Less than a two-hour drive (73 miles) from the US border at Tijuana sits Ensenda, a popular cruise port city located on a beautiful stretch of the Pacific Coast. The name Ensenada translates in English to “bay” or “cove”. The city is famous for its wine-producing region, beautiful scenery, incredible water sports, and stunning lavender fields. But for avid and enthusiastic foodies, Ensenada is known as being home to one of the most staple dishes of Mexican cuisine: Baja fish tacos.
And there is quite a history behind Baja fish tacos. During the 1950s and 60s, a surfeit of Japanese fisherman fled to Ensenada to take advantage of Baja California’s biodiverse and well-conditioned waters. They would prepare and fry fish using their cultural and traditional recipes, which include frying and battering angel shark.
The idea sparked a revolution in Mexican gastronomy and inspired the locals in Ensenada to add their cultural twist to this recipe and started using different types of fish and frying them even crispier than the original style. This style of Baja fish tacos soon took the Pacific Coast of Mexico by storm and became one of the most popular taco dishes.
What is the Baja Fish Taco?
Baja fish tacos are soft corn tortilla shells that are stuffed with crispy beer battered fish, most commonly being cod, angel shark, and haddock. The fish is then topped with seasoned cabbage, lime juice, salsa, and a divine cilantro dressing that’s made from sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice, cilantro, seafood seasoning, and ancho chili pepper.
They are a relatively light dish that are commonly served in a set of three tacos and are enjoyed for either brunch or an afternoon snack.
Where to Find Baja Style Fish Tacos in Los Cabos
Being part of Baja California and one of the most popular tourist cities in the area, Cabo San Lucas has several restaurants serving the delicious staple dish. Here is a pick of our favorite spots throughout both Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo:
Located nearby the vibrant Medano Beach, Tacos Gardenias has 30 years’ experience serving the mighty fish taco to those enjoying the sun and seeking an afternoon snack. The taco stand is impressively close to the Sea of Cortez, so it comes as no surprise that the fish and shrimp tacos are incredibly fresh.
Tacos Gardenias is also renowned for the barbacoa taco, which is seasoned lamb or beef meat slow cooked in a pit covered with maguey leaves and then topped with crunchy and succulent pork rinds. Other taco stands in town only serve it once a week, but it’s a daily feature at Gardenias!
Expect the unconventional and the ultimate farm-to-table Baja cuisine experience at Don Sanchez. Located in the romantically colonial town of San Jose del Cabo, the vibrant and popular restaurant explores gastronomic boundaries and serves unique Mexican cuisine with a twist such as ribeye chicharron, crispy soft-shell crab, avocado mousse, beet tortilla and a variation of delicious Baja style fish tacos!
The restaurant offers a different dining experience than that of crowding around a taco stand with the locals on a cobblestone street, but It’s well worth a visit if you’re in town and fancy upscale restaurant dining!
La Lupita Taco & Mezcal
La Lupita is a popular cantina in San Jose del Cabo! Situated in the historic and enchanting Distrito del Arte (Art District), La Lupita is a colorful and inviting venue that often features live music. The menu focuses on serving upscale tacos, rather than your traditional street taco, with artistic infusions that delight your palate, while staying loyal to the authentic roots and culinary practices of Mexican cuisine. The tacos are served with fresh tortillas that are handmade on-site.
The most popular appetizer is the Taste of Lupita featuring blue chips, pumpkin seed and tomato dip, guacamole, and fresh chapulines (roasted grasshoppers in Mezcal). The menu also serves an array of succulent snacks including lamb barbocoa tacos, local chorizo, fried duck with mole sauce, and steak tacos. Wash them down with a mezcal cocktail. La Lupita offers a wide selection of mezcals, which the bartender will be happy to talk with you about. Opt for the Artisanal Mezcal Tasting Flight, which comes with three different mezcals and special salt and citrus slices to cleanse the palate between tastings.
Tacos Castillo is a local favorite and crowd pleaser, renowned for serving the traditional Baja California style angel shark tacos. The quaint and authentic restaurant is located close to the beach and the freshness of the fish shines through in each taco. Tacos Castillo also offers a selection of piquant homemade salsas and dressings to complement the dish.
Tacos Castillo is a great spot to stop at after an afternoon on the beach and enjoy traditional Mexican cuisine and culture!
A repeat winner of the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, Baja Cantina has over three decades of experience in serving delectable Mexican cuisine, including first-rate fish tacos. The fish is served fresh and usually caught the night before serving. It’s fried in the classic Baja California style and topped with sautéed cabbage, guacamole, and mango Pico de Gayo salsa.
The restaurant is a favorite fisherman’s hangout and is situated in a great spot overlooking the “mega-yacht row” in the Cabo San Lucas marina.
Then next time you visit Los Cabos on vacation, make sure you try the Baja-style fish taco. You’re sure to have a great experience and a better understanding as to why the taco is an ultimate favorite of Mexican cuisine! Provecho!