San Diego

Where to Eat Fresh Oysters in San Diego

"Crushing two-dozen oysters when it's 75 degrees and sunny just hits differently."

Andy Boyd
Andy Boyd
Andy Boyd

Nothing beats sitting down to a platter of freshly shucked oysters, each one on a pearly white half shell in a puddle of its own briny juice, just waiting for a shot of lemon and a plop of tangy mignonette before you slide it off its perch and into your mouth for a fleeting taste of pure oceanic bliss. Whether you love Bluepoints or lean towards nutty, sweet Kumamotos, San Diego’s oyster bars carry an amazing array from both sides of the country.

“An oyster tastes like the water it is from, since it is ultimately a water filter,” says Kyle Pierce, the chef de cuisine at Little Italy’s Ironside Fish & Oyster. “For instance, you are going to see a much sweeter, creamier oyster coming out of British Columbia because they are often grown closer to shore and in much warmer water than those grown offshore in Baja. And if you’ve ever swam in the South Pacific, you know it has a much higher salinity than that of the Pacific Northwest.”

Pierce goes on to explain that, besides regionality, the way an oyster is farmed will impact its final result. Oysters grown in suspended bags — like the Beau Soleil variety from the coast of New Brunswick — give off a clean and crisp taste, whereas oysters farmed directly on shore banks will impart a grittier texture. 

Ironside Fish & Oyster
Ironside Fish & Oyster
Ironside Fish & Oyster

In that same vein, asking a shucker or serve about sourcing is crucial, Pierce says, and San Diego is lucky to have the Carlsbad Aquafarm and its Luna oyster right in its backyard. His favorite, though, is probably the smaller Kusshi oyster out of British Columbia, which is “super salty, but also really refreshing and doesn’t leave your mouth dried out or tastebuds dead . . . I would crush a chilled bottle of Prosecco with them, as well.”  

No matter what you order, Pierce proclaims San Diego an ideal city to enjoy raw oysters — something his passionate restaurant customers have proven time and time again. “Crushing two-dozen oysters when it’s 75 degrees and sunny out 90 percent of the year just hits differently compared to anywhere else,” he says. “We had a regular come into Ironside before COVID-19 and she ate 202 oysters in three hours. Shit was wild.”

While you certainly don’t have to indulge to that level, there are plenty of options to get your raw oyster fix in San Diego.

Valentina_Restaurant
Valentina_Restaurant
Valentina_Restaurant

Valentina 

Encinitas 
Mario and Morgan Guerra named this European-inspired wine bar after their daughter, and the bistro evokes the outdoor eateries and casual elegance of French, Mexican, Italian, and Spanish dining. Sip rosé and slurp market fresh oysters on the expansive patio weekdays from 5-10pm, or brunch with them on weekends from 11am-3pm. Oysters run $3 per, $15 for half-dozen, $25 a dozen, and come with lemons and mignonette. Reservations are recommended.

Water Grill

East Village
Perfect for a special occasion or date night, the Water Grill features between 7-10 different varieties of oysters daily, detailed on the menu down to species, body of water from which it was harvested, and state. Both the service and simple accompaniments — mignonette, cocktail sauce, and habanero-lime relish — are top-notche. Oysters also make an appearance Rockefeller-style and as sushi — the Honeymoon Oyster is luxuriously dressed in uni roe, tobiko, ikura and quail egg. Make reservations for safely distanced patio dining online.

Alternative Strategies
Alternative Strategies
Alternative Strategies

The Fish Shop

Pacific Beach, Encinitas, Point Loma
All three Fish Shop locations can satisfy your oyster cravings with the traditional half-shell or in a Fish Shop Oyster Shooter, served both spicy and mild, topped with cocktail sauce and horseradish, alongside a beer chaser and a plump poached shrimp garnish. A half-dozen goes for $15.50, a Fish Shop dozen (14) is $24, and shooters are $4.50 apiece. Hit up the Point Loma Fish Shop on Thursdays for $1.25 oysters starting at 4pm. Keep your fingers crossed — the other locations hope to offer the Thursday special again later this year. Safely distanced patio dining and takeout are available.

Jim Sullivan
Jim Sullivan
Jim Sullivan

Ironside Fish & Oyster

Little Italy
Ironside Fish & Oyster offers dine-in on its enlarged front patio, as well as takeout from the in-house fish market, where guests can choose from fresh local fish or a DIY oyster kit. Dine in oysters on the half shell run $3.25 each, half-dozen for $28 and $34 a dozen. To-go options include a half-dozen for $15, shucked or not, or the Baller Oyster Pack that comes with a soft-sided cooler packed with a dozen Ironside Selects, its patented Oyster Breaching Tool and two Ironside Hot Sauces for $49.99. Reservations are recommended for dine-in service, or order online for takeout.

