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Buying Live Maine Lobster in San Diego?

Locavorism be damned - I'm making Locke Ober Lobster Stew for New Year's Eve and need good live Maine Lobsters. Does anybody have experience with buying them at Point Loma Seafood or the Fish Market? Do the Asian markets have them right now, and do they keep them in clean tanks with plenty of circulating water? When I've been in Ranch 99 in the past, I have been put off by the dead/decaying/stinky crustaceans mixed among the live ones. I hear you should buy them direct if you can, because they filter the water they are in and fresher = better flavor.

Doing research online, I came up with a place called Gourmaine Lobster, but can't seem to find out much about it online. Another place called the Maine Lobster Trap is out of business. Also found references to Hardshell Lobster Co. but can't find out anything about it online. Website shut down - will try calling tomorrow.

For comparison's sake - I can get them for about $20. apiece mail order (including shipping) direct from Maine, via Maine Lobster Direct. I would need to order them tomorrow so am hoping to get some input fast. Thanks and Happy New Year!

Point Loma Seafoods
2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

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  1. Alice Q, I just noticed the other day that Costco.com is selling 6 Maine lobsters (minimum 1 1/2 lbs each) for $139, shipping included. Don't know how much you need, but this is a great deal if you can use that amount. They seem good because they've earned the highest rating possible (5 stars) on the Costco website from 10 people who bought them. If I recall correctly, they're shipped next day air from Weds-Fri direct from Maine on the same day they're caught. Here's the link - http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product....

    1. Bless you for making one of my favorite dishes at one of my fave restaurants!
      JFK's Lobster Stew..tears in my eyes with happiness for you and jealousy too.. ; )

      My good friend buys lobsters from several places but lately he says that Majors Market has had some great deals.
      Ranch 99..I totally get what your saying.
      PLS..the price point is big $$...
      Did you check Catalina Offshore?
      $20 bucks a piece including shipping seems like a great price..what size?

      Funny, the friend who goes to Majors for Maine Lobsters, is the one whose family has been going to LO since the late 1800's and he's the one that told me about it and I haven't stopped raving about it since!

      Happy New Year Alice Q and please report back with lots of pics!

      3 Replies
      1. re: Beach Chick

        Carli - that sounds like a pretty good deal, but I think the price I have online is about the same, and I actually need 9, so not whole half dozens.

        Beach Chick - I might try calling Major Market, but driving to Escondido isn't exactly a thrilling option. I don't think Catalina Offshore stocks imported lobster - they have local products like uni, spiny lobster, etc. I could probably get a referral from them though. They told me about Better Half Shell for oysters. I will try calling that Gourmaine Lobster and Hardshell tomorrow and report back. The option I'm looking at is chix lobsters - 1.15 lb average for $18. a piece. It's $20. apiece for 1.25 lb. The recipe calls for 1 pound, so I will stick with that. Since I am feeding a crowd, I am also planning to add gnocchi, and possibly chanterelles if I can get my hands on them.

        1. re: Alice Q

          I just got the weekly ad email from Major Market. They are charging $9.99/lb for Maine lobsters.
          (Cooked, cleaned and cracked at no extra charge.)

          It isn't that much of a drive. 125 turns into 52 turns into 15 North...to Centre City Parkway exit (the one just 1/4mile after Via Rancho- the Westfield North County Fair exit) turn left at the 2nd light (same parking lot as the Trader Joe's and Starbucks).

          Major is a *wonderful* source for all sorts of goodies, besides the lobsters...you'll see.

          Centre City Cafe
          2680 S Escondido Blvd, Escondido, CA 92025

          1. re: Alice Q

            If you do go up to Majors, you can hit up Hacienda de Vega for lunch.
            Lucky Seafood in Mira Mesa..don't know if they have lobster but worth the call.
            Matt Rimel in LJ might be able to steer you in the right direction.
            Fish Market downtown too.

        2. OH MY.... I'm in Bos as we speak, the price for Maine Lobster is usually a little higher in the winter at $5.99 per pound right now. In the summer they're about $3.50 per pound. OK.... back to reality PLS can order them for you or, as you stated you can get them off the web. Some places out east that you may want to check out, that ship, James Hook Lobster in BOS, jameshooklobster.com or Legal Seafoods, ShopLegalSeafoods.com. Locke Ober does a great stew, yum.

          1. We get them at PL Seafood 2-3 times a year, never disappointed. .

            6 Replies
            1. re: sdguy13

              It looks like that is the best option. Point Loma Seafood has them for $13.95 a pound, live - the lobsters they carry are 1.75 lbs each, a little bigger than I had originally wanted, but I'm told the tail meat will be too small on anything under 1.5 lbs. Wish me luck!

              Point Loma Seafoods
              2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

              1. re: Alice Q

                If I am not mistaken, PLS is a little less than twice the price for live lobster, compared with Ranch 99. Are the quality and flavor at PLS that much better?

                1. re: Alice Q

                  Major Market in Escondido has them for $9.99 a pound for under 2 lbs and $10.99 over 2 lbs and they clean them for you too...free of charge.
                  Major's is one of the nicest high end markets in SD.
                  My friend is doing a Lobster Stew too from LO for NYE's too.


                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    That's the recipe! Not sure I have time to drive to Escondido tomorrow, but I will consider it. Thanks for all the help!

                    1. re: Alice Q

                      Report back and have a wonderful meal..

