The 12 Best Oceanfront Seafood Restaurants in San Diego

It doesn’t get any fresher than this.

There are approximately 2,792 different seafood restaurants in San Diego, according to statistics that we just made up. With 70 miles of coastline in San Diego County alone, along with Baja California and the whole Pacific Northwest, San Diegans enjoy a fresh seafood bounty that our landlocked counterparts can only dream of. From sweet, ready-to-slurp oysters to yellowtail, mahi, and marlin tacos, and an abundance of crustaceans ready to be doused in butter and served with soft rolls or market fresh veggies, our choices from the briny deep are nearly limitless. Of course, the only thing that makes a great seafood dinner better is a great view to go with it. We’ve rounded up a dozen of our favorite oceanfront spots, from Oceanside all the way to Imperial Beach:

Harbor Fish & Chips

Oceanside
You don’t have to look at the menu to know what’s the best selling menu item at Harbor Fish & Chips, a family-owned mainstay that’s served Oceanside since 1969. Long, battered spears of flaky white fish and a big pile of hot, salty fries are a guilty pleasure, but they can also be nestled into hot tortillas and topped Baja-style with cabbage, pico, and crema. This is where you’ll want to indulge in all your fried fish fantasies, but if you prefer, they also offer grilled options simply seasoned with butter, a house herb blend, or garlic.
How to book: Indoor and harborside patio seating is on a first-come basis.

Pacific Coast Grill
Pacific Coast Grill

Pacific Coast Grill

Cardiff
Floor-to-ceiling windows give everyone a view of the beach and sunset, but try to snag a coveted seat on the upper patio for the most eye-popping vistas. More than a dozen different margaritas, all made with fresh juices and premium liquors, will get the party started, along with shareable sushi rolls, seasonal oysters with exotic passion fruit mignonette, or hot rock sashimi ahi. Entrees are accompanied by thoughtfully prepared sides: sesame-crusted seared ahi is perched on a bed of coconut forbidden rice, beech mushrooms, and bok choy, drizzled with ginger-ponzu sauce; while their seafood pasta combines lobster, shrimp, scallop, and mahi with smoked tomato sauce, Thai basil, and a shower of parmesan.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made via OpenTable. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.
 

fish over rice
Jake's Del Mar

Jake’s Del Mar

Del Mar
The violet hour couldn’t be any more stunning than at Jake’s Del Mar, from the sun-bleached wood beams and soft-focus lighting to the sounds of crashing surf on the beach mere steps from your table. Gussied-up entrees make date night special—curry and cumin-crusted ahi has a sidecar of coconut basmati rice, baby bok choy, umami-rich shiitake mushroom soy butter, and crunchy pickled green papaya; or opt for Maine lobster, scallops, shrimp, and fresh fish poached in a savory saffron tomato broth, atop a crisp risotto cake. Whatever you select, don’t pass on Jake’s famous hula pie with macadamia nut ice cream piled high on a chocolate cookie crust and dripping hot fudge, either as a dessert or whizzed into a nutty, thick shake to sip with dinner.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made via OpenTable or calling 858-755-2002. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

scallops
George's at the Cove

George’s at the Cove

La Jolla
George’s at the Cove’s duo of restaurants, Ocean Terrace and Level 2, (the ground floor venue, California Modern, hasn’t reopened yet) both have stunning panoramic views of La Jolla Cove from nearly every seat in the house—their website even posts each day’s sunset time for your convenience. The upscale cocktail menu by Trey Foshee features all the summery drinks you’d imagine, from margs and martinis to mojitos and micheladas. Stop by at lunchtime for yellowtail tacos on heirloom corn tortillas or a crispy halibut sandwich, simply embellished with shredded lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce, or at dinner for grilled salmon and a roasted carrot salad, herbed yogurt, and summer herbs.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made online. Pre-paid, premium seating is also available for groups of one to four. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

JRDN

Pacific Beach
JRDN’s beach views and front-and-center boardwalk location make it the place to see and be seen in Pacific Beach. Must-tries include fat sushi rolls and fennel pollen-dusted, seared scallops perched on summer squash and Meyer lemon/sweet pea soubise, or opt for plates like grilled hamachi collar, scallion pancakes and sweet chili ponzu or Alaskan halibut, dashi fumet, rayu and shaved asparagus. Wash it down with one of their crisp, refreshing craft cocktails.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made via OpenTable. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

fish tacos
south beach bar & grille

South Beach Bar and Grill

Ocean Beach
Swaying palms, a front-and-center view of the OB Pier, and a dozen different seafood tacos make South Beach Bar and Grill a must-try for any seafood lover. Fresh yellowtail, fried oysters, grilled swordfish, and lobster sauteed in a wine and garlic butter sauce are just a few of your options, stuffed in either corn tortillas topped with chipotle salsa, cabbage, cheese, and lime crema, or flour tortillas with pico de gallo, cabbage, and white sauce. Check out their daily specials, like Taco Tuesday, when you can get most tacos for just $2.95, Patron margaritas are $7 all day, and apps are half price from 3–6 pm.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis.

