By Katie Dillon
San Diego Local Expert
It’s no surprise that a city bordered by ocean excels at serving seafood. San Diego’s seafood restaurants vary radically in ambiance, price and versatility, but all have one thing in common: high quality fish. Dishes are minimally-prepared in order to showcase the freshly-caught seafood that is flown in daily or reeled in by local artisanal fishermen. Grilled, sauteed, seared, smoked, or raw–whichever you choose will send tastebuds over the edge.
Don’t let an unassuming, casual vibe fool you. Some of San Diego’s best seafood restaurants double as markets and seat a post-beach clientele, but are also critically acclaimed. For example, the uber-informal Blue Water Grill was highlighted on the famous Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. On the other hand, upscale seafood restaurants such as Truluck’s or Eddie V’s, make perfect date nights with impeccable service and artistically-plated dishes. Specialty cocktails and award-winning wines pair seamlessly with your order. Craving oysters? Ask the staff, if you’re overwhelmed by the magnitude of varieties to choose from.
No time to dine-in? Hosting a party? Many of these restaurants, such as The Fishery, allow you to call in a to-go order. Their market also has an extensive catering menu including sushi platters, poached salmon, and more eliminating the need to cook for guests.
Where you go depends on what you’re in the mood for. Just remember that San Diego’s signature dish is the fish taco, so you must eat at least one during your stay.
Small and unassuming, El Pescador Fish Market in La Jolla has been a local favorite for over 30 years. Place an order to-go, pick up some fresh fish from the market or dine in. El Pescador is known for it’s fish sandwiches, with swordfish and calamari being the most popular. Or, pick a fish, decide if you want it char-grilled or sauteed, and then put it on a salad (all salad dressings are homemade) or order a full plate, which includes a small salad and steamed rice. Prices are reasonable, service is friendly and the quality superb. Leave your fancy clothes at home as the ambiance is beach-casual.