At Encinitas Fish Shop, order off the menu or create your own catch


When customers begin to peruse the menu at Encinitas Fish Shop, they discover that the world is their oyster.

From build-your-own fish entrees to the fresh seafood for sale in the market, it’s possible to create endless combinations and dishes that are perfectly tailored to your desires.

The concept has been a recipe for success for the Fish Shop, which opened in 2010 in Pacific Beach. Because the fast-casual establishment was well-received there, locations followed in Encinitas and Hermosa Beach, both in August 2014.

Those who prefer to design their dishes start by selecting their seafood from about a dozen varieties — jumbo shrimp and diver scallops to red snapper and swordfish.

Next, guests decide whether they want their fare fried or grilled; those who prefer the latter can opt for a marinade such as blackened seasoning, lemon butter and teriyaki sauce. Finally, they choose a style: tacos topped with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, cheese and the house white sauce; a salad that includes a medley of greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, pickled red onions and capers; a sandwich with house-cut fries; or served on a plate with a choice of two sides.

If patrons prefer, they can buy the seafood raw and prepare it at home. Every type that’s on the menu is sold through the market with the exception of mahi mahi, which is in high demand for the restaurant, according to General Manager Cody Nielsen.

While many people elect to build their meals, there are also standards and specials that allow for culinary creativity by chef and staff.

The restaurant’s signature item is the TKO Taco, which won top prize in San Diego’s Fish Taco TKO competition several years ago. It’s composed of mahi mahi enhanced by the house-made Fish Shop seasoning (Cajun dry rub) and topped with a tropical salsa, on a corn tortilla.

One item that’s a “must” on your first visit is the Fish Shop Shrimp. It’s dusted with the Fish Shop seasoning and brown sugar and then sautéed, which creates a caramelized coating. A chipotle aioli dip helps balance the flavors. The initial bites of the shrimp are sweet and savory, followed by a spicy “kick” at the end.

Another popular choice is the Lobster Lumpia — egg rolls served with jasmine rice and sesame sweet chili dipping sauce.

There are daily specials, and one that’s unique to the Encinitas location is the Ahi Poke Special. It features ahi tuna that’s tossed with sesame oil, ginger, crushed red pepper and seaweed salad, topped with avocado. It’s served with wonton chips.

Soups made from scratch include the Fish Shop Chowder with smoked Andouille sausage.

For a special treat, guests can take advantage of $1 oysters and $1 off Pacificos on Thursdays, starting at 4 p.m.

Beverages include sodas, wines and beers. Among the local brews are Societe Apprentice, Coronado’s Orange Avenue Wit, Karl Strauss Mosaic and Ballast Point Sculpin.

Encinitas Fish Shop, at 1010 S. Coast Highway 101, is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Call 760-436-4665 or go to