Ralph Rubio is widely considered the father of the contemporary fish taco. While a college student at San Diego State University in the 70’s, he visited San Felipe in Baja California (which is actually in Mexico, huh – shows my limited knowledge of West Coast geography) over spring break, and fell in love with the fish tacos sold in roadside/beachside food stands. Legend has it that he acquired a recipe from one of his favorite vendors, and adapted it into what one may consider the modern fish taco.
Rubio opened his first restaurant in 1983, eventually expanding into a chain of over 200 restaurants across the US now known as “Rubio’s Coastal Grill.” Although I personally have never visited a Rubio’s restaurant, I fully appreciate what Mr. Rubio has popularized in the states as far as a relatively unique and tasty cuisine item.
The basic fish taco is composed of mild white fish, served in a tortilla with a cabbage slaw. Although the Baja style is considered a standard, many variants have developed over the years using different species of fish (tilapia, mahi-mahi, salmon, etc), or a variety of “slaw” types ranging from the original cabbage slaw, to regular lettuce base, to even a mediterranean-kick filler.