I love Mexican food, but sometimes all the rice and beans and heavy meat can weigh you down. Don’t get me wrong, I love burritos, but I have a hard time not finishing a whole one in a sitting, as much as I’d like to take half home for lunch the next day.
As an East Coast friend said when she first visited me in San Francisco in the early ’90s when our burritos arrived: “That looks like an infant.” She proceeded to place the wrapped burrito by her toned dancer’s belly and question how all that would fit in there. Miraculously it all fit!
Years later in New York City I saw advertisements for “San Francisco Mission Style” Burritos, which of course made me laugh having lived in or near the Mission for more than 15 years. So, my answer to the burrito baby syndrome was to order fish tacos; it seemed like a lighter choice. One of the first places, and to my mind one of the best in the city, is Papalote, a Mexican Grill on 24th street. When my first son was little we ate there once a week because I knew he would get a nutritious meal. The owner knows us well and has seen my son grown on his cooking. Now, my rice and bean aficionado goes to school a block away and we joke that it is because of his favorite restaurant. Don’t miss the fabulous house salsa; it’s a secret but I think it is made with pumpkin.
Down Highway 1 in Half Moon Bay is another one of my favorite fish taco haunts: The Flying Fish Grill. This quintessentially California food shack, has the most lightly battered fish and scrumptious sauce. We drove down there yesterday with my mom, my sister and her family who are visiting from New York. The place is unpretentious and the menu expansive. The Cioppino looked great and my mom and brother-in-law said the crab melt literally melted in their mouths. The kids devoured the fried calamari, even though they thought that they might be eating “Squidward” from Sponge Bob Squarepants fame.
Finally, if you find yourself in downtown San Francisco and want a more posh fish taco experience, check out Tres Agaves, a fancier Mexican Restaurant and Tequila lounge owned by the former Van Halen band member Sammy Hagar. The margaritas rock and the fish tacos keep calling me back… I think we might take my brother-in-law (a big Van Halen fan) there tonight.