Rubio’s Coastal Grill, formerly known as Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill, is a fast casual “Fresh Mex” or “New Mex” restaurant chain specializing in Mexican food, with an emphasis on fish tacos. As of 2016, Rubio’s operates, licenses or franchises more than 200 restaurants in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada and Utah. Its headquarters are in Carlsbad, California.
According to founder Ralph Rubio, he and some friends from San Diego State University were on spring break in San Felipe, Baja California when he first encountered fish tacos at a local stand, and was inspired to open a restaurant serving them in his hometown, San Diego. Since then, the popularity of fish tacos has spread throughout California, although they remain uncommon elsewhere. Rubio’s standard fish tacos are made from Alaskan pollock, which is battered, fried, and served in a corn tortilla, although optionally offered with a flour tortilla. Grilled mahi-mahi is also available at all locations.
The first Rubio’s restaurant was opened in 1983 at a former Orange Julius site on Mission Bay Drive in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. The first restaurant offered French fries, calamari, and fish tacos, among other cuisine.