Magazine article Risk Management

San Diego Eats

Magazine article Risk Management

San Diego Eats

Article excerpt

Just as deep-dish pizza is to Chicago and cheesesteak is to Philadelphia, so the fish taco is to San Diego. To the uninitiated, a fish taco sounds lake a strange combination of beer-battered fish, tortilla, cabbage, salsa, a mayonnaise-based sauce and a squeeze of lime. But devotees swear by them, and fish tacos have evolved from a Mexican beach snack to a San Diego favorite, which has even started to appear in restaurants around the country.

Fish tacos likely originated in Baja California. Local legend has it that, in the early 1970s, Ralph Rubio, a college student and surfer on Spring Break, was visiting a beach in San Felipe and fell in love with the fish tacos made by a vendor named Carlos at has taco stand. Several years later, at the urging of his father, Rubio decided to start his own business. He persuaded Carlos to give him the recipe and in 1983, he opened his own restaurant in San Diego. Today Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill is a huge success with its own NASDAQ listing and well over 100 restaurants serving fish tacos and other fare, not only in San Diego, but throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon and Utah.

The very first Rubio's is still in business (4504 Mission Bay) in Mission Bay, but it is no longer the only place in town that serves San Diego's signature dish. Fish tacos can be found everywhere from taco stands to fast-food eateries to sit-down restaurants. A visit to San Diego As not complete without trying one. Locals still consider Rubio's the best but other places to look for include the surfer-themed Wahoo's Fish Taco chain with multi pie locations and the San Diego mainstay, El Indio (3695 India St., 619.299.0333). Look for the popular seafood restaurant Brigantine, with locations in Del Mar, Coronado, Point Loma, Escondido, La Mesa and Poway, for a more traditional sit-down dining experience.

Of course, fish tacos are not the only thing worth eating in San Diego. Like any large city, there is a vast array of food options to choose from. With the ocean nearby, it is no surprise that the seafood is excellent. In the bustling downtown Gaslamp Quarter, some of the best comes with scenic ocean views at the elegant Star of the Sea (1360 N. Harbor Dr., 619.232.7408) and the Fish Market (750 N. Harbor Dr., 619.232.3474), which also has a more refined version called Top of the Market, located upstairs. Another upscale favorite is Blue Point Coastal Cuisine (565 Fifth Ave., 619.233.6623).

Fans of Italian food should enjoy Buca di Beppo (705 Sixth Ave., 619.233.7272) with its huge, family-style portions, party atmosphere and flamboyant decor, featuring paintings from the Old Country, religious memorabilia and photos of Frank Sinatra and Sophia Loren all adorned with Christmas lights. Newcomers are frequently led on a tour of the kitchen and dining rooms, including the Pope's Table, which seats 20 and has a unique centerpiece--a bust of the Pope behind glass.

Gaslamp diners looking to sample California cuisine might want to try Card Cerise (1125 Sixth Ave., 619.595.0153), while sushi lovers should sock out Kiyo's Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar (531 F St., 619.238.1726). Croce's (802 Fifth Ave., 619.233.4355) is perfect for music lovers and is owned by the late singer Jim Croce's wife. Fittingly, Croce's Jazz Bar is next door.

Meat eaters have plenty of options as well. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar (380 K St., 619.237.1155) is the home of great cuts of meat and an extensive wine list, as the name would suggest. A unique option is the Gaslamp Strip Club (340 Fifth Ave. …

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