When it comes to buying fresh seafood, the options are countless as to where you can source it. You can buy from small grocery stores, big box stores or even buy online. If you want the freshest, highest-quality sustainably caught seafood that money can buy, you go right to the source. There's no question that the absolute best place to buy fresh fish in San Diego is the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.
There's nothing like eating fish this fresh, and there's no going back once you try it.
Tuna Harbor Dockside Market
Every Saturday from 8am - 1pm
You can check out the weekly catch before heading to the market. If you see something you really want; try reaching out to them to save you some.
San Diego has a long and rich history of fishing. In the 1970s, San Diego was the "tuna capital of the world."We still have the best seafood in the world right here in San Diego. You can buy it right from the fishermen who caught it, and that has huge benefits (price, freshness, supporting the local economy, health).
Tuna Dockside Market is where the chefs who really care about the source of their seafood shop for their restaurants. It requires flexibility, as the "daily catch" really does change from day to day. When a restaurant changes its menu daily... If they are stuck in a giant more corporate menu that almost never changes; they likely have to buy from a large distributor who can guarantee certain product no matter where it is sourced.
These are the fishermen that the local seafood distributors get their supply from.
If you can't make it to the market or would prefer to have it delivered to your doorstep; you can order online from Catalina Offshore Products.
Four reasons you should be buying your fish right from the source
- Freshness. It gets no fresher than coming right off the boat.
- The price. You might think the prices would be really high for this type of quality; but it's not. Let's compare.
- Supporting local fishermen who use sustainable fishing to catch.
- It is the best. You will just be buying it somewhere else down the supply chain.
Try something new
Open your mind and your mouth and try something that you have never tried before. I keep doing this and am just amazed. Mako shark is a perfect example. others: opah, octo, spot prawns. You can make a meaty bolognese pasta with Opah which is crazy delicious.
You will see local celebrities like Tommy Gomes down at the market. They are there to talk to you, so don't be afraid to say hi and ask questions.
Fish Market Tips
- Arrive early (before the market opens) if you want something specific. Certain fish will sell out quick.
- Be open to try something new. Fishing is still fishing and there's no guarantee that what you want will be available. Just ask for suggestions and try something new.
- Ask your fisherman lots of questions. They want to help educate you on what they do and why it's important.
- Buy a whole fish and share/split it with your friends or neighbors.
- Get your fish cleaned at the market. Tell the fish monger how you plan on cooking it, and they will know how to clean it for you.
- Grab lunch at Loaf & Fish which serves up delicious fish sandwiches, tacos and sashimi (on certain days).
- Bring a cooler (they have ice there for you) to keep your fish fresh.
- Make friends with a fisherman.
- Bring the family.
Restaurants that buy from Tuna Harbor Dockside Market
Some of my favorite San Diego restaurants buy from the Dockside Market. That's actually how I first discovered the market. Some of the restaurants include Ironside Fish & Oyster Bar and Juniper & Ivy to name a few
Not many people know how many hands fish go through before they get to your dinner table when you buy from a grocery store; and honestly, it's a pretty disturbing when you find out. From the boat to shore to a truck to a distributor, then another distributor and finally to the store where it might sit for days more. Since we have a choice and the luxury, the decision is nothing you need to think about at all when you can buy right off the docks.
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