20 Best Places To Get Shrimp Tacos In America

The seafood taco may be the most perfect food to come out of the North American coast. Everyone has a favorite filling, whether it's red snapper, mahi mahi, or even octopus, but one of the best pairings of seafood and tortilla is surely the shrimp taco. The mild sweetness of succulent shrimp melds perfectly with the crunch of fresh spring vegetables, making the perfect foil for fiery peppers and bold, zesty sauces.

Even if you're the type of cook to create your own seasoning blends or make your own homemade honeydew salsa, you'll have to admit that the best tacos come from restaurants. Shrimp tacos are no exception, and across the U.S., restauranteurs are making them their own way, with something special for every taste. From the most humble of beach shacks to fine dining, what all these places have in common is a mastery of the shrimp taco.

Mariscos Jalisco in Los Angeles, CA

If you need proof that good food doesn't just come from places with atmospheric lighting and white tablecloths, look no further than Mariscos Jalisco, an unpretentious food truck with four Los Angeles locations (Boyle Heights, Downtown, Pomona, and West L.A.). Honestly, white tablecloths would be a lot more trouble than they're worth with these devilishly saucy tacos. Mariscos Jalisco is noted for the thick, spicy, tomato-y sauce that tops its crisp corn tortillas.

The menu is on the simple side, but you won't need to peruse it for very long. Head straight for the shrimp taco, which is perhaps it's most famous offering, with plump, pink shrimp so fresh that if you hold one up to your ear, you might hear the ocean. You'll certainly taste it! There's good reason Mariscos Jalisco frequently tops lists of the best tacos in the West.

The Rum House in New Orleans, LA

In New Orleans, you're more likely to find shrimp in a bowl of jambalaya or gumbo but don't miss the local shrimp tacos. Louisiana shrimp are ocean-fresh from the Gulf of Mexico, and The Rum House puts them to good use in Caribbean-style tacos with bold, tropical flavors. The beachy decor makes it a perfect spot for sipping frothy, fruity rum cocktails along with those tacos.

Two shrimp tacos grace the menu, and both pack a tasty punch. The chipotle shrimp taco features roasted shrimp drizzled with chipotle oil and dressed with a zesty relish of charred poblanos and red peppers, plus a creamy queso to cool it down. The chili-glazed shrimp taco is stuffed with crispy fried shrimp glistening in a sweet, tangy rum and chili glaze. Try one of each — you'll be hard-pressed to choose a favorite.

¿Por Qué No? in Portland, OR

Oregon may not be your first thought when it comes to tacos, but both of the ¿Por Qué No? locations will quickly quell any of your preconceived notions. The small taqueria is partly self-serve (ordering is at the counter, and you fetch your own water and salsa), but that's because the staff is busy making everything by hand, from corn masa tortillas to the house-made chips and salsas.

The shrimp tacos are a standout from bottom to top, starting with the fresh-grilled tortillas and featuring sustainably-caught shrimp from Portland's local fish market, Newman's. Topped with crema, cabbage, cilantro, and onion, the shrimp taco's flavor secret is in the interplay between the fresh, fiery, and verdantly-green serrano salsa and the chunks of tangy pineapple. Limited-time twists on the shrimp taco sometimes appear, so be sure and check the daily specials.

Garbo's Grill in Key West, FLA

The location may be a bit hidden, but you can still usually expect a line at the silver bullet-shaped camper parked behind Hank's Hair Of The Dog Saloon. Perhaps people are enticed by the spot's claim to fame after being featured by Guy Fieri. More likely, they're queued up for a taste of some of the most inventive fusion tacos on the Florida coast.

Expect a little bit of Korean, a little bit of Mexican, and a whole lot of Florida. The shrimp taco at Garbo's comes two ways, Cayo style ("cayo" is Spanish for "key") and Korean style. The Cayo style features island flavors like mango, cilantro, and a Caribbean sauce, while the Korean taco includes napa cabbage, daikon radish, and a zesty sriracha-based drizzle. Whichever shrimp taco you pick, it's a travelogue in a tortilla.