TJ Oyster Bar
TJ Oyster Bar
TJ Oyster Bar

TJ Oyster Bar

Bonita
Locals love TJ Oyster Bar for its laid back, unpretentious vibe and great selection of seafood. Baja oysters come on the half-shell, fried, in cocktails, and in tacos. Prices and selection vary slightly between locations, with a half-dozen ranging from $13-15 and one dozen going for $25-27. Call for takeout or order online for pickup at the 4410 Bonita Road shop.

Josh Cho Photography
Josh Cho Photography
Josh Cho Photography

Charles + Dinorah

Point Loma
Step out of lockdown and into Palm Springs circa the 1960s via Charles + Dinorah at the Pearl Hotel in Point Loma. Lounge by the charming pool while you sip tropical drinks and briny oysters, served chilled on the half shell at $18 per half-dozen and $35 per dozen, or grilled in garlic herb butter and topped with spinach, parmesan, and toasted breadcrumbs. Stop by on Mondays for Oysters + Bubbles — $2 oysters and $2 off a glass of bubbles from 4-10pm.

Barbusa

Little Italy
With Little Italy’s expanded alfresco dining now happening every Friday at 2pm and Saturday and Sunday at noon, it’s never been a better time to visit Barbusa for its delectable crudo bar (which opens at 4pm daily). A half dozen chef’s daily choice clocks in at a reasonable $13.96, so you have no excuse for not ordering at least a dozen (or two). Reservations for alfresco dining are highly recommended, or call 619-238-1917 for takeout.

Alternative Strategies
Alternative Strategies
Alternative Strategies

The Duck Dive

Pacific Beach
Known for coastal-inspired fare and craft cocktails, The Duck Dive spices its oysters on the half-shell up with a jalapeño-citrus mignonette and cocktail sauce. Besides raw bivalves, there’s also Oysters Rockefeller — broiled and topped with shrimp, spinach, chipotle jack cheese, and breadcrumbs. Both dishes can be ordered by the half- or full- dozen and range from $15-18 and $24-26, respectively. Enjoy them on the spacious patio, where reservations are encouraged, but walk-ups will be accepted based on availability. Call 858-273-3825 to reserve your table.Sign up here for our daily San Diego email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks, and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.

San Diego

How to Celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego

Check out female-led dance programs, pop up markets, beer dinners, and more events this March.

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Women have played a huge part shaping San Diego into the city it is today. In celebration of Women’s History Month, there are a variety of events across the city that commemorate women’s contributions to our community and culture. Home to the Women’s Museum of California, which hosts events throughout the year, be sure to check out all the ways to support and honor women this month. From art exhibits to dance performances, pop-up markets and yoga, check out the best events to celebrate Women’s History Month in San Diego:

Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of The San Diego Museum of Art

Discover works from overlooked women artists

Ongoing through November 7, 2023
Balboa Park
The San Diego Museum of Art currently has 20 modern and contemporary works of art on display from women who unjustly didn’t receive the same amount of fame as their male contemporaries. The museum’s Modern Women exhibit is your chance to see work from artists like Elaine de Kooning and Lee Krasner, who were overshadowed by artist husbands Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock but whose work has long deserved its own moment in the spotlight. The collection showcases pieces that range from acrylic paintings to photography, inviting us into an untapped artistic sphere.
Cost: $20

Practice Sun Salutations while supporting a good cause

Saturday, March 4, 10 am to 11 am
Pacific Beach
Make a difference in the lives of teen girls of colour while taking a yoga class at Kate Sessions Park. Organized by local nonprofit One Love Movement, all donations for the event go towards college scholarships for girls of the DETOUR F.A.N.C.Y. Expo & Leadership Academy, a mentorship program that promotes equity and inclusion in higher education for girls of colour. All while enjoying stunning views of Mission Bay.
Cost: Donation-based

Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona
Photo by Bianca Quirino Photography l Courtesy of Simplemente Chingona

Shop local women-owned businesses

Sunday, March 5, 1 pm to 5 pm
Middletown
What better way to celebrate the women in your community than by supporting their local businesses? The Women’s History Month Market, located in the FEMX Quarters venue, is a pop up market you don’t want to miss. The market will feature over 35 vendors from women artisans and you’ll find uniquely crafted sunglasses, jewellery, clothing, and more. The family-friendly (and pet-friendly) event will also include food and music.
Cost: Free

Drink beer crafted by female brewers on International Women’s Day

Wednesday, March 8, 6:30 pm to 10:00 pm
Escondido
Women were the original brewers of ale, after all, so it only makes sense to honour our past and present beer connoisseurs with dinner and brews. Located at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Stone International Women’s Day Beer Dinner features three courses, each paired with a tasty beer specially brewed by a team of women at Stone Brewery. The event is part of a larger global celebration for International Women’s Day, where brewers all over the world brew a speciality beer that supports The Pink Boots Society, a non profit that empowers women and non-binary people in the beer industry through scholarships and education. Grab your tickets while you can! 21+
Cost: $50-$70

