Man Food: Fish Tacos at El Pelon Taqueria

The tacos here are great in theory, but not so great in execution.

Welcome to Man Food, where burger pro Richard Chudy steps away from his usual beat to explore food challenges, street eats, and other gut-busting delights. Ladies are welcome, of course.

fish tacoThe pescado taco at El Pelon. (Photo by Katie Barszcz.)

After being decimated by a fire in 2009, the Fenway’s popular El Pelon Taqueria finally reopened the doors of its rebuilt Peterborough Street location in November. It’s a small space, with walls filled with pictures of satisfied and loyal customers from all over the world. On a recent lunchtime visit, the crowd was a bustling cross section of hungry students, young professionals, and locals crammed into the mostly take-out operation.

A fairly traditional Mexican menu is available here, with a ubiquitous variety of burritos, tacos and enchiladas. Catching my eye were the pescado tacos — cornmeal-crusted cod tacos topped with chile mayo, limed onions, pickled cabbage, and cucumbers. Most taquerias I’ve encountered mess up the breading of fish by overwhelming it with a thick batter. El Pelon, though, does it right. The cornmeal coating is strong enough to hold up to a dunk in the fryer, but still has a gentle crispiness that works beautifully with the succulent cod.

The corn tortilla wrapper is on the thin side but manages to hold its shape when folded over the fried fish. The chile mayo has adequate heat, but it’s hardly present — a larger dose would have added (and needed) flavor. The onions, cabbage, and cucumber all offer crunch and freshness to the taco, but a search for the “lime” in the “limed onions” proved futile.

El Pelon serves a respectable fish taco, but it’s far from great due to underwhelming seasoning. It won’t knock your socks off, but it’s a satisfying, capable Mexican option if you’re in the neighborhood.

(El Pelon Taqueria, 92 Peterborough Street, Boston, 617-262-9090,

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