Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This fish taco blogger is once more pleasantly surprised in Kansas

It was that Christmas time of year again and so I headed west to Manhattan, Kansas for the Holidays. My mom was quick to bring to my attention a newly opened Mexican joint that had a fish taco on the menu for me to try. Taco Lucha is located in Aggieville, home of bars and cheap eats for the students. And this newly opened eatery seems to be quite a hit already, as even with most students out of town, the lines were long. The place is happy and bright, steeped in the imagery of the Mexican Luchador tradition and decorated with colorful wrestling masks, assorted lanterns, and bright green bar stools.

We started off with a margarita (tasty although a bit on the watery side) and a bowl of freshly made guacamole. The fish taco was of the classic variety - grilled tilapia, pico de gallo, cabbage, and cilantro lime creme served on a flour tortilla. On the side, a bottle of homemade smoked habanero sauce to spice things up. For $2.75 each, the tacos are priced to please the student budget. The fish was flavorful, the creme delicious, the cabbage crunchy and the addition of the habanero sauce tied it all together beautifully. For 50 additional cents you can add cheese, guacamole or pickled escabeche to your taco. Seeing as Taco Lucha is brought to you by the same owners as the previously well-reviewed So Long Saloon, I should not have been surprised to find such tasty fishy morsels in this Kansas town.

Taco Lucha
1130 Moro
Manhattan, KS
(785) 320-5255


4 out of 5 fishies.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fishy Video

Kreayfish: Fishy Fishy (Gucci Gucci Parody) 

fishy fishy shrimpy shrimpy taco ensenada!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The omnivore's to-eat list

I recently stumbled across a list of 100 foods you should eat before you die. It includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food. This list is for the true omnivore, so don't read it if you have a weak stomach.

(Though why a Baja fish taco is not on there, is beyond me).

The rules are as follows:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Mark all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.



1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche

28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/jell-o
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This fish taco blogger really wanted to love you

Located in the Southampton neighborhood of Saint Louis, Lily's is a family-owned, family-run restaurant that touts itself as serving "home-style" Mexican food. So I wanted to love it. I was ready for a hole-in-the-wall establishment with some quirks, but I was also expecting some great flavors. You walk in and place your order at the counter and get handed a cafeteria tray with empty cups, silverware and a basket of chips. You fill your own drinks and grab salsa from the plastic tubs sitting lopsidedly in ice. The decor in this place includes random Mexican objects, a metal cart against a wall that serves as the bar, an assortment of U.S. Marine paraphernalia and lovely family photos (including ones of the Marine son who looks strikingly like his mother).

There were two fishy options to be had and my friend and I tried them both. The fish taco and shrimp taco plates both come with your choice of corn or flour tortilla (though we ordered corn and got flour instead) and are served with rice, homemade potato chips (odd, I know) and pico de gallo with cabbage. The fish taco had a whole piece of fish on it - I would guess Tilapia. It had some nice flavors to it, although certainly no kick. But it was the only thing on that four tortilla and looked rather sad and lonely. Adding the pico de gallo cabbage helped, but the whole thing was still on the dry side. Next, I tried adding the several available varieties of homemade salsa. The roasted one was especially interesting, but definitely on the watery side, so it too did not really improve matters. The shrimp tacos had much more interesting flavors but were way too salty. So I was underwhelmed with blandness. Sorry Lily's, maybe I should have had one of those famed margaritas of yours.

Lily's Mexican
4601 S. Kingshighway Blvd.
Saint Louis, MO 63109
(314) 352-1894


2.5 out of 5 fishies.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A fab video lesson of how to warm your corn tortillas

Do you pop your tortillas in the microwave? Heat them over a gas burner? Check out this ingenious method courtesy of Serious Eats!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Art of the Taco

Check out these fancy tacos from Bobby Flay's The Art of the Taco event at the New York City Wine and Food Festival. More than 30 chefs crafted their own take on the taco: from traditional to inventive. Serious East put together a slideshow of their top twelve. One of their favorites was from a fab place I reviewed in NYC: Hecho en Dumbo. But check out that scrumptious looking oyster taco from Riverpark!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where's the fish?

Flying through DFW and wishing the Urban Taco I stopped at had fishy options on their menu... their chicken tinga and al pastor tacos were quite tasty and only $3 each (not bad for airport prices).

