Tacolicious Fish Tacos (and how to make them)


One of the best aspects of traveling is sampling new foods and reveling in local delicacies. Sometimes, though, when the food is extra extraordinary, it leads to more than an Instagram post and a rave review. For Joe Hargrave and his wife Sara Deseran, one such trip to Mexico gave them a “lightbulb” moment – and they decided to open up their own taco stand in San Francisco, inspired by the vibrant flavors South of the Border.

Soon after, Tacolicious was born. It started off as a stand at a farmers’ market but its reputation for exceptional tacos catapulted it to the successful sit-down cocktail taco mecca it is today.

Joe and managing partner Mike Barrow pride themselves on being local, sustainable and organic. As a restaurant that started as a little market stand at the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (they’re still there, in fact), Tacolicious has always made an effort to support local produce vendors and use as many organic and sustainable products as possible.

Co-owner Sara Deseran says, “In San Francisco, it’s almost a given that ingredients are sourced responsibly. We want our guests to come in and feel like they’re being taken care of and that includes the comfort in knowing that our food is healthy and chosen wisely. As far as our fish goes, all of our fish is line-caught from the Pacific.”

On their menu, you’ll find a wide range of tacos as well as tostadas, shrimp a la diabla and toasted coconut flan. Hungry?

Make their signature fish tacos for friends and family on a summer day and eat them outdoors, whether that be your backyard, deck or local beach. Serve with a pitcher of margaritas (Joe and Sara like to add watermelon juice with muddled cilantro to the classic version).

Ingredients ( makes 12 tacos; serves 4-6)


4 pounds rock cod or other mild white fish fillets (see note), cut into 4 x 2-inch pieces

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying


For the batter

2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 (12-ounce) can light-bodied beer, such as Tecate® beer


To serve

Corn tortillas, warmed

2 cups crema (a type of Mexican sour cream) homemade with equal parts sour cream and heavy cream and a dash of salt, or purchase at a store

3 cups shredded green or purple cabbage

1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro

12 lime wedges

Salsa of your choice


Sprinkle the fish* pieces on both sides with salt and set aside. Pour the oil to a depth of 2 inches into a deep, heavy pot and heat to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towel.


Note: the fish tastes best fresh out of the hot oil, but you can put the first few batches on a baking sheet in a 250°F oven until you’re done frying the rest. If you prefer something lighter, these tacos are also great with grilled fish.


While the oil is heating, make the batter. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add the beer and stir until smooth.


To cook the fish, work in batches so as not to crowd the pieces in the pot. Using tongs, dip each piece of fish into the batter, letting the excess drain off, and carefully submerge it in the hot oil. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.


Using the tongs, transfer the fish to the lined baking sheet (and keep warm if necessary) and season with salt. Serve with the tortillas, crema, cabbage, cilantro, lime, and your choice of salsa.


Note: The best fish for frying is something mild, chunky, flaky, and white. An oily fish like salmon will leave you with pieces of fish that will not get crisp. We suggest rock cod, but mahi mahi, halibut and snapper fit the bill, too.


If you can’t actually explore the back roads of the Yucatán or the beaches of Nayarit, then these flavorful tacos are the next best thing.




Get the Tacolicious cookbook for recipes for more tacos and cocktails.


Reprinted with permission from Tacolicious, by Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave, copyright © 2014, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.


Photographs copyright © 2014 by Alex Farnum