Plenty of seafood and atmosphere in the San Diego edition of Local Haunts and Tourist Traps.
My family and I were recently in Southern California for the weekend to see a few family friends tie the knot. Before heading to the wedding venue, my mom and I pit-stopped for a night in San Diego and ended up having two wonderful meals downtown. I’m sort of seafood obsessed, so I took the opportunity to get some of the freshest stuff around.
On Thursday night, we asked our hotel bartender for dinner recommendations in the area, and he suggested a place about half a mile away called Craft and Commerce. As it turns out, Craft and Commerce was one of the cooler restaurants I’ve been to in a while, and their food is fantastic. I’m telling you, the best places I stumble across when I’m travelling tend to be the ones recommended by people behind a bar. Craft and Commerce is cozy and cool from the instant you walk in: there are rows and rows of old, vintage books lining the wood-paneled walls and the place is not lacking in taxidermy…there are animal heads on almost every wall, and a giant stuffed jungle cat of some kind suspended in an acrylic cage above the back bar. It’s basically the nicest hunting cabin you’ve ever been to, with very good food.
I was immediately drawn to the grilled oysters, so I ordered them as my appetizer. They were great – so fresh and fishy, and served over a bed of (still smoking) wood chips. I tend to go for standard chilled oysters with horseradish and lemon, but these guys did the trick just as well. I finished those and moved on to one of the juiciest burgers I’ve ever had, followed by a deconstructed s’more dessert and topped off with two Ballast Point Sculpin IPA’s (a local favorite). The meal was an absolute hit, and I would recommend Craft and Commerce to anyone visiting San Diego. With San Diego being such a tourist town, it was nice to have a meal at what felt like a more local haunt.
That being said, there are some so-called “tourist traps” in San Diego that are worth the visit, and one of them is right downtown on the water. Anthony’s is a seafood restaurant that has been serving up fish and chips and chowder in the shadow of the Star of India (a massive ship moored right next door) for generations. I’ve been going there since I was a kid and I have wonderful memories of eating in their dining room with my nana and papa (my mom’s parents) and watching the Navy ships chug past. We headed to Anthony’s on Friday for lunch, and I wasted no time ordering as many of my favorite items as I could. I started with the New England clam chowder which, with the addition of a few oyster crackers and some Tabasco sauce, was as good as I remember. I added a dinner salad with homemade blue cheese dressing just because, and then I got to the real deal: grilled fish tacos. I happen to love a good fish taco, and Anthony’s serves them up just the way I like them: well seasoned and simply dressed.
Our trip out West really was a classic California weekend: full of beautiful sunsets, fish tacos, perfect weather, drives along the coast, fresh air and, of course, traffic.