Here at the eatdrinknbmerry laboratories, we strive for accuracy in gastronomical studies and never stop searching for the tastiest, palate-pleasing food. While most people are too quick to voice opinions on food without really trying any other place with the same type of food, we find it important to provide our take on as many places as possible. Saying bold things like "hands down", "the best in (insert geographical area)" and mean things like "you've got no f_____ tastebuds" can often lead to some pretty heated discussions that could trigger off another LA riot – those are simply unnecessary. People have the right to like what they like right?
We are human, too, and enjoy stuffing our faces.
While waiting, J and I started to get our fish taco condiments: salsa and limes. But I noticed some boiled yellow peppers rained on with chile spice. Afraid it would be too spicy, I took a small lick and oh man, so good. Reminded me of that mexican candy I used to eat, called Lucas – which was basically chile salt (a big seller for ice cream roach coaches). I ate two large yellow chiles. So tasty.
After a few minutes, we pick up our order and take in the smell of freshly fried batter. The taco itself is quite large. Large enough to have things falling out after one bite. First bite: CRUNCH. Very nice, loved the texture of the batter. Tasty and crunchy. But way too much batter for me. The crema sauce was very tasty and the proportion of salsa/cabbage to taco was a little more than packed. One of these combos is sure to get you full. FOR ONLY $4.50!
By the time I finished the fish taco, I saw that my shrimp taco had gotten a little soggy from the cabbage, salsa and crema (cream) on top. I took a bite out of the shrimp and immediately frowned when the batter came off the shrimp completely. Soggy, but very tasty! I wish I had ordered these separately so that I could hear that delicious crunch in the taco.
Overall. Very tasty fish and shrimp tacos. I liked the shrimp over the fish. Tasty crema. Love the crunch in the batter, but after a few bites, the batter made me feel like crap. I highly recommend ordering one taco at a time if you're into texture. The rice is VERY tasty here. It's loaded up with caldo de pollo (chicken bouillon cubes) and butter. I'd definitely be back here if I'm in the East LA area. But from the Silver Lake area, it's just too far. Also, on Wednesdays, it's $1 fish taco days. I'm not complaining about that!!!
Some debates on Tacos Baja Ensenada here and here. And by my gluttonous friend.
We ordered 2 fish ($2.29 each) and 2 shrimp ($3.29 each) tacos. Much pricier. These better be good I thought to myself. I hear the bell ring and the cashier signals me to pick up the order. I did a double take, as these tacos were huge. Tacos that were roided up like the MLB... daring you to finish both of them in under 10 mins. The tacos actually laughed at me. No wonder they were so expensive, it was filled with at least 3 big pieces of battered fish/5-6 shrimps, piled with cabbage and salsa. No joke, these were massive.
Now time for the shrimp. Shrimp taco was still hot when I bit ito it, and the batter was quite light. It had excellent crunch and was very tasty.
Overall: With combos priced at $6-8, it's totally understandable. Prices are higher, but quantities more than compensate for it. You don't NEED rice or beans b/c the portions are very large. Chips and salsa are the perfect compliment. El Siete Mares is good. As of now, I'd eat the shrimp taco at TBE and ESM again.
And now for Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada, in Los Feliz.
I first came here on a friend's recommendation and have been eating here weekly. I've seen the same people here before too. This place is run by Joseph Cordova, who used to sell his tacos at at market in Atwater Village, and opened up BFTIE around July. Cordova speaks fluent Spanish, as does his mom, who usually works the cash register. They've got a eat-now-pay-later way there.
Walking in, you'll see that this place has a simple set-up. You've got the lady in the front frying tacos over a small round fryer. You've got the drink fridge behind the cashier. You've got the salsa bar to the left with 4-5 kinds, ranging from wimpy to ring-of-fire hot. You've got scattered stools, tables and a counter top for those that like to stand and eat. And then you've got the 3-item menu: fish ($1.50), shrimp ($2.00) or drinks. Unfortunately, you cannot get a drink taco. Might be bad.
Here's why I like BFTIE, compared to the other place. You pay and walk up the frylady, and tell her your order. She cooks the tortillas to a nice crispiness, with slight burn spots and adds either 1.5 pcs of fish or 3-4 pcs of shrimp. Definitely a smaller portion, but balance is extremely important to me when eating tacos. Then, you walk up to the bar and style your own taco. You start with the avocado salsa, then the finely shredded cabbage, your choice of wimpy -> ring-of-fire hot salsa, a nice radish relish which is new to me and the big tub of crema with a spout. You are in complete control. This makes people blame themselves for making a shitty taco vs. pointing fingers at Joseph and his frylady. I make my tacos with the avocado salsa, tons of cabbage, salsa and just a lil' bit of crema. And they are wonderful.
Cordova is an ex-wholesale seafood guy, and his experience shows. He uses a type of farm-raised fish called basa, which is a type of catfish native to the Mekong Delta area. Because Joseph's batter is so light, you're actually able to taste the sweet flesh of the fish. It's not sandy/gritty tasting at all. The fish is fried perfectly. As you can see, I use the condiments sparingly, compared to TBE and ESM which gives you no option at all.
Best fish tacos in Ensenada? I'm not sure – never been. Best fish taco in Los Feliz area, for me yes. BFTIE is addicting – I think about them every week. I find that some of the best places to eat at are always the ones with a simple business plan. Serve two type of tacos, but make sure they are the best they can be. At BFTIE, they do not serve beer, but you can drink out in the patio. Just run up to Cap n' Cork up the street for some good beer. My only caveat with BFTIE is that it hurts my wallet. If you have 4 shrimp tacos, like J usually does... that's $8 with no sides or drinks. But sometimes, you just need to cut to the chase. Cordova used to be more strict on the 1 taco-order-at-a-time rule when he first opened, but is more lenient now. But why risk the chance of making your tacos soggy. Just get one at a time and chill out there with a beer. Also, BFTIE doesn't have a phone number. Memorize their schedule like I have, everyday from 11-8 and closed on Mondays. Read more about them on this Chowhound thread.
In conclusion, all the tacos I've tried were delicious. If you want to get full, go to El Siete Mares. I like their fried shrimp taco, but haven't had their ceviche/cocteles, which I hear is tasty. If you want one of the LA originals and are looking for the best value, go to Tacos Baja Ensenada in East Los Angeles. The rice and beans are very good. But if you want to try a different style of tacos and ONLY tacos.... with basa fish, sweet shrimp, and the option of customizing your own taco, go to Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada. Again, all the places made me happy. Click image for a larger view on the fish taco analysis. I threw in Rubio's for the hell of it. It's not bad there but it's not that good. It's kind of a place I would go to if I found myself stuck in a mall food court with only a mongolian bbq, philly cheese steak grill and chinese/japanese/korean fusion place to choose from.
When I have time, I will add El Taco Nazo and Senor Fish (Little Tokyo) to the posting. Thanks for reading.