Taco Reho in Rehoboth Beach, DE

The rock and roll vibe at Taco Reho is no random gimmick. Owner Billy Lucas used to be a caterer to rock stars, cooking and serving up food to music acts and their crew members, from Prince to Black Sabbath. His love for music shows on the menu, with cocktail tributes to Thin Lizzy, Green Day, and Twisted Sister. His love of California beach-style food shows even more — especially when it comes to tacos.

The buffalo shrimp taco at Taco Reho is a rock star in itself, with plump, spicy shrimp and house-made salsa, plus creamy avocado, crema, quesa fresco, and pickled red onion. What takes the shrimp taco to the next level is the burnt chihuahua cheese tuille, adding an umami-packed crunch to every bite. Those who aren't as spice-friendly can opt for a simpler grilled shrimp taco and still be plenty happy.

Caja Caliente in Miami, FLA

Chef Monica "Mika" Leon's name is familiar to fans of foodie television, as she's been featured on shows like "Chopped" and "Beat Bobby Flay," to name a few. To Miami locals, it's her food that's famous, with two locations combining Leon's love of food and travel with her family's traditional recipes. The menu is flush with Cuban flair, from the pan con pollo to the fresh guava lemonade.

The lechon taco was named Florida's best (according to a Miami Herald poll), but the shrimp tacos are just as stellar, overstuffed with grilled shrimp and plenty of local veggies. Its Cuban vibe comes in the form of a zingy black bean salsa, tamed by lashings of the house aioli. Fried plantains are nice on the side, but if you want to get really crazy with the Cuban flavor, sneak a few forkfuls onto your shrimp taco.

El Viejón in San Diego, CA

It should come as no surprise that El Viejón makes a mean shrimp taco. If you're familiar with the San Diego hot spot, you know that seafood is its specialty, with flaky Ensenada-style fish tacos, chocolata clams yanked fresh from the sea, and mouth-watering seafood towers packed with scallops, octopus, crab, and more. The focus is on cuisine from Sinaloa and Baja, but expect a touch of Asian flavor with ingredients like daikon radish, sesame seeds, and oyster sauce.

If you like your shrimp spicy, the El Enchilado shrimp taco is for you, featuring a Veracruz-style salsa macha. Made from dried chilies and oil, the mouth-searing sauce originated in Mexico, but should appeal to anyone who is a fan of Asian brands of chili crisp. Combined with fresh cabbage, battered onions, grilled cheese, sesame seeds, and a creamy sauce, this devilish taco is a truly amazing.

Da Seafood Cartel in Honolulu, HI

Before establishing its own brick-and-mortar restaurant, Da Seafood Cartel found its fan base at the Kailua and Kaka'ako farmers' markets, where folks flocked to buy ceviche-topped tostadas spread with crab dip, party-sized aluminum pans of juicy aguachile, and delicious seafood tacos. Owner Amanda Cordes' recipes reflect her Sonoran roots with simple ingredients and fresh flavors.

The shrimp taco at Da Seafood Cartel is a thing of beauty, filled with fat beer-battered fried shrimp, cole slaw, pico de gallo, and shrimp aioli on a house-made corn tortilla. For more kick, customers like to top their taco with the restaurant's own Black Sauce of Death, a spicy, shoyu vinegar sauce dripping with umami flavor that takes the shrimp taco into the flavor stratosphere. 

Bajamar in Las Vegas, NV

Bajamar's two locations frequently show up on lists of the city's best tacos. The focus is decidedly on Baja-style seafood, bringing a Southern California beach vibe to the Vegas restaurant scene. The menu has plenty of nifty surprises, from the smoked marlin taco with habanero mustard to the house aguachile, bejeweled with purple beets.

There are three styles of shrimp tacos at Bajamar — four if you count the fact that the regular shrimp taco is available with grilled or battered shrimp. It's deceptively simple, topped with cabbage, pico, chipotle, and aioli sauce. For heat lovers, there's also a chile-forward spicy shrimp taco. The real knockout, though, is Bajamar's version of the traditional Sinaloan gobernador taco with gooey mozzarella cheese.

