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It’s probably because we’re a little spoiled here in San Diego, what with places to get fish tacos on every corner. It’s easy to think of them as simple food, not much to putting them together. And they can be, for sure. I’ve stuck a couple of Trader Joe’s fish sticks into a tortilla for lunch more than a few times. But a really good one, a fish taco that you remember, is one where each component, from fish, to batter (or not), to spice rub (or not), to salsas and cream sauces, tortilla, both stand on their own and contribute to the whole, no one element dominating.

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Casanova Fish Tacos is a relative newcomer to the fish taco scene, and we can thank the economy for that. Hector Casanova was a long time employee of the San Diego Probation Department when, in 2008, he was laid off. By March of 2009, he was earning his living behind the grill. Since then, Casanova has become a fixture on various “best of” lists and has done very well in local taco throwdowns.

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Hector perfected his recipe for Baja style tacos after three years of experimentation, hosting football parties for friends, cooking up big batches of tacos, and listening to their feedback. His menu changes depending on the season, but standard items are Baja style, Grilled Chipotle Fish, and Green Spicy Shrimp.

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Spend just a few moments chatting with Hector, and his pride and pleasure is obvious. A few of his awards are prominently displayed; the tables and cooking areas are spotless.

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My Grilled Chipotle tacos ($9) were really good. They were generously sized, nice big planks of moist, tender whitefish, coated in a smoky, piquant rub and well grilled, the heat just toasting, not burning, the spices. Shredded cabbage and signature white sauce, topped with pico de gallo and salsa verde, also house made. They had that great burst of contrasts, soft against crunch, hot vs. cold, spicy yet cool and creamy.

The only downside is that the prices, in the $8-$10 range, might discourage some. They are a bit higher than the average. I wouldn’t call them overpriced, given the portion size, quality ingredients and overall deliciousness.

Casanova Fish Tacos can be found at local farmer’s markets, breweries, and events. Their schedule is regularly updated on social media.

Casanova Fish Tacos

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