Many things go through one’s mind when one is contemplating the eve of destruction. And whether that contemplation is of a personal or more universal nature, I think it’s safe to say a certain primal instinct draws one ineffably toward something that will feed and nourish the soul as it begins its journey toward survival or salvation, toward something transcendent.
That something, of course, is tacos. Yummy, delicious, sublime in their simplicity, tacos. One of the greatest inventions of modern or any other times — so much form meeting function, it’s silly. More particularly, though, I speak of fish tacos. And getting even more precise — for transcendence requires precision — Baja-style fish tacos.
A good fish taco can take you home, and by home I mean a place that feels warm, safe, comfortable and even a little thrilling around the margins — kind of like how I imagine heaven, or digging one’s toes into the sandy beaches of Ensenada. Which brings me to a relatively new discovery, a relatively new fish-taco stand. It’s called the Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, and it’s run by this cool cat named Joseph. BFTIE looks like a reasonable facsimile of a Baja taco stand (sort of how Steve Wynn might envision one), with its cheerfully hand-painted exterior. The counter inside is a tiled mural depicting happy fish, presumably on their way to your stomach. There are umbrella-accessorized outdoor tables, and the fact that it sits next to an autobody shop only seems to add to the upbeat, neighborhood-y ambiance.
And while it’s most certainly not the best fish taco in Ensenada, it most certainly is the best one in the Los Feliz/Silver Lake area, with apologies to El 7 Mares on Sunset, to which I’ll forever be (mostly) true. But here’s the difference maker: The BFTIE features its own fixin’s bar where a fish-taco lover can customize by adding tangy mango salsa, avocado salsa, cabbage, shredded radish and other assorted deliciosas to his top-of-the-line, deep-fried cod or shrimp. Don’t come here looking for burritos or carnitas or ceviche or chicken tacos or anything else you’ll find at a generalist stand — this place specializes in fish and shrimp tacos only. (Occasionally, if you present yourself right, you can get a combo.) The portions are generous and the prices are ridiculously low, so you can afford to take a few with you on the road to nowhere. It’s only a matter of time before the lines are as long as Yucca up the street, so hurry up.
1650 N. Hillhurst Ave., L.A. Phone not available.