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Aug 21, 2013 09:59 AM

Where is the best fishmonger in San Diego?

Where can I buy the freshest fish in San Diego? I want the best wild caught, fresh fish. Fish at grocery stores is usually frozen and thawed and it looks like its been frozen and thawed. Want to find a fishmonger that makes it a priority to sell a wide assortment of fresh, wild caught fish.

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  1. Catalina Offshore. To get directions, hours, sign up to be notified of weekend sales, go to

    When you drive up, it looks like a business office. Just walk inside.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cathy

      I know it's probably sacrilege to say this, but Catalina doesn't always have the freshest fish. There have been at least three items that have not passed the smell test in past orders. I've been there on Saturday only so that might make a difference. My advice is to be very careful when ordering. If you get a whole fish be sure the eyes are clear and the gills nice and red.

    2. I have been happy with fish from Point Loma Seafoods. Just avoid going at lunchtime on a weekend!

      5 Replies
        1. re: globalevent

          You set your own priorities. You can get an awesome piece of fish for what 5 coffees cost at Starbucks.

            1. re: globocity

              What I'm trying to say is that many people drop $3 a day for a cup of coffee, but won't pay $15 for a nice piece of fish.

              1. re: firecooked

                Sorry--my "compared to where?" question was to globalenent. Your comment was quite clear and a good one.

        2. See Cathy's post, it's right on!

            1. re: chezron

              Her post is just at the top of this thread.

            2. Whole Foods Hillcrest. Ranch 99.

              Both have a wider selection than Catalina (smaller whole fish, whole raw baby squid, head-on shrimp, live clams and mussels etc), or any other local shop unless you pre-order. Catalina, Blue Water, Pt Loma are great if it's large fillet pieces you want, some of it local.

              12 Replies
              1. re: SaltyRaisins

                Salty, Ranch 99...really? Last time I was there, which admittedly was a while ago, the fish tanks were pretty dirty and they always seem to be overcrowded on the weekends. Has it changed?

                1. re: DiningDiva

                  Yes, nothings really changed, but their live offerings (no pun) are worth it. I think there's a general notion that local family seafood sellers somehow have non-frozen fresher product than bigger retailers, and this is false. In fact, I'm totally fine with frozen seafood that has been handled properly since even a few minutes of improperly refrigerated "fresh off the boat" fish, especially larger species, can lead to wicked scromboid poisoning. Worse, there's no off smell or discoloration when this happens. I'm also pretty down on the tuna fishing scene these days, and the local markets seem to base their businesses around its sale.

                  Thuan Phat on Linda Vista has similar stuff as Ranch 99, and is much cleaner. I always forget to mention it.

                  1. re: SaltyRaisins

                    will Thuan Phat kill and clean the fish to order? I haven't asked.

                    1. re: SaltyRaisins

                      Thuan Phat is not cleaner than Ranch 99. It stinks of rot from the parking lot. Great selection of "non-perishables" there though. H Mart is much cleaner than both of them with better selection but still not even in the same league as Catalina. If you are heading down to Thuan Phat though, there is an incredible exotic fruit nursery hidden in a neighborhood right near by - Ong's.

                    2. re: DiningDiva

                      Every time I see the fish in the tank at 99 and the like, I think of the toilet scene from Trainspotting.

                      If they are willing to set that as a standard for cleanliness, I'm not going to buy the other fish either.

                    3. re: SaltyRaisins

                      Whole Foods Hillcrest usually thaws their frozen fish. They also have some fresh fish but sometimes they have been sitting there quite awhile. They also sell WAY too much farmed fish. I want good fresh fish. I want to go where they care that the fish is wild caught and abhor farmed fish.

                      1. re: chezron

                        Honestly, you'll need a boat and a license to do well with good seafood in SD. Kinda sad.

                        Or a speargun and flippers. And there's no more freezing going on at Whole Foods than Catalina OP.

                        I know it's a,sensitive topic, and I get your "abhorrence" of farmed fish. But I don't understand why sustainably farmed chickens are no prob but the same for fish is somehow not acceptable. The sea simply cannot handle the type of fishing we imagine is the best for our dinner tables. Too bad it's become a political assay.

                        1. re: SaltyRaisins

                          I don't think farmed fish in general is a problem but a lot of it is not sustainably farmed and creates therefore problems. For example Monterey seafood watch recommends not buying farmed salmon because of these reasons.

                      2. re: SaltyRaisins

                        If we're talking Whole Foods, I think the one in La Jolla is better than the Hillcrest location for seafood.

                        As to Ranch 99, yes, it's a bit grungy, but the selection and quality is good, and the prices are hard to beat.