Where to Get the Best Seafood in San Diego for 2022

Published on November 18, 2022 | 0 Comments
We've found the best spots for seafood in San Diego.
Published on November 18, 2022 | 0 Comments

The best seafood in San Diego isn’t hard to find. Known for its endless white sand beaches and pristinely perfect climate, San Diego offers something for everyone, especially the seafood lover. In many cases, you’ll be able to enjoy the best seafood in San Diego while gazing out at the vast expanse of blue because restaurateurs take full advantage of the miles and miles of Pacific coastline. 

The best seafood in San Diego is local, of course. Do you love the briny bite of raw oysters? Or an aromatic bowl of steamed mussels? Then you’re in luck because pretty much every seafood restaurant in southern California offers both.

Beyond shellfish, the best seafood in San Diego will include hearty cold water options like rockfish, yellowtail, California halibut and sea bass. The best seafood in San Diego also comes from chefs that are committed to supporting their local fishermen and seafood sustainability, which makes the daily catch taste even better.

 

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13 Best Seafood Restaurants in San Diego

1. Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine

Starting off the list of where to get the best seafood in San Diego is Lionfish, a restaurant led by San Diego native Jose Ruiz. Chef Ruiz was recognized two years in a row by the James Beard Association as a Certified Smart Catch Leader for his commitment to serving sustainable seafood. Lionfish, along with Ruiz’s other restaurant at the famous Hotel Coronado, are the only two restaurants in San Diego to receive this distinction.   

The Vibe

Classy and modern nautical with a two-story dining room in the Pendry Hotel. The perfect fit for San Diego’s uptempo Gaslamp district. 

What to Order

Just reading the entrée selection is enough to get you hooked. With options like coal-grilled Baja striped bass in harissa coconut curry or lobster spaghetti with bacon lardons, cognac cream and chives, the only way you’re not going to get some of the best seafood in San Diego is if you don’t place an order.

Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine | 435 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92101 | $$$

Lionfish is one of the best seafood restaurants in San Diego.
via Lionfish

2. Gaslamp Fish House

Another hot spot for the best seafood in San Diego’s Gaslamp district is Gaslamp Fish House. They claim to be the first restaurant in the neighborhood and are committed to sourcing local and sustainable catch. They’ve been recognized by locals as Best Gaslamp Restaurant and are a past Taste of Gaslamp winner, so you can be sure they really do offer the best seafood in San Diego.

The Vibe

A casual spot with a sports bar feel. 

What to Order

This is a great spot for those who love a steaming bowl of fresh mussels. Gaslamp offers two preparations — classic style with chardonnay, shallots and garlic or Carlsbad style with red coconut curry sauce. Rockfish is one of the lesser-known but local San Diego foods, so the Tuscan-style rockfish with sautéed broccolini is also a good choice. 

Gaslamp Fish House | 411 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101 | $$$

diners eating shellfish
via Gaslamp Fish House

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3. Top of the Market

Southern California enjoys a nearly perfect climate year-round, so when you eat the best seafood in San Diego, do it outdoors. Top of the Market, located above their more casual sister restaurant, is unique because they process their own seafood to ensure the highest standards. They also partner with local vendors on items from produce to pasta. 

The Vibe

There’s simply nothing like rooftop dining. Enjoy the best seafood in San Diego while gazing out at the views of Coronado and Point Loma. In the unusual event that the weather doesn’t cooperate, they have an elegant interior dining space as well.

What to Order

Their preparation of local swordfish with forbidden rice, green harissa and baby bok choy is an easy choice until you see the Alaskan halibut with grilled cabbage, Romanesco and vermouth butter on the other side of the entrée menu.

Top of the Market | 750 N. Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101 | $$$

a halibut dish
via Top of the Market

4. George’s at the Cove

Considered part of greater San Diego, the upscale community of La Jolla is well worth the short drive when it comes to finding the best seafood in San Diego. George’s at the Cove, voted best restaurant in San Diego, is a good place to start.

The Vibe

Location, location, location. They are very excited about their new ocean terrace seating, and with good reason. You can enjoy the best seafood in San Diego with white umbrella tables and million-dollar views.

