Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Diego >
Oct 11, 2013 10:31 AM

Local Spiny Lobster

Even after having lived here for 15 years, I still haven't managed to try one of the fresh local lobsters. This season I plan to tick that off the bucket list. Looking for recommendations about where they are best prepared fresh. Recommendations for various cuisines would be appreciated. driving distance not an issue as long as it's SD county.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 'as long as it's SD county' Don't ask FN.

    16 Replies
    1. re: cstr

      Hey, now.....

      Just picked up some cooked bugs from Catalina Offshore. I won't order lobster in a restaurant, I've never been pleased with the results, witht he notable exception of Puerto Nuevo in the '80s. Even those were not excellent because of the subtle style and grace with which they were served- it was the rugged and adventurous meal- cheap, too. $10 with everything.

      1. re: Fake Name

        Ahh, yes. Puerto Nuevo in the '80s. Humongous lobsters, gallons of melted butter, and brew. Lobster heaven.

        1. re: Fake Name

          It's not $10 anymore, but you can get a full (fish consomme, salad, rice beans and drawn butter) spiny lobster meal at Vince's Seafood in Rosarito (shh!) for about $12.50..

          The serving size for the two lobster halves is smallish but legal, and if you want bigger, they have them, at market price, which is still very reasonable.

          1. re: Fake Name

            How much are the lobsters at Catalina offshore? Are they steamed?

            1. re: MrKrispy

              Steamed, and today they were a deal- less than $15 per pound.

              1. re: Fake Name

                thanks for the heads up Fakey, gonna head down there. How do you prepare them if they have already been cooked?

                1. re: MrKrispy

                  I split mine and served chilled with a cold French Chablis. Roasted garlic lemon butter on the side for dipping.

                2. re: Fake Name

                  Eat your heart out.

                  Here in Warwick, RI, Tommy's Clam Shack is advertising a steamed lobster with cracked claws & cut tail with butter this weekend for $6.99. For $9.99, they throw in an ear of corn plus french fries.

                  1. re: Clams047

                    Keep laughing.

                    Winter's on the way.

                    Better dust off ya foul weatha geyah.

                    1. re: Clams047

                      Out in Gloucester, MA they were 2.99 per pound this summer. Fakey is right, we do sacrifice for the lack of harsh winters. On the other hand, this past week we had one tenth of an inch of rain, that's right 1/10", there were over 300 car accidents in the morning commute.

                      1. re: cstr

                        I was in LA last Oct 19 when they set a record 1/10 inch of rain for that date (first measurable rain since the previous May). The way the local news covered the rain (and accidents, traffic jams, etc), one would have thought they had three feet of snow.

                        1. re: Clams047

                          It's all relative.

                          When I lived in Michigan and Wisconsin, they wouldn't close the public schools unless there was 2 feet of snow.

                          When I moved to Raleigh, everything closed up when there was an inch of snow, and people were sliding around trying to drive up hills.

                          And then there's San Diego, where rain brings on the traffic jams.

                          I love it here.

                          1. re: DoctorChow

                            Forgot about the traffic jams. It's unbelievable, I try to stay off the roads during rain. Back to local lobster, I find them to be a bit mushy.

                            1. re: cstr

                              You don't exercise them prior to cooking?

                              1. re: Fake Name

                                How many reps of crunches do you recommend?

            2. George's had a great spiny lobster tasting menu last year.

                1. re: Beach Chick

                  Great call....and/or Del Mar + Cardiff.

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    I think we're going here (for the first time), tonight. Thanks for the tip.

                    1. re: The Office Goat


                      They had no lobster, but the salmon and shrimp were tasty, and the kids liked their grassfed cheeseburgers, so it wasn't a total loss.
                      Had dessert cupcakes at Cups after and made for a nice evening.

                  2. Ortega's in Hillcrest is pretty good. Are there any places in Baja anyone would recommend? Never eaten at Puerto Nuevo but kind of want to tick that off my bucket list!

                    16 Replies
                      1. re: stangoldsmith

                        If you really want to tick Puerto Nuevo House #1 or #2 early in the season. Nothing fancy, but they were part of the originals homes that began PN Lobster lore. I don't recall that period of time of course, way before my time. (I think my parents told me about it) ;D

                        1. re: foodiechick

                          Puerto Nuevo Restaurant #1 is, as you say foodiechick, very basic. You have your choice of lobster, shrimp or fish filet, served with rice, beans and tortillas. No veggies, no special orders and nothing for vegetarians, because I think everything is still cooked in the old school way - vats of lard (not that is a bad thing).

                          Puerto Nuevo #1 is a lot of fun to go to in December when the Hell's Angels Toy Drive is happening in Tijuana. We went to lunch there with an old friend who rode down with the boys.

                          As we entered, a collective roar rolled over us coming from the tables in the room and the diners gave him a standing ovation. (I am still puzzled as to why they were saluting him with an upraised middle finger, but what do I know?)

