Hotspots of Ventura County: Fish Tacos

Ethan Crouch

Zen Li, Writer

Crispy cabbage, beer batter, cheese and tangy sauce. If you’ve ever set foot in Southern California, you likely know what I’m talking about: the iconic fish taco. Nearly all of the countless seafood restaurants in So-Cal sell them, and Ventura, California is no different.  But with the ever-increasing number of restaurants, taco shops and general seafood stops, the question of where to satisfy your next taco hankering becomes tougher and tougher to answer. So, where should you go? Join me as I answer this question, sample the multitude of fish taco offerings that dot the coastline and highlight the fish taco hotspots of Ventura, California.

We made four stops in our taco quest: Beach House Tacos, Pierpont Tacos, Snapper Jack’s Taco Shack and Spencer Mackenzie’s. For each restaurant, we ordered a beer-battered fish taco. No frills, no sides, just their classic fish taco and whatever it may come with.

Beach House Tacos

Ethan Crouch
A deeper look inside the Beach House fish taco.

Our first stop was the highly praised Beach House Tacos, located on the Ventura Pier. Their fish taco went for $4 and came out very quickly. First impressions are excellent: the taco is decently sized and loaded with sauce and cabbage. Luckily, the dish tastes as good as it looks. Although the taste of the fish is slightly masked by the other flavors, the sauce and cabbage create a tangy, slightly spicy taste that has an addictive edge to it. Overall, it’s a solid dish that brings just enough uniqueness to the table to make a memorable taco experience.

Pierpont Tacos

A short trip down the road from the pier will lead you to our next location, Pierpont Tacos: a small but cozy little restaurant that offers a variety of tacos and more. But we’re here for one thing and one thing only: crispy, fishy goodness. The fish taco from Pierpont is a little pricier at $5.50, and looks a little different from the traditional So-Cal staple. The typical cabbage is replaced by a handful of tomatoes, and there is an abundance of cheese. The taco is smaller than the Beach House fish taco, but nonetheless, looks promising.

Like the Beach House taco, the fish taste is less than obvious, but unlike the Beach House taco, the overall flavor is unfortunately not made up for in other areas. The lack of sauce is noticeable, and the taste of the tomato is a little more noticeable than I would have liked. The flavor in combination with the price and relatively small size makes this a fish taco that is underwhelming. That being said, Pierpont Tacos does feature a salsa and sauce bar, which may add some much-needed flavor.

Snapper Jack’s Taco Shack

We made our way to the well known Snapper Jack’s Taco Shack. The price of their tacos is still greater than the previous locations at $5.55. Snapper’s tacos come with a small pile of chips and a variety of salsa to choose from. This taco is so far the largest, with a sizeable piece of fish, a spread of sauce, and a mountain of cabbage and cheese. 

Immediately, I noticed the pronounced flavor of the taco. What makes this taco stand out is its uniform flavor—everything about this taco works together to make a satisfying experience. Overall, an exceptional taco encounter.

Spencer Makenzie’s

Our final destination for the day was the extremely busy Spencer Makenzie’s. We ordered our final fish taco for the day, which turned out to be the most expensive at $6.50. Their fish taco had a noticeably large chunk of fish, a sprinkling of cabbage and cilantro, and a spread of sauce on the tortilla. 

The defining feature of Spencer Makenzie’s tacos is the flavor of the fish. This taco had the freshest fish flavor, which surprised and pleased me. The taco felt a little bit dry until I reached the sauce, which gave the dish a much-needed layer of texture. Personally, I think that the taco needs the cheese that the other tacos featured, and the overall flavor is a little lacking. 

The Verdict

Overall, each of the tacos I tried today were quite tasty, but I have to recommend the tacos from Beach House Tacos and Snapper Jack’s. These two had the most uniform flavors and were the two that I enjoyed the most. My favorite taco of the day was from Beach House Tacos for its unique taste, but Snapper Jack’s fish tacos were definitely notable for its bold flavor and generous portion size.

What do you think?