What to Order

The lunch menu has more intrigue than the dinner menu. Try the local yellowtail tacos with mango habanero salsa and mint crema or the poached local tuna melt. The rock crab linguini with Calabrian chiles and capers is also a good example of how restaurants serve the best seafood in San Diego Mediterranean-style.

George’s at the Cove | 1250 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037 | $$

George's at the Cove serves some of the best seafood in San Diego.
via George's at the Cove

5. El Pescador Fish Market

Another La Jolla institution for the best seafood in San Diego is El Pescador Fish Market. Their daily catch is always local, and they’ve been in business for more than 40 years. Best part? It’s not just a restaurant — it’s also a market, so if you want to serve the best seafood in San Diego in the privacy of your own home, El Pescador will hook you up.

The Vibe

Casual spot to have your catch your way. Pick your protein and grab a stool while the masters at El Pescador grill it to perfection. 

What to Order

It’s the best seafood in San Diego for those who love to customize their meal. Choose a sandwich, a burro, a taco, a salad or a plate. Most items are served simply with butter and lemon, but they’ve got teriyaki sauce if you must.

El Pescador Fish Market | 634 Pearl St., La Jolla, CA 92037 | $$

a fish burro
via El Pescador Fish Market

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6. Point Loma Seafoods

This family-owned retail market started out with only 250 square feet in 1963, but their commitment to the highest quality and best seafood in San Diego has earned them additional real estate over the years. Point Loma Seafoods believes that eating seafood is an important part of nourishing a healthy body. They also believe in making their soups and sauces from scratch. 

The Vibe

Casual waterfront seafood market and grill with outdoor seating overlooking the harbor. Just look for the lighthouse.

What to Order

Sometimes what you need is the perfect plate of fried fish and chips. Or a bowl of thick clam chowder. But sometimes it’s sushi. Can’t decide? Point Loma Seafoods has the best seafood in San Diego and offers all three.

Point Loma Seafoods | 2805 Emerson St., San Diego, CA 92106 | $

Point Loma Seafoods serves some of the best seafood in San Diego.
via Point Loma Seafoods

7. Blue Water Seafood

Are you starting to notice that the best seafood in San Diego is often found side-by-side with a seafood market? Blue Water Seafood is proof that this formula works. That’s why Guy Fieri featured them on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

The Vibe

The Mission Hills location is a little more old-school than Ocean Beach, but both are very laid-back casual.

What to Order

The salmon burgers are actually made in-house. Or go for the beer-battered shrimp tacos. Wait a minute — does that say bourbon butter scallops?

Blue Water Seafood | Multiple Locations | $$

a salmon sandwich
via Blue Water Seafood

8. The Fishery

The best seafood in San Diego isn’t always found on the water. Sometimes it’s off the beaten path. That doesn’t matter as long as it’s served with heart. The Fishery prides itself on its ability to swim against the current, and to serve up the best seafood in San Diego for those who want to focus on their food and not the view. 

The Vibe

Refined throwback. A true neighborhood gem worth cleaning up for. 

What to Order

Every single item on the main course menu. Pacific ahi steak with ginger scallions and radish sprouts, California king salmon with spinach bowtie pasta and broccoli pesto, Pacific swordfish with ricotta gnocchi and melted leeks, just to name a few. If you have to pick, good luck.

The Fishery | 5040 Cass St., Pacific Beach, CA 92109 | $$

The Fishery serves great seafood in San Diego.
via The Fishery

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9. Mitch’s Seafood Point Loma

Another pick for the best seafood in San Diego that demonstrates a true commitment to partnering with local fishermen is Mitch’s Seafood in Point Loma. This unassuming waterfront restaurant sources almost exclusively from the surrounding waters, including catching a lot of what they serve themselves.

The Vibe

Your typical marina seafood shack. Order at the counter and then wait for your number to be called. Then enjoy the best seafood in San Diego while watching the seagulls and pelicans play leapfrog on the deep-sea fishing boats parked outside.