                          Puerto Nuevo #2 is more "upscale" (they don't throw your meal at you on cafeteria trays) with a more diverse menu, even, gasp, salads.

                          1. re: Gypsy Jan

                            Well, you can tell it has been awhile since I have been to #2 (I like the plastic trays, and salad...gasp!). Glad there is at least one old place holding the tradition. Thanks for the update!

                            1. re: foodiechick

                              Love love love the original house...been going since the 70's..
                              Large lobsters, bowl of beans and rice with the homemade flour tortillas with the melted butter..sublime
                              I can still see the orange plastic school tray.
                              Mariachis and Pacificos all for $10 pp!

                          2. re: foodiechick

                            I heard that a lot of places down in Baja are using lobsters from Costa Rica because the waters off of Ensenada are over fished. Just vile rumor or true?

                            1. re: littlestevie

                              I haven't been for awhile but I know they do sometimes use frozen lobster from other global areas, especially off season (I heard New Zealand). Hoping Gypsy Jan can weigh in on this.

                              To me, going to Puerto Nuevo was about "the experience", not so much local and sustainable sources.

                              1. re: foodiechick

                                Uhhmm - weigh in?

                                I can only offer up gossip that I have heard over the years.

                                A very successful restauranteur (Chicago and New York) that I know tried to open a restaurant in Puerto Nuevo and was ruined by what some people might call "Mafia Tactics".

                                He told me that the "village" generated a collective income in excess of thirty-four million dollars a year from tourists.

                                The restaurants in Puerto Nuevo have been regularly busted and fined by outside federal (not the local) authorities for serving illegal, undersized lobsters

                                Do you think that the restaurant owners would throw into the pot imported frozen lobsters to keep that income stream coming?

                                Your guess is as good as mine.

                                That's why I like Vince's in Rosarito. My dinner comes from their live tanks.

                              2. re: littlestevie

                                Yes, it is true. Mexico has a lobster season like pretty much anywhere else. When they're out of season, they are imported.

                                With that said, Puerto Nuevo is more about the experience than the food. It's still a good deal and is very popular with the locals.

                                1. re: wanker

                                  That's sad but it was not unexpected. Like Jan, I do like to see a live lobster. That's why we usually get them from a live tank at a market and cook 'em ourselves. Nothing better than a lobster and a glass of champ.

                                  1. re: littlestevie

                                    I think I'm going to respectfully disagree with wanker and FC about going to Puerto Nuevo for The Experience. Yes, it's fun driving down (much less so back), and the experience is a unique one if you've never been. But the uniqueness of the experience wears off. I haven't been in a great many years, but I did go quite often with friends in the 80s. For us, if the lobster wasn't local, forget it. That along with the delicious lard used for cooking, and all that butter (and fresh totillas, and beer, and...) That was the whole endgame point of our little "adventure". Or was.

                                    The "shack" we used to go to has long long long since shut down. That's part of the reason we stopped going. I have no idea what the name was, but it's moot.

                                    Lobster season there is in the winter months iirc, btw, so if someone wants The Real Thing, next month or better December, January would be the time to go.

                                    1. re: DoctorChow

                                      Thanks everyone - Lobster season just began and they had a kick-off last week, we'll be going to check it out this weekend, maybe stop at Vince's to compare as well? Sounds like Puerto Nuevo 1 is perfect to get the experience. So will they still use frozen though even though it's season? I guess I'll go find out!

                                      1. re: stangoldsmith

                                        Not necessarily frozen, I think that is used out of season to feeds the unknowing tourists. Have fun and please report back!

                                        1. re: stangoldsmith

                                          Enjoy and have a lobster tail rolled up in a fresh flour tortilla with 3 tablespoons of melted butter and a cold Pacifico for me!

                                          The small darling church across from house #1 is wonderful to give thanks and for a safe journey back.


                                          1. re: Beach Chick

                                            Man what a feast. We went to Puerto Nuevo #1, it was pretty crowded on a Saturday afternoon at 2pm but a few tables were open - most patrons were Mexican families. There were mariachis and cold cervezas. I dare say Baja Norte is on the comeback. Puerto Nuevo was all spiffed up, looked great, the vendors were all open, we parked in a lot for $3 but I think you could find spaces in the town for free.

                                            We got 2 medium lobsters ($20 each), they came with tortillas, rice, beans, salsas, chips, and a cup of melted butter.

                                            They were fantastic! Followed by an evening in Hussong's Ensenada = great day.

                                            Otay Mesa on Sunday still took us almost 2 hours in the car, I can't imagine what San Ysidro took. Not many gringos yet but things are looking cleaner and better than they have been in 10 years.

                                            1. re: stangoldsmith

                                              That is fantastic Stan..glad you found a table and $20 buck medium local lobsters, rolled up in those fab flour tortillas with tons of butter and washed down with a cold Pacifico...mariachi's jamming in the background.. Priceless

                            2. We enjoyed our spiny lobster @ Rimel's in La Jolla (my go-to for the last dozen years). You get a choice of two sides for about $40 as pictured.