Mamá Testa Fish Taco
A visit to San Diego is never complete without exploring its diverse food scene, whether it be in the famed Gaslamp Quarter or the many districts in the city’s outskirts. Because of its history and proximity to the southern border, it goes without saying that San Diego boasts of some of the best Mexican dining that lets you savor hearty dishes from the Yucatan to Tijuana and almost every place in between.
In my latest visit to San Diego, I set my mind to have a first-night dinner of fish tacos, which many will agree might as well be the city’s prime delicacy. I’ve had fish tacos many times before in various places in California, but I thought I would treat myself to a different, if not authentic version of this seafood delight in one of my favorite cities.
The “locals” in San Diego seem to be in agreement on where to get the best fish taco, among them, a tiny restaurant called Mamá Testa, perched up in the Hillcrest District on University Avenue. It seems that this restaurant, which claims to authentically replicate recipes that have been in the homes of Mexican families for decades, gained popularity after Bobby Flay of the Food Network Fame challenged Mamá Testa’s chef in one of the “Throwdown” episodes. The cookout challenge focused on the fish taco.
Mamá Testa’s only fish taco on its menu is called Mividita, two catfish tacos served “Guerrero style” with Mexican coleslaw and queso fresco. The tacos are deep-fried. The Mividita is offered as a dinner plate, accompanied by rice and black beans.
I’ve tried fish tacos served on both soft and crispy shell tortillas, and I always enjoy my fish taco either way. My problem with Mividita was the tortilla. It was obviously fried (and possibly re-fried) so it lost its crunchiness, which would have been just as fine if it wasn’t the chewy hard shell it turned out to be. I loved the combination with the Mexican coleslaw (although I am not a fan of coleslaw), which was seasoned just right.
If I were to have a throwdown using the same ingredients as the Mividita, what I would do differently is to use a soft taco and make the catfish more crispy. I will certainly enjoy it — with or without the rice and beans!