Mitch’s Seafood

Point Loma
Mitch’s Seafood is best known for their fish tacos, made with your choice of several varieties of local fish, but they’ve got a full roster of ceviches, pokes, crudos and cocktails, oysters to slurp and crab poutine to savor, plus grilled plates, fried platters and bowls of steaming seafood stew or mussels in white wine and herbs. Nearly all the fish they serve is either caught by themselves or by fishermen they know and trust and is almost exclusively from San Diego or northern Baja waters. Order a local craft brew, grab a seat along the water and enjoy one of life’s perfect moments.
How to book: Seating on a first-come basis.


 

 

salmon
Island Prime / C Level

C Level

Harbor Island
Both restaurants in the Island Prime/C Level duo have some of the most beautiful views of the San Diego skyline, harbor, and bay in the city, but C Level is open for both lunch and dinner, plus it has a more casual atmosphere and a great happy hour from 3:30–5:30 pm Monday–Friday. You could easily make a meal of starters like luscious butter-poached lobster in a sherry-spiked bisque, fat PEI mussels steamed with pinot grigio, chorizo, and caramelized onion cream; a pile of Old Bay-spiced peel-and-eat shrimp; or chilled platters of oysters. Mains range from ahi and salmon poke or lobster and fontina BLTs to pan-seared sea bass, Nordic Blu salmon, and an assortment of shellfish in a creamy marinara over linguini. Try to save room for dessert, the Potted Brownie Banana Split, a fudgy brownie crowned with peanut butter ice cream, dulce de leche, and bruleed bananas that makes for a sweet finish that even Elvis would love.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made via OpenTable. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Ketch Grill and Taps

Portside Pier, Point Loma
Both locations of Ketch Grill and Taps have outstanding ocean views; Portside Pier has lovely sunset vistas, especially from the second story deck, while Point Loma’s serene harbor scene soothes with bobbing sailboats against the skyline. Ketch of the Day is a solid choice—there’s usually two to three varieties to pick from that can be grilled or fried, then added to a salad, folded between a taco, stuffed into a sandwich, or ordered as a plate. Sweet chili-glazed salmon comes with a hearty kale and bacon hash, and locally caught, seared big-eye tuna tops yellow curry cauliflower and sweet sake mushrooms.
How to book: Seating on a first-come basis. Point Loma will take reservations for groups of six or more by calling 619-814-8080.

octopus
Sally's Fish House & Bar

Sally’s Fish House & Bar

Downtown
Located at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, Sally’s Fish House & Bar has temporarily adopted an abbreviated menu and has pivoted to counter service, but it still has panoramic views of the harbor, Coronado Bay Bridge, and skyline, plus some of the best people-watching in the city. Day drinking options run from classic to Instagram-famous; the Ultimate Bloody Mary comes with spikes of crab leg, blackened shrimp, and olives, but don’t count their wine list out. Stacked with California favorites, each of their 20 selections comes by the glass as well as the bottle. Grilled mahi tacos, dressed Baja-style, and seabass fish and chips are local favorites, along with the seasonal SoCal Crab Club, a soft shell crab layered with crab salad, pancetta and avocado, lightly dressed in chipotle caper remoulade, and nestled between slices of brioche. Bonus: The patio is pet-friendly, and complimentary self-parking is available in the Grand Hyatt San Diego garage for three hours with validation.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis.

lobster roll
Serea Coastal Cuisine

Serea

Coronado Island
Whether you’re on the multi-level patio or in the raised main dining area, everyone gets a million-dollar view at Serēa, located at the iconic Hotel del Coronado. Chef Jojo Ruiz, a James Beard Smart Catch Leader recipient for his commitment to sustainable seafood practices, selects the freshest catch from coastal California and Baja waters, then serves it whole, flash-fried or wood-grilled, in beautiful chilled or smoked towers, and composed dishes like seared market tuna with Marcona almond, red flame grapes, golden raisins, and ajo blanco, or grilled local swordfish accompanied by marble potatoes, English peas, and green olive salsa verde. Pair your dinner with something from their cellar, more than 20 selections are available by the glass or glass-and-a-half.
How to book: Reservations are recommended and can be made via OpenTable. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

tuna
The Tin Fish Imperial Beach

Tin Fish

Imperial Beach
It doesn’t get more seaside than Tin Fish, located at the very end of the Imperial Beach Pier, completely surrounded by water. Fish and chips are their best seller, and you can taste why; lightly buttered cod, dredged in Tin Fish’s secret breading mix (they call it “Gold Dust”), then fried golden brown and delicious, alongside crisscut fries and slaw that hits just right. Swordfish lovers can find steaky, meaty cuts grilled or fried in meal-sized salad plates, platters with fries, and slaw, tacos, burritos, and sandwiches, but that goes for almost every type of seafood they sell, so your options are practically endless.
How to book: Indoor counter seating and outdoor patio/picnic tables are available on a first-come basis.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting various vegetables and beverages, reading cookbooks and traveling through Mexico. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.