Pierpont Tacos & Brew
1125 S. Seaward Ave., Ventura
Look, I loved Seaward Fish N’ Chips. It was the very first place I ate when I visited Ventura in the spring of 2003. Yes, it was greasy. Yes it was, well, how do you say the opposite of heart-healthy? Regardless, it was that seaside taste you come to expect from a shop like that — and now it’s gone, replaced by Pierpont Tacos & Brew, a worthy successor.
Unlike fish and chips, the iconic English dish (minus the mushy peas), a taco can be had any day, any time, and leave you feeling full, satiated and not on the verge of collapsing into an exhausted mess on the floor. Pierpont Tacos & Brew, located near the beach on Seaward Avenue, is frankly a better fit for that reason alone: Who wants to consume two pounds of fried food and then hit the water? A few light and airy tacos are fine, however, pre-gun show (what I call my bare arms).
Pierpont Tacos & Brew had only been open a few weeks upon my first visit and could have dropped the “& Brew” until acquiring a license to call itself that. No matter, a horchata was on the menu as well as your standard array of sodas.
You’ll find that, yes, Pierpont Tacos is replete with tacos, and they are as varied as they are numerous. There are the traditional street tacos of asada, pastor or chicken ($2.25 each), served with cilantro and onion, and then there’s what is called the “keeping it real” section of the menu where the chef’s creativity comes into play. The fish taco ($5.50) is a beer-battered Alaskan cod served with cabbage and cheese on two corn torillas, and the shrimp taco ($5.50) is the same save for shrimp instead of fish; the barbacoa taco ($4) consists of slow-cooked shredded beef atop corn tortillas with pickled red onions, carrots and cilantro, a traditional dish in taco form.
My partner and I chose the potato taco ($3.25), served with cabbage, tomato and cotija cheese inside a crispy shell, and several of the veggie tacos ($3.25). The veggie taco is a ripe cornucopia of veggies, including Mexican squash, mushroom, onion and bell pepper topped with cilantro, avocado, tomato and cotija cheese. We ordered the veggie tacos sans cheese for a vegan-friendly lunch.
One particular item stood out: The Crispy OG Taco ($3.50-3.75). Your choice of meat inside a “crispy dusted parmesan shell” really spoke to me on a personal level. A: I love crispy tacos. B: I love cheese. So I asked if one of the potato tacos could be made with the parmesan shell and the chef obliged.
After gathering a bounty of salsas from the self-serve bar (choices include mild green, spicy red, habanero and avocado), we dug in. I needn’t remind you that I loved Seaward Fish & Chips, but I will because sitting at the small table on the right side of the restaurant reminded me to look up, where once there were (I’m guessing) a hundred dollars’ or so worth of dollar bills tacked to the ceiling. They are gone, and in their stead is an actual respectable restaurant wherein you don’t have to worry about someone’s money falling into your clam chowder. This pleased me, and I began accepting Pierpont Tacos as the rightful owner of the spot.
If I had my reservations, they were done away with upon crunching into the potato taco. The crispy shell, coated in parmesan, was a nice reminder of the ingenuity and versatility of the much-disrespected vessel. The potato, more of a mashed iteration than, say, a potato taco from the more established Snapper Jack’s, which serves them in more of a potato-salad way, was flavorful but somewhat lost in the party that was the parmesan and toppings covered in spicy salsa. The veggie tacos, on the other hand, spoke loudly and confidently. Tucked into the soft corn tortillas, the veggies were well-seasoned and sautéed to a mild char. The horchata paired well with this in spite of its sweetness, cutting through the mild heat of the habanero salsa.
The entire meal cost us around $20 for four tacos and two drinks. Not bad for a meal for two at the bustling (and pricey) seaside locale. On a second visit, I’d love to have a beer with my tacos, but walking out feeling full but not in need of a nap was a welcome and new experience for that particular spot. Pierpont Tacos is already becoming a staple, and perhaps one with the legs for its predecessors’ longevity.