Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mariscos Germán taco trucks

Tacos are the world's greatest street food; there's really no disputing that. However, San Diego's plentitude of shack-sized taquerias has made taco trucks and stands a regional scarcity until recently. The area has been no exception the nationwide recession, nor the food truck trend that has been its sole highlight, and while I don't see them replacing taco shops altogether, these trucks have quickly become a part of the local landscape.

Mariscos Germán has been operating taco trucks in San Diego for years, but when its azure-tinted restaurant in Logan Heights shut down, the proprietors stepped up their truck business. It's increasingly difficult to go anywhere in town without stumbling over a Mariscos Germán truck. Anywhere that folks appreciate Mexican seafood, at least. I've been to various locations and found the offerings consistent at each one. Last weekend I made a point of stopping at two of them, one at the corner of 35th and University in City Heights*, and another at the corner of Fern and Grape in South Park (the Gala Foods parking lot). 

It's hard to miss the banner that reads FISH TACO .99 when passing by on University, and when you find out that a free cup of soup is included with every order, you understand why Mariscos Germán has become a regular lunch stop for so many in the neighborhood. The soup is fresh broth with tomato, shrimp and assorted fish - a can't miss combination that tastes as Mediterranean as it does Mexican. It's a simple and satisfying combination you could expect to find at practically any fishing village in the world, and it literally warms up your stomach for the meal. The menu is all seafood, entirely in Spanish, and features not only tacos and caldo, but also clamatos, coctéles, and tostadas de ceviche

The .99 cent fish tacos are clearly the draw, and I am 99% certain you won't find a better lunch for TWO DOLLARS anywhere in America. San Diegans love our fish tacos, a familiar baja delicacy that we have claimed as our own.  Mariscos Germán's San Felipe style fish taco sports the cabbage and white sauce you expect, with a pinch of oregano crumbled over the top, a welcome accent. Limes, pickled red onions and a variety of hot sauces (some of which are formidable by any standard) are available. The fish is fresh, and it is a respectably-sized taco for 99 cents. The batter is visibly seasoned with flecks of dried herbs, but proved a bit too thick for my taste after repeated visits - it reminds me a little of chile relleno batter, on the spongy side of crispness. Perhaps I'm expecting a lot from a 99 cent taco. It might not be the very best fish taco in town, nor is it even the best taco at Mariscos Germán, but it's surely an unbeatable value that does not disappoint. So it's no surprise that they are the hottest seller.

Prices aren't listed on the menu, so ask before you buy - my large-sized coctél de pulpo (not pictured) cost ten bucks and was more than I needed to eat - a small should be enough for one. It didn't take much effort to get it down though - the octopus was firm but not chewy - exactly what I was hoping for, and the cool, spicy broth made for unbeatable refreshment on a sweltering day. My friend had a taco de cayo, which I sampled. It was tasty for sure (who doesn't like scallops?) but definitely the wettest of their tacos, and it failed the "soggy tortilla" test.

One of the most celebrated items at Mariscos Germán is the Taco del Gobernador (shrimp and cheese) but after my years in Italy I have maintained an aversion to mixing cheese and seafood. I made an exception to this rule, however, for their tacos de marlyn, without question the star of the menu. With smoked marlin piled over melted cheese and crisp-sauteéd celery, onion and bell pepper, one of these is a square meal in itself, and at under four dollars, that's really saying something. The marlin is rich but not overwhelmed by smoke flavor, and the portion is so ample you really need a fork to eat this taco. Smoked fish fans should be cautioned that these tacos may move you to tears: I found myself alternating between utter disbelief that my senses had found such delight at a truck in a dusty parking lot and the ecstatic certainty that yes, this kind of experience can only be found at a truck in a dusty parking lot.

*Mariscos German no longer has a truck on University Ave, but their trucks CAN be found in South Park, Logan Heights, Spring Valley and Chula Vista.
Mariscos German on Urbanspoon


  1. Nice work here, again. How much for ad space? Keep it up, food network will be calling, or food and wine magazine.--Skeletor

  2. It is still a good truck. A little bit of patch work and engine upgrade and it is good as new, ready to serve.

  3. Great review! I'm currently building a truck myself...who knows, maybe one day I'll have a review on here. Keep it up!