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.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Royale - The King of the Fish Tacos

The Royale is a South City neighborhood drinking establishment with fish tacos on their menu. This is actually where the idea for this fish taco blog began, over a good beer with Baja sauce dripping down my chin. The Royale’s fish taco has a pan-fried tilapia wrapped in a soft-flour tortilla, and comes with pico de gallo, shredded cabbage, corn salad and a tangy Baja sauce (with an accompanying wedge of lime). You can get one taco for $8 or two for $12, both with a side of two-tone beans. But – and this might be sacrilegious of me to say as a fish taco blogger – I’m not a huge fan of beans, so I usually substitute them for some of the South Side’s own scrumptious Billy Goat Potato Chips. All four reviewers – sitting snuggly in a booth – were quick to agree that the fish tacos were very tasty. The fish was both moist and crunchy, while the sauce was flavorful with a little kick. For those who like a little more heat, don't worry, they'll be happy to bring you a bottle of Sriracha hot sauce. I have enjoyed these fish tacos numerous times, and my only complaint is that the consistency is a little lacking. They’re always good, but not always superb. And the price is certainly higher than at your dive little Mexican joint. But the great selection of micro-brewed beers (many local varieties) and superb cocktails named after St. Louis neighborhoods (we recommend the Mr. Smith with your fish tacos), certainly makes this a great spot. Did I mention, by the way, that the non-smoking policy is literally a breath of fresh air?

3132 S. Kingshighway
Saint Louis, MO 63139
(314) 772-3600

4 out of 5 fishies.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fish Tacos at the Little Ranch

Located in University City, Mi Ranchito resides in an uninviting, sterile strip mall. But once you enter the doors, the ambience greatly improves – you are surrounded by cowboy hats and boots, saddles, paintings of Speedy Gonzales and wall murals depicting the Aztec legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, as well as the smells coming from the open-air kitchen. The little ranch’s large portions and cheap fare make it a popular work lunch destination. With such an expansive menu, it was a little surprising to find that there is only one kind of fish taco on offer. The taco was very simple – grilled tilapia, lettuce and cheese in a flour tortilla. The fish was fairly crisp and had a pleasant taste. The plentiful amount of cheese was nice. But the fish tacos left us wanting something more – namely flavor. They were a little bland and needed either a sauce or some spices. But at three tacos for $6.25 one can’t complain too much. The service here is great and we asked them to turn their Chema’s fried taco into a fish taco for us. The fried taco comes with pico de gallo, lettuce, avocado and tomatillo sauce. The extras made this a tastier fish taco. Mi Ranchito is a great place to bring a large group of people and order a pitcher of Margarita. But you might want to try something other than the fish taco.

887 Kingsland Ave
University City, MO 63130
(314) 863-1880

3 out of 5 fishies.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Story of the Fish Taco

Fish tacos might be a staple among California surfers, but those of us landlocked in the Midwest have to search far and wide for the ultimate yum. A fish taco, if done right, is pure goodness. What makes a superb fish taco you ask? When all the components - fish, tortilla, sauce, and the fixings - work together harmoniously, the fish taco is no less than fabulous.

The type of fish can very but is usually a mild white fish. The standards are cod, halibut, snapper, flounder, swordfish and catfish. The fish can be fried or grilled. Nontraditional fish tacos might have shrimp, crab or salmon.

The fish is tucked into the fold of a tortilla (corn or flour). Unlike the hard shell common to ground meat tacos, the tortilla in a fish taco is soft shelled. A white Baja sauce clings to the fish. The mayo based sauce has additives such as lime, peppers, vinegar and spices. Then come the toppings. They can include lettuce, cabbage, salsa fresco (red and green), pico de gallo, cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, peppers, pickled jalapenos, beans, and a sprinkle of cilantro. And of course the essential finishing spritz of lime.

If made right, a fish taco is a mess to eat. Everything tumbles out and your fingers get goopy. The fish taco, it should be noted, is an entrée best consumed with beer or Margarita.

Tacos de pescado have been consumed in the coastal areas of Mexico for thousands of years. They originated in Baja California. Then in 1983 the fish taco migrated to America. That was the year Ralph Rubio opened Rubio's - Home of the Fish Taco in San Diego. Thank the surfers for their success (dude). Fish tacos remain most popular in California (the lucky bastards have street vendors serving up fish tacos) and the Southwest.

Landlocked we may be, but we are also determined to find the ultimate fish taco. As part of our “research” we will eat every fish taco found in the Greater Saint Louis region. We will eat and we will share our thoughts with you all. Let us know what you think of the fish tacos reviewed. And let us know what unexplored menus have the heavenly morsels to taste.