By Priya Konings
Finally. I found a taqueria worth going back to. It’s called Fish Taco, and it’s tucked away in a small shopping center on MacArthur Blvd. in Bethesda, where you would least expect it.
Fish Taco does many things right. First, it identifies itself as a taqueria that specializes in Mexican cuisine from Baja California and the southwest. By doing so, you can expect ingredients and dishes that are from this region. Mexican food is incredibly varied, and when restaurants identify themselves as just serving Mexican food in general I am always afraid and usually rightly so.
Second, it has the décor and atmosphere of a taqueria. Sturdy wooden tables, whimsical wall art, and drinks served in mason jars: You might as well be lounging at a beachside taqueria in Baja, chugging beers with lime and chowing down on chips and guacamole.
Which brings me to the food. Ah, the food. The third and most important thing this venue does right. While the menu is full of tempting choices, the one item you must order is the elote. Elote is Mexican corn on the cob, often sold by street carts in Mexico. The ear of corn is grilled, drenched in a sweet and savory charred corn mayo sauce that is absolutely sublime, sprinkled with chili powder and cheese and cilantro and served on a stick. It’s messy and finger-licking good. Don’t make the mistake of sharing one. You must get your own.
After housing the corn, move on to chips and guacamole. The guacamole is served in a mini molecajete, the traditional bowl used for making guacamole, and is dusted with cotija cheese and just the right amount of cilantro. Enjoy it with your first beer. Or sangria. Or margarita.
Other recommendations: seasonal soup, which is currently gazpacho, is oozing with the flavors of farm-stand tomatoes and garlic. Crispy fried tortilla strips add the perfect amount of texture to the creamy soup. Salads are anything but ordinary with dressings like ancho chili ranch, and ingredients like radishes, avocado, jicama, pickled jalapeno, and corn pico de gallo.
As for main dishes, choose from tacos, burritos, rice bowls, and quesadillas. Quesadillas are made like they are in Baja: big flour tortillas are full of cheese, pan fried to a golden color, and served with guacamole and crema. The avocado tacos are hearty and topped with the restaurant’s signature sauce, and the quintessential fish taco is full of fresh slaw and fried cod.
Grab your friends and head over for a meal. You will probably find me in the corner, stuffing my face with elote.