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Best Mussels in San Diego

A couple of my friends and I are on a mission to find the best steamed mussels in San Diego. I've gone to a number of places and was underwhelmed by their mussels. With that, there are two places that stick out as having excellent mussels; The 3rd Corner (Ocean Beach) and South Beach (Ocean Beach). I know, what are the odds they are both in the same neighborhood. Anyway, does anyone out there have recommendations on where they've had great mussels?

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  1. I've had delicious mussels at Urban Solace, Whisknladle, and Ritual Tavern. Also at Stone Brewing. In general, I find that if the mussels came from Aquafarm, they should be delicious. Small, tender, tasty.

    2 Replies
    1. re: leanneabe

      I'm all for local sustainable food stuffs, but I have yet to have a memorable mussel from the Carlsbad Aquafarms. I've had them at a number of local restaurants (WnL, Sea Rocket, etc) and the pea sized meat is easily and often overcooked, and lacks the overall savory component of the PEI or Greenlip when prepared correctly.

      1. re: stevuchan

        i had the same experience with the aquafarms mussels just a few weeks ago at ritual. i have never seen such diminutive meat come out of a mussel before. literally the size of my thumbnail. a friend of mine had the exact same experience a week later... different restauarant, but same aquafarms mussels. he says that it's not particularly normal to cultivate mussels in a warm water lagoon, and that they prefer and proliferate in colder waters.

    2. The better half has luscious mussels.Try them with the Sancere.
      Also Cafe Chloe.

      1. Second for Cafe Chloe. Also Starlite (if they're on the ever-changing menu) and Blue Water.

        1. Blue Boheme has a great selection of mussels. They will make it as an entree or starter.

          3 Replies
          1. re: normalheightsfoodie

            Anything with Sancere is good. ;-)

            Cafe Chole has good mussels but the best I've found is the mussel appetizer at Indigo Grill -- which is steamed with a chipolte cream sauce and finished on the grill so the mussels have a bit of carmelized char around their plump tender bodies. Amazing stuff. I've made dinner out of this and a salad.

            Mussels are incredibly easy to cook at home -- try making them yourself and tailoring the recipe to suit your tastes.

              1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                Love the mussels at Blue Boheme. From what I recall, they're infused with saffron.

              2. My Favorite mussels are also from D Scott but not at Indigo Grill. I prefer Kemo Sabe as they give you a mix of PEI and NZ. I happen to prefer the latter and, on request, they will give me all NZ. Plus, it is a generous portion. I usually go in hoping to have an entree but the mussels are very filling and leave me needing nothing more.

                1. Ritual Tavern for sure, and I agree about Carlsbad Aquafarms. Everything I've tasted from there has been wonderful.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: jesso

                    agreed, I didn't find the mussels at Ritual to be small or tasteless at all, and they were great in a Belgian beer broth.

                    Had some mussels at Urban Solace last week that were of very good quality, not sure if they were from Carlsbad or not.

                    1. re: jesso

                      Anyone know if you can buy product directly from Carlsbad Aquafarms?? I prefer cooking my own. Spent too much time in New England where it is an imprisonable offence to ruin a bowl of mussels. Had too many disappointments here.

                      1. re: captcook

                        Try The Better Half Shell - it's a wholesale operation but they'll sell retail if you call them. I don't have a number but you can google them, or call Catalina Offshore and they'll give you the number (that's how I got it.)

                        1. re: captcook

                          Luckily for me, Carlsbad Aquafarms has a stall at the Wed. Farmer's Market in Santa Monica, close where I live. I had excellent results with their littleneck clams, and plan to get mussels soon.
                          carslbad aquafarm.com

                          1. re: captcook

                            Actually, you can. They sell the mussels and oysters at the Hillcrest Farmer's Market.

                            Hillcrest Farmer's Market
                            San Diego CA, San Diego, CA

                        2. My very favorite mussels in SD are at Vagabond. You have to order them "the old way" with the creme fraiche - they're amazing. The only thing I'd order there.

                          Another sleeper favorite - I kid you not - the pan roasted mussels at the Napa Valley Grille on top of Horton Plaza. I'm not sure if they're the same - since the chef went over to Currant - but I don't know why they'd change. They really surprised me when we went there for a work lunch a while ago.

                          I've also had mixed experiences with the Carlsbad Aquafarm mussels. Had some at Starlite a week or so ago that were just ok - but in the past they've been very good. Have to agree with stevuchan overall - PEI, Greenlips and Penn Cove mussels are better - but of course they aren't local.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Alice Q

                            Is the current chef of Currant from Napa Valley Grille?

                            Anyone know what happened to the old one?

                            1. re: stevewag23

                              Yes - Jonathan Pfleuger walked out in the middle of service, from what I understand.

                              1. re: Alice Q

                                I heard from different sources that Jonathan Pfluegler was fired by management.

                          2. Has anyone here collected their own mussels from local waters? If so, how were they?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: SD Native

                              Yes...a number of years ago I did. They were some work but wow, you don't get fresher than from the source -- the ocean! I made them with some tomato paste with some white wine and fresh chopped garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and basil. I liked it!

                              1. re: SD Native

                                When I was a kid you used to hear about people getting sick from trying to eat local mussels - personally I wouldn't chance it given that they shut the beaches down every time it rains.

                              2. LOVE mussels and have had really good ones at the Crab Catcher in LJ..
                                Cafe Chloe too...bottle of Vouvray to go with that and a huge bucket of steamed mussels..damn!
                                Oyster Bar at the Fish Market downtown too.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Beach Chick

                                  Seriously, are they that good? my wife and I are going to SD for our anniversary and we both love mussels, but we are both spoiled becasue we are both from the east coast, and I lived in Belgium for a number of years...

                                  ...if they are, the Crab Catcher it is.

                                  1. re: ConstantiaPS

                                    I've had them many times at the Crab Catcher and they were excellent..you can hit them up for happy hour with the $5 martini's and have some of there crab bisque and the calamari..
                                    Great deal and gorgeous ocean views..


                                2. I'm not a mussel fanatic, but was surprised to find I liked those at Starlite better than Cafe Chloe, anyway...though of course, the frites are better at chloe.

                                  1. Every Thursday night, Jayne's Gastropub serves Mediterranean style mussels that are outstanding. These mussels have a tomato-white wine base, heirloom tomatoes, peppers, onions, and crumbled chorizo. Like I said: outstanding.

                                    1. Every thursday night Sessions Public, ne in OB, does a cask beer and also mussels that are cooked in the same beer. Went there last night and they were some of the best I have had.

                                      Vegabond has great mussels as well.