In this week's review of Aquarium, the family-friendly edu-eater-tainment spectacle of sea life and seafood at Opry Mills, I mention a beautiful but disappointing entrée of fish tacos. Presented playfully like street food—in festive foil wraps—and garnished with grilled lime and julienned jicama, the tacos made a great first impression, but they sank in the taste department, drowning in a bready tidal wave of batter and thick double-layered tortillas.
While fish tacos have become increasingly popular in our landlocked city, surfacing on menus from Rosario's to Radius10, very few taco traders have found a successful balance of fish and filling.
In my book, Baja Burrito still reigns supreme, with its glorious combination of freshly fried fish, raw cabbage, citrus-tinged creamy sauce and lime slices in warm corn tortillas. In the last few months, La Hacienda has come on strong with the addition of fish tacos to the menu. Just this weekend, on our weekly family Hacienda outing, I realized that fish tacos have replaced beef tacos as my regular lunch order. (Two fish tacos, one tostada ceviche and a Diet Coke, por favor.) The triumph of the Hacienda version is the delicate homemade corn tortillas, which don't overwhelm the small chunks of sweet grilled fish. While there's no creamy sauce, the squeeze bottle of green sauce on the table provides plenty of brightness and moisture.
La Hacienda and Baja Burrito price their fish tacos similarly, with three tacos and chips for $6—and Baja Burrito throws in a drink. Compare that to a platter of fish tacos with rice and beans for $12 at Aquarium.
(Of course, Aquarium offers phenomenal entertainment, with sharks, rays and guitarfish circling in the 200,000-gallon tank at the center of the restaurant. Compare that to Univision at Hacienda and Baja's panoramic view of traffic on Thompson Lane.)