50. Seeing as we never got the pancho fish taco (even when asking for it again), we have nothing to say about its merits. But it's doubtful that it was less bland than the gringo taco. The serving of guacamole we got on the side was ho hum as well. The ambiance was awesome though; as were the margaritas. And one good thing about the poor service - never got charged for those drinks. We were too annoyed and unimpressed to point it out to them.

2001 Locust St.
Saint Louis, MO 63103
(314) 588-0055


2 out of 5 fishies.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Canyon Cafe at the La-Di-Du Mall

Being a proper gourmand, I headed to Plaza Frontenac's Sur La Table to stock up on kitchen goodies (don't tell a foodie that an herb keeper is not a necessity!). Since I rarely venture out to West County, I thought I'd take advantage of the situation and try the fish tacos at the mall's Canyon Cafe. Serving up Southwestern cuisine, they had two fishy menu options to taste (good thing I brought along a friend!).

The blackened fish tacos come in two colorful crisp taco shells and are topped with chipotle mayonnaise; a crisp Margarita slaw, pico de gallo and fresh limes come on the side. The tacos are served with southwest rice and black beans and are priced at two for $10.95. The fish was excellently prepared and had a lot of flavor. The sauce was tangy and wonderful, but the tacos could have used more of it. I might be a purist, but I was not crazy about the hard taco shells; they did not leave a lot of room for the pico de gallo and slaw. The pico de gallo was tasty but light on the jalapeño. And although we appreciated that the slaw was vinegar-based, it could have used more of it. The beans were decent but unimpressive, and the rice was disappointingly crunchy and undercooked.

The Shrimp Margarita Soft Tacos come in colorful warm tortillas (one corn and one flour). As with the fish tacos, you get two for $10.95. The lightly battered shrimp is topped with a Baja sauce and a crisp Margarita slaw; southwest rice and black beans come on the side. The shrimp was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The tacos were garnished with a firm and crumbly cotija cheese. Here too, the sauce was great but short on quantity.

Overall, the presentation of both was really nice. The blue, yellow, and orange tortillas added a bit of festivity. The same colors and variety were also present in the complimentary basket of chips, which came with a mild salsa. The service was a little lacking, as we had to hunt someone down for a salsa refill. The atmosphere had a suburban feel to it, but it was comfy. At the end of your meal, they bring you homemade white chocolate wrapped in tamale, very refreshing. So the next time you're at the La-Di-Du mall, give these fishy delights a try!

Plaza Frontenac
1707 S. Lindbergh Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63131
(314) 872-3443


3.5 out of 5 fishies.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Fish Tacos at the Zoo

The Painted Giraffe cafeteria is located at the North Entrance of the Saint Louis Zoo. Aside from serving your standard cafeteria grub, they offer up a daily special, which just so happened to be fish tacos today. The fish was a battered haddock fried until golden brown, topped with lettuce and Pico de Gallo, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. The tacos came with chipotle aioli, cole slaw and fries on the side. Most of us switched the latter for a side of mac n' cheese, not that it made any more culinary sense. The fish was quite tasty for cafeteria food, and had a nice crispness to it. The sauce was tangy and flavorful; a splash of Tabasco kicked up the hotness ratio. The Painted Giraffe used to serve these with a side of black bean salad, which added an interesting flavor when thrown in the fish tacos.... bringing that back would earn these another fishy for sure!

Saint Louis Zoo
One Government Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63110
(314) 781-0900

2.5 out of 5 fishies.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Atomic Tacos and Fried Pickles

rThe Atomic Cowboy is located in the heart of the Grove neighborhood. The interior has a funky retro feel and the menu is made up of moderately priced spins on Pan-Caribbean and Mexican grub. There are two varieties of Baja-style fish tacos to choose from, either grilled or fried. In both, the tilapia is topped with Mexican cheese, cabbage, pico de gallo, and a chipotle mayo baja sauce, served on awesome corn tortillas that have those all essential little puffs in between the two sides. A red sauce (which has a nice kick to it) is served on the side, as well as rice and a lovely and delicious assortment of sautéed vegetables. We all agreed that the fried was the better choice, although it could stand to be a little more crisp. The baja sauce was tangy, but perhaps a little lacking in sweetness. And definitely lacking in quantity. The tacos were small, but at $8 for two, the price was very reasonable. Be sure to order the fried plantains on the side. And if you trust our palettes, go ahead and order the fried pickles too!

4140 Manchester
Saint Louis, MO 63110
(314) 775-0775


3.5 out of 5 fishies.

Fried pickles..... mnyum mnyum!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Flaco's Cocina - Home of the Pink Taco

Flaco’s Cocina is located in a University City strip mall and office complex at Delmar and I-170. It may not look like much from the outside, but once inside you'll find it has a South Beach diner feel to it. The name is a tribute to the beloved and long-departed Flaco’s Tacos, which according to local legend first introduced the Lou to the fish taco. Flaco’s has five different fish tacos to sample on their menu – tempura baja, grilled mahi mahi, blackened tilapia, shrimp, and seared tuna – all priced at $3.75. The fish tacos are served with a tart cabbage slaw inside a pink soft flour tortilla. Yes, that's right, pink. Don’t ask me why. They come with a side of pico de gallo, sour cream and ensalada de masa (a lovely corn relish). We tried all five. The tempura and shrimp tacos were awesome. The tempura fish was tender and the batter nice and crisp. The sauce had a pleasant kick to it. The shrimp tacos were especially scrumptious, with a tangy sauce that left a fiery taste in your mouth. The remaining three fish tacos were average. Aside from fish tacos and other Mexican staples, the menu also features a variety of Mediterranean and Caribbean dishes. And the first round of house-made tortilla chips is free. Be sure to order one of the Mexican lagers or a margarita.

