It's simple, yet delicious—the classic fish taco. Whether grilled, blackened, or fried, fresh fish finds its rightful home encased in an authentic tortilla. Indigenous to the coastal regions of Mexico, fish tacos became extremely popular not only around its birthplace, but throughout the country and in southern regions of California, as well, before spreading globally.
In fact, the famous Baja fish taco got its name from the Mexican state of Baja California, according to Sunset. Typical Baja tacos feature fried fish, shredded lettuce, and spicy mayo. However, many chefs and restauranteurs make the dish their own with unique additions and added flavors.
And the type of fish used to make these tacos runs the gamut from fresh cod and mahi mahi to tilapia and catfish. These varieties all tend to be mild in flavor, relatively inexpensive, and have a nice, flaky texture. Whether you prefer your seafood served up on a corn or flour tortilla, there are so many fish taco variations that you'll easily be able to find one that suits your tastebuds.
Here are just a handful of the best offerings you can find at restaurant chains across the country.
Dishing out casual American fare all over the country, Houlihan's menu takes inspiration from recipes of different cultures, as evidenced by the chain's So. Cal Fish Tacos. These Baja-style tacos come with panko-breaded tilapia, napa cabbage, chipotle mayo, and honey-cumin dressing. Plus, they come with a healthy helping of homemade salsa and tortilla chips.
This casual American eatery does comfort food right. From barbecue ribs to fettuccine Alfredo, Lazy Dog is known for its classic rustic fare. The chain's fish tacos are no different and certainly pack on the flavor. Made with pale ale-battered fish, fiery carrot slaw, cilantro black beans, Spanish rice, tartar sauce, chile vinegar, and housemade salsa, these tacos make for one hefty bite.
Who doesn't love fresh mahi mahi tacos? Seasons 52 makes its version with pico de gallo, an avocado lime crema, and farro salad. Acclaimed for its fresh, grilled or roasted entrees, Seasons 52 never freezes its ingredients and sources only hand-caught seafood. Noted for its lighter, healthier fare, this chain is a great pick when on the hunt for a delicious fish taco option.
Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery
With 17 locations across the United States, Rock Bottom gastro-brewery dishes out both beers and food for insatiable diners. In fact, the chain has won numerous awards for a handful of its beers, so grab a pint and pair it with the restaurant's cajun fish tacos. This dish comes with three hearty tacos, packed into corn and flour tortillas and stuffed with blackened cod, lettuce, pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, and topped with a cajun remoulade.
Head to your nearest Rusty Bucket location to grab a plate of the chain's Baja Fish Tacos. This dish comes with blackened mahi, cabbage, pico de gallo, and avocado lime crema, plus Mexican street corn salad on the side. If you let your server know beforehand, they can even make a gluten-friendly option of these handheld entrées. One TripAdvisor reviewer described these fish tacos as better than others served closer to the beach, writing, "very filling array of ingredients and all the right tastes and extras."
Every day, Yard House prepares its vast menu items from scratch, delivering fresh, delicious food to deserving customers. Plus, with a slogan like "great food, classic rock," you know you're in for a good time when you roll into Yard House. Here, you can delight in the restaurant's Baja-style fish tacos, made with crushed avocado, salsa roja, cabbage, cilantro, and Sriracha aioli. For an extra dollar, you can even sub in for a "vampire-style" cheese-crusted tortilla.
Order yourself some blackened fish tacos from Twin Peaks and you can't go wrong. Inside its warm flour tortillas, you'll find wild-caught cod, pineapple slaw, house-made avocado smash, sour cream, pico de gallo, and jalapeño honey vinaigrette sprinkled with cilantro. "The food is better than most other restaurants of the type," wrote one commenter on TripAdvisor. "I really like the fish tacos for a light meal."
On the Border
It's no surprise that this popular Tex-Mex chain has ample options when it comes to tacos. From southwest chicken to birria queso, there are many tasty tacos on the menu at On the Border. However, the restaurant's Dos XX Fish Tacos is certainly a favorite. The fish is battered in Dos Equis beer and combined with shredded cabbage, mixed cheese, pico de gallo, and a creamy red chili sauce. According to one customer on Yelp, "their Dos XX fish tacos did not disappoint. It was so flavorful with just the right blend of spices—yummy!"
Another Tex-Mex favorite, Tijuana Flats has its signature Baja fish taco listed on the menu's favorites section for good reason. Built in a corn and flour tortilla, the tacos include crispy cod, pickled red onions, cilantro slaw, avocado sauce, garlic lime sauce, and a pico topping. Only introduced back in 2022, this item quickly became a fan favorite—one Yelp review even claimed that they are "probably the best menu item" from the chain. Another reviewer stated that "the fish tacos are fresh & on par quality wise as many higher end restaurants I've ordered in."
What once started out as a humble food truck in Mexico now has restaurant locations all over New York City, Miami, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., just to name a few. The ever-growing Tacombi is dedicated to connecting its customers to Mexico through its food, including the chain's Baja-style crispy fish taco. Served upon warm Vista Hermosa corn tortillas, the tacos are comprised of beer-battered cod, pickled cabbage, pico de gallo, and poblano mayo.
Perhaps best known for its margaritas, Dos Caminos is primed to bring you one of the best fish tacos. With locations in New York City and Atlantic City, N.J.—and coming soon to Charlotte, N.C.—this revered mini chain serves up a pescado taco made with the local white fish, which can be battered or grilled. It comes with shaved green cabbage, pickled red onion, guacamole, coriander lime mayo, and cilantro.
One of the few themed restaurant chains still in existence, Rainforest Cafe beckons customers with its lively tropical atmosphere. The restaurant has a variety of fish taco preparations available to its clientele, including its blackened fish tacos. These come with blackened fish, red cabbage, black beans, pico de gallo, jalapeño ranch, and a citrus vinaigrette. You can also order them grilled or fried.