After spending time in Northern California and South Tahoe with my college friends, I moved onto the second half of my vacation in Southern California. I took a flight from Reno to Los Angeles and then a shuttle an hour and a half up the coast from LA to Ventura. Here, I spent six wonderful days with my Ultimate Frisbee friend Holly. Holly took me in under her wing (and her new condo), and graciously showed me around the local towns of Ventura, Ojai, and Santa Barbara. We, of course, made time for some taco spots along the way,
WARNING: These next two posts include FISH tacos that I ACTUALLY ORDERED. Yes, I am finally on board with ordering and trying fish tacos (especially after having those 5/5 fish tacos in Boston at Lone Star Taco Bar- click here to see the post.) Okay, I digress. Let’s get into some fish taco reviews!
Beach House Tacos – Ventura
After Holly picked me up at the Ventura shuttle spot, she took me right to a brewery on the pier overlooking the ocean. Here, we cheers with an IPA before getting our first tacos together next door at Beach House Tacos. Not even one hour of being in Ventura and I already had beer and tacos. I could tell Holly and I were going to have an awesome week together.
Beach House Tacos had many seafood options as I expected for a taco shop on the pier. They had grilled salmon, fried calamari, fried popcorn shrimp, grilled or fried shrimp, ahi seared rare for the seafood options. They also had two non-seafood options including ground beef with raisin and crispy potato tacos.
History was made at Beach House Tacos as I ordered my first fish taco. I figured this would be a good place to start. I tried the baja fried fish taco with chipotle tartar, cilantro and lime slaw on a corn shell. I ranked it a 3 out of 5 on my taco scale. There was a somewhat mild fish taste and the taco was a little too creamy for me. However, there was a good amount of fish on this taco.
I also ordered a crispy potato taco on a corn shell with roasted red chile sauce, mixed greens, pasilla corn tomato relish, and avocado. I was really satisfied with how crispy the potatoes were and how loaded the taco was with veggies. This taco had perfect texture and ingredients and I gave this taco a 5 out of 5 on my scale.
Although my fish taco I ordered was not a 5/5, I was definitely open to trying more fish tacos while in Southern California.
Price: $3.25-5.25 per taco.
Spencer Makenzie’s – Ventura
Once again, I was in a situation where I was about to have tacos two days in a row for lunch. I have been asked many times if I am sick of eating tacos but how can I get sick of eating tacos when there is so much variety out there?! No two tacos are the same.
Since I was on a fish kick, Holly took me to a place that is well known for their fish tacos. The restaurant has been voted to have the best fish taco by the Ventura County Reporter 8 years straight, voted top 3 best fish tacos in California by USA Today, and ranked Top 50 Best Tacos in America by Foursquare, The Chive and Business Insider. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, Spencer Makenzies.
Taco filing options here included grilled or tempura fish, seared Ahi tuna, grilled or tempura shrimp, calamari, carne asada, shredded chicken breast, ground beef, and veggies. Depending on the filling, the shell can be flour, soft corn shell, or Parmesan hard shell. See – how can I get sick of tacos with so many options?
With the title World Famous Fish Taco on the menu, I had to order the grilled fish taco and try it for myself. I also wanted to try out the Parmesan hard shell so I ordered it with the shredded chicken filling.
First, I tried the fish taco with chopped cabbage, cilantro, bell peppers, and the Spencer Sauce spread on a flour tortilla. This taco was less fishy than the last place and more flaky. A win-win combo. I loved the addition of the bell peppers to the fish. The slaw was drier and less creamy than the last slaw which all added points to this taco. I gave this taco a 4 out of 5 as I think I would of preferred a toasted flour shell and I had to add a lot of sauce to give this taco some flavor.
Next, I snuck a bite of Holly’s veggie tacos on soft corn shells. She had her tacos prepared Brooklyn style which is a combination of the Spencer and Sweet Chili Fire sauce. I absolutely loved the veggies with the Brooklyn sauce and rated this taco a 5/5 for perfectly marinated veggies and the amazing corn shells that held the masterpiece.
My final taco of the eve (but not of the trip) was the shredded chicken taco. The Parmasean hard shell was bomb. The lettuce, cheese, and bell peppers added a refreshing and light addition to the overall taco and worked well with the Caribbean Blaze sauce which is a cayenne vinegar blend with medium heat. I would give this taco a 5/5 on the scale.
Overall, I was impressed with both the tacos and sauces created by Spencer Makenzies. Their taco game is very strong.
Price: $3.75-$6.75 per taco. Mon-Thurs 3-5pm half off World Famous grilled or tempura fish tacos
Altamirano’s Tacos Truck- Santa Barbara
Okay, so these tacos are sadly the last tacos I had on the trip. On my last full day in California, Holly introduced me to the beautiful town of Santa Barbara. We started the day trip with a short hike to Lizard’s Mouth. After the breathtaking hike, we made our way into the town for shopping and brews. On our way to Topa Topa Taproom, we walked past a taco truck parked adjacent to a winery. I had to stop. Holly did not put up a fight so I was in the clear for one last round of tacos.
This taco truck comes from Altamirano’s Mexican Grill in Goleta which is north of Santa Barbara. Their taco options included asada, pollo, carnitas, veggie, adobado, chorizo, and al pastor.
It was midday and in between meal times, but I made room in my stomach to try one taco. I picked the asada (grilled beef) and I coated my taco with tomatillo salsa, onions, cilanto and a splash of lemon.
I would give this taco a 4 out of 5. I loved the soft flexible corn shell and the seasonging to the asada was top dog. The grilled beef was just a tad on the dry side.
And there you have it. My West Coast Taco Tour of 2019 comes to end. Til next time California!
I had a ton of 5/5 tacos that I will never forget.
Price: $2.50 per taco except fish taco $4.50