Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Tacorias of the Bay Area: Mijita, Joe's Taco Lounge, Papalote
San Francisco, CA
Review by MaceVindaloo, Diasala, Lizard, SuSu


Being a solid lover of fish tacos but living on the East Coast of the United States, tacorias are is short supply, and if you can find one, fish tacos are not usually the premier item on the menu. So on a recent trip to the San Francisco, the Jiddah of fish tacos, (Jiddah being in the same region of Mecca but not quite there. The Mecca in the fish taco sense, being San Diego / Baja) we decided to search out a few places to try.

Not really knowing where we were going, we headed to the heart of the city: Market Street and the Embarcadero, where the Market Place is. The Market Place is a collection of stores, stalls, food stalls and restaurants mainly catering to business lunch crowds and commuters heading to ferries buying a snack while waiting for their ride across the bay, makings and ingredients for dinner, or even fully prepared meal to heat when they get home.

But I digress ... One restaurant in the market is Mijita. The first thing that struck me there was the decor. Simple. Bright. Colorful. Seating was bench seats at long wooden tables covered in almost garishly bright tablecloths.

Although they had a modest menu with a variety of offerings, we headed straight for the fish tacos. Whitefish, fried, then rolled with shredded cabbage and a light white sauce, all wrapped in a flour tortilla. With a small squeeze of lime juice to finish it off, these tacos were very good. To accompany, I had a tamarind agua fresca which was sweet with a slight tartness that went well with the tacos.

A few days later when returning from a trip to Napa, we stopped at a place in Mill Valley in Marin county just a little north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was recommended to us by a work colleague whom we have found trustworthy in such matters. Joes Taco Lounge was hopping. Closely packed tables, Mexican tchotchke covering the walls and a shelf that surrounded the whole dining room stacked with hot sauces. My taste buds were already watering.

We got a selection of tacos, all with a fish theme. Fried fish, grilled fish, crab, and shrimp tacos. While we waited for the main event, we sampled the tortilla chips and salsa. Both were excellent, especially the salsa. Chunky and very fresh. Not too spicy. Not too much onion. Perfect. The tacos were a mixed bag, but not in a bad way.

The crab tacos, were good, as were the shrimp. The fried fish tacos were great, but the grilled fish tacos were outstanding. Grilled fish with their fresh salsa, shredded cabbage and a sprinkle of cilantro in a flour torilla. As always, a squeeze of lime, and fish taco nirvana is within your grasp. Made me feel like the next time I go there, I will go there very hungry, and tell the waiter to just keep bringing me grilled fish tacos till I explode.

Our last exposure to San Francisco tacorias was Papalote (which means "moth"). Located on a busy street in the Mission area, this location has two stores in the city. We appreciated the Star Wars-inspired bar rave poster in the window here!

The one here was pretty crowded and even a little cramped. Seating was minimal with a handful of small tables and a wall counter with bar stools. Despite being jostled around as I ate, the food made up for it. Papalote had a very diverse selection of offerings. Of course they had the usual fare, chicken, beef and fish. But they also had tofu ... A surprise, but in retrospect, I shouldn't have been. It plays right into the more alternative / healthy attitude that is prevalent in the San Francisco area.

The fish tacos here were good. As usual, all the ingredients were fresh and flavorful. Instead of large pieces of fish, they used smaller chunks of well grilled fish. The corn chips here were also fresh as was the salsa, a smooth version which was nice despite the fact that I prefer chunky.

All in all, we declare that San Francisco is indeed the Jiddah of fish tacos, and we're glad to have made the pilgrimage! Though we'll need to consider trekking over to the Mecca (San Diego); if it's better than San Francisco, we'll be really really full and happy!

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