Chula Vista Fish Tacos with Pickled Onions and Carlsbad Cream

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 3 hr 5 min (includes pickling, marinating and resting times)
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 12 tacos
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2 pounds firm white fish such as rockfish, halibut or tilapia, skin removed

One 12-ounce bottle Mexican or pilsner beer

1 tablespoon chili powder 

1 tablespoon brown sugar 

2 teaspoons kosher salt 

1 teaspoon ground cumin 

4 cloves garlic, minced 

Zest of 1 lime plus juice of 2 limes

3 tablespoons canola oil 

12 corn tortillas 

Carlsbad Cream, recipe follows

4 cups shredded napa or green cabbage 

Pickled Red Onions, recipe follows

Lime wedges, for serving

Carlsbad Cream:

3/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup mayonnaise 

1 teaspoon hot sauce 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 lime, zested 

Pickled Red Onions:

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons sugar 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 teaspoon dried oregano 

1 red onion, thinly sliced 


  1. Place the fish in a resealable bag or container. Combine the beer, chili powder, brown sugar, salt, cumin, garlic and lime zest and juice in a large bowl. Give it a good stir and pour it over the fish. Marinate the fish for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Take the fish out of the marinade and pat dry completely. Brush the fish with the oil and grill until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minute. Slice each fillet into slices.
  4. Heat the tortillas on the grill for about a minute, or wrap them in a damp towel and microwave until warm, soft and pliable, about 1 minute.
  5. Spread some of the Carlsbad Cream onto the warmed tortillas. Place a few slices of fish on top of each and then top with some cabbage and Pickled Red Onions. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Carlsbad Cream:

  1. Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, hot sauce, salt and lime zest in a medium bowl and stir. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Pickled Red Onions:

  1. Whisk the vinegar, sugar and salt together in a mixing bowl until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the oregano and onions, cover and allow to rest for 2 hours. Store in a jar or resealable glass container in the refrigerator for up to a month. 
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