Attend an exhibition celebrating female and non-binary artists

Saturday, March 11, 5:00 pm
Barrio Logan
Head over to the entertainment and community venue Corazon del Barrio and show your support to female and non-binary artists, whose art and music will be featured in the Diosa Art Show. Around 40 artists are on the bill at this all-ages event.
Cost: Free

Drink some pints for the pups

Saturday, March 11, 12 pm to 4 pm
Carmel Mountain
If you need another excuse to down some brews, Second Chance Beer Company is hosting its first ever Ladies & Pups Market for Women’s History Month. The brewery, which holds various events throughout the year, donates a percentage of its sales to animal rescue organizations in California and Arizona. The dog-friendly market will include pop ups from women-owned businesses such as Bold Bouquet, Wet Nose Pottery, and No, You Sit! Treats. For the occasion, Second Chance will serve Fistful of Gummies – Berry Edition, a rendition of their fruited sour beer created in collaboration with Pink Boots Society, an organization that supports women and non-binary individuals in the beer industry.
Cost: Free

Photo courtesy of Women's Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California
Photo courtesy of Women’s Museum of California

Attend a ceremony at the Women’s Museum of California

Saturday, March 18, 11 am to 1 pm
Rolando
Perhaps San Diego’s largest Women’s History Month event, the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes local women for their achievements in the community. The annual event, which takes place at Joan B. Kroc Theatre, is a project of the Women’s Museum of California, a museum dedicated to educating the public about women’s contributions through history with exhibits, programs, and events. Over 100 women have been inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame since the program was founded in 2001, and this year’s class includes notable women like activist Norma Chávez-Peterson and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas. The event includes a VIP brunch followed by the Induction Ceremony. Be sure to purchase tickets early to secure your spot.
Cost: $20-$150

Join a community of local women and get inspired

Monday, March 20, 5 pm to 7:30 pm
Miramar
The Women’s Speaker Series at Alesmith Brewing Company is a monthly community gathering where local women come together to support one another in achieving professional and personal goals. The event includes a social hour followed by a selected speaker. For this month, the Women’s Speaker Series features career coach and small business owner Laura Bashore, who will share her insight on how you can advance your career or business. Make sure to reserve your spot before attending!
Cost: Free

Come hear about the roles San Diego women played during World War II

Tuesday, March 21, 1 pm to 3 pm
Mission Valley
In the early 20th century, many women were not allowed or expected to be the breadwinners for their households, but things suddenly changed with the United States’ entry into World War II. Here’s your chance to learn about the real experiences of women who lived through WWll and how they navigated through it all. Presented by Oasis San Diego, head over to Mission Valley Library to attend this in-person event.
Cost: Free

Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project
Photo by Carly Topazio l Courtesy of The Rosin Box Project

Attend a ballet program choreographed entirely by women

Thursday, March 23 – Saturday, March 25 & Monday, March 27, 7:30 pm
Liberty Station
Experience not one but three world premiere ballet performances at The Rosin Box Project, a contemporary ballet company that works to redefine the concept of dance and how it’s experienced for both artists and audiences. To coincide with Women’s History Month, TRBP is kicking off its 2023 season with Empower, a female-led ballet program choreographed by TRBO Residents Lauren Flower, Bethany Green, and Carly Topazio. The program, which takes place at Light Box Theater, offers a fresh take on dance by pushing the boundaries of traditional ballet. Your ticket includes a post-show reception.
Cost: $45

Hear music by a little-known female early 20th-century composer

Friday, March 24, 6:30 pm to 7:45 pm
Balboa Park
While you may not be familiar with composer Alice Barnett Stevenson, she played an integral part in San Diego’s music scene during the early 1900s. Stevenson was an active member of various music organizations at the time, and she composed art songs for voice and piano and performed at schools all over the country. Her home became a hub for local recitals from visiting musicians, and was also where the San Diego Symphony was founded. This month, you can hear her compositions performed live for the first time in nearly 100 years at the San Diego History Center. Selected works by Stevenson will be performed by musical scholar Katina Mitchell and pianist Yewon Lee. Be sure to reserve tickets ahead of time.
Cost: $25-$40

Listen to Black San Diego women discuss important community issues

Saturday, March 25, 12 pm to 4 pm
Valencia Park
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Friends of Malcolm X Library are hosting Ain’t I a Woman, an event featuring Black women who will be speaking about their professions and discussing the challenges faced within the workplace and the community while offering suggestions on how to further enhance and embrace equality. The event includes a Q&A panel discussion, door prizes, free raffles, as well as music, poetry, and dance. Seating is limited so be sure to reserve your spot early.
Cost: Free event. Lunch purchase is $15.

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Michelle Harris is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Over the years her writing has also appeared in Atlas Obscura, Mental Floss, and Audubon Magazine. When she’s not busy typing, she enjoys hiking, road trips, and cooking vegan food.

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