Santina’s brand-new lunchtime-only fish sandwich wasn’t available when New York Magazine’s annual, and just published, “Best of New York” issue went to press, but to wait a year — let alone another minute — to sing its praises would be wrong. This thing is that good. Here’s what it is: a rice-floured, deep-fried sea bass fillet with sliced tomato, gobs of olive-caper tartar sauce, and heaps of slaw served on a toasted Amy’s bun ($18, including fried potatoes). The key is the slaw: white onion, jalapeño, Anaheim peppers, lemon, lime, salt.
Chef Mario Carbone says the slaw was inspired by the Mexico City restaurant Contramar, where they nonchalantly put this sensational stuff on every table the way the 2nd Avenue Deli puts out pickles. There’s an almost equally good alternate version of the sandwich that substitutes a grilled slab of swordfish for the fried fillet. Honestly, though, you could take a few Mrs. Paul’s fish sticks, slop on a little of that tartar sauce and some of that slaw, and you’d still have a terrific fish sandwich.