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Hooked on fish tacos

San Diego-based Rubio's reels us in with fresh seafood and California-grown veggies


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California is known for its trendsetting food, but the culinary landscape of our state was drastically different in the early 1980s. Casual eateries predominately served up burgers, fries and pizza.

Then along came Ralph Rubio, who made a fateful decision not to stay home for spring break while he was studying at San Diego State University, but rather, go to Baja California to surf and eat. That's where he discovered fish tacos, and he brought the concept back to San Diego. 

And from that simple idea, came this: Ralph Rubio's highly successful chain of fast-food eateries known as Rubio's.

Ralph now has 200 Rubio's restaurants across the Western U.S., and since his first store opened in 1983, Ralph estimates that they have sold an astounding 150 million fish tacos!

Their secret to success is simple: Stick to the basic recipe and use California-grown ingredients to add dimension and taste to meals.

Each year, they go through a staggering 1.4 million pounds each of cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes and onions, all from the Golden State.

Rubio's relies heavily on one California crop, in particular, to add fresh flavor to their fish tacos: avocados! Ralph estimates they go through about 2.6 million pounds of avocados a year to make guacamole and to slice up for their tacos and salads.    

California farmers, like Mark and Linda Bruce of Simi Valley, produce about 90 percent of the nation's total avocado crop. The couple has nearly 8,500 avocado trees on their ranch. Each avocado is handpicked, making sure the stem is trimmed off so it doesn't scrape or bruise other avocados when it is packed.

The fruit is then driven about 30 miles to Mission Produce in Oxnard, one of the world's largest processors of avocados, where upwards of 650,000 pounds of fruit a day are churned out and shipped across the country and to the world, as well.

In fact, these avocados most likely will end up in grocery stores, club stores and restaurants, like Rubio's, sometimes within a day or two of being picked.

Avocados are more popular than ever, and people continue to gobble them up. That's good news for the folks at Rubio's, as they continue to make more tasty treats for us to enjoy with a little assist from California-grown vegetables.

For more information about Rubio's, visit www.rubios.com.


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