When I want a fish taco, this is where I go. It's an hour's drive from where I live, and I have to rustle up a couple of burly guy friends (no going solo because the area's pretty sketchy and I'm chicken), but this is where I go.
In four years of seeking out fish tacos, I've not found a better one than that served up by the folks at Mariscos Sinaloa. Plump, lightly battered, and deliciously moist morsels of fish are served up on a griddled tortilla, adorned with tomatoes, red onions, and jalapeño.
On top of that, they do a mean fish ceviche. Firm to the bite with plenty of integrity, piquant, and with generous chunks of avocado—no mushiness, no fishiness, no extraneous nonsense. Just damned good food. Their one disappointing dish is the ceviche de camaron (shrimp ceviche), which I find limp and lacking in flavor.
When you're done with your seafood starter, you can walk across the parking lot to their meaty twin, Tacos Sinaloa, and order the cabeza (cow head) which is tender, beefy, and full of gelatinous goodness. For the less adventurous, the carne asada (roast beef) and juicy, fatty carnitas (braised, then roasted pork) are excellent and full of smokey flavor. I'm not a fan of chorizo in general, but my friends really like their chorizo tacos—grainy, a little burnt, not crazily greasy, and draped with spicy salsa.
The lengua (cow tongue), unfortunately, is not great—for great lengua, I go to Mi Pueblo (locations all over the Bay Area), where I also satisfy my shrimp ceviche needs. Stay away from the agua frescas (fruit-flavored waters) unless you're in serious need of a sugar hit.
The set up is simple. You go up to the order window, place your order, and then you wait, making sure you're within earshot when they call your order. The queues on weekends can get ridiculous (upwards of half an hour in the hot sun), but I reckon it's worth it. Especially if you go with friends and can take turns queueing up for a table to sit at (it can get pretty competitive), chairs to sit on (also pretty competitive), and a spot in the order line. In fact, you can even make a party of it, as these two guys demonstrate.
The damage: $1.25 to $4 a taco.
Mariscos Sinaloa & Tacos Sinaloa #3
2138 International Boulevard, Oakland CA 94606 (map)