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Too many people imagine seasoned ground meat as the primary protein in tacos. Sometimes the best tacos stray far from that basic, fast food version. The fish taco is the perfect example of an unexpected but authentic take on the taco.

Many communities throughout Mexico and Latin America rely on the sea for food. Fish, served in a variety of ways, is a major source of protein. It only makes sense that seafood tacos are made in places where fresh fish abounds. Fried fish is often mixed with fresh fruit salsa or even cole slaw to create a delectable and easy-to-eat dish. As more authentic and varied flavors for Mexican-inspired dishes have crept into the mainstream, so has awareness of, and demand for, fish tacos.

Best #fishtacos ever!! #lunchtime

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San Diego is favorably situated to allow for year-round fresh fish and seafood of all varieties. The ocean provides a constant stream of fresh fish for the chefs of this city to utilize. Some of them have integrated this amazing fresh fish into their menus to create truly impressive fish tacos.

Ocean Beach is often full of young and trendy people, especially in the summer when the surfing’s good. You can find a host of amazing establishments in Ocean Beach, many of which offer awesome Happy Hour Specials. It’s no surprise that fish tacos, an increasingly popular dish, could be found in a number of local eateries. We’ve found four that definitely deserve a try when you’re in the area.

Nati’s Serves Up Real Deal Tacos in Ocean Beach

Nati’s Mexican Restaurant
Location: 1852 Bacon Street (map)
Hours: Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday – Thursday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Price: $$

For more than 57 years, Nati’s has been cooking up fresh and delicious Mexican food in Ocean Beach. It has become a tradition for many people in the neighborhood to meet up at Nati’s Mexican Restaurant for drinks and a meal. Their full bar can provide just about any drink you could desire. They make a range of coladas and margaritas and even offer a selection of imported beers.

The fish tacos here boast a lightly breaded fish fried to a perfect golden brown. They are served with refried beans, Spanish rice and all the standard taco toppings. You can also order fish tacos a la carte for $5.25 each. If your friends don’t want fish, there are plenty of other options. Nati’s serves tacos made with chicken, guacamole and beef, beef, shredded beef or carne asada.

On weeknights, they have Happy Hour specials from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., including $4.99 margaritas and $4.13 for jalepeno poppers. Nati’s features a kid’s menu, with options like a cheese enchilada or a quesadilla for guests 10 years of age or younger. The space can accommodate larger groups and even offers some outdoor seating.

Authentic Southern Cali mexican food #yummy #fishtacos #mexican #natis #sandiego #socal

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Hugo’s Cocina Has Meat and Vegan Plates For All in OB

Hugo’s Cocina
Location: 1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. (map)
Hours: Seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Price: $$

One of the things that really sets Hugo’s Cocina apart from other local eateries is the sheer quantity of options available to diners. There are vegan and vegetarian dishes, as well as an amazing array of interpretations on classic dishes, like burritos and tacos. They recently received their liquor license, so grab a cool beer or margarita! You can also awesome non-alcoholic drinks like horchata, fresh coconut or even Fanta. They serve breakfast, as well as lunch and dinner.

Instead of offering one kind of fish taco, Hugo’s has an impressive selection of seafood and fish for your taco. Potential options for your seafood taco include lobster, salmon, shrimp and fish or vegan fish tacos. Vegans can also order shiitake tacos, sweet potato tacos, tempeh tacos or tacos stuffed with soy chorizo sausage. Few places offer this many options for vegetarian and vegans.

Hugo’s has more than a dozen unique takes on the Enchilada as well, including eggplant, tempeh, blue corn avocado and more standard carne asada versions. If tamales are more your speed, you can choose from four options, including pineapple. They also have a kid’s menu and a dessert menu. You can even get a vegan banana split to finish off your meal!

Grab some Tacos from Wonderland Ocean Pub in OB

Wonderland Ocean Pub
Location: 5083 Santa Monica Avenue (map)
Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 11 a.m. to midnight, Thursday and Friday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday: 9 a.m. to midnight
Price: $$

Wonderland Ocean Pub is at once casual but breathtaking, with amazing views of the ocean and the sunset. They’re definitely adult oriented, but they do offer a kid’s menu. Just keep timing in mind if you’re bringing minors along. When it comes to booze, Wonderland Ocean Pub has you covered. With almost thirty beers on tap and many more by the bottle, there’s something for every taste, even Bud Light. They also have a full bar and will happily mix up a craft cocktail.

The fish tacos here are sure to impress just about anyone. You can choose from either a lobster taco, made with pico de gallo, cheese, cabbage, cilantro and white sauce or a fresh fish taco, made with the same fixing with the grilled catch of the day. They also have short rib rolled tacos, carnitas tacos with an avocado mash and cotija cheese, or even a Cali-flower taco stuffed with fried cauliflower, mango habanero salsa.

Wonderland Ocean Pub offers Sunsent Happy Hour on weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., when you can get $1 off tacos and drafts, $2 off wine and $3 off mules. You can also stop in on the weekends to try out their impressive brunch menu.

OB has Quick & Easy Mexican Food From Nico’s

Nico’s Mexican Food
Location: 4918 Newport Avenue (map)
Hours: Seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Price: $

If you’re looking for quick and affordable tacos that taste delicious, Nico’s Mexican Food is your answer. Be ready with cash however, because this little eatery does not accept credit cards. There’s definitely some Tex-Mex influences here, including the use of flour tortillas. However, the fresh, soft and aromatic tortillas they wrap your food in will only increase your enjoyment of their mouthwatering options.

For just $2.45, you can try one of their amazing fish tacos. They fry up fish filets and serve them in a warm flour tortilla. Their sauce adds quite a bit of kick to the dish. You can also get fish burritos and even a shrimp burrito if a taco won’t satisfy your seafood craving! You can order burritos and tacos with carne asada, carnitas and machaca, as well as standard beef and chicken.

They may not serve alcohol, but you can get fresh horchata here, which will take the kick out of their hot sauce. This place is family-owned since 1982, and they’ve definitely had time to work out their menu. With tortas, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, chimichangas and tostadas, as well as huevos rancheros, there’s something for everyone here.