Like fish? Then you’re going to love the range of seafood restaurants in Carlsbad, CA. Whether you prefer fine dining or informal, grab ‘n’ go options, there’s no shortage of eateries waiting to serve you. Thanks to its fabulous coastal location, you’re also assured of some of the freshest ingredients around. To help make your next dining experience a memorable one, we’re rounded up the ten very best seafood restaurants in Carlsbad for 2020.
10. El Puerto Mexican & Seafood
Where: 1065 Carlsbad Village Dr, Ste D, Carlsbad, CA 92008
If you like your seafood with a spicy kick, El Puerto Mexican & Seafood has your name written all over it. Scoring highly across all the key criteria (value, cleanliness, service, atmosphere, and food), it delivers a fabulous range of dishes that deliver big on flavor and small on cost. Fun, informal, and with a great, hospitable vibe, it’s the perfect place to grab lunch with friends.
9. KoKo Beach
Where: 2858 Carlsbad Blvd. Carlsbad, CA 92008
KoKo Beach has been keeping the residents of Carlsbad in fine food, fine wine, and even finer service since 1992. With its commitment to using only the very finest and freshest ingredients, it’s a great place to stop by for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with a varied and extensive menu that’s sure to have something to tempt you whatever the time of day. While the steaks are superb, skip the meat and head straight for the seafood selection for some of the best chowder, crab omelets, and scampi you’ll get anywhere in town.
8. West Steak and Seafood
Where: 4980 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA 92008-4343
If you care about the quality of ingredients on your plate, the West Steak and Seafood’s farm to table approach will leave you very happy indeed. Most of the herbs, fruits, and vegetables that go into their dishes come directly from nearby West Farm, while the seafood is as fresh and local as you can get. Combine this with an intimate, distinctive dining room, a 5-star approach to service, and a culinary team with a creative flair that’d rival Picasso’s, and you can understand why it’s rapidly becoming one of the most talked-about restaurants in Carlsbad.
7. Harbor Fish Cafe
Where: 3179 Carlsbad Blvd, Ste B, Carlsbad, CA 92008-2973
Great service, amazing food, a friendly vibe, hearty portions, and a gorgeous location right on the water… if there’s a quality you’d like your local seafood restaurant to have, Harbor Fish Café is likely to have it in spades. Grab a seat on the outdoor terrace (even on a cool evening, the heat lamps will make sure you stay cozy) to enjoy some outstanding food and amazing views – the sunset over the ocean is the perfect accompaniment to any dish.
6. Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar
Where: 2958 Madison St, Carlsbad, CA 92008-2359
If you’re in the mood for sushi, head to Blue Ocean Robata & Sushi Bar. The freshness of the ingredients is beyond fault, while its selection of specialty cocktails makes the perfect accompaniment to dishes like caramelized eggplant, crispy soft-shell crab, jalapeno slaw, caterpillar roll, and heart attack roll. If you can’t be tempted by all the delectable sushi on offer, you’ll still have plenty of options to try, including a superb pork belly robata and a stunning five-spice duck taco served in a coconut scallion crepe and accompanied by mint napa slaw, hoisin lime, and fried ginger.
5. Bluewater Grill
Where: 417 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008-2302
With its combination of classic American fare and innovative, contemporary dishes, Bluewater Grill is something of a local favorite- and for very good reason. With a patio, bar, happy hour, pet-friendly environment, friendly service, a full-service seafood market, and a clam chowder so good it’s won awards, it’s the perfect place to relax with a drink, some friends, and some seriously good seafood.
4. Vigilucci's Seafood and Steakhouse
Where: 3878 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA 92008-4008
For authentic North Italian cuisine, you’ll struggle to do better than Vigilucci's Seafood and Steakhouse. For a real taste of the sea, try the fresh seafood tower, a giant pile of oysters, clams, mussels, crab, lobster, and jumbo prawn served either warm or cold. Other standouts from the elegant menu include Polpette di Granchio (homemade crab cakes served on a bed of arugula with aurora sauce) and Tartare di Tonno (raw, sashimi-grade ahi tuna marinated with chives, shallots, jalapeños, and a Dijon-soy creme fraiche, served with cucumbers, avocado, citrus oil, and toasted sesame ciabatta). Service is attentive and courteous, while the superb ocean views at sunset are worth the trip alone.
3. Fish District
Where: 2675 Gateway Rd, Ste 102, Carlsbad, CA 92010
Despite its informal vibe, there’s nothing casual about the quality of food on offer at the excellent Fish District. A fresh, healthy attitude to food (and a commendably sustainable attitude to sourcing) combines with a creative culinary approach to spectacular effect. In fairness, you’ll struggle to go wrong with whatever you choose from the menu, but if you want a real treat, the chowder bacon fries are as decadent as they come.
2. King's Fish House
Where: 5625 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA 92008-4434
Fresh, crispy calamari, juicy salmon steaks, golden fish and chips, and a New England Clam Chowder that’s as creamy and flavorsome as they come… if this sounds your kind of thing, don’t miss a visit to King's Fish House. With three generations of experience behind it, King’s clearly knows a thing or two about the restaurant business, something that shows in the generosity of the portions, the masterful combination of flavors, the warmly inviting décor, and a level of service that’s never short of outstanding.
1. Pelly's Fish Market & Café
Where: 7110 Avenida Encinas Ste 101, Suite 101, Carlsbad, CA 92011
If you’re going to Pelly’s, don’t miss one of their chargrilled seafood sandwiches. With a choice of seafood filling served on sourdough with shredded romaine lettuce, tomato, green onions, and Pelly's special sauce (not to mention a hefty side of Mexican cabbage slaw), it’s the kind of gut-busting, lip-smacking treat all sandwiches wish they could be. The rest of the menu is just as dreamy, while the quality and freshness of the ingredients are beyond fault.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson