The Tin Fish vs. Sea Salt Eatery's fish tacos
Summer is upon us and with it the inexplicable desire to eat outside in the hot sun, preferably using only our hands. Summer is conducive to many a hand-held culinary experience in Minnesota: ice cream cones, hot dogs, and just about anything you can get your greasy hands on from a food truck or the State Fair.
In recent years eating fish tacos in the great outdoors has worked its way onto our list of favorite summer activities in the Twin Cities. Sea Salt Eatery and The Tin Fish both hold spots at longtime popular parks locations, opening their shutters to customers over the summer months.
But who serves up the best fish taco? We bring you a summer food throw-down, pitching Sea Salt Eatery's grilled tilapia tacos against the The Tin Fish.
Sea Salt Eatery
Sea Salt serves its grilled tilapia tacos ($5.95 for two) on small grilled corn tortillas with simple, fresh accoutrements: chopped raw onion, cilantro, and a mild salsa. Their tacos deliver a wonderful combination of flavor and texture -- the toppings perfectly complementing a thick fillet of fish with nicely charred edges. They taste fresh and punchy and are wholly satisfying, the relatively small tortillas being generously filled with tilapia.
Our only complaint with Sea Salt's tacos is that its salsa hardly packs a punch. Call it Minnesota-friendly, but this salsa will barely tickle your taste buds spice-wise, though the flavor is great. Luckily an abundance of hot sauce is on hand for those who prefer to bring the heat.
The Tin Fish
The grilled tilapia tacos ($5 each) at The Tin Fish are an entirely different affair. Five bucks will buy you one taco served inside a large flour tortilla with shredded cheddar cheese, cabbage slaw, a mild tomato salsa, and a drizzle of ranch dressing. The tilapia is tender and plentiful and goes better than you might think with its accompaniments.
One thing we can't wrap our heads around, though, is the addition of cheddar cheese. Cheese and fish sound like an unnatural combo, and the flavors just don't work particularly well together. The ranch dressing and mild salsa, however, are a surprisingly nice complement.
The Winner Sea Salt. While the experience of dining on the shore of Lake Calhoun carries a unique charm, sitting under shady trees within earshot of Minnehaha Falls is pretty spectacular as well, and ultimately the Tin Fish's tacos just can't beat Sea Salt's. Ranch dressing and cheddar cheese, coupled with the large flour tortilla at the Tin Fish will definitely weigh you down on a hot day. In comparison, Sea Salt's small corn tortillas are lighter and a far better flavor match to the grilled tilapia. The raw onion and fresh cilantro offer a necessary texture contrast that the Tin Fish's tacos are missing.
Sea Salt Eatery 4825 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis 612.721.8990; Sea Salt website
Hours Open every day March 30 through October 28, 2012 Everyday: 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. Open until 9 p.m. Memorial Day through Labor Day
The Tin Fish 3000 Calhoun Parkway E., Minneapolis 612.823.5840; Tin Fish website
Hours Late April through Memorial Day: noon - 8 p.m. daily Memorial Day through Labor Day: 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. daily Labor Day through mid October: noon - 7:30 p.m. daily
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