Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill3667 India St. Middletown 619-497-0914
Blue Water Grill has been part of my regular restaurant rotation since it opened a few years back. For my taste, it's the best of the local seafood markets that also prepare and serve food on-site. Other places are fancier, and some are a little less expensive, but none is as delicious.
Though every table in the small restaurant is usually full—no matter what time of day I stop by—it's still undiscovered by a lot of local foodies. At least it seemed that way at a dinner party I attended last week. While I was running down my list of frequent eats, a couple of guests stopped me when I got to Blue Water to ask where and what it was—they'd long been suffering the parking gauntlet at Point Loma Seafoods, they told me.
Unlike other spots, the menu at Blue Water seems lighter, with more grilled dishes than fried, and the recent addition of a new block of metered parking on India Street helps ease parking woes.
Though I'm usually a bit mercurial in my food choices, I order the same thing time after time, although every fourth trip or so I'll force myself to get something different for fear that I'll grow tired of my regular meal. I'm not too worried, though, because it's almost impossible to get sick of the fish sandwich, straight-up simple and perfect and my favorite pick here. It starts with a bolillo roll, crusty but gentle on the roof of your mouth and light-textured, but with a nice thickness and heft. You should ask them to toast the inside of the roll, so that it doesn't get soggy from the filling and the smear of homemade tartar sauce.
The star of the sandwich is a piece of grilled fish—your choice of halibut, shark, salmon or ahi, among other options. I always get the mahi-mahi, fresh from Mexico and consistently meaty but moist.
The kitchen can custom flavor your filet with a mop of chipotle or teriyaki sauce or give it serious sear until blackened, but I like it best with a baste of lemon and garlic butter. The fish is then topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato and red onion, and for an extra dollar, a few slices of avocado—a recommended addition. It's a roll-up-your-sleeves sandwich, the kind that you sort of have to eat in one go after you pick it up because it's so precariously but deliciously put together. I usually have to pull a fistful of napkins from the dispenser to mop up the juicy mess that ensues. Blue Water's waffle-cut fries, an extra but necessary cost, are routinely my ruin, with their faultless, piping-hot crispness.
I'm sort of mad for oysters, any which way, but I prefer them raw, as near to their sea-born state as I can get 'em. I consider a set of oyster-shucking tools among my most prized and useful possessions (I can't change my own oil, but I can pop open an oyster shell in seconds flat). Blue Water is one of the few places in town that I'll venture to eat these briny-sweet bivalves by the half-dozen, sometimes with a spot of spicy homemade cocktail sauce but usually with just squeeze of lemon. I sometimes mix it up with a grilled fish taco or Blue Water's ceviche, made from chopped fish from the grill's seafood case, marinated in a tangy dressing and served a heap of El Indio tortilla chips.
Another favorite is the classic tuna melt, which gets a California update with fresh-cooked albacore tuna salad and avocado on grilled sourdough. The one let-down is the clam chowder—it's overly peppery and lacking in flavor. But Blue Water gets major points for serving local beers from Ballast Point—the refreshing citrus of the Wahoo Wheat goes great with most dishes.
The plates, cups, chairs and tables here are all plastic—this is not the place for two-hour dinners. But with food this fresh, who cares? So, fuel up and then take a walk up India Street for more beers at Shakespeare Pub or a cup of spumoni gelato at Gelato Vero.