Sweet-fleshed fish, lightly battered and fried, topped with citrusy sauce, crunchy strands of slaw, a scattering of tomato and a squeeze of fresh lime juice embraced by a steamy tortilla—yeah, that’s the taste of Baja, of Southwestern sunshine, of the perfect fish taco.
Though Baja California—a Mexican state on the Baja peninsula—is often cited as the birthplace of this wildly popular dish, many food historians credit the native people of North America as the first to devise the simple dish. And that makes perfect sense, considering their proximity to Mexico’s coastline and teeming waters. That said, South Carolina lays claim to its own impressive stretch of coastline and that means fresh fish is in abundance. So, it’s only natural that the fish taco craze has stretched across the country and found legions of fans in the Palmetto State.
When in Myrtle Beach proper, good fish tacos are at your fingertips and, in most cases, within walking distance. If the boardwalk is your headquarters for summer fun, you’ve got it made when it comes to wrapping your hands around this spicy seafood treat. Here are five places where you can get a mouthful of that wonderful Baja flavor.
Bandito’s, 1401 N. Ocean Blvd.
The once-defunct Banditos Cantina has resurfaced near the north end of the Myrtle Beach boardwalk as part of a new three-story, upscale beach club called TheBlvd. The atmosphere is hip and the menu has been retooled with a focus on freshness and good-for-you ingredients like wild-caught fish, local organic produce and non-GMO products. That’s good news for fish taco lovers, who will fall for the Baja taco with fresh, lightly fried fish, cabbage, pickled onion, cilantro, lime and a creamy chile aioli in a tasty corn tortilla. Bet you can’t eat just one.
Gordo’s Taco and Tequila, 214 9th Ave. N.
This colorful corner eatery, one block from the boardwalk, is a hotspot for all kinds of street tacos served on handmade tortillas. The grouper taco—filete de pescado—is a star of the menu with beer-battered grouper, a spicy chipotle aioli and fresh slices of avocado. You can order a la carte or plate—a trio of fish taco deliciousness served with beans and rice. Sip your favorite margarita and dig in.
Dirty Don’s Oyster Bar and Grill, 910 N. Ocean Blvd.
Dirty Don’s is an institution on the Myrtle Beach boardwalk. The “beach casual” restaurant caters to the sunbathers, wave riders and sea swimmers who have worked up an appetite and want something fresh and quick so they can get back to the business of having fun. Fish tacos are relatively new to their longtime lineup of seafood offerings. You can get them with blackened, grilled or fried fish, but the tuna tacos with Asian slaw, cucumber wasabi and a hit of Sriracha are positively addictive. Two more locations along the Grand Strand make getting your fish taco fix even easier.
Mrs. Fish, 919 Broadway St.
Just a few short blocks from the sand is downtown Myrtle Beach. At its heart is Mrs. Fish, a no-frills seafood joint favored by locals for affordable prices and some of the freshest seafood on the Grand Strand. The fried fish tacos are a simple presentation, but so fresh and full-flavored, you’ll be a regular during your stay at Myrtle Beach.
Sun City Cafe, 801 Main St.
Another downtown gem and locals’ favorite is Sun City Cafe, a funky little Mexican spot with a welcoming vibe and friendly staff. Their fish tacos are built around spicy, blackened fish filets served open-face on flour tortillas that have been brushed with sour cream, then warmed. A generous topping of fresh veggies and herbs makes this dish pop with color and flavor.