Fish tacos are an integral part of San Diego’s dining culture and, 35 years ago, one local chain’s take on the surf-inspired dish started a wave that the company has been riding ever since.
Rubio’s Coastal Grill is turning 35 this year along with its Original Fish Taco – the item that “started it all” for the company. The taco features beer-battered Alaska Pollock topped with Rubio’s white sauce, mild salsa and fresh cabbage, served on a stone-ground corn tortilla.
On Thursday, to celebrate the big birthday, Rubio’s will offer its Original Fish Taco Plate for $5 all day at all locations. The combo includes two Original Fish Tacos, pinto beans and chips. As a nod to the company’s birth year of 1983, restaurants plan to play 1980s music all day, too.
Rubio’s, co-founded by Ralph Rubio, began as a tiny walk-up stand in San Diego’s Mission Bay area. The chain’s fish taco debuted at that very stand and quickly, the company took off. To date, Rubio’s has sold more than 200 million fish tacos.
The company – which is headquartered in Carlsbad – operates nearly 200 restaurants across several states, including dozens in San Diego County. The menu offers a variety of tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and salads.
In September 2014 the company announced it would rebrand and remodel its California restaurants as Rubio’s Coastal Grill, beginning with its Carmel Mountain Ranch location. The move reflected the company’s shift toward featuring more grilled seafood on its menu.