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Looking for good fishmonger in San Diego

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I'm looking for advice on where to find a good fishmonger or reputable place to buy fish in San Diego County. The supermarkets never seem to know much about the fish they sell, including how long it's been in the store! :) Any tips greatly appreciated!

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  1. The Fishery in PB, Point Loma Seafoods, or the Fish Market restaurants should be able to help you - though they are very expensive. You might also want to try Whole Foods or Bristol Farms. I have also bought some good fish at Trader Joes when it is really fresh in the store.

    1. You actually have a number of pretty good options.

      1) Blue Water Grill on India St. (2 doors down from El Indio restaurant) is a combo restaurant retail fish market. I have been buying fish there for the last 2 years and have been extremely happy with them. While the selection isn't enormous, a lot of the fish is locally caught. Prices are competitive with Point Loma Seafood and Whole Foods, though usually a dollar or two less. They will cut whole pieces to your specifications and they will skin and bone if you ask. Try the homemade ceviche, it's really good, and they'll give you a sample if you ask..

      2) Point Loma Seafood - Shelter Island area. Grand-daddy of all fish markets. Large, extensive selection of fish and shellfish, usually very busy, valet parking. Prices are high, but quality usually warrants the price tag. PLS also operates a quick service, to-go food outlet which contributes significantly to the crowds.

      Of the 2 I prefer Blue Water Grill because of the more personal attention I get. I don't feel like I'm being herded through a barn.

      3) Whole Foods in Hillcrest at 7th and University - I've had very good luck with the fish at this particular Whole Foods. But their Whole Paycheck alter-ego is a pretty apt description of what it will cost you to buy fish at Whole Foods. I have not purchased fish from Whole Foods in the last 2 years because I can get the same quality for less at Blue Water Grill.

      1. Thank you so much! I look forward to trying out some of these options. I will definitely try out Blue Water Grill, as it's close to where I am. Thanks again!

        1. I haven't been to Blue Water, but I work downtown now so I will go check them out on your recommendation!

          1. Some of the chinese supermarkets have a pretty good fish sections, e.g. Lucky Seafood on Black Mountain Road.

            1. sorry id have to disagree with honkman. i have been to lucky seafood more than once. the last time i went i asked them if they had any mahi mahi... they didnt know what that was.
              i thought ok, maybe they call it dorado, they didnt know what that was either! the times i went before, they never had what i wanted either! It wasnt because it wasnt in season either, i just think they cater to a different clientelle than what i am looking for (ie. snapper, tuna, halibut, mahi mahi, etc).

              if you want selection, Point Loma seafood is the best. Freshest seafood in SD.

              1 Reply
              1. re: long_ballers

                As mizducky wrote those asian markets are not the best source for tuna, mahi mahi etc but for more unusual fish you don't get in other markets. But they are fresh and you can often get the whole fish and they will clean it for you which is hard to find at other places.

              2. Another place that can have surprisingly good fresh fish is Costco. Selection is miniscule, but if you're looking for ahi, trout, or halibut you can get some nice stuff.

                El Pescador in La Jolla is another great fish market. Local stuff, very fresh. A cousin to Blue Water.

                1. About Asian fish markets: yeah, it can sometimes be challenging to just walk in and find certain specific types of fish popular with American diners. But if you're open to experimenting with species that are unfamiliar to you, take the time to do a little research beforehand, and/or are willing to work with the language differences, the Asian markets IMO do have some of the best seafood selections in town--and at prices that beat Point Loma Seafood and Whole Paycheck to pieces. I've discovered some great new-to-me fish by rolling the dice and taking a chance--and at the prices in these places, it's an inexpensive gamble.

                  Of the Asian markets in town, I like the Vien Dong Markets the best for seafood. Vien Dong is a small local chain attuned to the Vietnamese community; the ones on Linda Vista Road and on El Cajon Blvd (the latter a.k.a. World Foods Supermarket) are the ones I'm most familiar with. Lucky Seafood and Seafood City on Mira Mesa Blvd. are also very good--they're actually geared to the Filipino community, rather than the Chinese community as a previous poster implied (there's another, larger Seafood City down in National City to serve the Filipino community down there). And 99 Ranch in Kearny Mesa also has a pretty good selection.

                  What all these Asian markets have that I seldom see elsewhere in town is lots of whole fish, including live fish in tanks, that they'll clean and prep to order while you shop; at Seafood City, they'll actually call your number over the PA when your fish is all prepped and ready to pick up.

                  1. I get alot of my seafood at the Asian markets unless i am looking for something like tuna. Ranch 99 usually has live crabs, clams, mussels for excellent prices. Their shrimp are also very good and i buy these in bulk and freeze them in individual baggies for quick meals. Fish wise, they offer alot of the smaller "silver fish" that i enjoy so much. In the japanese section near the bakery you can pick up sushi/sashimi grade fish for that purpose. I also get some of the prepared things there like the seaweed salad, baby octopi, and jellyfish.

                    Though I have to say, moving here from NYC I was dismayed over the fact that there are so few fish mongers, butchers, vegetable stores, cheese shops, etc. Supermarkets serve a good purpose and there are good ones out here but if you want to excellent service in a specific area they are lacking. Whole foods for example has a great, albeit expensive selection of fish but their staff is not really that knowledgeable. They had steamed whole dungeness a few weeks ago and when i asked the lady behond the counter if they could crack it for me, she looked at me like I had two heads. She had to ask 3 people before they could figure out what to do. Fish mongers who know what they are doing are a wonderful thing. Too bad America in general is moving(has moved?) away from a specialty store mindset inot one of giant megamarts.