What to Order

The menu offers some modern twists like Dungeness crab and avocado toast (yes, they are open for breakfast) or grilled oysters with sweet corn, melted leeks and bacon. But this is the best seafood restaurant in San Diego for the grilled octopus fan. They serve it with romesco sauce over a white bean and arugula salad with salsa verde.

Mitch’s Seafood | 1403 Scott St., San Diego, CA 92106 | $$

grilled octopus
via Mitch's Seafood

10. Sally’s Fish House & Bar

If you came to San Diego via cruise ship, you’re in luck. Sally’s Fish House & Bar is located on the waterfront Embarcadero near your dock, and they’ve got the best seafood in San Diego. 

The Vibe

For lunch, Sally’s serves the best seafood in San Diego for hungry tourists that have worked up an appetite while exploring the town. At night, the vibe is a bit more upscale but still low-key. Best part? They have VIP outdoor seating (Very Important Pup) and a special menu for your four-legged friend.

What to Order

One of the few places in San Diego that offers seafood paella. If you’re feeling a little more straightforward, get the seared diver scallops on parsnip purée with haricots vert.

Sally’s Fish House & Bar | 1 Market Pl., San Diego, CA 92101 | $$$

Sally's paella is some of the best seafood in San Diego.
via Sally's Fish House & Bar

11. Hidden Fish Sushi

There are many places to get the best seafood in San Diego for raw fish enthusiasts, but Hidden Fish Sushi was the city’s first omakase restaurant. Omakase dining is still just emerging, and the concept is not well known. This carefully orchestrated and timed meal features not only local catch but seafood from around the world and highlights the subtle beauty of the ocean’s bounty as individual bites of sushi.

The Vibe

The 12-seat sushi bar is reservation only. Diners will experience a 90-minute perfectly choreographed meal of the best seafood in San Diego. Be aware that, as with most omakase menus, dietary restrictions and substitutions cannot be accommodated.

What to Order

Guests will receive 18 servings of artfully made sushi without having to make any decisions. If you’re still hungry afterwards, an a la carte menu is available.

Hidden Fish Sushi | 4764 Convoy St., San Diego, CA 92111 | $$$

a variety of sushi
via Hidden Fish Sushi

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12. Surf & Soul Spot 

Is it possible to have the best seafood in San Diego and also the best soul food? It is. Surf & Soul Spot proves that you can have your fried fish and eat your collard greens, too. If seafood is what you crave, stop by Monday through Wednesday to get a taste of “Black culture SoCal style” with a selection of classic fried seafood baskets and sandwiches. On Friday and Saturday, you’re either getting fried catfish or you’re eating meat. 

The Vibe

It’s humble, but you can tell it’s got heart. A clean but no-frills spot offering food to go and just a handful of tables.

What to Order

On surf days, the fish hook sandwich or blackened shrimp and crab roll are standouts. If you want some soul with your surf, they offer popcorn shrimp over cheese grits with smoked turkey gravy and garlic toast.

Surf & Soul Spot | 7229 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92115 | $$

Surf and Soul Spot offers some of the best seafood in San Diego.
via Surf & Soul Spot

13. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood

San Diego’s proximity to Mexico means you can expect to find more than your share of taco hot spots. When you ask local chefs where they go when they aren’t behind the stove, you’ll hear about Oscar’s Mexican Seafood every time. It’s not only the best seafood in San Diego for taco lovers, it’s also the best value.

The Vibe

The Pacific Beach location definitely looks suspect from the outside, but isn’t that what you want in a proper taco stand? It’s to-go only, so you won’t be there too long. The other locations are a little more put together with a handful of tables.

What to Order

Unquestionably, the grilled octopus taco is a top choice. Second choice would be a grilled fish taco or their specialty shrimp and chorizo tacos.

Oscar’s Mexican Seafood | Multiple Locations | $

a variety of seafood tacos laid in a row
via Oscar's Mexican Seafood

It’s hard not to envy the southern California way of life. Fresh air, fresh seafood, fresh perspectives. The best seafood in San Diego reflects the diversity of the culture while also keeping sustainability and responsibility top of mind. No matter the season, the tastes of San Diego will leave you California dreamin’.

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