But the perception of P.B. dining is definitely dominated by the bar scene.
There's no shortage of places to get wings, nachos and plenty of cheap beer. However, when I saw that Pacific Beach Fish Shop had opened on the east (read: calmer) end of Garnet Avenue (1775 Garnet Ave.), I was delighted that the community would have a casual-yet-fresh seafood place that would hopefully please the whole of the P.B. population.
Pacific Beach Fish Shop has done a great job with its space, opening in a location formerly held by a crappy taco shop. It's created a large, open patio, complete with an enormous hanging marlin, a colorful fire pit and a barbecue on which different kinds of fish are smoked daily.
I like the basic concept: Pick your fish, pick your marinade and pick your style. From albacore and scallops to yellowtail, ahi and halibut, there's something for everyone. You can also choose from garlic butter, teriyaki, blackened seasoning and more. You get only one taco, grilled or fried, and the price runs anywhere from $3.50 to more than $6, depending on the market price, but it's an ample-sized taco, filled with cabbage and a very fresh and chunky pico de gallo.
I loved the grilled halibut taco on a flour tortilla with the signature Fish Shop seasoning.
The tortilla was slightly crispy, and the fish was hot, zesty and covered in yummy white sauce.
One taco was plenty for me, since I was also nibbling on a few of the a la carte appetizers, and I look forward to trying out some other fish and marinade options on future visits. The best-fish-taco-intown debate is fraught with passionate opinions, but with so many ways to personalize a fish taco, I think Pacific Beach Fish Shop has found a smart way to please everyone.
You can also turn your fish into a salad or sandwich or go big and order a plate with some sides, like jasmine rice, veggies or onion rings. My group tried the scallops plate with garlic butter, and we were all impressed by how sweet and succulent the scallops were. However, at $23, getting the scallops as part of a plate was not worth the extra dough. The jasmine rice is pretty boring, and the onion rings, while heavily battered, were nothing to write home about. A $5.50 scallop taco would be well worth the price, and a more inexpensive fish would be a better option if you choose a plate.
Also not worth the price tag was the $9 crab cake. I'm partial to bigger lumps of crab as opposed to a cake that is shredded and fried, and this cake reinforced that preference. There wasn't much flavor, and the texture was on the dry side. Fortunately, the bites of crab cake were the perfect vehicle to scoop delicious dollops of tangy caramelized onion and horseradish remoulade into my mouth.
Some fun bites to share are the lobster lumpia. They're crispy and hearty and had a surprising amount of heat to them. The tasty sesame / sweet-chili dipping sauce was a bonus—we ended up pouring it all over the jasmine rice.
Pacific Beach Fish Shop is a real asset to the community. It's taken the successful Blue Water model and brought it to a neighborhood that should have far more options for casual seafood. Get over your P.B. prejudices and then get over the hill for some tasty ocean treats.