                      1. re: Alice Q

                        Would liked to have been a 'fly on the wall' when JFK and MM shared that dish! Enjoy.

                2. So, end report - the lobsters from Point Loma Seafood were excellent, but expensive - they are a minimum 1 3/4 pounds and I wound up with mostly two pounders. They tried to charge me $15.95 a pound and said the $13.95 price was a special - but I protested and they gave me the lower price.

                  The finished dish was fantastic - I used this recipe - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em... but I thought it was a little bland so I cooked up about half a package of that Trader Joes pre- chopped shallot/onion/garlic mixture in some butter and sherry and stirred it in. It chilled overnight - just before serving, I cooked up the lobster in butter and more sherry and added it. Would probably use at least 3/4 lobster per serving next time though - the servings were a little skimpier on meat than I would have liked. I had planned to add gnocchi, but it cooked up too doughy. Here's a little before and after shot :


                  Point Loma Seafoods
                  2805 Emerson St, San Diego, CA 92106

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Alice Q

                    PLS..rat bastards jacking you like that..glad you stood your ground!

                    Pics look stunning..good call on adding shallots and garlic to the mix.
                    I bet your guests were thrilled with your dish.
                    Happy New Year!

                  2. Try HARDSHELL LOBSTER COMPANY in San Diego, it is off Mission Gorge Road, near Allied Gardens.
                    (619) 528-4210
                    Hardshell Lobster & Seafood Company INC
                    4564 Alvarado Canyon Rd, San Diego, CA 92120

                    They are cash and carry, great prices, and quality,fresh lobster brought in daily, they sell to commercial accounts, but will sell to the public.

                    They have giant pools, not tanks of lobsters.

                    I have also special ordered real New England Steamers from they as well.

                    18 Replies
                      1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                        when did you last order from them? Do they have Maine or just local lobsters?

                        1. re: Alice Q


                          1. re: normalheightsfoodie

                            Last week, my wife and I were in the vicinity of the Hardshell Lobster Company, so we stopped in to pick some up. The people in the front office looked at us like we were crazy, and said that they only sell wholesale.

                            1. re: notjustastomach

                              Good chance those bugs came from James Hook Lobster, the largest lobster distrubutor on the east coast. jameshooklobster.com

                              1. re: cstr

                                Major Market has them this week for $10.99 per pound. They are Canadian however.

                                1. re: littlestevie

                                  Maine, Canadian all the same as long as they're from the N. Atlantic.

                                  1. re: cstr

                                    I was thinking drinking all of those Molsons might affect the taste.

                                    1. re: littlestevie

                                      Are you talking about you or the lobsters?

                                      1. re: cstr

                                        The lobsters natch, I more a Labatts guy.

                              2. re: notjustastomach

                                I sent my husband to Hardshell a couple of weeks ago. The proprietor told him that they didn't allow walk-ins anymore, but still sell to the public via appointment. Hubby is super persuasive and still got the proprietor to sell him lobsters. It was cheap - $52 for near 7 lbs of lobster! And they put wet towels (or something towel-like) over them and packaged them well for transporting home. They were pretty lively when I cooked them that night - one kept banging its claw inside the pot after I started steeping them; I was not thrilled with said lobster's refusal to die.

                                1. re: jwizzle

                                  The guys at PLS told me to ice them down before cooking specifically for that reason. It seemed to work. The thrashing when you pick them up is a little unnerving though!

                          2. re: normalheightsfoodie

                            I'm not sure why this guy keeps posting this BS. They wont sell to the public. Call or stop by and they will say forget it! Unless someone can't figure out this appointment deal jwizzle mentioned this place is a no go. They do treat you like your crazy if your not a wholesaler.

                            1. re: lane87

                              Given that he posted that back on January 3, I'm not sure why you say he keeps "posting this BS".

                              1. re: RB Hound

                                Because this is the second forum he has posted it in and it is AFTER I replied and asked him to stop "teasing us". heh. I should have clarified.

                                1. re: lane87

                                  They stopped selling to the public generally in June. I went in and purchased with an appointment 2-3 times before then. The proprietor told me that he stopped selling to the public because people were making appointments, he was preparing lobsters for the people... then they wouldn't show up. After something like 5 no-shows, he decided it wasn't worth selling to the public. Hardshell sells to the Ralphs in PB (amongst other places - if you call, he may be able to tell you more local places, but he said the Ralphs has pretty high turnover). I've gone to that Ralphs since than to get lobsters (partially PL Seafoods doesn't have lobster while they are doing their remodel). The quality is ok, not as fresh as Hardshell was, but the lobsters were relatively lively. They were definitely more expensive, probably $5-10 more per lobster.

                                  1. re: lane87

                                    That other thread was in 2009. I'm not seeing why this is relevant now.

                                    1. re: RB Hound

                                      Of course it's relevant now. Old sources are just as good as new ones. Unless you are no longer looking for one. Thanks jwizzle for the informative post and update on Hardshell.
                                      "Buying Live Maine Lobster in San Diego"

                                      Best bets seem to be:
                                      1. Major Market: I called and it's ~$10/lb in June-July and Nov.-Dec. other times it will be $11.99. Still a good deal.
                                      2. "Mainely Lobsters" in Kearney mesa. 858.274.1443 Waiting to hear back on a quote but a few yrs ago they went for $7.50/lb. Might be better than Major Market.

                                      Time to cook some bugs!