This fish taco blogger heads down to Texas

Howdy from west Texas y'all. Not being a native, I cannot eat pulled pork sandwiches and steak fries on a daily basis, so I recently headed to Fuzzy's Taco Shop for somewhat lighter grub. This self touted "Baja Style" joint had three fishy tacos on their menu - fish (grilled or tempura), shrimp (grilled or tempura) and crawfish. All tacos come on your choice of corn or flour tortillas, served soft or crispy (c'mon, that's just wrong). The fixins are lettuce, feta cheese, a garlic sauce and tomato. Now I thought everything was supposed to be big in Texas, however that seems to compete with the fact that everything in Lubbock has to be cheap to keep the college folk happy. Instead of substantial pieces of fish, these tacos come with a piddlee'o amount of little nuggets of fish. But at $1.99 each, can you really complain? The tacos are still quite large in size, with a lot of filler to bulk them up (mainly consisting of lettuce). The tempura batter is just a fancy way to say fried, and the fish underneath was decent, but nothing to write home about. The grilled shrimp was bland and to be avoided. However, the crawfish tacos were quite tasty - lots of flavor and a surprising sweetness to them. The garlic sauce in the tacos was boring and watery, but the feta cheese (a surprising choice) added a lot of flavor. And you can spice up any taco with their very hot habanero hot sauce. So get down to Fuzzy's Taco Shop (see here for its many locations) and cool the seat of your saddle. And be sure to get a strong and palatable $4 brain-freeze Texas-sized margarita while here!

2102 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79401
(806) 740-8226


3 out of 5 fishies.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

This fish taco blogger turns lobster red at the Jersey Shore

After too much sun and beach lounging, we strolled along the shore on our way to Surf Taco. Having read somewhere that this surf-themed, casual restaurant serves up fresh coastal cuisine, I knew we had to sample their fishy fare. Tacos are around $5 for one and we ordered two different fish tacos on the menu. Their signature Surf Taco is cod battered in tempura, topped with pico de gallo, a white cilantro sauce, a ton of shredded cabbage and a squeeze of lime. The blackened mahi mahi comes with seasoned grilled fish and the same toppings as above. We got both tacos "Baja style" which was supposed to amp up the seasoning by adding two more sauces to the mix. Both tacos are served on a 6" four tortilla and come with homemade chips and four fresh salsas to choose from (mild, verde, baja and hot).

The surf taco was decent - the fish and trio of sauces were tasty, but the batter lacked crisp and the cabbage quantity was quite overpowering. The mahi mahi taco was underseasoned and bland, and the fish quantity close to non-existent. The salsas were quite palatable and fresh, but the verde was overly sweet and to be avoided.

94 Brighton Ave.
Long Branch, NJ
(one of nine locations)
(732) 229-7873


2.5 out of 5 fishies.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Like the CWE's Tortillaria? Check out Milagro in Webster Groves!

Having already been sold on Tortillaria's fish tacos, I next headed to Milagro Modern Mexican in Webster Groves with some friends. Brought to you by the same owner/chef Adam Tilford, Milagro is a higher-end version of the CWE eatery and features a full bar and a more elaborate, upscale menu. The place is all about fresh ingredients and lighter cooking techniques.

There are two fishy options on the menu. The Baja fish tacos - three for $12.95 - come with your choice of grilled or beer battered tilapia, a chipotle lime aioli, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo and fresh Mexican cheeses. Or you can go for the Shrimp Diablo tacos - the shrimp is sauteed in a chile de arbol sauce and is topped with micro greens and fresh mango pico de gallo. Both entrees are served on the same handmade corn tortillas found at the Tortillaria and come with your choice of rice (a traditional Mexican rice cooked in tomato broth or a cilantro rice pilaf with great cumin flavors) and beans (pinto beans stewed with house made chorizo, bacon, tomato, onion, garlic, and chile poblano or black beans simmered with epazote, onion, cumin and chile serrano, and topped with fresh Mexican cheese).

Needing some comfort food, we went for the beer battered fish option. The batter was nice, but could have used a bit more crunch. The fish had a spicy kick to it. But what really stood out was the aioli sauce. It was light and creamy and flavorful. Next, we tried the Shrimp Diablo tacos. Although the seasoning was nice, it certainly was no Diablo. The mango was fresh, juicy and lovely in the pico de gallo, but the tacos seemed to be missing something. We all felt a bit of cheese topping might have helped pull it all together. The presentation of both entrees was great - metal stands hold your tacos upright like three little soldiers. That, and the fact that the corn tortillas did not disintegrate as is often the case in the Lou, made the tacos quite a bit less messy to eat. The fish taco was clearly the winner of the two; just as clearly as the pinto beans were the winner of the sides. I don't even like beans, but the smoky flavors were awesome. Or maybe it was all the chorizo and bacon that finally made me devour a plate of beans.

Be sure to grab a margarita while here. Even the cheapest one on the menu contains real limonata and 100% agave tequila. Not bad for $6!

