Monday, January 13, 2014

Don't Call It a Comeback: Ricky's Fish Tacos

You guys, Ricky's Fish Tacos is back and it's back on Virgil and it's as amazing and crisp and fresh and wonderful and perfect as I remember horrrayyyy!

Some background:  Long ago, there was a cool space on the corner of Sunset and Manzanita called Mi Alma.   Funky vintage furniture shop, but also a big garden space, too, smack in the middle of Sunset Junction, where they held magical parties, screenings, and concerts, all out in the warm Los Angeles air.

And on sunny Saturdays, a smiley man with a Panama hat and a fat cartoon mustache would set up a fryer in a corner of this fantastical garden, and vend out the greatest fish tacos the city has known.*

After some time, he changed venues.  Ricky and his fryer moved to an odd private driveway on Virgil Avenue, and it was amazing.  Ricky is from Ensenada, birthplace of fish tacos, and his family recipe makes for the the most flavorful and shatteringly crisp battered fried fish.  Add to this shredded cabbage, super-fresh pico de gallo made fiery with chopped jalapeƱos, crema to balance out the heat, and an array of bright salsas to add complexity.  There wasn't a better way to spend a few summery moments than crowding in with your fellow angelenos at one of the mismatched tables on this makeshift patio, and savoring this taste of Baja in the form of perfect fried fish.  You'd start scarfing down bites, ignoring the real possibility of burning your mouth, because you want to eat it all before all the toppings sog up that perfect texture.  Some days, he might have aguas frescas, others, shrimp or even lobster tacos on offer.  Just gilding the lily.

And then, suddenly, Ricky was gone.

The rumor was that some competing food vendor had ratted him out (admittedly, his ad hoc space was not the most up-to-code -- though that was part of the appeal), forcing him to close up shop.  Eventually he resurfaced somewhere in Chinatown, but it just wasn't the same.

But lo and behold, our intrepid taco man now has his own truck, and it's parked in that very same Virgil driveway for lunch service!  It's a wonderful thing.  The anxious crowds of appreciators are the same, the mismatched tables and chairs are the same, the rolls of industrial paper towel on the tables are the same, and most importantly, the taco awesomeness is as awesome as ever.  Tastebuds, rejoice!  The only sad part is that you don't see Ricky working behind the fryer as you walk up anymore, as he's now cooped up in the big grey truck, but it's all good.  He's also got shrimp tacos, aguas frescas (mint cucumber yum!), and Mexican bottled beverages.

So, here's hoping our beloved Ricky never leaves us again.  The collective tastebuds of an entire city couldn't take the grief.

Ricky's Fish Tacos is currently parked at 1400 N Virgil Ave., just south of Sunset, 11:30 to 4:30, but check his Twitter @rickysfishtacos for the latest.

* Admittedly, Ricky's is not the only fish taco game in town.  Just up the street, Best Fish Taco in Ensenada is serving up serviceable fish and shrimp tacos.  And, farther out, Tacos Baja Ensenada is actually exemplary, but, I mean, Whittier.  

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