8400 Delmar Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63124
(314) 395-4343


4 out of 5 fishies.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Loco Tacos

El Burrito Loco, located in South City, is offering fish tacos as part of their Lent Specials menu. And since we were getting take-out from there for Lost night, I had no choice but to try them! El Burrito Loco is the home of the scrumptious El Primo (a vegetarian burrito with spicy potatoes, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, and beans), so my expectations were high. But the fish taco was quite disappointing. A bland fish deep-fried in a flour tortilla and served with cabbage, tomatoes, salsa and guacamole on the side. At least they were cheap at $2.50 a pop. Next time I'll stick with the El Primo - probably with a cheese and chorizo dip on the side (as deliciously sinful as it sounds).

3611 Bates St.
St Louis, MO 63116
(314) 457-8600


2 out of 5 fishies.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tortillaria - Home of the Salsa Bar

Tortillaria is located in the Central West End. Tortillaria means "tortilla shop," and their homemade tortillas make them worthy of the name. When you arrive, they serve you complimentary chips that are fresh and still warm. If the salsa they come with is a little bland for your taste buds, be sure to check out their salsa bar (just look for the cheesy straw cabana roof). There are six fresh, homemade salsas to choose from, with smoky chipotle being our favorite. The menu has two fish tacos to select from. The Original Fish Tacos come with XX Amber Ale battered tilapia wrapped in a yellow corn tortilla and served with chipotle baja sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo, and queso fresco. Two for $5.95 or three for $8.50. The Baja Fish Tacos have grilled tilapia wrapped in a flour tortilla and come with chipotle baja sauce, avocado (yum!), lettuce, pico de gallo and queso fresco. Two for $7.50 or three for $10.95. Both are quite delightful. The fish is well fried/grilled, not greasy and quite flavorful. They are savory without being over-seasoned. And be sure to check out the Caribbean Shrimp Tacos - definitely our favorites by far. The tempura shrimp is wrapped in a flour tortilla and comes with a mango salsa, avocado and lettuce. Two for $7.50 or three for $10.95. They have both a sweet taste and a little kick to them. For an even better deal, head to Tortillaria during their happy hour (4-6pm Mon-Fri or 3-5pm weekends). Along with drink specials, you can get 1/2 price guacamole, $2.50 Original Fish Tacos and $3 Baja Fish Tacos. Too bad the shrimp tacos are not on the happy hour menu! If there's any weakness to this locale, it lies with the margaritas. They taste like plastic. Now if they tasted like plastic and were strong, that would be fine... but unfortunately they taste like plastic and are weak, which is definitely not ok in our book. The service is inconsistent, but tends to be on the good side. Check them out and let us know what you think. Just be prepared for the place to be crowded with med students stopping by for a bite to eat to and from Barnes-Jewish. Let's just hope they're not indulging in those margaritas pre work shift!

8 1/2 S. Euclid Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63108
(314) 361-4443


4 out of 5 fishies.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different...

For a change of pace, we went to a Mexican Fish Fry at St. Cecilia's Parish in South City. The not so traditional Fish Fry includes a menu of fishy Mexican food, as well as the standard fried fish and sides. It starts up at 4:30 and goes until 8:00pm and takes place every Friday in Lent. And trust me, you want to get there early. The food line winds through the auditorium, all the way outdoors. Easily a few hundred people long. Our wait in line was almost two hours! But you can buy cheap beer ($3 Coronas), get a tamale from a traveling cart ($3), or munch on Chips and Pico de Gallo ($3 small/$5 large) while waiting in line. Not to mention the entertainment - cute little kid dancers in traditional Mexican dress and a Mariachi band. Once you order your food, you sit down with a number and after a short wait the volunteers bring it your way. The $8 dinner comes with two entrees (Jack Salmon, Cod Filet, Shrimp, Chile Relleno, Bean Tostada, or Fried Cheese Quesadilla) and two sides (Mac & Cheese, Fries, Cole Slaw, Rice, Beans), as well as lemonade and a dessert of your choice. Not a bad deal. Especially if you get the family meal package. The Chile Relleno was fab (Poblano peppers, cheese, fried to a crispy golden brown). The quesadillas are made with handcrafted corn tortillas. Our one major complaint was that the food temp was a little on the cool side. But the atmosphere made up for it. I've been told they sometimes have fish tacos on the menu and will have to make a trip back when they do. Oh, be sure to get a church tour from one of the kids from the parish!

906 Eichelberger St.
St Louis, MO 63111
(314) 481-7881


3 out of 5 fishies.