Eat All The Fishies: A Guide To Philly’s Best Fish Tacos
You may have braved the traffic to the Jersey Shore, Center City Sipped on Wednesdays after work, or sweated through too many 90 degree days, but if you haven’t had a fish taco, it isn’t summer yet. SoCal has already staked the claim for best fish tacos in all the land, but Philly holds its own when it comes to this stalwart of handheld, beach-y summer noshing. Here are six spots that you need to get to this weekend.
This West Philly truck-turned-brick-and-mortar only features fish tacos in the summer months, and I may or may not have called weekly this spring to check for their availability. The fish is grilled on the spot and topped with tangy fruit salsa, creamy-spicy aioli, and heaping scatter of cilantro. They are best finished off with a generous squirt of their homemade hot sauce and paired with a pineapple Jarritos. Gloriously messy, low-key, and worth every bite (seriously, you’ll need a spoon to sop up every morsel of salsa).
Stephen Starr’s glitzy-kitschy Mexican cantina offers fish tacos two ways. The crispy mahi-mahi tacos are rolled tightly in flour tortillas, snug enough to resemble taquitos. Tangy red cabbage and slices of avocado brighten up the mix and a solid squeeze of fresh lime is a necessity. For a richer and more off-beat flavor combo, try the sea bass tacos: perfectly cooked fish atop sweet potato puree, with fried jalapenos and scallions.
The signature item at this graffiti-scrawled Drexel food truck is their Cap’n Crunch fried fish, which you can have in either taco or burrito form. Topped with a simple slaw and chipotle crema, the cereal breaded fish is surprisingly not too sweet. Grab a bubble tea to complete a very culturally diverse lunch and make sure to ask for less sugar or you’ll be drowning in dessert.
With both menus influenced by chef Jose Garces, Distrito’s mahi-mahi fish tacos are like the older, more sophisticated cousin of the tacos at El Vez. Same components, with a more delicate presentation and subtle elevation in flavor. Each of the three mini corn tortillas is topped with a precious smear of chipotle remoulade, a perfectly-portioned, finely crusted piece of fish, a slice of avocado, and a heaping of pickled pink cabbage. You and your date will fight over the last one.
The only bad thing about this taco truck is that it’s occasionally hard to find. But not to worry, the chefs are opening a brick-and-mortar called Revolution Taco near Rittenhouse, and in the meantime I will patiently stalk their Twitter account. Every taco at Taco Mondo is exquisite in its simplicity, and the mahi mahi tacos are no exception. A double layer of corn tortillas hugs a massive strip of fried fish, and lettuce, spicy aioli and pickled veggies complete the look.
If you can manage to get halfway down the taco menu at this contemporary Mexican eatery without ordering everything, get the Baja fish tacos to go with your mandatory guac and marg. Crispy blue tilapia, slaw, lemon vinaigrette, and all the aioli and crema you’d like on the side so that you can dab the perfect amount on every bite.