SAN DIEGO — Bob Dole came to San Diego looking for a bounce. I came looking for a fish taco.
I'd heard they were good here. Quality wasn't my first question, however. Inquiring minds wanted to know - do these things really exist? And are they served with squid-flavored corn chips?
I had a lot of help finding them. After mentioning TacoQuest in print, I received a very kind fax from someone at the San Diego Union Tribune, steering me to a place in the Old Town quarter. A convention worker, too, stopped by with a list of fish-taco hot spots. I started getting taco-related phone calls in my hotel room.
I ended up at a branch of Rubio's, a sort of Fish Taco Bell chain. And I'm happy to report that fish tacos are very tasty, if not quite in the same league as my wife's spaghetti carbonara.
Dogged research, which consisted largely of reading a seven-year-old news clipping hanging on Rubio's wall, revealed that fish tacos are a Mexican dish from Baja California that has migrated up the coast. The original version consists of fried fish bits, shredded lettuce, white sauce, and a dash of lime, all wrapped in a soft corn tortilla. The upscale choice replaces the fish bits with strips of grilled mahi-mahi.
Rubio's also had shrimp burritos. No squid corn snacks, though. (Don't laugh. They're popular in Japan.)
It's a concept I think could make it elsewhere in the country. Buffalo has its wings. Why not San Diego tacos?
Meanwhile, I'm on to Chicago and the Democratic convention. Did I hear somebody say "deep dish pizza"?