Adelitas in Denver, CO

Denver's Adelitas restaurant serves Michoacán-style Mexican food, so you can expect the recipes to be ultra-traditional, relying on classic Mexican ingredients and dishes with many hundreds of years of history behind them. Several of Adelitas' seafood and meat dishes are served in granite molcajetes, brimming with charred vegetables and corn. 

The shrimp tacos are deliciously traditional, with juicy grilled shrimp on corn masa tortillas, plus cabbage, chipotle crema, pico de gallo, and Michoacán's famous avocado. For an even more exciting shrimp taco, check the daily specials. Adelitas frequently conjures up new versions of the shrimp taco with unexpected twists, like a surf-and-turf-inspired taco with enormous shrimp and cilantro-marinated steak or a fried shrimp taco with a sriracha drizzle.

Tacos a la Madre in College Park, MD

The tacos at Tacos a la Madre have been listed among the 25 best in the Washington, D.C. area by The Washington Post, which is no small feat considering the District's reputation as a foodie city. The proximity to the University of Maryland makes it a popular spot for students, but the quality of the cuisine is far above the typical starving-student fare.

Attention to detail is what makes the tacos special, starting with the corn tortillas, which are dipped in chorizo oil prior to grilling, maximizing their flavor before they're even filled. The shrimp tacos are vibrant and colorful, packed with cabbage and topped with a tangy chipotle sauce, plus a choice of housemade salsa. Locals love that they also come in family-sized bundles (which are also perfect as last-minute party food).

Tako'ako in Honolulu, HI

The name Tako-ako is a bit of fun wordplay, inspired by the restaurant's location in Honolulu's trendy commercial district of Kakaʻako. That sense of whimsy is reflected in everything from the blue neon phoenix sign to the paper wrappers with phrases like "Guac'ing on sunshine." The menu, too, is just as vibrant, with lively riffs on Mexican street food.

The shrimp taco is a sweet and sticky Asian-fusion construction, filled with fresh-caught fried shrimp enveloped in a batter made with beer and Mochiko rice flour. A Korean bean-paste mayonnaise keeps things creamy while contrasting nicely with the crunch and heat of jalapeño slices. Pair one (or two, or three) with an ear of street-style elote, coated generously with cotija cheese, lime juice, cayenne, and cilantro.

Don Pez Fish Tacos in Chicago, IL

Don Pez is the kind of casually cool place where friends gather for drinks (like the bottomless brunch mimosas), but they end up coming back for the food. The real Don Pez learned to love hunting and fishing while growing up in Montana, an interest that comes in handy when sourcing the freshest of ingredients for the restaurant's killer tacos.

The signature taco is a fish taco known on the menu as the Pez-cado, but shrimp lovers will be pleased to know that it comes in a shrimp version, too. Like the Pez-cado, the shrimp taco features beer-battered shrimp on double corn tortillas, with sweet cabbage, a house-made sauce, and zingy-hot pickled habanero peppers. (The grilled shrimp taco also packs plenty of heat.) 

Chop Shop Taco in Alexandria, VA

The Alexandria Times once referred to Chop Shop Taco as "Parker-Gray's worst-kept secret," alluding to the restaurant's popularity in the neighborhood. The space is an unlikely one for a foodie hotspot, housed in a painted concrete building that once served as a garage where stolen cars were reconfigured by mechanics — in other words, a "chop shop."

If the name and backstory don't tip you off that this is a place with a hip sensibility (not to mention a sense of humor), a look at the menu will clue you in. Though steeped in tradition, the dishes have trendy, modern twists to keep things interesting. The shrimp taco is a stunner, with enormous fried rock shrimp and a tasty avocado sauce.

Minero in Johns Island, SC

The South Carolina coast is home to some fantastic seafood, and though the local daily haul of catfish and shrimp may be more frequently paired with grits, Minero puts them to good use in some seriously outstanding tacos. With an indoor-outdoor bar and a huge patio, the restaurant makes the most of the coastal greenery and scenery — a perfect backdrop for sipping Micheladas and munching on Mexican fare.

