Where to Enjoy the Best Seafood and Fish Tacos in San Diego

Fine Dining: Fish and White Linen

Serving the finest seafood cuisine with service and atmosphere to match, San Diego’s fine dining restaurants celebrate the best of the region’s bounty, combining locally grown produce and the seasonal catch of the day in unique and innovative dishes. From Yellowfin to Yellowtail, San Diego is serving it up fresh; here are a few to try.

Top of the Market / The Fish Market

Where: 750 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
Region: Downtown
Downstairs, the frenetic Fish Market offers an enormous selection of fresh seafood – broiled, fried, raw, seared, steamed, grilled, baked, they even have a sushi bar and oyster bar – to crowds of casually-dressed diners. On the second floor, Top of the Market offers an upscale approach with higher prices, dressier clientele, more peaceful atmosphere and more elegant presentations. From their Embarcadero location, both levels offer remarkable views of the harbor and the Coronado Bridge.


Where: 435 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Region: Gaslamp Quarter
Tucked into the Pendry San Diego in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, Lionfish serves up fresh-harvested seafood in inventive preparations by chef Jose “JoJo” Ruiz, such as the coal grilled Baja striped bass in a coconut aji amarillo sauce.

Herb & Sea

Where: 131 D St, Encinitas, CA 92024
Region: North Coastal
This Encinitas eatery two blocks from the beach is chef Brian Malarkey’s companion establishment to his Herb & Wood in Little Italy. Herb & Sea focuses on simple, bright flavors, with raw-bar offerings and a range of other seafood complemented by a selection of pastas, pizzas and more.

> Experience more for fine dining in San Diego

Iconic San Diego Dining: Fish with a View

What could be better than great seafood and a view of the Pacific Ocean? Try these restaurants if you’re looking for a view that rivals the cuisine.

Island Prime – C Level Lounge

Where: 880 Harbor Island Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
Region: Point Loma Peninsula
Set on stilts and extending out over San Diego Bay with views of the city skyline and Coronado Island, Island Prime serves premier seafood and steaks in a retro, yet sophisticated menu, along with an extensive wine list. The C Level Lounge offers the same great views with a more casual menu and setting.

George’s at the Cove

Where: 1250 Prospect, La Jolla, CA 92037
Region: La Jolla
With its three-level dining overlooking gorgeous La Jolla Cove, George’s at the Coveoffers three times the view. Whether you choose upscale dining in the lower level or the casual bistro menu in the middle and upper level, you’re assured of fresh ocean catch served with locally grown produce in an innovative contemporary style.

Sally’s Fish House & Bar

Where: One Market Pl, San Diego, CA 92101
Region: Downtown
Fresh seafood and spectacular panoramic views of San Diego Bay distinguish this restaurant at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego. Don’t miss Sally’s Fish House & Bar’s signature crab cakes, artful and creative sushi rolls, and plates of delicately sliced fresh sashimi. For a special treat, take advantage of the Chef’s Table, located in the state-of-the-art exhibition kitchen with floor-to-ceiling windows.

The Brigantine

Where: 1360 North Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

This slew of local, family-owned restaurants specializes in fresh seafood, much of it from local waters. In addition to the catches of the day like Pacific swordfish and Hawaiian mahi mahi, The Brigantine serves award-winning fish tacos. Offering a spectacular view of San Diego Bay, the Brigantine at Portside Pier is popular year-round. Other locations are in Point Loma, Del Mar, Coronado, Imperial Beach, Escondido, Poway and La Mesa.

> Enjoy dining with a view in beautiful San Diego

Casual Dining: Fish in a Taco

Although their origins are in Mexico, there’s no doubt that fish tacos have been perfected here in San Diego. First served in the early 80s, both Las Olas Mexican Restaurant and Ralph Rubio, owner of the Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill chain, claim to be the first to bring the fish taco north of the border. And while it is debated who has the best in town, below are a few favorites.

