You could always peg a Californian adrift in Texas by someone pining for Trader Joe’s, In-N-Out, and fish tacos. Well, Golden State refugees can take comfort in the fact that the first two are popping up all over North Texas and now they have a new place to check out for the third.
At The Fish, the new casual dining spot in Oak Cliff opened by former Dream Cafe chef Christopher Stanford, fish tacos are a centerpiece of the menu. But they’re not quite what you might get at a place like Wahoo’s, the California chain that specializes in fish tacos and has yet to set up shop in the DFW area though they are in Austin and New Braunfels.
At The Fish, Southern California meets The South as Stanford’s fish tacos take large chunks of tilapia, cole slaw, avocado, and pico de gallo, drizzles it all with a chipotle-lime cream sauce -- and then drops it into a huge, fluffy, fried flour tortilla. And you get two of ‘em. With a side of red beans and rice. For $8, cardiologist and defibrillators not included. (You can get a double order for $14 which seems to be enough to feed the entire Polyphonic Spree and have some left over.)
The fish tacos with the beans and rice combo may not be the authentic Baja California experience -- though Wahoo’s does have rice and beans on their menu -- but this has more of a CalTex hybrid feel and it’s satisfying in its own right. The chocolate-chocolate chunk brownie was equally impressive in size -- two huge bricks of brownie underneath a shower of chocolate sauce -- but was less of a knockout in the taste department as it was a bit dry. But it was only $3.75 so not a huge loss.
But there are many other menu items -- especially the crabmeat hushpuppies with sweet potato fries and coleslaw for $13 (an appetizer version goes for $11.50) -- that probably will be luring me back. And there are lots of other fish items on the menu (coconut shrimp, catfish filet, grilled Atlantic salmon, red snapper filet).
However, if you’re not a fan of seafood, your options are limited. There’s a grilled skirt steak burger ($9), mac and cheese ($9), house salad ($3), fries ($2), sweet potato fries ($3), and that’s about it.
The other thing to remember is The Fish doesn’t have its liquor license yet so it’s BYOB, ambience is spartan, and while some Yelp reviewers have complained about service, mine was efficient. Many Californians may still keep hunting for the taste of home but this former Californian will definitely be going Fishing in the future.
1001 W. Jefferson Blvd.