Fish Tacos in Alpharetta

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

We’re in the season of Lent, a period for some believers to reflect, prepare, offer penance and practice self-denial. For many this includes eating only fish and vegetables on Fridays.

So I got to thinking… I write about food on Fridays. An observant Catholic might stumble upon my blog during this season and read about delicious and smokey barbecue. He or she might have been tempted by Mike Christensen’s description of lasagna bolognese in last week’s review. I don’t want to be the one who tempts you in your faith journey, so today I’ll offer something that better conforms to your theology – fish tacos!

Fish tacos are on a lot of Alpharetta menus these days so there’s no way to review them all. I like fish tacos because a chef can pack a lot of contrasting flavors and textures into a small package. Some were successful in this regard and others were not. Here’s what I found. Please let me know your favorite fish taco!

Boga Taqueria

Boga will do tilapia in their tacos either fried or grilled. My preference is fried. Their slaw is fair but the spicy mayo makes this taco. I wish there was a little more of it. All in all, Boga’s fish taco is fair. They offer far better alternatives elsewhere on their menu.

Pure Taqueria

Pure also offers fried and grilled fish tacos. The fried fish is tilapia. I liked the crisp batter which was almost tempura style. The mayo and slaw are good but the corn tortilla is awesome.

Pure’s grilled fish taco is the best in town. They use swordfish grilled with lime which comes deconstructed on the plate like a fajita. You assemble with grilled pico and fresh avocado slices. The fish is amazing with powerful grilled lime flavor. The grilled tomatoes in the pico stand out and the avocado acts as a cream sauce. If I had to nitpick about anything here it would be that it lacked a crisp texture for contrast.

BW Tavern

BW uses the most obscure species of fish in their taco – panga. I was not familiar with the panga but it has a white flesh not unlike a lot of fish in tacos. They rub the fish in ancho chili powder before cooking. It gives BW’s fish taco the spiciest bite of any in this list. They top it with cabbage, black bean salsa and a cream sauce. It is a decent taco but is a little wet and drippy.


The first thing that hits you is the pungent smell of cotija cheese. A little dusting of this Mexican parmesan cheese goes a long way. The guys at Bite are experts at layering flavors and they certainly do that with their fish tacos. Their pickled jalapeno slaw is amazing all by itself, as is their street corn. Both find their way into the taco. There’s so much going on that the flavors completely blow away the delicate taste and texture of the grouper.

Bite’s fish taco is good. But sitting right next to it on the menu is their highly-touted mole-braised pork taco. Order that. (oops, did I mention red meat? Sorry.)

Azul Agave

I’ve not been impressed with this Mexican newcomer to Alpharetta. Their fish tacos have been inconsistent on the two occasions I’ve had them. On my first try the mahi was overcooked and dry. A second chance turned out better. A generous application of Azul’s spicy cream sauce greatly helps these tacos. The cole slaw is decent but overall these fish tacos don’t stand out.

Photo credit: Cory Voglesonger (creative commons)

Pure Taqueria on Urbanspoon

17 Responses to “Fish Tacos in Alpharetta”

  1. SCSA March 2, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    I personally don’t eat them but my wife does and her favorite is from Loredos across from the Avenue Forsyth. They use a chipotle mayo that she loves.

  2. sara March 2, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    I completely agree that Pure has the best fish tacos in this area. And having moved here from San Diego, I can vouch that Pure’s fish (and shrimp) tacos are Baja style and perfect. They even rival some of my favorite places in in SD, they’re so good.

  3. A March 2, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    It’s “tilapia” BTW and agree about both Pure and Boga.

  4. Lee March 2, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Thanks for the correction.

  5. Sandy March 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Cinco has really good fish tacos, perfect combination of fish and slaw.

  6. Lee March 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm #

    I wanted to get to Cinco and Tara Humata but didn’t make it before this review. Perhaps I should do a second part to this article?

  7. Sandy March 3, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    I think this requires more research. You definitely need to try Cinco, and maybe CANS and La Parilla.

  8. Greg in Alpharetta March 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I am pretty sure the grilled fish tacos at Pure use mahi mahi, not swordfish. Maybe that’s a change since your original visit, but it’s been mahi mahi the last several times I’ve had them and their website menu says as much.

  9. Lee March 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    The waitress told me swordfish. You know what this means? I’ll have to make a repeat visit to Pure to make sure I’ve got my facts straight!

  10. Michael March 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Pure’s fish taco quality has been going down – they used to be a lot better and served a seasonal / whatever’s fresh fish. Are you sure the fried ones are strictly Tilapia now? That makes it even worse.

    That brings me to my second issue – any trendy restaurant that promotes “fresh” and uses tilapia is questionable. It’s a “farmed” garbage fish. Did you know its normal diet consists of eating 6 times its weight in other fish’s poop?

    Bite’s depending on what fish is available, is probably my favorite. They only use seasonal and fresh fish and would never use Tilapia.

  11. Lee March 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    You are correct about Bite’s fish. I probably should have mentioned this in my review. They don’t mention the species of fish on their menu. I think it is seasonal – currently grouper.

  12. Kim March 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Disgusting! I’ll never eat tilapia again.

  13. Cool Papa Bell March 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    I am quite sure if our diet was affected by what we eat eats before we kill them, we’d all be vegetarians. The diet of a tilapia is only a notch below human species who eat at Pizza Hut, Subway, or McDonald’s. It’s pretty much the same except I doubt tilapia are dumb enough to pay $5.99 for a foot long piece of crap.

  14. StaceyMc March 9, 2012 at 8:52 am #

    Marlow’s Tavern has amazing fish tacos. Different…with corn and black beans. Love them!

  15. Kevin March 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    I always wanted to go to Pure but it is always busy when I drive by it! I have to agree with you on Boga’s fish tacos… just fair. Liking this post as well as your whole blog in general!

  16. Lee March 29, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    @Kevin – Thanks for the kind words!

    Your comment reminded me of a Yogi Berra quote. When asked about his favorite restaurant he replied “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.” I feel that way about Pure. I only go for lunch and an early one at that. Plan to be there by 11:30 or forget about it.

    And speaking of Pure… I was there last week for the grilled fish tacos. I asked again and yes indeed, it is swordfish. Delicious.

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