We were introducing Chuck’s cousin Karen Allsing and her husband Dick (photo #5 below) to Blue Water Seafood, a Guy Fieri/Diners, Drive-ins and Dives restaurant we had visited and enjoyed during our San Diego visit last November. Just as the fresh fish was memorable, so were the l-o-n-g line and the small space.
“We should go later.” I said to Chuck. “By around 1:30 the lunch rush will be over.” The joke’s on me.
“Yes, it’s a ‘dive’, and that’s fine with fans of this India Street eatery/market, whose ‘fabulous fish tacos’ and other ‘no-frills seafood’ are judged among the
‘freshest in San Diego’ (check out the counter to see the catch of the day--they might be filleting it that very moment); ‘excellent-value’ prices ensure locals swim here in schools, so expect super-crowded conditions--go off-hours or be prepared to wait” (zagat.com).
As flyngourmet at urbanspoon.com said: “There is only one way to judge a fish place and that is, does it smell like fish? If the place smells of fish, run away to Blue Water Seafood and Grill. The fish here is fresh and the restaurant smells of an ocean breeze…. Wonderful! If you like fresh tasty seafood that hasn't been battered and deep fried this place is for you. Go early as there is always a line.”
When we arrived, the line was past the fresh fish counter and every table was occupied. And signs warn you not to think about taking a seat until your order has been placed. I don’t know how they do it, but magically a table seems to open at the precise moment a customer walks away from the order counter. Of course, the wait gives you the chance to review the simple looking, but deceptively complicated, menu.
First, you have to decide whether you want to order from the grill with such choices (not all available every day) as red snapper, yellowtail, shark-thresher or mako, calamari steak, swordfish, seared ahi, Alaskan halibut, Norwegian salmon, Hawaiian albacore, mahi mahi, or grilled shrimp. Or you can chose to go “Off the Grill” with chilled seafood like shrimp, Dungeness crab, or mixed cold seafood.
If you have chosen grilled fish or seafood, next you pick your seasoning from lemon butter, garlic butter, lemon and garlic butter, teriyaki, blackened, and chipotle.
And finally, how do you want it served? As a “Blue Water Plate” with salad and seasoned steamed rice? As a sandwich served on a soft boleo roll with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and tartar sauce? Or as a salad with mixed greens, purple cabbage, cucumbers, red onion, carrots, and tomatoes? House dressings: blue cheese, ranch, thousand, and vinaigrette.
Of course, you could order their famous Grilled Fish Tacos, their clam chowder, their cioppino, fish and chips, ceviche, crab and artichoke dip, and fried calamari. Too many choices.
Finally, our turn to order. For Dick it was the local halibut sandwich on the boleo roll. (“Boleo/Bolillos are sold throughout Mexico, in bakeries and supermarkets. They are basically a small French roll/ baguette that was believed to have been introduced into the country by The Boleo Mining Company, a French company which operated in Santa Rosalia, Mexico in the 1800's. The mine is now closed, but the original bakery still flourishes” [www.food.com].)
Karen chose the red snapper plate with rice and salad. Her dressing selection--blue cheese--had the largest chunks of blue cheese that I have ever seen in a dressing.
Chuck also ordered a “Blue Water Plate” and chose the blackened Alaskan halibut. Wow. This was a perfect example of blackening fish. Just enough seasoning was used to create a thin crust, but not so much that it masked the sweet fresh taste of the flakey halibut. Somehow, I neglected to taste his rice. But four days later he is still remarking on wonderful this rice was. All he can tell me is that there was some kind of sauce on the rice. But that’s all.
Seeing ahi tuna in the case and after being assured that it would be served rare, I couldn’t resist and ordered the tuna as a salad. Feeling that I was in a rut, I decided to ask for the chipotle seasoning instead of the usual teriyaki. While the tuna was indeed beautifully rare, I did miss the Asian flavors that I associate with seared ahi.
I also couldn’t resist trying Blue Water’s ceviche which bore a strong resemblance to gazpacho with bay shrimp and contained chopped cucumber, onion, and tomato along with the shrimp and had been seasoned with some type of chili. Not traditional but still delicious. And no, I didn’t finish my meal and took enough home with me for two additional light meals.
Blue Water is our kind of place—great fresh food, reasonable prices, no frills—and earns our 5.0 Addie rating.
And now for a little dessert....