Fish tacos occupy a special place in our hearts. They satisfy our inextinguishable desire for fried and/or handheld food, while also providing acidity, and a fleeting sense of standing at the end of a pier, considering how deep the water is beneath you. These seven spots serve some of our favorite fish tacos in the city, and all of them are currently offering outdoor dining and/or delivery.
It’s nice to see dishes in their natural habitats. Buffalo wings in sports bars, BECs in bodegas, and fish tacos near the beach surrounded by surf boards. At Tacoway Beach, the grilled fish is topped with guacamole, cabbage, and spiced mayo, and while parts of the massive tacos are likely to end up on your lap, you can take comfort in the idea that you can rinse off in the ocean a block away. You see? Harmony.
If Los Tacos No.1 is the brother who’s been day trading since middle school, Los Mariscos is its equally talented twin who opted to be a tour boat captain in Baja. They’re from the same parents, and they both live in Chelsea Market, but Los Mariscos doesn’t have a second or fourth home, it’s always near a bucket of Coronas, and it knows a lot about fish. Its perfectly-battered catfish and housemade tortillas would make Mariscos’ tacos a must-order if the story ended there, but with crema, chopped tomatoes, and salsa roja, these are the best fish tacos in Manhattan.
La Contenta has an incredibly friendly staff, a long list of mezcal cocktails, and delicious fried catfish tacos with chipotle aioli and avocado sauce. If you need another reason to head to this small spot on the LES (or its larger location in the West Village), check it out during its daily Happy Hour from 3-5pm, when cocktails and two tacos are both $10.
Eating deep-fried anything will usually make you feel two things: first, a sense of happiness, and then some minimal amount of time later, the desire to be horizontal. The fish tempura tacos at this West Village Mexican spot certainly accomplish the former, but the urge to apologize to your future self is noticeably absent. That’s because the brined, locally-caught fish is crusted in tempura made from nothing but water and corn masa, and it’s served over sweet jalapeno relish that manages to make you think you’re eating something healthy, or at least healthy enough to feel decent about getting a second order.
Thanks to Paul McCartney, Roger Ebert wasn’t the most influential person born on June 18, 1942, but he was still a very big deal. Fish tacos are the Ebert of Casa Enrique. They may not get a primetime invite from Ed Sullivan like the mole de Piaxtla would, but they still deserve a biographical documentary at Cannes. The fish itself varies depending on what’s fresh, but it’s always tender, not overly battered, and served with very few accessories besides a spoonful of crema and fantastic corn tortillas.
The burritos at this Mexican spot in Parkchester are approximately the size of bolster pillows, and they’re a delicious way to say “and, scene” on your day. But considering you’re reading this guide, your experience here will be a bit different. The fish used in the taco is grilled rather than fried, and it’s just topped with onion, cilantro, and lime. It’s light and refreshing enough to order as a morning snack when they open at 10am, but thanks in part to the freshly made tortillas, delicious enough to be the centerpiece of dinner. You can choose to add sour cream and a variety of different cheeses, but we recommend keeping the tacos simple, and if you’re still hungry, trying to make a dent in a burrito.
Between the fried catfish, pico de gallo, radishes, pickled onions and jalapenos, and crema, the fish tacos at this Bed-Stuy bar have a lot going on. But, somehow, all of the flavors are noticeable, and combine to create one of the very best fish tacos in the city. Order a few from the truck parked in the bar’s backyard, and enjoy them at an outdoor table with a michelada or 32-ounce frozen margarita.