Top 5 Fish Tacos in Halifax
Update 2020: I first wrote this piece in 2015, before the taco craze hit Halifax. Not only was this post incredibly out-of-date, but there are better taquerias serving better fish tacos in Halifax now! I have entirely updated this post to reflect the fish taco situation in 2020. Enjoy!
Ever since I was last on the west coast, enjoying Tofino’s Fish Tacos and Victoria’s “tacones“, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about why fish tacos aren’t a thing on the East Coast. I suppose it has everything to do with the fact that we don’t have that link to Mexican culture and a shared coastline with sunny California. Yet just last month I found myself in Toronto, enjoying a very nice fish taco from Grand Electric. Why has the taco not caught on in Halifax?
For a long time, Taco Del Mar was the only place that did an authentic Baja-style fish taco in Halifax. Go figure – it is a chain that started up in the west coast inspired by the fare of San Francisco’s Mission-style burritos and the fish tacos of San Diego.
(*Update 2020: Taco Del Mar has since closed its location in Halifax).
I believe the Baja-style is perfection and that deviations from it, whether gourmet or pedestrian, rarely improve upon it. All you really need is battered fish, shredded cabbage, salsa (preferably pico), a creamy sauce and a squeeze of lime wrapped up in a soft corn tortilla.
I realize that Taco Del Mar is a chain and that the quality of ingredients is not its forté. You will not find the freshest fish or tortillas there, but the execution and flavours are spot on.
Baja or nay,
What Makes a Good Fish Taco?
1. Good fish. This should go without saying. We’re in Nova Scotia.
2. Good batter, if using. Must not get soggy.
3. Soft corn tortillas. Seriously. Big points for this.
4. Nice bright flavours. I want the taco to transport me to the beach.
5. The taco should also be easy to pick up and eat. But you should not be able to fold the tortilla into a snack wrap.
With all of that said and done, here are my top picks for the best fish tacos in Halifax:
Tempo Food + Drink
1875 Barrington Street
$16 (includes soup, salad or fries)
I originally tried this taco at the 2014 Savour Food & Wine Festival – and it never completely left my mind. I’m a sucker for the double-decker soft/hard tortilla combination, especially when the grill marks on the soft shell are such a nice touch.
Tempo gets its haddock local – the menu says it’s from L.J. Robicheau & Sons or Fisherman’s Market.
Lettuce is used instead of cabbage, which is okay I guess. There are also crunchy batter bits to up the crunch factor.
There is a nice lemon aioli and a tomato jalapeno salsa served on the side.
Evan’s Fresh Seafood
Alderney Landing, 2 Ochterloney St., Dartmouth
Evan’s Fresh Seafoods has the freshest haddock outta Pubnico, and the best view of the Halifax skyline, from the sunny Dartmouth waterfront. Their lightly breaded (gluten-free) haddock rests in a house-made wheat tortilla, topped with guac, salsa, slaw and a hit of spicy mayo.
5-3248 Isleville St., Halifax
When I first started my quest for fish tacos in 2015, there weren’t many Mexican restaurants and the taco boom hadn’t yet erupted. Now we are privileged to have the Mexican-owned Tako Loko serving up authentic tacos in North End Halifax. The fish taco features crispy fried beer batter haddock, guacamole, cabbage and chipotle mayo in a corn tortilla.
Cheachie’s Mexican Grill & Tequilla Bar
102 Chain Lake Dr.
3 / $9.95
Wonderful corn tortillas and taco-friendly tilapia come together to make some enjoyable tacos at Cheachie’s – a strange little place hidden away in Bayer’s Lake.
The fish is fried up in spices and modestly topped with lettuce. There are sides of pico, guac, sour cream and assorted hot sauces. Pretty simple – although our server did mention that they might be switching to more of a Baja-style!
To be continued…
(Update 2020: BAM!)
I’m happy to report that Cheachie’s has battered fish tacos now, and they are fantastic.
El Chino Snack Bar
2398 Robie St., Halifax
2 / $10
El Chino Snack Bar is a trendy cocktail bar specializing in Mexican and Chinese street food. Their fish tacos are piled high with lightly coated haddock, pico de gallo, sriracha mayo and red cabbage. There are no teensy tiny tacos here, friends! Come hungry!
Open Thurs-Sat, 6pm-10pm.
Los Amigos Taqueria
2605 Agricola St., Halifax
3 / $12, or $5 each
Los Amigos is very new, opening up in Gus’ Pub in the wake of previous occupent, Taco Lina’s. It’s actually the same cook from Taco Lina’s and the menu has some similarities. This neighbourhood dive bar in North End Halifax has been home to several kitchen takeovers, but I hope Los Amigos is here to stay!