Rockin’ Baja Coastal Cantina

Where: 3890 Twiggs St, San Diego, CA 92110
Region: Mission Valley & Old Town
After a day exploring Old Town San Diego, travel to Rockin’ Baja Coastal Cantina to enjoy Puerto Nuevo style lobsters that are split open and flash-fried then presented on big platters and served with piping hot flour tortillas, beans and Mexican rice. Fuel up for a night out in the Gaslamp Quarter or before a Padres’ game at the downtown location.

Las Olas Mexican Restaurant

Where: 2655 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92007
Region: North Coastal
Opened in 1981, Las Olas claims that it “pioneered the now famous fish taco” at its beach-side location in the heart of Cardiff-by-the-Sea. While still serving “the original” fish taco, Las Olas also offers healthy selections of fresh San Diego seafood and traditional Mexican favorites in a casual atmosphere with indoor and patio dining. The Cardiff location is a perfect post beach spot for margaritas, icy cold beers and tasty Mexican eats, with a second location in Carlsbad.

Tin Fish

Where: 170 Sixth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
Region: Gaslamp Quarter
This go-to spot in the Gaslamp Quarter is popular with the baseball crowd, for good reason: It sits almost within foul-ball distance of the Padres’ Petco Park. Speaking of Friars — sorry, make that fryers — the menu is chock-full of fried seafood specialties, but still leaves room for grilled options as well as tacos, burritos and salads.

Gaslamp Fish House

Where: 411 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
Region: Gaslamp Quarter
Formerly known as Spike Africa’s — after a legendary West Coast seafarer — this smart-casual spot at the corner of Fourth and Broadway melds Mediterranean and American cuisine, and spotlights fresh, locally sourced seafood.

Dine in or Take out: Fish from a Market

If you’re looking for great seafood right off the dock, many seafood restaurants also operate fish markets where you can buy their fresh ocean catch to take with you and cook elsewhere. Dine-in or fresh to go, here are several worth a try.

Point Loma Seafoods

Where: 2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106
Region: Point Loma Peninsula
This bustling little seafood market in Point Loma offers ultra-casual dining as well as a great selection of live shellfish, crabs, lobsters and fresh fish of all kinds, plus some of the city’s best clam chowder and a variety of freshly smoked fish. The take-out menu includes fried seafood, assorted salads and sandwiches, terrific clam chowder and fish platters. The outdoor seating with harbor views makes this a favorite spot for families.

Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill

Where: 3667 India St, San Diego, CA 92103
Region: Hillcrest
Dine in or take it home to cook yourself, either way this all-fish restaurant in Mission Hills offers some of San Diego’s freshest fish and shellfish. Featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, the Blue Water menu offers all items prepared with the fish and marinade of your choosing.

El Pescador Fish Market

Where: 634 Pearl St, La Jolla, CA 92037
Region: La Jolla
This La Jolla fish market and seafood restaurant is popular among the local surfers and residents. With two refrigerated display cases stocked with locally caught fresh fish, patrons can select what they want and have it prepared to eat there or they can take their “catch” home to cook. Offering hot char-grilled and sauteed seafood items, sandwiches, plates and salads, this fish market is a local favorite.

Pelly’s Fish Market

Where: 7110 Avenida Encinas Unit 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011
Region: North Coastal
Both a fish market and an eatery, Pelly’s in Carlsbad offers fresh seafood simply prepared at reasonable prices. House specialties include fish tacos, Ono salad and the clam chowder. The restaurant and take out fish is delivered daily and all locally caught.

Standing Room Only: Fish from a Food Truck

If you don’t mind standing and eating from a paper plate, then food trucks that specialize in fresh seafood offer a quick, easy way to please your palate. Here are a few that might be coming to a neighborhood near you:

Marisco’s German Taco Truck

With multiple trucks that have been around forever, Marisco’s German is the no-frills answer to your fish taco dreams, serving up simple Mexican seafood dishes. Order the basic fish taco, a value at any price, the tacos gobernador featuring succulent sautéed shrimp topped with melted cheese, or any of the light, fresh ceviches that sing with the flavors of the sea.