                    Sorry for the rant, just one of those things that bother me. If you are looking for value definitely head to Ranch 99 or one of the other Asian markets listed above. Their prices are ridiculously cheap(though I cannot find dry scallops there and have to go to whole foods/point loma for that). I am going to try out the place dining diva mentioned as well.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MVNYC

                      I feel you pain on this one, trust me.

                      I grew up in San Diego and in the 50s, 60s and 70s there were many fish mongers along the wharf, pretty much where Seaport Village is now. Butchers were not uncommon. My grandparents owned and operated a poultry ranch in Lemon Grove (or all places) for more than 30 years, and their business thrived. I also have very fond memories of weekend drives through the East and North County where we would stop at any number of fresh produce stands and pick up great fruit and vegetables.

                      Progress doesn't always mean better, especially where food is concerned. <sigh>

                      1. re: MVNYC

                        For produce, you might want to check out People's Co-Op in Ocean Beach. Some of their produce people are quite knowledgeable about the stuff they sell, Trent in particular. They also have some nice cheeses, but no meat as it's a vegetarian market.

                        1. re: MVNYC

                          Agree with most of what you've said. However, if you're specifically looking for sushi-grade seafood, the selection/quality/freshness at Nijiya Market on Convoy beats any of the other Asian Supers I've been to, including Ranch 99.

                          Also, for produce, there's Specialty Produce in the Morena area, which is wholesale but they will sell to individuals (exact) cash and carry.

                        2. Try Catalina Offshore Products. You can order online and then pick it up in person. Most of it is locally caught and the prices are very reasonable. The are mainly wholesale but also do retail on the side. Here's the link:
                          www.catalinaop.com

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: stonedes

                            I'll second the nomination for COP. Got super fresh Pacific halibut for $8.00 apound.
                            Another time got the best Baja scallops I've ever had. If you're a walk-in customer like I am don't expect to see the products in display case, So know what you want and maybe call ahead to make sure they have it. Everything is in back where they process the mail orders and restaurant orders. It might take a few minutes to have someone come from the back to help you, but it's worth the wait.

                          2. HArsdshell is a cash and cary operation. They have fresh lobster flown in several days a week. It is a whearhouse that is filled with very large tanks/pools of lobsters.

                            Hardshell Lobster & Seafood Co Inc
                            4564 Alvarado Canyon Road, San Diego, CA 92120
                            (619) 528-4210

                            1. We love Blue Water Seafood Market for buying fresh fish -- I think we pick something up there weekly -- my wife just made some awesome Wahoo last night from there. And they have excellent fish tacos and you must try their Fried Scallop Sandwich. Folks mentioned Point Loma Seafood which is good as well and I would add Bay Park Fish Company at 4121 Ashton Street off Morena Blvd. right next to Siesal's. They also have a nice menu if you want to eat there.

                              Gil
                              www.whatwedig.com - restaurant reviews and more.

                              1. Pelley's Seafood in Carlsbad.

                                1. If you're up in North County, I've bought nothing but excellent fish from Seaside Market in Cardiff. (They have a great deli too.) Sometimes I'll even carry some back to the Midwest in a cold pack to prolong my seafood binge! Talk about lack of fresh fish....it's a seafood wasteland out here.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: ExercisetoEat

                                    I like Seaside Market; I do much of my non-TJ/Henry shopping there. I agree about their deli and their hot turkey Italian sausage is wonderful.

                                    Although their seafood is fresher than the local supers (ugh!), the freshness is not what it used to be. It must be a challenge to keep a large variety of expensive, fresh fish. They're trying but I find I must be much more careful in choosing. They also carry the mostly-pirated and rapidly-disappearing Patagonian Toothfish (marketed as Chilean Seabass).

                                    1. re: Spike Costa

                                      Yes, unfortunately the only location I have found to purchase legitimately farm-raised "Chilean Seabass" is WholeFoods. They have recently been able to set up an agreement with a specific fish farm in South America to ensure the sustainability of their sourcing.

                                      1. re: ExercisetoEat

                                        I'm a little skeptical that they buy farm-raised Patagonian Toothfish. I thought it was a deepwater species that takes 10 years to mature.

                                        1. re: Spike Costa

                                          Here's the link to the press release from Whole Foods:
                                          http://www.wholefoods.com/company/pr_...
                                          The byline reads:
                                          Antarctic Fishery is Only Patagonian Toothfish Fishery in World To Receive MSC Certification; Whole Foods Market is First Retailer Offering Sustainable Catch of Popular, Buttery Fish

                                          1. re: ExercisetoEat

                                            Bruce Knecht, who wrote the book on Patagonian Toothfish (Hooked:Pirates, Poaching, & the Perfect Fish. Great read!) wrote a 1/27 Wall Street Journal piece that says the MSC certification is controversial. With Wal-Mart also buying from the "certified" fishery (not a fish farm) there's no way it can supply all the fish that Walmart and Wholefoods will sell.

                                            Knecht goes on to say that the certified fishery supplies only 10% of the legal Patagonian Toothfish. The legal catch is a tiny percentage of the overall catch (hence the title of his book). This fish is still massively overfished.

                                            Check out the WSJ article. Unfortunately you have to buy a subscription to view it online.

                                  2. i love the name Whole Paycheck! how true! i wish i could shop there every day.

                                    at any rate, as far as trying different types of fish, like mizduck suggests, i do that kinda stuff when i go out to a restaurant. Not when im cooking on the grill or in the kitchen. I also dont think that Mahi Mahi is just a fish popular with american diners? isnt that one of the most popular fish served? they didnt even know what it was? this is the manager im speaking of, the lady that walks around. she is the one that orders the fish. The guys behind the counter just clean the fish.

                                    am i a snob too if i dont like the smell of that place?