Rubio’s Coastal Grill: fish tacos, yum!

Last Updated on March 6, 2021

March 6, 2021

Rubio’s Coastal Grill is an American fast-casual restaurant chain specializing in Mexican food. What makes Rubio’s different from other Mexican restaurants? Well, it’s their famous fish tacos, of course!

As of 2021, Rubio’s operates, licenses, or franchises
164 restaurants in the southwestern United States.

Rubio’s’ 164 U.S. restaurant locations.

Until 2015, Rubio’s Coastal Grill was known as Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill. The name change came about as part of a plan to rebrand Rubio’s with a heightened focus on seafood. Ralph Rubio, who founded Rubio’s in 1983, wanted to differentiate Rubio’s from Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Let’s go back to the beginning…
It was 1973, the “hippy” era and Ralph Rubio was a freshman at San Diego State University. Some upperclassmen invited him to spend spring break with them on a trip to San Felipe, Baja California. Party, party, party! And that’s where Rubio discovered fish tacos.

There were makeshift stands everywhere in this little fishing town outside of San Felipe and they were all selling fish tacos. Beer-battered and fried whitefish served in a corn tortilla. Rubio fell in love with fish tacos on that trip and he’s been in love with them ever since.

Once back in San Diego, Rubio realized that if fish tacos were so popular in San Felipe, they could also be popular in San Diego. And, so it was that eight years later, in 1982, Rubio’s Original Fish Taco® was born.

The recipe…
Rubio had a favourite fish taco stand in San Felipe where the tacos were prepared by a man called Carlos. Rubio asked Carolos to come to San Diego to cook for his restaurant, but Carlos was not interested in leaving San Felipe. Still determined, Rubio asked him if he would give him the recipe for the batter. Yep, he got it: flour, mustard, garlic, oregano, pepper and water. Rubio was all set!

Rubio’s many years of experience in the restaurant industry, from a busser and waiter to manager at The Old Spaghetti House and others, gave him the know-how to open his first Rubio’s. And so, with a gift of $70,000 from his father, Rubio took his first step into restaurant ownership, with a Rubio’s on Mission Bay Drive in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Gloria Sauvé
Communications and Marketing

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