Whereas some restaurants specialize in one or two signature dishes, Best Fish Taco in Ensenada only has two menu items. Those visitors falling into the indecisive category will be happy to encounter a menu that reads as follows: “Fish taco. Shrimp taco. Drinks.” Pick your poison and watch as each serving is dropped into the one piece of kitchen equipment in the back—a large cauldron of hot oil. Before you can begin to salivate, the golden brown fish is scooped out, lovingly nestled inside a corn tortilla, and handed over the counter.
Where the creativity comes into play is at the salsa bar. Typically restaurants do the dressing for you, insisting that fish tacos are best enjoyed with shredded cabbage, crema, and a small wedge of lime. Here, however, each taco is presented as a blank canvas upon which the customer can create his or her own culinary masterpiece. The names of the in-house salsas (Mild, Radish Relish, Mad Mango, Mango Less, Hot Guac, Pineapple Kiss) provide an inkling of what you’re in for, without revealing any recipe secrets (e.g., the description under the Mango Less salsa simply reads “All of the passion—none of the mango”). Each salsa is so flavorful and unique that they almost warrant ordering half a dozen tacos just to sample each one. Shredded cabbage and limes are also available at the salsa bar to add as much crunch and zing as you see fit. The piece de resistance, however, is the “La Crema Magica,” the best thing to ever come out of a pump dispenser. Best Fish Taco provides the analogy of frosting is to cake as La Crema Magica is to taco, and we agree that the mystery cream sauce perfectly completes this hand-held meal.
New, possibly temporary menu items include the Camarones Abrigados (like a shrimp taquito of sorts) and the Papataco (taco with potatoes and onions), but one would be better served to stick with the fish or shrimp tacos. Best Fish Taco has recently shrunk from three locations in the greater Los Angeles area to just the original store in the Los Feliz district. With its marine wall murals and Jimmy Buffet tunes, its ambience may leave you feeling like you just spent the day along the Baja coast. One closed-eyes bite of the fish taco and your tastebuds just might trick your brain into hearing the crash of the waves beyond the passing traffic of Hillhurst Avenue.