The southern Californian city of San Diego is an ideal location to smash back a dozen oysters and some sparkling wine.
Known for its perfect year-round climate and the miles upon miles of beautiful beaches, San Diego is a coastal city where fresh seafood is only ever a stone’s throw away.
The many restaurants, cafés, bars, and bistros that line San Diego’s streets are well served by the coastal waters. Fresh fish and shellfish are brought in daily for chefs to choose from.
As for the oysters, San Diego is home to the Carlsbad Aqua farm which grows Carlsbad Blondes and Carlsbad Luna oysters. These beautifully reared oysters are found in many of San Diego’s oyster bars.
You’ll also find dozens of other Californian oysters across the city’s oyster joints. As well as oysters from British Columbia and the east coast.
While San Diego might not be the oyster growing capital of the world, you are not restricted when you dine on oysters in San Diego. You can sample fresh oysters from across the country.
Whether you prefer sweeter varieties or the sharper, saltier northern pacific varieties, San Diego will provide. Let’s take a look at the oyster bars and restaurants that are just waiting to satiate your hunger for the beautifully briny bivalves.
Baja Oyster and Sushi Bar
1912 Coronado Avenue, #105, San Diego, California, 92154
619 575 4606
Located in a strip mall in the Southside of the city, the Baja Oyster and Sushi Bar is a bit of a hidden gem. It is outside the main tourist area, which means that many newcomers to the city miss it.
The restaurant has a relaxed, surfer vibe complete with a tropical, palm leaf adorned bar and surfboards mounted to the walls.
This is the kind of place you can drop by after work, or during a shopping trip. You don’t need to dress up to the nines to visit. It’s a laid-back place that welcomes all.
Baja Oyster and Sushi Bar has an interesting menu. Naturally, you’ll see oysters and sushi, but you also see a wide variety of Mexican seafood. Fish tacos, chipotle shrimp burritos, and shrimp cucaracha sit side by side with sashimi, California rolls, and cucumber maki rolls.
The oysters are sold by the half dozen for $11.95 or in a dozen for $22. This is great value for money, especially when you consider just how delicious these oysters are!
Oysters from a strip mall might not seem like the best quality, but Baja oysters are phenomenally fresh and delicious. All the food is beautifully and knowledgeably prepared by the chef and kitchen team. Considering the size and variety of their menu, this is no mean feat!
If you’re looking for somewhere off the beaten track where you can get excellent food at an excellent price, you need to check out Baja Oyster and Sushi Bar.
Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar
1360 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, California 92101
619 719 4960
This harborside location is the latest Brigantine restaurant to open in California. There are 8 other locations across the state with 2 other locations found in San Diego.
The first Brigantine restaurant was established in 1969 on Shelter Island by the Morton family. Since then, the name and the brand has grown to become a staple of the San Diego area.
Being the newest of the Brigantine restaurants, the Harbor Drive location is beautifully clean, modern, and welcoming. The restaurant is bright and airy with floor to ceiling windows and open sides leading to a large decking area.
This restaurant definitely takes advantage of the beautiful San Diego climate and the incredible harbor side location. You can suck down oysters with the sounds and smell of the sea surrounding your senses.
When it comes to oysters, you can have them raw on the half shell, baked Rockefeller style or grilled with shallot butter and wontons.
Raw, shucked oysters will cost you $3.25 each or $19.50 for half a dozen. They are served in their own brine with horseradish and cocktail sauce on the side.
The food at ‘the Brig’ as it is known by locals, is phenomenal. Whether you choose the oysters or something else from their menu, you know you are going to get a beautifully cooked meal. The ingredients are top quality and fresh each day.
If you’re after a stunning sea view and unbeatable atmosphere, then a visit to the Brig is a must!
Ironside Fish & Oysters
1654 India Street, San Diego, California, 92101
619 269 3233
Ironside Fish & Oysters is located in the heart of Little Italy, a few streets away from the Waterfront Park.
The restaurant has tried to keep the spirit and style of the original Little Italy alive through their food and restaurant design. As per their website, Ironside is a ‘contemporary interpretation of the classic fish house and oyster bar.’
Situated in an old auction house, Ironside is a mix between industrial chic and seaside bistro. It is a bright, airy space which offers plenty of seating and dining options. Currently, the street side patio is being used as the primary seating area to comply with Coronavirus restrictions.
The oyster menu is pretty extensive. It features oysters from Virginia, Alaska, Washington, and British Columbia. It’s a bit disappointing not to see any Californian oysters on the menu, but that is our only gripe.
The oysters are available on the half shell for $3.25 each, $18 for half a dozen, or $34 for a dozen. You can also get grilled oysters and oysters Rockefeller. Oysters also feature on their Ironside Platters, which are a smorgasbord of delicious seafood and shellfish.
The smallest platter, called the ‘Big’ contains 6 oysters, 6 shrimp, rockfish ceviche, and shrimp aguachile. This is suitable for 1-2 people and will set you back $56. The largest platter called the ‘Holy Shit’ costs a whopping $420 and is designed for 4-8 people.
On this gigantic platter you get, 1 ounces of sustainable white sturgeon caviar, 24 oysters, 12 shrimp, rockfish ceviche, shrimp aguachile, kanpachi crudo, 2 pounds of chilled Maine lobster, and Ironside bread.
These platters look incredible and taste even better. If you’re coming in as a group and want to sample a lot of different foods, you’ll definitely want to check out the platters.
615 J Street, San Diego, California, 92101
619 717 6992
Located in the East Village, Water Grill has been a hit with locals and tourists since its establishment in 2015.
The restaurant is beautifully designed with wooden walls and fixtures complementing the nautical blue color scheme. It has such a calm, welcoming vibe that you’ll end up spending hours here just soaking it all in.
The Water Grill has many dining options including several private dining rooms split over 2 floors. You can host intimate dinners or large parties of over a hundred guests at the Water Grill.
The oyster bar hosts an enormous range of oysters from across the country. You’ll find the hyper local Carlsbad Blonde oysters next to oysters from Washington, Maine, New York, Virginia, Maryland, and Mexico.
If you want to sample a lot of chilled or iced seafood, then go for one of the platters. You can choose from The Grand, The Deluxe, or The King.
Each platter contains a variety of oysters, some clams, scallops, blue mussels, shrimp, and lobster. The two larger platters also contain wild Alaskan red king crab nuggets, which are divine.
The rest of the menu features incredible seafood dishes and a massive range of shellfish. Guests find the food to be impeccably prepared or cooked.
Many will argue that the Water Grill has the best oysters and seafood in the whole San Diego area. You’ll have to visit yourself to find out if they’re right!
The Rose Wine Bar
2219 30th Street, San Diego, California, 92104
619 281 0178
Located on the east side of Balboa Park, the Rose Wine Bar is a delightfully rustic and airy little bar. It pairs locally and thoughtfully sourced wines with simple but delicious bar food, including oysters.
As well as being a bar and a restaurant, the Rose Wine Bar is also a bottle shop. This means you can try out the wine as you dine and bring a bottle home with you as well.
On the oyster front, the Rose offers half a dozen or a dozen Kumiai oysters sourced from Baja, California. They are fresh, crisp, and briny but finish off with a sweeter taste. Coupled with a lemon mignonette, they will delight your taste buds.
The oysters are available on the normal dining menu and may be available during weekend brunch. This runs on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am – 2pm. You will need to check with the server to find out if they have oysters on that day.
The Rose Wine Bar is a delightful little gem that you don’t want to miss. Especially if you’re a fan of great tasting wine!