Given our location by the Bay, it’s little wonder that there are some truly amazing fresh fish options in San Diego. You can find just about anything served up in a San Diego restaurant, from fresh fried fish to oysters or even ceviche. There are fish tacos and calamari, as well as sushi and delicate cooked fine fish dishes. Whatever your tastes, from gourmet Peruvian-inspired fish dishes to something more Southern-inspired, you can find it in San Diego for a range of prices.
However, not every place that sells fish offers the best and freshest local catches. Some places treat fish like an afterthought instead of a focal point, resulting in underwhelming dishes or even digestive upset for customers. Especially when it comes to uncooked or seared fish, you want to know that you’re getting fresh, clean and carefully prepared fish when you order. We’ve collected five locations around the city where you can find incomparable seafood every visit!
Steam Kettle Cooking
The Oyster Bar SKC
Location: 551 J Street
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m., Sunday: 11a.m. to 10 p.m.
The Oyster Bar SKC employs steam kettle cooking, hence the acronym at the end of the name. This establishment combines both on-site fresh seafood preparation and lively Creole and Cajun flavors for a real taste of Louisiana. You can have a Po Boy sandwich made with blackened or friend chicken, smoke Andouille sausage, fried shrimp, calamari or oysters, or even catfish. The traditional offerings don’t stop there. You can have your choice of gumbo, pan roast, jambalaya, bouillabaisse or etouffee.
Even the desserts are reminiscent of New Orleans, with your choice of the Southern classic dessert that is bread pudding or beignets, served hot and sweet. There are some interesting fusion offerings, such as chowder fries for the less adventurous. As a farm-to-table restaurant, The Oyster Bar SKC features an assortment of amazing local offerings obtained from area farmers. You can also enjoy any number of concoctions from their full bar. They are dog-friendly when there is outdoor seating available, and you can make reservations for a large group or a special event.
Fish and Chips Anyone?
Downtown Fish Joint
Location: 407 C Street
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: Closed
If you’re looking for the perfect marriage of affordability and quality, hit up Downtown Fish Joint! You just can’t go wrong with their fish and chips. You can have three pieces of fish and chips for only $7.95, or a full 5-piece order for $12.50. You could upgrade that to 10 ounces of swordfish with chips for an impressively affordable $15.95. They also offer ceviche, fried calamari, fried shrimp, oysters, crab cakes and even fish tacos. There’s a kid’s menu, as well as grilled fish and even burritos that feature fish or seafood as the primary protein.
They don’t serve booze, which makes Downtown Fish Joint family-friendly. Sadly, they don’t take reservations or really have the ability to accommodate a big group. It could even be called a “hole in the wall.” This place is the best choice when you want something casual and quick with a few people. You’ll be sure to find something on the menu for everyone. Between their homemade coleslaw and the tantalizing waffle fries served with their fish, it’s easy to see why this place remains a very popular staple in downtown San Diego.
Keep it Casual
Location: 3923 Fourth Ave.
Hours: Monday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A casual dining establishment great for groups and families alike, Two Paddles Fish & Grill offers beer and wine, outdoor seating and even dog-friendly tables for your furry fish-loving friend. The prices are as comfortable as the casual setting, with $5.85 kids meals and entrees starting at just over $10, going into the high teens. You can get a variety of fish, from swordfish and fresh tuna to scallops and salmon, made into tacos, salads, sandwiches or a classic dinner plate. Their dinner plates include a half-pound of fish and two sides, such as fried asparagus, jasmine rice or coleslaw.
On the weekends, show up early to try out their brunch. There are omelets, sausage gravy and biscuits, Tex-Mex breakfast offerings and even a variety of Benedict dishes. There are kid-friendly options at brunch too, which far too many places overlook these days. Although they primarily offer beer and wine, there are some cocktails, like Bloody Mary’s, on the menu as well. If you’re craving fish while in Hillcrest, stop by Two Paddles Fish & Grill.
Wing & Oyster Wednesday's is upon us! Come on in for $1.00 Oysters and 75¢ wings! Every Wednesday ALL DAY or until the last Oysters are shucked and the last wing is sauced! Pair our fresh Fanny Bay oysters with a Pinot Grigo or your favorite local draft! Thank you @binh_around_the_city for an amazing shot! #twopaddles #fannybayoysters #wings #hotwings #bbqwings #teriyakiwings #sweetchilewings #wineddownwednesday #hillcrestsandiego
Chef's special today: Baja Shrimp Bowl. Fried jumbo shrimp served in a bowl with rice, beans, pico de gallo and tortillas. Pair with a Modelo on draft to get the full effect. #bestofsandiego #twopaddlesfishandgrill #hillcrest #sandiego #bajashrimp #fishfriday #sdeats #foodie #seafood #jumboshrimp #bajastyle
Mix in a Little Romance
Location: 333 W Harbor Drive
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
While Roy’s Restaurant isn’t the most expensive place in San Diego, it’s the priciest place to make this list. If you’re looking for an exquisite dinner in a romantic setting that is also casual, Roy’s Restaurant is a great choice. Located with a marina view, you can make reservations and then take a stroll during sunset. Roy’s accommodates families and larger groups, too.
Their salads and sides feature fresh, local vegetables. The dishes themselves come in a wide range of flavors, from a coconut and curry lobster bisque to a variety of sushi. Consider the Surf and Turf Roll, which features both Wagyu beef and Misoyaki “Butterfish” or the Tempura tuna roll. For main dishes, you’ll have your choice of anything from Mahi Mahi to sea scallops and even jumbo tiger prawns.
For those looking for dinner and a drink, there’s a selection of fine wines and custom cocktails on the menu. From the Mango Mojito to the Lavender Sake Sling, there’s something sure to complement your meal and match your personal flavor preferences. Consider a chocolate soufflé for dessert, or even a kaffir lime tart. An evening at Roy’s Restaurant can be a truly unforgettable gastronomical experience.
Design Your Order
Pacific Beach Fish Shop
Location: 1775 Garnet Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week
If simple is better for you when it comes to fish, you just can’t beat the perfected basics offered at Pacific Beach Fish Shop. Like their daily schedule, their menu is simple and straightforward, but that certainly doesn’t mean boring! Pacific Beach Fish Shop offers a casual setting in Pacific Beach with a private parking lot and the ability to accommodate children or larger groups. You can make reservations, which is a good idea if you have a larger group or want to dine at a certain time.
Ordering amazing fish is as simple as 1, 2, 3. First, you select a fish from a range of fresh choices, including rare tuna, yellowtail, red snapper or Mahi Mahi. Then you select a seasoning style, such as blackened seasoning, lemon butter or even chipotle. Finally, decide if you want it made into tacos, a salad, a sandwich or a plate with two sides such as coleslaw, onion rings or even macaroni salad. They offer draft or bottled beer and six selections of wine. Locals love them because there is no corkage fee. That means you can bring in your own bottle of wine to enjoy with their food if you’d like!
Looking for more on restaurants in San Diego? Read more here!