Pacific Beach in San Diego has a reputation for being a party spot, but the neighborhood also offers some of the best local seafood in town. An example would be none other than The Fishery on Cass Street. This refurbished warehouse offers market-fresh sushi and entrees with its own fish market inside.
Sound crazy? It’s a concept you won’t find anywhere else, and one that works really well for the owners. Located a few blocks away from the ocean in North Pacific Beach, the restaurant offers coastal cuisine with a modern flair in a welcoming and humble location.
With 25 years in business focusing on local product, The Fishery has long established itself as one of the best local restaurants in San Diego.
The Fishery opened up in 1997 to husband and wife duo Judd and Mary Anne Brown. Judd had previously turned his passion for the sea and life into a commercial fishery with the Pacific Shellfish Seafood Company in 1980. The Browns then purchased and restored a mid-century warehouse in North Pacific Beach, according to their website.
The Fishery has since combined Jedd’s “steadfast passion for everything fish” into a wholesale distribution company vertically integrated with a seafood restaurant and market to create a unique concept unseen anywhere else in the country.
Since opening its doors, The Fishery has consistently stayed on brand and credits the strength of the company to the collaborative work of many talented and committed people. Alongside Chef Mike Reidy, the Browns have formed a leadership team that embraces food and community while driving a creative passion for people and the food they consume.
Under the watch of Chef Reidy, The Fishery mixes a premier seafood market in the center of an open-kitchen restaurant concept with their menu driven by the market and changing with the seasons. They use ingredients at the peak of seasonality to deliver local freshness. Unless otherwise stated, all fish and shrimp are wild-caught.
Their menu states, “We believe in and practice the farmer-to-chef process, the omission of GMOs in foods and the sustainability of organic agriculture, seafood, local farmers and independent local businesses as well as the use of green products.”
Chef Reidy, a fisherman himself, combined his lifelong love for the sea and the honest respect for seafood into his commitment to serving local produce. He honed his skills for respecting farm-sourced products and farm-to-table cuisine under the guide of Chef Josiah Citrin from Los Angeles-based restaurant Melisse.
Farming partners for The Fishery include Chino Farms from Rancho Sante Fe, Schaner Farms from Valley Center, JR Organics from Escondido, and Rieger Farms from Dinuba. Fishermen include Kelly Fukushima Fishing Vessel (F/V) Three Boys, Dan Major F/V Island Lady G, Peter and Luke Halmey F/V Erin B, Shane Slaughter F/V Hiromaru, Haworth F/V Gutsy Lady and F/V Pacific Horizon, Jordan Souza F/V Extremist, and Austen Brown F/V Oriana Z.
The market inside the restaurant serves the same fish, including the catch of the day.
Even though The Fishery is a little hidden (blink and you might miss it,) the restaurant itself is really homey and welcoming. The roots of the room as a mid-century warehouse ring true, but the clean makeover with the soft wooden palettes and fish statues hanging on the wall drive the point of the theme home. The fish market is the first thing you see when you walk in, but they’ve somehow managed to find a way to completely cover the fishy smell in the room.
Our server was very kind, knowledgeable, and a clear fan of everything on the menu. We mostly relied on her recommendations to get us through our meal, and she never led us astray with any choice.
We started off with the house-made clam chowder, which was thick, rich, and creamy. Sprinkled with bits of bacon, littleneck clams, potatoes, celery, potato crisps on top, and a little kick from the pepper, the soup was a great way to start the meal.
The soup was closely followed by the Local Yellowtail Kama. The kama is the fattiest part of the fish, located just above the gills and below the head in the collar area. Although there was a bone included, the meat fell right off of it, and the ginger, scallion, chives, chili oil, and lime that came with the appetizer added a lot to complete the full flavor palette.
On the entrées, we went for the “Smash” Burger and the Chef’s Catch, which was a White Sea Bass on our visit.
The “Smash” Burger is made either from ahi or opah (mine had ahi), and the fish is ground and made into a burger patty. I hadn’t had a fish patty like that before, and I would definitely try it again with the opah as the option. The burger was served with lettuce, tomato, pickle, tartar sauce, and a milk bun.
The White Sea Bass was also a hit. Serviced on spinach farfalle, oyster mushrooms, broccoli top pesto, and arugula, this was probably the best of the recommendations. All of the flavors meshed well together and delivered some of the freshest flavors.
We closed out the meal with the Lemon Tart on a vanilla wafer crust served with Chantilly cream (pastry cream and whipped cream) and local passionfruit in a drizzle on top with some edible flowers.
The Fishery is located at 5040 Cass Street, San Diego, CA 92109. They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. They are open Wednesday-Sunday for 11 am-10 pm. Reservations are recommended for peak lunch and dinner times.
There’s street parking available nearby, and finding parking should be easy. The restaurant is a little tucked away, so you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled to make sure you find it.
Additionally, The Fishery offers catering options for those who would like to host a private party.
Get the best content and best stories
in your inbox every day!