NICE PEOPLE RULE! And so does a good fish taco.

I’m someone who firmly believes that kind behavior should be rewarded and mean people should be kicked to the curb. There’s a misconception about Los Angeles that people here are all self-absorbed jerks who are only out to get each other… and while there were times in my life where I bought that script, I’ve learned over the decades that I was wrong. There are bad people everywhere in the world, and when all is said and done I’ve found the majority of Angelenos to be solid, hard-working, good people who are often far warmer to strangers than you’ll find in many other cities large and small.

I’ve explained many times that the “hidden” in HiddenLA isn’t about being elitist, but rather it’s referring to the heart of this place that many people are oblivious to. In my mind, the good people of Los Angeles are a very large part of that heart.

besttacoSooo, let me tell you a little story. Tonight I was driving through Los Feliz and realized my blood sugar was a little low and I needed something quick. I passed Best Fish Taco in Ensenada, thinking to myself that I’d seen it mentioned many times on HiddenLA’s Foodie page on Facebook. Thanks to too much quality time in San Diego I’m a Baja Mexican food snob, but I decided to put my fish taco elitism aside and give it a try because you guys have yet to steer me wrong. I may have a Team Rubio’s t-shirt in a drawer somewhere, but I wanted to finally taste for myself if these tacos lived up to the hype.

I parked across the street and walked inside. It wasn’t until the customer in front of me stepped away from paying that I noticed the sign saying “CASH ONLY” and realized I had none, just my well-worn check card. I apologized and began to walk away, but then I heard a voice say, “Hey!” a few times. I turned around and the man behind the register motioned me forward. He was owner Joseph Cordova.

“You don’t have cash?” he asked. I said no and that it wasn’t a big deal, I just didn’t know and I’d come back another day.

Joseph looked me in the eye and said, “Okay, tell you what. That’s okay. You can order what you want. Just pay for it another time. You just have to promise me something though. As soon as you walk away I’m going to forget this. So you have to remember. Got it? Because I can guarantee you I won’t.”

I really wasn’t expecting that.

I told him that I had been thinking of getting one fish taco and one shrimp taco. His reply? “I think you should.” He was clearly very proud of the food and drink he was serving and really just wanted me to try it.

Now, the cost of my meal was only $4.50 so it wasn’t going to break him if I didn’t pay, but that’s not the point. The point is that sometimes Los Angeles is a much smaller and far friendlier town than people want to think it is. And I *love* that about it.

So first I’d like to thank Joseph for the tacos and horchata. You were right… even if I’d had cash I would still say they actually were definitely some of the best I’ve ever had… and stubborn Baja taco snob that I am, that’s a strong statement.

Lastly, to all of you reading this, please reward Joseph for being awesome by trying his tacos for yourself. He also JUST opened a new location in Glendale at 604 W Glenoaks Blvd if that’s closer for you. Just one thing you should remember…

BRING CASH.

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28 Responses to “NICE PEOPLE RULE! And so does a good fish taco.”

  1. Enri Rodriguez says:

    Great article and I can attest that this is true. I had the same experience. The owner is truly a nice man. He said the same thing to us and it was kind of awkward at first because we’re not used to this type of hospitality and trust from strangers. We were finally convinced that it was okay. After our meal, we walked over to the local supermarket, got some cash and immediately returned to pay Mr. Cordova PLUS to get more fish tacos!

    This place will always have a special place in my heart! =)

    Enri Rodriguez
    North Hollywood

  2. Rebecca says:

    This is just the sweetest story. I was born and raised in L.A. and not only did I appreciate the kind words spoken about the people in my fair city, but to hear about such generosity, trust and kindness filled my heart with such joy. I am sharing this story on my facebook page and my website. I own and operate a small paper in this city called The Happy Times. It is devoted to sharing stories just like this one. Bravo to the owner of The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada and the writer who shared this beautiful story. If you would like to share this story in the May issue, I will do my best to squeeze it in.

    best wishes,
    rebecca schlaeger
    the happy times newspaper

  3. Seedster says:

    I would never think in a million years that this could happen in LA. Amazing review! I went to school in San Diego so I consider myself an elitist when it comes to Baja Mexican food as well so I’m DEFINITELY gonna check this place out!

  4. Ramos Trabado says:

    Fish Tacos and Horchata. There’s no other way.

