- Photo by Roddy Gibbs
Expect a tad more convenience from Oscar’s Mexican Seafood than you would from a mariscos truck: There’s a small patio out front with stools lining a counter and enough room inside by the cashier to seat a few more. A little fridge is packed with big squeeze bottles holding three hot sauces, a standard red and two off-kilter varieties. Drinks are a gulp above bottles of Mexican Coke—namely, the fruity aguas frescas with free refills.
The popular fish-taco spot is regularly packed, and takeout is encouraged—at least that’s how I interpreted the mural along the building’s façade: a food truck with a real window for ordering.
The shoreline along northern Pacific Beach and Bird Rock is what post cards are made of, and the food at Oscar’s (703 Turquoise St. in Pacific Beach) fits the scene: Corn tortillas come with a heap of plump seafood—or steak, the rival specialty; toppings like finely shredded cabbage, bright red onions and diced tomatoes, cilantro and two thick slices of avocado look, and taste, fresh from the garden. This isn’t your typical hole-in-the-wall taco shop.
Above all else, the food is great, and you get your money’s worth. The menu is simple and shrimp-heavy. Medium sized, the shrimp are well-cleaned and cooked, which is often not the case, even at taco shops specializing in seafood.
First timers must order the surf-and-turf taco ($4.50). A layer of cheese is melted over a corn tortilla, holding down strips of skirt steak that are topped with the delightfully prepared shrimps.
Tacos are brimming and served in fair-food paper trays. There’s some difficulty in handling these monsters— really, it’s the contents of two tacos in one—so forks come in handy, but a second tortilla would be handier. Not to worry; Oscar’s won’t rape your wallet for add-ons, and, being so close to the counter, I overheard special requests being ordered that were greeted with positivity, not an awkward pause or reluctant “OK.” Don’t screw it up by going there and ordering a bunch of strange shit, please.
For an extra dollar, any taco can be upgraded to a burrito, my $4.50 surf-and-turf being the most expensive. Several bites into the spicy shrimp variety, the room got quiet even though people were all around. Lights got brighter and my forehead tingled. The firepower of this taco will wake you up from within.
Less sobering versions include the taco especial, with moist smoked fish, shrimp, bay scallops and Oscar’s standard melty cheese and toppings. I also got a New York steak taco that had generously por- tioned, tender meat. Thick slices of avocado that come standard are picture-perfect and creamy—no brown spots or mushiness—and for 50 cents more, you can double your dose of the silky fruit.
There’s ceviche, huge tortas and the obligatory battered and fried fish taco, although I think Oscar’s does shrimp best. If you’re averse to P.B., an Oscar’s is opening soon in Ocean Beach at 5060 Newport Ave.