Located on the trolley line at C Street between 5th and 6th Avenues in downtown San Diego, Downtown Fish Joint is a favorite lunch spot for the locals. It is a small eatery that seems to cater to carry-out orders. The dining room is small and is adorned with fewer tables than one would expected. It is rather nice that the large glass windows up front allows good view of C St (and the trolley line) from practically any table.
The menu here is basically fried or grilled fish and other seafood meat in various combination anchored to land by a small selection of chicken tenders (in taco, burrito, quesadillas, or sandwich). You can have good fried fish tacos here for as low as $3.50, but most of the dishes are $8 and up…. with the exception of the New England style clam chowder, which is pretty good and quite reasonably priced (go for the one served in the sourdough bowl! At $6.95, it is a very good deal).
My usual order here is the cod fish & chip ($8.50), which is quite a meal (or two, I've never managed to finish the whole thing in one sitting) of 6 long strips of breaded fried fish with crisscross fries, slaw, and tartar sauce. The fish itself isn't particularly remarkable (rather bland compared to a few other places in downtown), but the fries are always perfectly salty and chewy. The slaw often looks rather dated and tasted quite old and vinegary… practically wilting in your mouth. Disgusting stuff, I must say.
The star item on the menu for me is the garlicky shrimp burrito ($11.95). I've only ordered it once, since spending over $10 for a burrito is hard on my conscience. The portion size here is very generous, and the garlic and the shrimp turn out to get along quite well when soaked in salsa sauce, a good and fresh bed of shredded lettuce and onion and wrapped in a soft tortilla.
Service is quite friendly and fast. This is a mom and pop eatery, and pop loves getting the business done with before chatting – a trait I really admire in restauranteurs! The place can get quite crowded during lunch hours (this place is only 2 blocks from the City Hall and a block north of Broadway, downtown's main thoroughfare), but I've never had to wait more than 14 minutes for my food.
It's too bad they are only open for lunch from 10:30AM-5PM Monday through Thursday, and from 10:30AM-7PM on Friday and Saturday. No alcohol. Major credit cards accepted.
Downtown Fish Joint: 407 C Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), San Diego, CA 92101. Tel. (619) 239-3506.