  5. Kendra says:

    I am going to be in LA in a couple weeks and I plan on stopping by to get some fish tacos based on your recommendation alone. Mr. Cordova, your hospitality and kindness has brought you a customer from 2,096 miles away.

  6. burritoful says:

    i LOVE best fish tacos! and it’s true, joseph is always that generous and nice. my friends and i gather there regularly, and he always greets us with a warm smile. last week he didn’t charge me for the horchata i ordered. delicious cheap tacos, spicy & flavorful salsas, magic cream, AND friendly service. what more could you ask for? oh yea, they let us bring our own drinks and hang on the patio for hours. can’t wait to go again!

  7. lucy says:

    Great story! I work near the new Glendale location so I’ll definitely check it out.

  8. Machiko says:

    I can attest to this as well!

    This has happened to me, not at the fish taco joint (although I definitely recommend it, especially before a Greek Theater show) but at other local businesses in L.A. One is a coffee shop off Melrose & La Brea called Stir Crazy, another a New York style pizza place in Westwood called Lamonica’s and a fax/copy place a few doors down. If you’re crawling local small shops, it’s always good to have cash… but if not, and the shop people are nice enough (and they usually are) then tip well the next time you go!

    I’m all for local business love!

  9. Pia says:

    I was born and raised in LA by parents who came here in the 60′s from Argentina. When I was 14 my Dad was transferred to Houston, then 3 yrs later to Tampa and 2yrs after that to Washington D.C. I then went to Argentina on my own for 8 yrs, back to D.C. for a year and then down to Miami for 10 yrs. After all this moving around I finally reached the conclusion that there is no better city for me than LA and moved back here last summer. My memories of LA growing up are of friendly laid back people so when I hear that they are considered pretentious and fake I can only think that these people they are referring to aren’t actually from here. I love LA and all of California and I couldn’t be happier to be back home. So far LA has exceeded all my expectations and I have to say that the people here, unlike in many of the other cities I have lived are the most polite, considerate, happy people I have encountered in all my years. I LOVE LA!!!!

  10. Angelle says:

    I came to visit LA from the Midwest – you know, the home of those “salt of the earth” types where everything is supposed to be so small-town, old-time “real” Americana?

    The first thing that struck me was how *nice* people were here, especially in contrast to where I’m from. Two years later we moved here, and I’ve never been happier. I’m with Pia above – when I hear people talk about how awful, shallow, etc. this town is, I think they must have been extremely unlucky or unhappy themselves when they were here. The vast majority of people I have contact with in LA are polite, happy and laid back.

    Best Fish Tacos sounds awesome, and thanks for sharing a great story of the LA I know and love.

  11. I love fish tacos, and wish I knew of this place when we lived there.BTW, LA is full of very nice & genuine people, just like other places. Maybe it's because many of the people are from other places... says:

    I love fish tacos, and wish I knew of this place when we lived there. BTW,LA is full of very nice & genuine people, just like other places. Maybe it’s because many of the people are from other places…

    • lynnster says:

      Actually I often find that the most real and down to earth people in this city are the Angelenos who grew up here and consider it their heritage. They are all over, but they aren’t screaming for attention so that’s why people think nobody is a native. A lot of the people who come here from other places are here with an agenda to “become” something and they’re the people who inspire some of the worst stereotypes… cases in point: Perez Hilton is from Florida and moved here less than ten years ago, Lindsay Lohan is from New York. Many people in the world don’t know that they aren’t actually from here… Los Angeles is just where they traveled to get attention, like a lot of other people. Fewer people in Los Angeles work in the entertainment business than work in it… but they aren’t the people the world sees and judges on tv, unfortunately.

  12. joann says:

    I love fish tacos, and wish I knew of this place when we lived there.BTW, LA is full of very nice & genuine people, just like other places. Maybe it’s because many of the people are from other places.

  13. Kitty says:

    I’ve driven by this place a bunch of times, but will now stop and have a couple of tacos! Cool owners like this should be rewarded. Thanks for the story.

