Published on November 9th, 2012 | by Fia Raboy
Octopus & Smoked Marlin Tacos @ TJ Oyster Bar
TJ Oyster Bar Review
For 2 years and ongoing I have loved getting my handy fins dirty by swimming with wheels through the 805 and finally stationing in front of an unassuming, little plaza. What you might notice on their walled menu is that you will not find anything that lives on turf—no chicken, no beef, no moose, etc. Only seafood caught in the Pacific are present in this tiny, cantina-like setup they call TJ Oyster Bar. Plain, white walls express the narrowed, eating area that can comfortably occupy less than 20 hungry people—not counting those in line to order by the counter. If lucky you can sit at the bar which envelops a likewise cramped, open kitchen, where a cook grills up or deep fry the saltwater deliciousness, right in front of you.
Besides tacos being ridiculously inexpensive these days, ranging from $0.99 to $3.50 depending on species and availability, dishes like burritos, tostadas, ensaladas, ceviche, and (as the restaurant name speaks) fresh oysters are whipped up. Whatever is ordered will always include a bottle or cup of salsa roja and fresh, sliced lime. For my Sunday’s lunch, though, I loyally ordered three tacos that were served piping hot—all with white sauce, onions, and cilantro–and barely filled up a typical, Dixie party plate, listed below.
Ain’t No Turf on this Menu
Octopus Taco ($3.50): This chopped up mollusk was grilled to perfection, with neither on the gelatinous, undercooked side nor the eraser-textured, overcooked area. What will bolster the flavor further was not just from their creamy and tangy white sauce, or from the onions or cilantro, but from a magnanimous squeeze of lime juice, along with a moderate heat from their hot sauce. Its thick, corn tortilla—like the remaining two tacos—were easily bitten without it falling apart from start to finish.
Stingray Taco ($2.50): I was wholly surprised that TJ Oyster Bar’s style of cooking this ray was stewed along with minced jalapeno. Instead of being directly exposed to the griddle it left off a tender, slightly sweet, and saucy taste. This was my first eat on this specie, and frankly this was not my favorite taco; I would be hooked on more if, perhaps, a few cloves of garlic and other harmonizing herbs could play into it.
Fish Taco ($0.99): Yup, there’s no need to wait for Tuesdays anymore. This deep fried delectable fish is everyday at that sensational price—if you omit the sales tax, though. Plump, evenly battered, consistently crispy, and strangely light-filling, I absolutely did not care to eat messily, controlling myself to savor every bite and every minute of that gloriously delectable white fish. The amalgamation of the chopped veggies, crunchy shredded cabbage, piquant white sauce, and more of that red sauce and a gush of lime juice made it so fun to wolf it down.
If you are particularly on a budget while either residing or travelling to SD and/or the Mexican border, make sure to take some time to detour to TJ Oyster Bar . If their cramped space might be claustrophobic for you, you can either order takeout or head to their newer and larger location about 0.25 miles eastward of the same street.
Smoked Marlin Taco
I highly recommend the .99 cent fried fish, as well as their incredibly garlicky shrimp taco and their equally infamous Smoked Marlin Taco. Oh, and leave your diet out the door because TJ Oyster Bar’s tacos will not be shy with some grease in their presentation. Fishing season is always perennial and tasty here!
TJ Oyster Bar
4246 Bonita Rd.
Bonita, CA 91902