You can't walk two blocks in San Diego without catching a whiff of deep-fried fish and corn tortillas. Finding fish tacos—really good fish tacos, even—is easy. Such is the benefit of being a lime wedge's throw from the U.S.-Mexico border. Still, it's well worth the short trek along Interstate 805 (or State route 54 or 125, or any other highways your GPS device feels like directing you along) to be treated to the more innovative Baja seafood options at the two TJ Oyster Bar locations in Bonita (4246 and 4410 Bonita Road).

The fish taco at TJ Oyster Bar is simple but sublime. A crunchy, flaky nugget of fried fish is smothered in cabbage and sauce with little to get in the way of the flavor of the fish. Not that you don't have options to dress it up if you want, with fresh limes and about a half-dozen hot sauce options available on every table. Fish tacos are really just the beginning, though; the menu also includes fresh oysters (naturally), the spicy diabla ceviche, "9 huge shrimp"—which is exactly what it sounds like—and my personal favorite, smoked tuna fries. The smokiness of the tuna gives it a flavor profile similar to bacon, and with the addition of cilantro, salsa and crema on top, it's an indulgence worth crossing four freeways to find.

While there's more than one TJ Oyster Bar location, they're within blocks of each other and offer significantly different dining experiences, even though the menu is the same. One is an actual bar, with food arriving directly from the kitchen in front of you, while the other is a full-service restaurant with ample seating and refreshing micheladas and margaritas to pair with your tacos, tostadas or tuna fries. Either way, you'll be full, satisfied and ready for a nap afterward.


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