By Emily Laskin
Tacos are blessedly easy to come by in the East Bay. But tacos with seafood inside are a rarer breed than your average carnitas or pastor. From Fruitvale trucks to local, organic Berkeley foodie pleasers, we’ve collected six of our favorite local fish (and shrimp) tacos. But there are so many great taco options in this neck of the woods, we’re sure we’ve missed some. Leave us your favorites in the comments below!
Cholita Linda, Temescal
Cholita Linda made a name for itself when it started selling fish tacos out of a stand at the Jack London Square farmers market. Now, at its brick-and-mortar Temescal location, the tacos are a mainstay alongside an eclectic Latin menu. These fish tacos may not be the most adventurous on our list, but they’re unimpeachable in all the requisite categories. The fried fish is flaky on the inside and crunchy, not greasy, on the outside; the cabbage slaw is fresh and perfectly chewy; and the crema-to-salsa ratio is ideal. Bonus points for a spacious interior and a pretty back patio that feels secluded from the Temescal hustle and bustle. Cholita Linda is at 4923 Telegraph Ave. (at 49th Street), Oakland. Connect with the business on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Cosecha, Old Oakland
Battered and fried local cod, homemade tortillas, a perfect sauce that’s both creamy and spicy — Cosecha‘s tacos are on the fine-dining end of the taco spectrum. The only downside? You can’t get these fancy fish tacos any time you want them. They’re currently available as lunch specials on Wednesday and Thursday, and for dinner on Thursdays only. (Cosecha’s equally lovely breaded and fried shrimp tacos, topped with with some excellent slaw, are served on Fridays.) Located in Swan’s Marketplace, Cosecha is like the upscale version of a taco stand — and it faces some serious lunchtime crowds. The limited availability and the lunch rush can make these fish tacos seems like elusive and coveted. Grab some if you get the chance! Cosecha Cafe is at 907 Washington St. (at 9th Street), Oakland. Connect with the business on Twitter and Instagram.
Tamarindo Antojeria, Old Oakland
Right around the corner from Cosecha, Tamarindo Antojeria offers another one-two punch of delicious fried fish and shrimp tacos. On other parts of the menu Cosecha offers lesser known Mexican dishes and flavors, though the seafood tacos are more typical. Nonetheless, they are extra tasty. Each is well seasoned and carry just the right balance of slaw and chipotle sauce. Guacamole on the shrimp taco is a nice touch. Plus, Tamarindo Atojeria offers both soft and crispy tortillas for those who want extra crunch in their lunch. Bring a group to this spot — in addition to seafood tacos they’ve got an airy, spacious interior and a great happy hour with delicious cocktails in the bar area. Tamarindo Antojeria is at 468 8th St. (between Washington Street and Broadway), Oakland. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Saigon Deli Sandwich & Tacos Valparaiso, East Oakland
Saigon Deli is a food reviewer’s dream. It’s got delightful, weird quirks aplenty — it’s hard to even start with those — but when you get down to business, the food is definitely the main attraction. And there’s lots of it: Saigon Deli is both a bahn mi shop and a taco counter. The taco portion of the menu comes care of Tacos Valparaiso, and its menu is on the back wall. So you can order a traditional taco or banh mi. Or you can go a little crazy and try the Vietnamese-Mexican fusion dishes, like the intriguing off-menu fried fish banh mi. The more traditional fish and shrimp tacos here are made in the Baja style, with fried seafood, cabbage slaw and a creamy sauce. Happily, they’re spicier than expected — perhaps because of the Vietnamese influence. There’s a lot to choose from at this unassuming spot on International Boulevard, but you really can’t go wrong with seafood. Saigon Deli Sandwich & Tacos Valparaiso is at 1414 14th Ave. (at International Boulevard), Oakland.
Tacos Sinaloa, Berkeley Southside
Taco eaters beware — Tacos Sinaloa serves the sauciest tacos ever! The salsa extravagance is well documented on Yelp and right here in this publication, and it checked out during a recent lunch break. The Telegraph Avenue location is the first brick-and-mortar spot for the Fruitvale-based taco truck, and it opened just last fall. In Fruitvale, the seafood offerings have a truck and a fan base all their own. Its Berkeley location, like at the original trucks, has taco fillings, including fish and shrimp, that go pretty far beyond the standards. The shrimp tacos were a standout during one recent lunch break, with tender, juicy grilled shrimp and a perfectly matched salsa fresca. The fish, also nicely spiced and flaky, is grilled, not fried. In theory, that fact would make these tacos more delicate than usual — but, again, there’s all that salsa. We love it, but be sure to grab plenty of napkins! Tacos Sinaloa is at 2384 Telegraph Ave. (between Durant Avenue and Channing Way), Berkeley. Connect with the business on Facebook and Twitter.
Cancún, Downtown Berkeley
Cancún is the land of taco options: shrimp and fish (plus a bunch of other meat and vegetarian options), soft and crispy tortillas, and a truly extensive salsa bar. There are even enticing pescado and mariscado burrito options. Fried fish typically dominates in the seafood taco category, but Cancún is one of the few places where you can get your taco fillings grilled. The grilled tilapia is particularly nice — it comes in big, meaty chunks and has a nice, dark char on the outside. Cancún is known for its commitment to local, organic ingredients, and it even grows some of its own produce on a nearby organic farm. On top of that, the tacos come with huge helpings of super fresh produce on top. And, by the way, the portions are here are generous in general — a recent diner called them “open face burritos.” Cancún is at 2134 Allston Way (between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street), Berkeley. Connect with the restaurant on Facebook and Twitter.