Ricky’s Fish Tacos – Los Angeles

It seems that every time L.A. Weekly publishes a 10-Best list, they manage to include Ricky’s Fish Tacos. You know the lists – Best Fish Tacos, Best Tacos, Best Fast Food, Best Food Truck, and so on. Some publication even included it in a list of the best tacos in the United States.

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Having built up my hopes and expectations to supersonic levels, I recently found myself in the right place at the right time, and headed straight for the address I found on Google. I was a bit surprised to learn that it’s actually a food truck parked at a permanent address in Los Feliz. No problemo, of course, because some of the best food in LA comes from food trucks these days.

Service was very pleasant and quick, despite the lines of adoring fans, many of whom were placing enormous orders to take home to gatherings of friends and family. Then my number was called, and I carried my picture-perfect iconic fish taco and shrimp taco back to my spot in the cheerful row of picnic tables. I was bursting with anticipation.

My first bite was exactly what I was anticipating. The crunch of the batter, the flaky, warm fish, the taste and texture of the guacamole and salsa, and the refreshing garden flavors of the cole slaw… all brought together by the warm toasty/corny flavor of the hand made tortilla. My second and third bites were exactly the same. Perfect. As was the entire meal.

While I wanted to go along with the crowd, and declare Ricky’s the best fish taco ever, I was tossed on the horns of a dilemma. Yes, it was a perfect fish taco, but a fish taco is a very specific thing, and there really isn’t much leeway for variations. Either you get it right, or you don’t. I’ve had enough mediocre fish tacos to know the difference, but I’ve also had a lot of excellent ones – Ricky’s included.

So let’s take this as huge praise for Ricky’s getting it exactly right. But let’s also not despair, because even if we aren’t anywhere near Los Feliz, we may still be able to find a great fish taco.

Here’s the address: 1400 N Virgil Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
And phone number: (323) 906-7290

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Lupita’s – Fish Taco

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The Grand Central Market on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles is in the process of gentrification. You can now buy an egg sandwich for $13 or grass-fed beef for $35 a pound, but some of the old-line food stands are still there. Thank goodness.

I recently stopped Lupita’s, and was pleased to find a classic Baja style fish taco. Perfectly fried fish fillets on warm tortillas, smothered in shredded lettuce, crema, pico de gallo and hot sauce, with a dash of squeezed lemon, they can be the perfect lunch.

Let’s hope they don’t get forced out of the market by the trendy new places.

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Shrimp Tacos – Mariscos El Jato – East Los Angeles

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I spotted this East LA seafood restaurant on a Sunday afternoon a couple of months ago. The reason I noticed it was the large number of customers, but that was the very reason that kept me from trying it that day. They were just too busy. I was in the neighborhood today, and had much better luck.

The menu has photos of the food, and my mind was made up the moment I saw the 5 Tacos de Camarón con Ensalada. It turned out to be 5 huge tacos buried under slices of avocado and a sour cream cole slaw. The tacos were filled with grilled shrimp that seemed to be lightly breaded, and a dash of pico de gallo, fried until they were crispy. I rarely encounter a crunchy taco, but the robust combination of seafood flavor, textures and even the warm and cool temperatures delivered on the promise I had seen in the photo.

I spoke with the owner, El Jato himself, a friendly, outgoing native of San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, near Guadalajara. He told me that he created most of the dishes on the menu, and all of the plates I saw whizzing past me looked delicious. I saw beautiful tilapia fried whole, gigantic fish tacos, and big seafood-cocktailish looking dishes called chavelas.

So there are at least three more visits in my future, before I go for a repeat on the shrimp tacos.

Here’s the address: 2936 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Phone: (323) 264-6590