Los Cotijas - Tustin
Where else but Orange County can a trio of long-haired, Asian-American surfer dudes build an empire selling Mexican food. But as much I admire the homegrown success of Wahoo's, I do not like their fish tacos because of one very simple reason: the fish must be fried.
Charbroiling the fish over flames may cut the fat content and increase its heart-health quotient, but it makes for flavorless, lifeless, dry-as-dust tacos. Deep-frying is the only path to righteousness for tacos de pescado.
The folks at Los Cotijas operate on this tried-and-true, time-tested principle. And the result? Well let's just say that your cardiologist likely won't approve. But damn if it ain't one tasty taco!
A slender fillet of white-fleshed fish is dunked in batter, dropped into hot grease, and fried until it attains a golden brown crunch. Stop here and you'd have half of what the British serve in their pubs as fish and chips. But wrap it around warm corn tortillas, top with crunchy shredded cabbage, mound on a spoonful of spicy pico de gallo, squirt some tangy, milky-white mayo-sauce and you have the best invention to come out of our Southern neighbors since tequila.
Los Cotijas charges you a paltry two bucks for each. And even if the Rubio's chain might charge less per taco, theirs is also smaller in size and lacks the soulfulness of these beauties. And if you think you'll miss the faux thatched roof over Rubio's salsa bar, or the signs pointing south with the distance in miles to Ensanada and Los Cabos, take comfort in this: Los Cotijas' grimy and worn interior is more accurate to what a fish taco joint would actually look like in Mexico.
Los Cotijas Taco Shop
642 E 1st St
Tustin, CA 92780