179 Ave. B, 212-529-6490
There are several schools of thought regarding fish tacos—not least, that a good one can’t be found east of La Jolla. Disregard the West Coast braggadocio for a moment, and consider the more essential truth, one that many a New York taquería fails to accept: A real fish taco is a fried-fish taco. Nothing else counts. La Fondita out in Amagansett has it down pat, but since that’s mostly a seasonal pleasure, we’ll give much-deserved props to the “estilo Baja” tacos at Mercadito (we’re partial to the East Village branch). Beer-battered and fried to an ethereal crispness, the fish (sometimes mahimahi, sometimes cod) is anointed with a bit of a highfalutin chive-habanero aïoli and the requisite ribbons of cabbage that chef Patricio Sandoval calls Mexican-style cole slaw. They come four to an order; you’ll want a double.