San Diego’s Gaslamp District is filled with food representing almost every cuisine. If you’re looking for the freshest seafood with five-star service, don’t miss the Water Grill. We stumbled across it the first time pre-covid in 2019 and were blown away by the food and the service. When we had a chance to return for a pre-Elle King 30th anniversary dinner in February of 2022, we found it every bit as delicious and memorable. It’s tough to be consistent like that, pre-and post-Covid, when you’re dealing with fresh seafood and large staffs. Water Grill really delivers.
Service is key
The service honestly is beyond compare. The wait staff showed deep knowledge of the specials and ingredients on the menu. The courses were served at an even pace. We were never left without the offer of a water refill or another drink. I even took note of the people who helped us. During our anniversary meal Richard G., our server, and Trevor B., the manager on duty, weren’t just attentive and courteous. They were both very interesting, nice people who made us feel genuinely welcome to be dining with them. Trevor offered to take our anniversary photo and arranged for a special dessert that we unfortunately didn’t have time to take him up on.
Trevor was the manager on that first visit and Ashley was our excellent server. She had spot-on recommendations about the wine and the oysters. Sam, the busboy, was personable and great as well.
We tried a signature drink, the Sixth & J, also their address. The description – vodka, strawberries, lemon, and tarragon on the rocks – doesn’t do justice to the interesting sounding addition of tarragon. The strawberry and lemon were tart enough , and the bittersweet anise-like tarragon offset any sweetness.
I also tried the Licia Albariño, as recommended by Ashley, which had the perfect flavors to enhance our Kumamotos.
Kumamoto oysters are the best but not always easy to find, so I was thrilled to see those tiny briny bites on the menu. We started with those along with Peruvian scallops. They were brought out quickly on a crushed ice-filled pewter tray.
It’s a bit of an art to serve oysters that fresh and cold with bright mignonette that complement the briny taste, and they pulled it off exactly as they had on our first visit. Here’s another view of that delicious scallop:
Smoked hamachi nachos were next, very thin and crunchy yucca chips topped with slices of hamachi and paprika with a bright limey vinaigrette and crunchy Marcona almonds. The only smoky flavor came from the paprika, which also lent a bit of heat that nicely balanced the citrus and richness of the hamachi.
Between the two visits, we had the fish and ships, wedge salad, mixed greens, and chocolate espresso ganache cake. Everything perfect.
Water Grill is a large, comfortable space. Make sure to get a booth next to the window so you can look out over Gaslamp square as you dine. It’s got fantastic food, great ambiance, and truly above-and-beyond service made our dinners here two of the best we’ve ever had. Can’t wait to return, and highly recommend it to all of you.