“Those fish tacos are the tits,” said Jason Segel’s infamous character Sydney Fife in the 2009 comedy “I Love You, Man.” The fare mentioned comes from James’ Beach restaurant – a non-fictional, Venice Beach establishment that currently sells the fish mahimahi tacos on its brunch, lunch and dinner menus.
The movie celebrates multiple subject matters – urinal cake advertisements, Johnny Depp’s performance in “Chocolat,” and the 1970s band Rush, in addition to the multiple conversations dedicated toward the James’ Beach tacos. My research subconsciously started with the band Rush and its greater hits like ‘Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” (both played in the movie), which led me down the rabbit hole of more obscure tracks like “Manhattan Project” and a “A Farewell to Kings.” And it was this newly found, and perhaps shortly-lived obsession with Rush over the past couple years that made we wonder. If I was missing out on Rush this whole time, what if I was missing some of the best fish tacos of my life? Even worse, what if I was missing THE best fish tacos of my life?
The fear of missing out led my colleagues and I to James Beach, in the midst of a restaurant tour with Zagat, with one mission: confirm or deny the allure of the tacos.
James Beach served us three types of tacos – the mahimahi, the grilled jumbo wild shrimp and the crispy duck confit. For a myriad of reasons, this combination is the perfect upper-middle-class taco sampler.
First, because all the tacos are served with guacamole. Ain’t no need to order extra. Secondly, they serve large flour tortillas. No street tacos found here. Thirdly, the tomatillo salsa verde is served within a tiny vessel practically guaranteeing less spills on your Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Windowpane dress shirt. And it’s not spicy enough to cause any digestion surprises. Lastly, the tacos range in price from $23-$27, which doesn’t include the $14 must-order jalapeño margarita.
I personally tend to lean toward tacos from loncheras that can be paid with the remaining change in your pockets, doing my best to pronounce pastor, asada, carnitas, lengua and the double l’s of pollo. But there’s no doubt these tacos are fucking delicious and should be on your LA bucket list if you’re not worried about the extra bucks.
The video with Zagat below showcases our entire meal and includes a couple of other Venice Beach gems like the $5 breakfast from Hinano Cafe and the skateboard beer sampler from Venice Ale House.