Best Taco Shop in SD? Oscar's Does It Right In North Pacific Beach

Regular Menu at Oscar's (under construction)
May 17, 2012

I must disclose my reluctance to tell the 'Ville about Oscar's Mexican Seafood for fear that the lines may get longer, thereby increasing the overall (albeit comparatively minimal) wait on my thrice-weekly visits to one of San Diego's newest, and inarguably best taco shops.  But, being a loyal San Diegan dedicated to the community-at-large, I decided to put my selfishness aside.  Without hesitation (gulp), I now reveal the deliciousness that we've all been waiting for.

Oscar's Mexican Seafood is a tiny taco shop on Turquoise Street in North Pacific Beach.  The menu is limited, the food is inexpensive, and the lines can get long.  The exterior wall honors the restaurant's beginnings with a mural of the taco truck that started it all.  Out front, a few tables and counters allow patrons to pound down the delicious fare on the spot, as the interior really can't fit more than a handful of people at a time.  

If you blink, you may miss it!
The basic menu is on the wall with daily specials to the left of the cash register.  As you enter, an enthusiastic and friendly counter person will eagerly and instinctively ask if this is your first time at Oscar's.  If it is, he'll graciously provide the details of the menu.  Tacos come on corn unless you upgrade to flour (it's bigger, and rolled like a burrito, so you get more and thus pay a bit extra).  You can also upgrade any taco to a torta (a Mexican sandwich) which comes on awesome fluffy bread - perfect for soaking up all of the sauces.  Questions? They'll explain, and if you're lucky, will let you in on some of the "secret" menu items.

Everything I've tasted at Oscar's has been remarkably fresh and delicious.  The battered fish taco ($2) is my vote for the best in town.  The spicy shrimp taco ($4), to quote my friend from New York City, "is the best taco I've ever eaten."  The shrimp ceviche ($3.50) is as refreshingly tasty as it gets, and the smoked fish taco ($3.50) is so packed with flavor, unlike anything I've sampled in this genre.  Be sure to ask for recommendations, as they are eager to guide hungry patrons to the ideal order.

Fisherman's Torta
I recently sampled the Fisherman's Torta ($10), which consists of battered fish, grilled catch of the day (this time it was red snapper), baby scallops, smoked marlin, and shrimp, topped with avocado, cabbage, cilantro, and onion.  This huge sandwich is so satisfying and really an amazing combination of ingredients, making every bite a new adventure.  Top it with a sampling of Oscar's house made hot sauces for an added kick.  The avocado cilantro lime sauce and the habanero white sauce are both to die for.  

Daily Special Board
The word on the street from the line of patrons is that the "Cucaracha," a dish consisting of fried shrimp in a spicy red broth ($11.00 for large) is killer too.  The fish stew is light, flavorful, and complex ($2 for small, $8 for large), and the fresh fruit water ($1.59) changes daily and sells out fast.  I intend to try the entire menu - possibly by week's end. 

For all you restaurateurs or home cooks out there who serve fish tacos, check out Chef Juan's demonstration below to see how it's done.  And if you need further convincing about the quality of food, peruse Oscar's stellar Yelp reviews.  The only complaints listed are that Oscar's occasionally runs out of fish, which to me is merely a testament to how fresh everything is.  So get there early!

Damn it, now I'm craving a taco.  I'm heading to Oscar's.  

703 Turquoise Street, North Pacific Beach (or Baja La Jolla, or Bird Rock, or La Jolla, who knows?!)
(858) 488-6392

Mon. - Thurs. 10am-9pm
Fri. - Sat. 10am-10pm
Sun. 10am-8pm

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