Can you imagine a world without fish tacos? Thanks to Ralph Rubio, you don’t have to. Here’s the story of Rubio’s founder and how he brought fish tacos from San Felipe in Baja, Mexico, to San Diego, California, and the Southwest.
Who is Ralph Rubio?
Ralph Rubio is affectionately known throughout San Diego and Southern California as the Fish Taco King. Born and raised in southern California, he discovered fish tacos in the late 1970s while on spring break from SDSU in San Felipe, a small fishing village in Baja, Mexico. One bite and he was smitten. He and his friends couldn’t get enough of the beer-battered whitefish, served in a corn tortilla with cabbage, crema, and salsa and lime They went back to the Sea of Cortez year after year to enjoy the sun, sand, and endless fish tacos.
During one of those visits to the Baja coast, it dawned on Ralph that people in San Diego would probably love fish tacos just as much as he did. And they should be able to enjoy them without having to drive five hours across the border from San Diego State. So, he asked the cook at one of his favorite fish taco stands in San Felipe if he would share the recipe, and the rest is history. Ralph carried that recipe around with him for a few years until he opened his first store in 1983 — a walk-up stand in Mission Bay, San Diego.
Although fish tacos are a familiar food today, it wasn’t always that way. The idea of fish in a taco was strange to most Americans who were more familiar with seasoned ground beef and cheese in their tacos. People were skeptical at first, but as Ralph suspected, they almost always came back for more once they tasted it. As word spread, that single taco stand grew to more and more stores in the San Diego area and then across Southern California.
Today, Rubio’s has over 3,000 employees and operates 155 restaurants in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Although plenty of other restaurants across the country sell fish tacos today, Rubio’s is, and will always be, the home of the Original Fish Taco®, with more than 250 million served.
About Ralph Rubio Day
After 39 years, Ralph Rubio still loves being involved in his restaurants. He works with the Culinary Team to develop innovative new menu items, and he’s been cited by the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times as the country’s top fish taco expert. He also frequently makes unannounced visits to stores to inspect quality, talk with team members, and make sure customers are happy.
Still, Ralph is more than a successful restauranteur. He’s passionate about giving back to the San Diego community, and he loves the ocean as much as ever. Rubio’s regularly partners with local organizations such as the California Coastal Commission, I Love a Clean San Diego, Think Blue, and Surfrider Foundation.
In 2016, the City of San Diego proclaimed April 5, Ralph Rubio Day to honor The Fish Taco King and thank him for all he does for the city and community. He and his accomplishments continue to be recognized each year on April 5 in San Diego, but of course, the team here at Rubio’s appreciates all he does every single day.
Ralph always says he’s proud to have his own special day. But the thing he’s most proud of is seeing the smile on guests’ faces when they tell him how much they enjoy eating at Rubio’s. He’s also quick to admit that he didn’t create the fish taco phenomenon alone. Ralph will always be grateful to the entire Rubio’s team for their hard work, and to Rubio’s loyal fans in San Diego and throughout the Southwestern United States for their continued support.
Please join us at your local Rubio’s on Tuesday, April 5 to celebrate Ralph Rubio and spread some fish taco love. Bring your family and friends and enjoy our Original Fish Taco® Plate for just $7.49. No coupon required!