  14. Elissa says:

    I live at the bottom of the street Best Fish Tacos is on, and come here often. Joseph always leaves my friends and me with big smiles on our faces with his kind words and generosity, and the ladies that work there too are always smiling and so sweet. Some nights they even have a DJ that spins on the little patio – how much cooler can you get? I heard they’ll be selling tacos at Coachella this year – stop by and give them your business!!! It really doesn’t get much better than the Best :)

  15. Jill says:

    My family and I lived in So. Cal for fifteen years. My youngest child is a native Californian. Just about all of my memories of living there are good. You have to get to know the “real” people.

    I’m getting ready to come out for a two week visit and I have a list of places I want to go. The Best Fish Taco just made the list and I’ve emailed the article to myself so I’ll have it when I need it. This man, Joseph, deserves all the blessings life can hand him. People like this are few and far between anymore.

  16. John says:

    I don’t mean to be a killjoy, but Los Angelenos are nice? I’m an L.A. native and my POV is that Los Angelenos are the unfriendliest, most arrogant, self-centered, and cliquish people in the world. I’m mostly referring to white Los Angelenos (I’m white). Hands down the friendliest population in L.A. are Hispanic (technically, “mestizo” which means part white Spaniard and part indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central America, or South America) females. When you do come across a nice person in L.A., they’re almost always from some other part of the country or from a different country altogether. There are exceptions here and there, but L.A. is not a friendly place. It will only get worse as this city gets more overcrowded due to massive uncontrolled immigration.

    • lynnster says:

      Sorry you’ve have such negative experiences. Have you ever lived outside of Los Angeles for an extended period of time? Because until I did, I didn’t realize just how friendly people are here. In comparison to where I was living when I left, the majority of people I meet here are warm, giving and incredibly kind. Sure there are jerks, but jerks are a worldwide occurrence.

      Could be that you’re expecting people to be horrible so you’re getting what you’re expecting. Or… maybe you are just traveling in the wrong circles?

  17. Venice2DwnTwnLAnativeAllDay says:

    I was born and raised in Los Angeles (grew up in Baldwin Hills, but went to school in both Culver City/Mar Vista, Inglewood and Downtown). Have lived in South Central, Venice, Koreatown, Downtown and Leimert Park. People were extremely friendly growing up, parents of friends, friends, people on the street, etc. It’s only been in the last 10-15 years that I’ve seen a huge shift in folks who are quite nasty, arrogant, self-centered, and always talk about how bad the people in L.A. are. Funny thing is, those people are ALWAYS from other places. It’s hard to find a room of people born here. I fully agree with the other posters; most of the negative vibe and stank attitudes are brought here by other people. Most Angelenos are completely laid back, fun loving people, including us Black female, no-surfing, spirital types (friendliest people are Mestizo females? Way leave out whole racial groups man. Could it be that you just haven’t taken the time to mingle much!?)

  18. John says:

    Hi lynnster and Venice2DwnTwnLAnativeAllDay,

    I guess we view the same city in different ways. At least both of you were friendly in your feedback to me. To answer lynnster, I’ve never lived outside of L.A., but I’d like to know where outside of L.A. you lived where the people weren’t friendly. I suppose having a negative view of Los Angelenos could possibly set up a self-fulfilling prophecy syndrome. As far as traveling in unfriendly circles–I guess nice people are where you find them. You just have to find them. You both seem to be nice (as are the other posters on this thread) and you’re both L.A. natives. To Venice2…Interesting that you view the outsiders as the problem and not the natives. I didn’t mean to leave out nice Black people! You sound nice. Maybe we could have coffee sometime and trade hugs :)

    I’m still sticking to my theory, but I did like hearing others’ perspectives on this. I like the title of this thread, NICE PEOPLE RULE! Amen to that.

    • lynnster says:

      John, have you been to our Facebook fan pages? If you want to find friendly people who love Los Angeles… there are 150,000+ of them on there! :)

  19. John says:

    Thanks lynnster,

    I did check out the Facebook companion to this site and there do appear to be many friendly people there. Maybe I’ll visit more often. Have a great day :)

  20. Kristina Nordendahl says:

    As an 8th generation Angelino I love to hear stories like this! It’s so nice to know that there are people out there that are kind and generous and are in Los Angeles- I am SO sick of hearing nothing but bad about LA- Thanks for sharing!

  21. Jim C says:

    Okay, just went. 6 tacos later. VERY HAPPY! Very Friendly Employees

  22. Waltona says:

    What a great story Lynn! Those kind of experiences do exist in L.A.!

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