20 Allen Ave.
Webster Groves, MO 63119
(314) 962-4300


3.5 out of 5 fishies.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

What's your favorite taco filling?

See here for slide show.

Psssst, mine is #3. But fried avocado tacos sound quite enticing as well...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Food Truck Friday!!

I am so loving the food truck revolution overtaking the Lou! And what better way to celebrate it than with Sauce Magazine's Food Truck Friday in Tower Grove Park. All the food trucks in one place - which sure is easier than chasing them down one by one via their Twitter feeds! It allowed me to finally try Shell's Coastal Cuisine's grilled fish tacos. The tacos come with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, key lime crema sauce and a tomatillo salsa. You can choose between flour and corn tortillas. Normally, you get two for $7.50, including a side. But they had a Food Truck Friday special going on - one taco for $4.50 and a side of sweet potato chips. Seeing as I had lots of other truck fare to sample, I went for the special.

The fish tasted like tilapia; it had some nice, spicy seasonings and was quite moist and succulent. Shell's Coastal Cuisine advertises itself as providing "Floribian" flavors and this was most apparent in the key lime crema sauce. It was citrusy and very tasty. The onions were slightly caramelized, which added a little bit of sweetness. The iceberg lettuce provided a little crunch. However, the corn tortillas were quite a fail and fell apart at first bite. P.S. Loved the sweet potato chips!

A moving target - follow them on Twitter.

3.5 out of 5 fishies.

Monday, July 25, 2011

This fish taco blogger heads back to the kitchen

It was time to try out a new fish taco recipe and since I'd rather not deep fry anything during a 100+ heat wave, a sautéed fish taco sounded enticing. I found the recipe searching the Food Network index. It comes from the lovely Aarti Sequeira and so it has some interesting Indian elements about it. I bought some flaky cod at Whole Paycheck, picked some fresh mint from the garden and headed over to my favorite co-chef's kitchen for an evening of fish tacos.

The fish was marinated in coriander, ancho chile powder, a dash of cinnamon, salt, pepper and olive oil. The marinade had a lovely smoky Indian aroma due to the coriander, which we mulled by hand, bringing out its nice lemony flavor. The ancho chile powder increased the smokiness of the marinade. Although the seasonings made for a flavorful fish, most of it dissipated into the pool of liquid that the fish disintegrated into. It might be better baked, or perhaps drained of more liquid before sautéing in the pan.

What really rounded out the recipe was the mayonnaise sauce. It too had an Indian kick to it, with plenty of smoky cumin and fresh mint. It was also a little tart from the lime juice and had some pungent spiciness from the garlic, adding to the complexity of flavors.

Stove-top warmed corn tortillas (still looking for a good source in the Lou, as none of the ones I've tried hold together), a handful of scallions and the vinegary crunch of cabbage brought it all together. There was no need for additional lime juice, as the mayo sauce had plenty in it. Skip the suggested banana pepper topping. They made us feel like we were at a Subway restaurant and had to decide whether to order the six inch or the foot long.

A quick, easy and delicious recipe, so go try it today! Although I did not find the suggested Allagash White Ale, I did find a similar beer to pair the fish tacos with -  Avery White Rascal Ale. Spiced with coriander and orange peel, it works perfectly with the tacos and balances their spiciness with its semi-sweet citrus flavors.

4 out of 5 fishies.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest fish taco blogger heads to Hotlanta

Prior to the Philly trip and subsequent El Vez review, we went to Atlanta to see the Cardinals take on the Braves. Needing a fish taco fix, we headed to Pure Taqueria. The restaurant has three locations in the Atlanta area, as well as a place in North Carolina. Our destination in Alpharetta, GA started its life as a 1920s era Pure Fuel gas station. The place has large glass garage doors that open up and expose you to the elements. Inside, they play up the gas station feel with cement floors and industrial furniture; 1920s metal ice coolers keep the beers cold.

We ordered the Pescado - three fried fish tacos on corn tortillas for $10.49. The tacos were topped with poblano slaw and chipotle mayo. The platter included arroz Mexicano and your choice of frijoles negros, refritos or churros. To spice things up, two salsas - cruda tomatillo and chile morita - were served on the side. The fried fish was superb and super fresh. They used tilapia, although it was hard to tell as they did not skimp on the batter, resulting in a nice and crunchy fried fish. The chipotle mayo was a nice take on the traditional Baja sauce. It wasn't overly spicy, but had a bit of a kick to it. However, topped with either or both of the side salsas, the fish tacos had some serious Atlanta heat.

Our fish taco cravings were satisfied. Unfortunately the Braves beat the Cardinals.

103 Roswell Street
Alpharetta, GA 30009
(678) 20-0023


4 out of 5 fishies.

