Rosarito Fish Shack
168 Wythe Avenue, near North 7th Street, Williamsburg
Getting There: L to Bedford Avenue
Restaurant Review: Rosarito Fish Shack
With the Lacoste Summer Concert Series bringing a slew of outdoor shows to Williamsburg Park, we’ve been granted yet another excuse to jump on the L train and head to Brooklyn. Despite some heavy praise already, we stumbled onto Rosarito Fish Shack almost by accident as we sought out a place to rustle up some food and some drinks before a recent concert, as the space sits just a few short blocks away from the venue. Little did we know however that the small sea town style shanty would quickly become one of our favorite haunts in the borough.
We had passed by Rosarito Fish Shack on several different occasions, but its straightforward signage and the casual vibe exuded by the patrons dining outdoors always struck us with eye catching envy. The bright blue awning overlain with red painted letters is made to be inviting, as if the words were drawn by an untrained hand. The adjacent Mezcal Tequila Bar which feeds into the restaurant features similarly striking signage and if not for its excellent location on a quiet neighborhood corner, the rustic barn wood and makeshift looking exterior might be mistaken for an authentic eatery in any small beachfront town. Inside, the restaurant is just as laid back with the shadows of dim lighting eliminated by the space’s natural light feeding in, showing off the fresh seafood raw bar that hides the waitstaff station nearby.
Upon our arrival, we had little idea that we’d also be walking into one of the best happy hours offered anywhere near Manhattan. Rosarito Fish Shack’s daily .99 cent oysters and two for one specials on drafts and most other cocktails really did transport us back to a Mexican vacation at such palatable prices. Without hesitation we ordered up six oysters and a couple pours of Pacifico, which perfectly hit the spot, despite a very manageable evening temperature. The fresh oysters were served chilled on a platter of crushed ice, paired with sliced lemons, cocktail sauce, and a sour mignonette, as typical accoutrements. Another round of beers and another batch of oysters later and it became time to take a peek at a dinner menu.
Now, what’s great about Rosarito Fish Shack is the depth on its menu. From main dishes like a “Burger” ($14) to a “Whole Market Fish” ($28) to an array of Ceviches ($12-$16 ea.) to their exciting “Rosarito Claim Bake” ($27- ½ lobster, shellfish, corn, egg, & chorizo), the restaurant certainly runs the gamut of different options, depending on what you’re in the mood for. But based on the atmosphere inside and our penchant for them, we had a hard time straying from the Tacos portion of the menu. And without any exaggeration or hesitation in making as strong a statement, Rosarito Fish Shack serves up the best fish tacos in the City. Bar none.
If you’ve tasted the tacos here, then you already know. At two to an order, the tacos are not only affordable but also are deliciously eclectic. With options like the “Langosta” ($15)- lobster, pineapple, and chipotle mayo, the “Pulpo Asado” ($11)- a baby octopus, with queso fresco, and salsa verde, and the “Carnitas” ($8)- a pork confit meshed with orange and a sweet, fiery apple-habanero salsa, there’s always the opportunity to taste something distinctive. We began on the more elementary side with the “Short Rib” ($8) tacos, deliciously bathed in sangria and topped with fresh corn niblets, a slice of creamy avocado, and a slightly tangy chimichurri sauce which only enhanced each taco’s flavor profile. Our collective eyes rolled back with each tender bite, until even these tasty tacos met their match. Often times, restaurants will serve fish tacos using mahi-mahi, but Rosarito’s use of crispy flounder makes the “Pescado” ($8) tacos an absolute winner. The crunchy, almost sweet chipotle slaw was the perfect compliment to each handheld flour tortilla, topped with a drizzle of ‘chile de arbol’ for a complete package that was so delectable, we ordered a second round after just the initial bite. These tacos really were ‘tell your friends’ good.
There is something irrefutably charming about finding that great local Mexican spot. Rosarito Fish Shack is not necessarily going to be a sought after place for that special evening out, but then again, it doesn’t need to be. With ample outdoor space for dining on warm weather evenings and the relative remoteness of the location a few blocks from the hustle of Bedford Avenue, Rosarito Fish Shack seemingly has a universe all its own. It’s cozy and unfussy. And it tastes delicious.
Rundown of the Meal
Oysters (.99)- Long Island Bluepoints
Short Rib ($8); Pescado ($8)*