Hook ‘Em: Local Fish Tacos

Sunski HQ is all about tacos. On basically everyday that ends in ‘y’, you can catch us trying to add some tacos into our lives. When our friends opened a rad joint just around the corner from HQ that featured tacos and a fresh menu, we were over the moon. Read on for our interview with the crew over at Hook Fish Co and some mouth-watering pics.

Sunski: When did you guys get started?

Christian Morabito, Co-Owner: We started the business about three years ago. We started out as a catering business in a pop up restaurant. We first got our start with the idea that we wanted to have better access to quality local seafood in the sunset. We also wanted to have a combo of selling fish by the pound as well as having simply prepared dishes such as tacos burritos, poke, ceviche, stuff like that. [We were] always wondering why it [a local/fresh fish joint] didn’t exist after coming out of a surf or something like that. We were always wanting and craving some local seafood.

We would buy a whole albacore from a local fishing boat and break it down and make it into some ceviche and chips. Basically, just by donation by friends and families that would come join that event we would have around 30-40 people. Sometimes a friends band would play, sometimes we would project a surf movie or something like that. We got some feedback on the food, started to refine our sourcing practice, eventually developed the catering business and we were able to stop using our own personal bank accounts. We connected with this space, 4542 Irving Street, where we currently are.

About a year and half ago, we started doing an every Sunday pop up restaurant, here, where we would take over the space, that was previously a New Orleans cajun specific restaurant. We would open up with a limited menu of just fish tacos, burritos and a fish plate and sold some seafood by the pound as well. We just did that every Sunday for about six months. Eventually, we approached the owner and were like “hey we are getting worn down from this whole load in, load out, storing product back and forth between our commissary kitchen thing.” It was just a hustle. So, we proposed renting the space from them full time and they [the owners of the building] were game. They took a chance on us even though we have very limited restaurant experience. 

Sunski: Cool, cool. So, we know you guys are big surfers, hence being right now, but does surfing have an impact on the vibe you set at your restaurant?

CM: Oh absolutely, we are super influenced by these California beach communities. Bo , and I both actually grown up together on Newport Beach. We met at surf camp at six or seven years old and became friends and had the same friend group for all of middle school and high school. The beach community has stayed remained a big part of our lives.  We are really interested in seeing the ocean that we interact with daily be conserved in the right ways and be available for people to grow from, to experience, to heal from and to enjoy in many years to come. So having the seafood that we do sell be responsibly caught, featuring local fishing vessels, and done  primarily through hook and line caught seafood is super important to us. The interior developement and design is definitely influenced by surf and coastal california beaches and stuff like that. There is a lot of old pier piney wood in the space. We definitely want to keep the space feeling casual and welcoming to people coming off the beach.  

Bo, Co-Owner: We worked with a local artist, his name is Jay Nelson, and Jay designed the interior and the space. Jay selected the different components of the interior look and feel such the natural clay wall. We wanted it to definitely feel beachy.

Sunski: So, I know you mentioned that you try to do mostly hook and line fishing. How else do you source your fish?

Bo: All the fish that we source is 100% traceable back to the fishing vessel. There is tons of content that we gather from all the fish that we do buy, but the three things we felt were most important to share for simplicity and to keep the label looking clean and clear would be: 1. Who is catching and or harvesting the seafood 2. Name the port of landing or the location of where it’s coming from 3. Name the fishing method. Hook and line fishing is a broad category. This type of fishing method has the least impact as far as bycatch goes and least impactful for the environment. Hook and line is primary a smaller scale fishing methods. Many smaller day boat type fishing vessels, boats that leave from their harbor or port and go out for the day and then come back in the afternoon use this method.

Sunski: That’s awesome to hear! We’ll wrap it up with a quirky question: if Hook Fish Co had a spirit animal what would it be?

CM: Spirit animal…well Bo feels like a beaver to me, so definitely have to throw that in there. Ha kidding but hmm let me think…. let me see. Well, I was going to get specific about a type of fish but I am going to kind of go for the seal aspect instead. Seals are in and out of the water, partly land based, partly ocean based, like to play in the surf and friendly.

Bo: I was going to go say a swordfish. A swordfish that has traveled the distance. It maybe started out small but then grew to be this fierce force.

CM: Haha, mine was just  friendly and playful and then Bo goes for fierce and large. I love it!

Learn more about Hook Fish Co. on their website or Instagram… but you should definitely just go snag a taco. You won’t regret it.