The Best Oyster Bars in San Diego

Chilled or grilled, San Diego’s oyster bars have you covered.

Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar
Photo by Jim Sullivan, courtesy of Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar

With 70 miles of coastline at our disposal, San Diego is home to some of the best beaches on the West Coast and has no shortage of great seafood. And while our fresh and flaky fish tacos get a lot of the attention, we can’t think of anything better than sitting down to a platter of freshly shucked oysters, each plump bivalve perched on a pearly white half-shell in a puddle of its own briny juice, just waiting for a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of tangy mignonette, or a shot of hot sauce before we slurp it all down.

Whether you love East Coast Bluepoints, tender Gulf Coast oysters, or lean towards nutty, sweet West Coast Kumamotos, San Diego’s oyster bars carry an amazing array of bivalves. We’ve devoured dozens from Oceanside to La Jolla and beyond to get the scoop on how to order, pairing tips and getting the best bang for your buck, followed by a list of our favorite places to sip, slurp and chomp San Diego’s finest oysters.

Q&A Restaurant and Oyster Bar
Photo courtesy of Q+A Restaurant & Oyster Bar

Culinary director Quinnton Austin’s namesake Q&A Restaurant & Oyster Bar, an outpost of his wildly popular North Park restaurant, Louisiana Purchase, opened this summer in the recently renovated Brick Hotel. Arguably the most extensive oyster menu in San Diego County, you’ll find Gulf Coast oysters from the Louisiana coast, East Coast varieties from the Virginia coast and West Coast selections from Sequim Bay in northwestern Washington. Get them raw, or charbroiled with cajun spice, garlic lemon butter and parmesan cheese; Poppa Legba-style, grilled with sriracha lime butter sauce, ghost jerk spice, cilantro and lime; or topped with melted cheese in Rockefeller fashion. There’s also a trio of shooters—Magnolia Shuck (oyster shooter, house-pickled vodka and French Quarter house-made bloody mix), Weezy Shuck (cognac, amontillado sherry, and nonino) and Ain't Nothin' To Shuck Wit (mezcal, passionfruit, almac tepec, and lime).
How to book: Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Reservations
Sandpiper Wood Fired Grill & Oysters
Photo courtesy of Sandpiper

Sandpiper

La Jolla
$$$$

Landing in the spot that most recently housed Galaxy Taco, Trey Foshee and the team from George’s at the Cove’s latest venture is Sandpiper, a casual neighborhood spot headed by Galaxy’s Christine Rivera. Dressed in Bullwhip hot sauce, mignonette, and lemon, a half-dozen oysters goes for $18, a dozen for $34. Stop by during happy hour from 4-5:30 pm when the price drops to $2 per oyster, or order a bottle of Champagne and get a dozen on the house.
How to book: Reservations can be made via Tock. Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Encinitas Fish Shop
Photo by Alternative Strategies, courtesy of The Fish Shop

The Fish Shop

Point Loma & Pacific Beach & Encinitas
$$$$

All three Fish Shop locations can satisfy your oyster cravings with the traditional half-shell or in a Fish Shop Oyster Shooter, served both spicy and mild, topped with cocktail sauce and horseradish, alongside a beer chaser and a plump poached shrimp garnish. A half-dozen goes for $170, a Fish Shop dozen (14) is $32, and shooters are $5.25 apiece. Hit them up on Thursday Oyster Night for $1.25 oysters, $6.50 House Lager Pints, and $20 House Lager Pitchers starting at 4pm, till they run out.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis.

Valentina

Encinitas
$$$$

Mario and Morgan Guerra named this European-inspired wine bar after their daughter, and the bistro evokes the outdoor eateries and casual elegance of French, Mexican, Italian, and Spanish dining. Sip rosé and slurp market fresh oysters on the expansive patio weekdays from 5-10 pm, or brunch with them on weekends from 11 am–3 pm. Oysters run $4 per, $22 for half-dozen, $34 a dozen, and come with lemons and lime mignonette.
How to book: Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Reservations
Ironside Fish & Oyster
Photo by Andy Boyd, courtesy of Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar

Ironside Fish & Oyster

Little Italy
$$$$

Ironside Fish & Oyster offers at least a half-dozen varieties daily, leaning towards West Coast faves from Baja and the Pacific Northwest, like kumiais and Pickering Passages, plus a Rockefeller-style option. Oysters on the half-shell run $3.55 each, half-dozen for $21 and $38 a dozen, but they’re just a buck each for Ironside selects at happy hour, weekdays from 2-5 pm. Considering it’s, that’s a real bargain.
How to book: Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Reservations

TJ Oyster Bar

Bonita & Chula Vista
$$$$

Locals love TJ Oyster Bar for its laid back, unpretentious vibe and great selection of seafood. Oysters come on the half-shell, fried, in cocktails, and in tacos, but prices and selection vary slightly between locations, so check the shop’s website for all the details. The 4410 Bonita Road location has the best selection of oyster varieties and serving options, plus it serves beer, wine, and cocktails. A half-dozen ranges from $16-$20 and a dozen goes for $28-$39.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis.

Water Grill
Water Grill San Diego

Water Grill

East Village
$$$$

Perfect for a special occasion or date night, the Water Grill features between seven to ten different varieties of oysters daily, detailed on the menu down to species, body of water from which they were harvested, and state. Both the service and simple accompaniments—freshly grated horseradish, mignonette, cocktail sauce, and habanero-lime relish—are top-notch. Oysters also make an appearance Rockefeller-style and as sushi—the Honeymoon Oyster is luxuriously dressed in uni roe, tobiko, ikura, and quail egg.
How to book: Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Reservations
Charles + Dinorah
Photo by Josh Cho Photography, courtesy of Charles + Dinorah

Charles + Dinorah

Point Loma
$$$$

Step into mid-century Palm Springs via Charles + Dinorah at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Lounge by the charming pool while you sip tropical drinks and briny oysters, served chilled on the half-shell with Champagne mignonette and caviar at $3 each, $18 per half dozen, and $34 for a dozen. Try them grilled with pancetta, sourdough crumbs, smoked shrimp butter, and chives.
How to book: Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Reservations

Barbusa

Little Italy
$$$$

There’s never been a better time to visit Barbusa for its delectable crudo bar, which opens at 4 pm Monday–Thursday and 11:30 am Friday-Sunday. A half-dozen chef’s daily choice clocks in at a reasonable $17.96, so you might as well order a dozen or two.
How to book: Walk-ins are accepted if seating is available.

Available for Reservations
The Duck Dive
Photo by Alternative Strategies, courtesy of The Duck Dive

The Duck Dive

Pacific Beach
$$$$

Known for coastal-inspired fare and craft cocktails, The Duck Dive spices its oysters on the half-shell with a jalapeño-citrus mignonette and cocktail sauce. Besides raw bivalves, there’s also Oysters Rockefeller—broiled and topped with shrimp, spinach, chipotle jack cheese, and breadcrumbs. Both dishes can be ordered by the half- or full-dozen and range from $16-$18 and $26-$30, respectively.
How to book: Seating is on a first-come basis.

Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.