Minero's shrimp tacos are as pretty as the environment, with colorful strips of mango and jicama supporting the tender Atlantic shrimp. The slaw has its own zesty twist on the typical cabbage slaw, made with shaved red onion. The shrimp tacos are topped with pureed avocado and MInero's own spicy-sweet benne salsa.

Veracruz All Natural in Austin, TX

Reyna and Maritza Vazquez grew up in Veracruz, Mexico, where they learned to cook from their mother. The traditional recipes they learned from childhood, combined with an appreciation for natural ingredients, helped turn their one humble food truck into multiple Austin locations, each serving up the tasty Mexican dishes that have made the restaurant the recipient of multiple local awards.

All the tacos are excellent, from the dark mole-sauced chicken to the slow-simmered barbacoa. The shrimp taco holds its own on the menu, with sautéed shrimp, traditional rice, and green onions topped with a hearty hunk of avocado. The star of the shrimp taco, though, is the sisters' peppery Veracruz salsa macha, made with dried chiles fried in oil.

Mariscos Los Peloteros in Riverside, CA

If you're somehow still behind-the-times enough to think great cuisine can't come from a food truck, then you don't deserve good tacos. You certainly don't deserve the ones at Mariscos Los Peloteros, where the owners and operators have managed to merge the best of Mexican, Japanese, and Peruvian food into world-class dishes. You might think that pizza, sushi, and tacos don't belong on the same menu. You'd be wrong. The common denominators are fresh seafood and clever flavors.

The regular shrimp tacos at Mariscos Los Peloteros are among the area's best, but for full-on shrimp taco nirvana, order the gobernador-style taco. You can choose a gobernador with shrimp alone or combined with octopus and imitation crab, but either way, you can't go wrong with the charred, cheese-laden cross between a taco and a quesadilla.

Holbox in Los Angeles, CA

Chef Gilberto Cetina must be the envy of culinary school graduates, though he's not one himself. Instead, his cooking experience comes from working in his family restaurant, and his culinary inspiration comes from his birthplace, the Yucatan Peninsula, where he spent his youth diving for conch and spearing fish in the coastal waters. His emphasis on simple, flavorful food has won accolades from Michelin and the James Beard Foundation.

The seafood-focused dishes are practically edible works of art, though they're not overly fussy. The beauty comes from attention to detail and the use of quality ingredients. The shrimp taco is one of those beautiful dishes, with perfectly-battered wild Mexican shrimp, crema, mayo, salsa roja, and pico de gallo. The tostadas are elegant as well — try one topped with shrimp and octopus ceviche.

Los Mariscos in New York, NY

It may be tucked away in the Chelsea Market, but Los Mariscos is worth finding, especially as its tacos get a lot of people's vote for the best in New York City. Don't expect fancy — orders are taken at the counter — but do expect fresh-from-the-ocean seafood, handmade corn tortillas, fresh salsas, and plenty of cold beer. Created by three close friends with roots in Tijuana, Mexico, and Brawley, California, Los Mariscos brings West Coast/California-style Mexican to the Big Apple. 

The warm tortillas are the perfect starting point for building the restaurant's sensational Baja shrimp taco, with crispy battered shrimp and a rich, chunky tomato salsa. If you've got a taste for heat, go for the enchilado shrimp taco seasoned with tongue-torching chiles. You'll need that cold beer, but the watermelon agua frescas are a worthy companion, too. 

Loló in San Francisco, CA

San Francisco's Loló has a colorful, mix-and-match interior, and that sense of playfulness extends to the culinary aesthetic found in Chef Jorge Martínez's menu. Chef Martinez and his wife Lorena previously owned restaurants in Guadalajara, Mexico, and they've brought their knowledge and traditions to San Francisco's Mission neighborhood, where they blend the flavors of Jalisco with those of the California coast. 

Loló's shrimp taco, the Taco Tropical has a real wow factor, and nearly every component offers something different from what you might expect, starting with the base, which forgoes the usual corn tortilla in favor of a jicama slice. The hefty shrimp are dusted in panko crumbs before frying, so they're light rather than greasy. A colorful tropical relish and chipotle aioli finish off the dish, which is as visually stunning as it is tasty.