The Serious Eats Guide to Taco Styles

Check out this quick guide to tacos!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Creamy Crunchy Cha Cha Chow!

Doh, missed today's special taco platter: beer battered fish taco with creamy homemade guacamole and red cabbage slaw. Looks yum! Please repeat next Wednesday at your Barnes stop Cha Cha Chow! Must try! :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fish tacos in the Big Apple

I recently returned from a most lovely long weekend in New York City. In planning for my trip I had included Empellón's soft shell crab tacos in my culinary itinerary (in addition to amazing chocolate almond croissants at Ceci-Cela and fabulous pumpernickel bagels at Ess-a-bagel - lest you think I only enjoy fish tacos) after having read a most stellar review of them. However, I neglected to find out that they are only open for dinner and were booked into at least the following week. Oops.

Thankfully I was steered in a different fishy direction and headed to Hecho en Dumbo. The place started as a pop-up in 2007 operating several nights a week out of a local cafe in Dumbo, Brooklyn (so no, it's not named after a famous flying elephant) before moving across the river to the East Village and opening a restaurant in 2010. The decor is tasteful and spare in its industrial-chic vibe consisting of exposed brick walls and a wood-plank ceiling complete with steel air ducts. Matching the contemporary Mexican atmosphere, the food is appropriately urbane. The restaurant specializes in antojitos, otherwise known as small plates, so expect dainty portions and inventive cuisine.

The $11 Tacos el Alcalde on the menu sounded pretty amazing - a mélange of smoked sable fish, braised Spanish octopus, and fresh Gulf Shrimp, folded into a trio of flour tortillas with red and yellow pepper, tomato, red onion, queso fresco, and garnished with crisp fried Fish Chicharrón.  The three bite-sized tacos came fully stuffed with fishy goodness. They were amazingly flavored and juicy and had lots of spicy, smokey Spanish flavors. They were even better once you topped them with any of the accompaniments - a spicy red tomato salsa, a green tomatillo salsa, or pico de gallo. As for the house made tortillas, they were springy and perfectly salted. The only thing that was missing for me was a creamy sauce to hold the mélange together.

So if your travels take you to New York City, do check this place out. And be sure to sample other goodies on the menu, such as the chile relleno de atun and tostadas de ceviche, both of which were mouth wateringly delicious. The cocktails list definitely merits sampling as well, with only boutique tequilas on the menu. At $10+ each, the margaritas are a bit pricey, but they go down oh so smoothly without the gross sourness typical of cheaper swill. My fresh grapefruit and Cazadores tequila Paloma ($12) was both refreshing and potent.

354 Bowery
New York, NY 10012
(212) 937-4245


4.5 out of 5 fishies.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This fish taco blogger braves suburbia - Salina's Mexican Cafe

Since the beginning of this little fish taco blog I've been hearing great things about a place way out in the county. It is called Salina's Mexican Cafe and it's located in a strip mall way out in Chesterfield. We tried to make it out there a few months back, but city slickers that we are, we completely neglected to realize that for people in the county Sunday means Closed. We left feeling foolish and hungry, and the really bad fish tacos we eventually found nearby (in county terms) were little consolation. This time we ventured out on a Friday expecting some excellent grub. For $10.50 you get your choice of either two tilapia or two fried cod fish tacos. Now I say either, because when I first asked to have one of each I was told that was not a possibility. Even though my fishy friend asked for the same (bringing the combined order to two of each fish) so that all we needed was a little switcharoo between our plates. Not a difficult concept, right? Eventually, they were able to figure that out and accommodate us. But if it's just you eating fish tacos, be prepared to choose one kind of fish. The tacos come in house made flour tortillas and are topped with cabbage, carrots, a house made tart ranch dressing mixed with a bit of spicy house made salsa and sprinkled with a little bit of cheese. On the side is a healthy serving of rice and your choice of refried or black beans. This is what I would call a pretty traditional fish taco, outside of the pinkish tone to the sauce. The tilapia was nice but could have used some seasoning, so I would definitely suggest going with the fried cod, which had a nice and crisp batter, with a lovely touch of saltiness to it. The addition of carrots to the cabbage was a welcome touch. The sauce was good and had some tang and spice to it, but it certainly did not make the fish tacos as outstanding as advertised. My watered down simple syrup saccharine sweet margarita did not help matters. Nor did the service, between the difficulty of being served both kinds of fish tacos and the weird sensation of eating in someone's kitchen. So all in all, these fish tacos were good - but certainly not so good that you should brave however many miles of suburbia to give them a try.

Salina's Mexican Café
20 Clarkson-Wilson Centre
Chesterfield, Mo
(636) 530-9010

3.5 out of 5 fishies.