It’s always taco time on the Oregon Coast. For a quick meal before an afternoon hiking the cliffs, a stop on a long-distance cycling tour or a budget-friendly family dinner, someone has the perfect taco for you. Here’s a guide to restaurants and food carts that would make any tortilla proud.
Taste Fresh Seafood From Oregon Fishing Families
Fish tacos and the Coast are a natural match, thanks to Oregon’s bustling fishing industry. To support the local fleet and healthy oceans, choose sustainable fish caught and sold nearby. Many restaurants and food carts are committed to help in the effort.
In Astoria, white-fleshed, juicy petrale sole caught by the fishing family from South Bay Wild Fish House — makes its way into tacos garnished with cilantro-lime cabbage slaw and guacamole. You’ll find albacore tuna served exclusively at Bowpicker Fish & Chips — in a converted historic gillnetter boat in Astoria, no less — and at Grizzly Tuna’s roadside stand in Seaside.
With two locations on the Central Coast in Seal Rock and Yachats, Luna Sea Fish House offers Oregon-caught albacore from the owner’s boat, nestled on a bed of slaw with avocado and pico de gallo. Local Ocean Seafoods Dockside Grill + Fish Market takes advantage of the nearby Newport marina to source fish for fried-rockfish tacos with citrus slaw and pickled vegetables.
The South Coast takes advantage of its ports to provide fresh seafood for tacos, too. Surf-themed Shark Bites Café in Coos Bay has a full menu of tacos, including one stuffed with tiny pink shrimp, a sustainably managed Oregon fishery. In no-fry zone Tony’s Crab Shack on the waterfront in Bandon, local rockfish is sauteed and bedded down on tortillas with shredded cabbage and spicy aioli. The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish & Chips’ menu in Port Orford on the Southern Coast features seasonally caught fish from the local fleet.
The owners of Woggy’s in Gold Beach source their own rockfish and turn it into two kinds of fish tacos at their food truck: blackened and topped with slaw or fried and gilded with cheese, cabbage and fixings. Look for lingcod-taco specials at Catalyst Seafood, a casual spot offering freshly caught fish near the Brookings Harbor marina.
Choose Your Food-Cart Taco Style
If you’ve never ordered tacos at a food cart, prepare for mouthwatering dishes made with love by family-run small businesses. You’ll see several styles.
Street-taco style is usually a double-stacked corn tortilla about 4 inches wide with a couple of tablespoons of filling. Each taco is topped with chopped onions and cilantro. You can add green or red chile-infused salsa, or sometimes pickled jalapenos or sliced radishes. Try barbacoa (saucy beef) or chorizo (spicy sausage) tacos at Taqueria Pelayos in Astoria, a jaunty sunset-hued truck parked across from the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Pastor (pork stewed in chile sauce with citrus and pineapple) tacos draw legions of regulars at cash-only Taqueria Barview Jetty in Rockaway Beach.
A larger version of the soft-shell street taco garnishes meat or seafood with a pile of shredded cabbage, lettuce or slaw, sometimes enhanced with lashings of crema (a thin sour cream), pico de gallo salsa and crumbled cotija cheese. In Nehalem Riverside Fish N’ Chips pairs deep-fried cod with slaw in tacos that diners can enjoy on picnic tables on the banks of the Nehalem River. The Muncheria — a bright-green food truck that sits in Lakeside north of Coos Bay — offers a tri-tip version in this style. If you’re hungry, pair it with the cart’s signature carne-asada fries.
Some carts also sell a crispy taco (sometimes called American-style) made with a fried corn tortilla, usually stuffed with seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. Try one at Mayo’s Taqueria in Warrenton’s new food-cart pod, or taste the beef or veggie versions at the quick-and-easy drive-thru Mexican Express in Reedsport. Others take inspiration from global cuisines, like Game Thyme food truck in Florence, which offers fusion tacos like coconut-curry chicken or deep-fried Korean-style pork belly.
The grilled quesabirria or birria taco — a griddled, cheesy, stewed-beef taco — is served with a side of rich, meaty broth for dipping. Several carts on the Coast now specialize in this style, with extremely solid options at several loncheria food trucks serving midday meals, like Taqueria Los Compas in Astoria’s Uniontown and Garcia’s Cocina in downtown Tillamook.
More Coastal Classics for Tacos
For great carne-asada (grilled-beef) tacos on the North Coast, head to The Stand in Seaside, a favorite now run by the second generation of the Saucedo family. In Lincoln City, standouts include Melo’s Taqueria, a casual little spot specializing in lengua (tongue) or grilled-pepper tacos.
On the Central Coast, fans of Cajun spices love the grilled, blackened cod taco at Skōsh, a friendly spot in downtown Waldport. Long-distance cyclists heading down Highway 101 appreciate Los Amigos Burrito for its quick service right on the route in Florence; they can keep an eye on their bikes while chowing down on vegetarian potato-and-cheese hard-shell tacos or carnitas (fried-pork) soft tacos.
Open since 1932, Wilson’s Market in Bandon on the Southern Coast smokes its own meats for pork shoulder or creamy shredded-chicken tacos, served at the counter in a small, off-the-beaten-path, family-owned market. The business now has a second location in Coos Bay. La Casita de Oro, housed in a colorful hut in Gold Beach, serves to-die-for quesabirria tortas and tacos, accompanied by freshly made agua fresca, a fruity refreshing drink.