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Early evening, South Encanto. You know it’s Encanto because lines of passenger jets come cruising overhead, silent, like an invasion of UFOs, coasting in to Lindbergh.

Looking to see if the Salaam Fish House is open yet. Before, when I passed by, they were open, like lights blazing, but locked.

Now? Ah. They’re open again.

I’m in the line of shops they call Trolley Stop Plaza (Salaam Fish House, 6201 Imperial Avenue, South Encanto, 619-527-7137) .

When I come in, I see Nation of Islam newspapers and literature on the counter. Louis Farrakhan’s face beams beside a headline: “Can Caribbean Nations Survive?” Next to the TV they have a picture of President Obama. The caption: “Destiny.”

And on the left, a wall menu with “Salaam Fish House” written on one side, below a sloping roof and a moon and a star.

That’s when I remember “salaam” means “peace.” Suddenly wonder if the two young men and the older man here were off taking a moment to say their evening prayers when I first came by.

Carl Muhammad and his sons Farrad and Jihad...

...are chatting, and watching a basketball game when I come in. I take a moment to look at the menu on the wall.

First thing you notice is the picture of a whopping great fish sandwich with three layers of deep-fried fish bulging out of the middle.

You can have it with red snapper or whiting.

That goes for $5.59. Fish and chips (same choice) go for $8, A dinner, with 6 pieces of either fish plus potato or mac salad, fries and bread goes for $9. Or a Meal Deal of the Supreme Sandwich plus fries and drink is $8.50. Fish tacos are $1.59. They also have wings ($6.50 for six pieces, hot or BBQ), and a “World Famous Bean Pie,” but something’s blocking the price.

“Red snapper’s most popular,” says Carl, “It’s kinda sweet, nutty.”

Red snapper’s mainly from the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean.

But whiting, turns out, doesn’t only come from Argentina, but migrates in huge schools right off our coast. The schools are miles long. They par-tee all the way up from Baja to British Columbia, just like gray whales.

“Whiting’s blue-water, a very clean fish,” Carl says.

So, decision time. I go for a fish taco, and the supreme sandwich, with the red snapper.

Taco’s sweet, nutty, deep fried, with cheese, lettuce. Guess it’s red snapper too.

So hungry, I forgot to take picture. But it looked just like the menu shot

The sandwich is crunchy, roiling with deep-fried snapper fillets. Got to eat it hot, while it's crunchy.

Same with the sandwich

Hmm. There’s that sweet nutty thing again, but with spices pushing the savory flavors. And so much.

Truly, when I’m done, I’m tight like a snare drum.

I mean, calorie-conscious central? No way.

But one of the best value honest meals around?


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