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Great views within Brigantine at Portside Pier

But no fish tacos are served in the dining room

The sun sets over the harbor, viewed from the Brigantine at Portside Pier dining room.
The sun sets over the harbor, viewed from the Brigantine at Portside Pier dining room.

We were told that happy hour specials would only be available at the bar. Fair enough: the bar area is large and stylish, and still within view of the boats and harbor. However, I was less concerned about eating $5 wagyu sliders than I was enjoying the real million-dollar view in the dining room.

Place

Brigantine at Portside Pier

1360 N Harbor Dr, San Diego

Make that $25 million. That’s how much reported went into the Portside Pier, which debuted this summer, replacing the 70-year-old institution, Anthony’s Fish Grotto, along downtown’s waterfront. And Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar has the plum spot, practically in the shadows of the Star of India’s sails. You can see the sailing vessel from the bar. But from the dining room you can see so much more: boats cruising the bay, Coronado across the way, and the sun setting over Point Loma.

No offense to Anthony’s die-hards, but the entire, stylish Portside complex feels like a step up, lookswise at least. With a half-century of San Diego seafood history of its own to draw upon, Brigantine moves in with its eighth county location, and at the south end of the development, adds a domed bar and grill for its Ketch Brewing beer spinoff.

The $25 million Portside Pier

Several Ketch beers are served on the Brigantine side, and I enjoyed a tasty West Coast IPA while appreciating the golden light leading up to sundown. I ordered Brigantine’s best-selling classic, grilled swordfish, and served with avocado butter and broccolini over risotto. Honestly, this was the best version of the dish I’ve tried all my years in this town. Quite satisfying.

The dining room at the Brigantine

But that’s not to say I didn’t want to follow up with a fish taco or two. Sparkling lights were coming alive around the harbor, and besides, I still had room (always have room) for tacos. The same could be said about beer. I waved over our server, and asked to see a taco menu.

That’s when I learned that happy hour wasn’t the only thing restricted to the bar. At this new Brigantine, tacos are available in the bar area only.

The domed bar and grill of Ketch Brewing, at Portside Pier

There are two exceptions: the lobster taco plate offered on the dining room menu, and all-day Taco Tuesday specials offered throughout the restaurant. But my taco-as-dessert ambition would be vanquished.

I suppose I could have crossed over to the bar, ordered tacos and beer, then returned to our table with a view. But should I have to?

Grilled swordfish with broccolini, avocado butter, and risotto

I can appreciate, in a new, multi-million dollar restaurant, that Brigantine might want to reserve its best tables for someone more spendy than a casual taco diner. But considering I’d already ordered and eaten an entrée, and tacos were being served elsewhere in the restaurant, I found this taco blocking activity an odd stance. So, rather than order more food and drinks, we went elsewhere. With room for taco to spare.

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The sun sets over the harbor, viewed from the Brigantine at Portside Pier dining room.
The sun sets over the harbor, viewed from the Brigantine at Portside Pier dining room.

We were told that happy hour specials would only be available at the bar. Fair enough: the bar area is large and stylish, and still within view of the boats and harbor. However, I was less concerned about eating $5 wagyu sliders than I was enjoying the real million-dollar view in the dining room.

Place

Brigantine at Portside Pier

1360 N Harbor Dr, San Diego

Make that $25 million. That’s how much reported went into the Portside Pier, which debuted this summer, replacing the 70-year-old institution, Anthony’s Fish Grotto, along downtown’s waterfront. And Brigantine Seafood & Oyster Bar has the plum spot, practically in the shadows of the Star of India’s sails. You can see the sailing vessel from the bar. But from the dining room you can see so much more: boats cruising the bay, Coronado across the way, and the sun setting over Point Loma.

No offense to Anthony’s die-hards, but the entire, stylish Portside complex feels like a step up, lookswise at least. With a half-century of San Diego seafood history of its own to draw upon, Brigantine moves in with its eighth county location, and at the south end of the development, adds a domed bar and grill for its Ketch Brewing beer spinoff.

The $25 million Portside Pier

Several Ketch beers are served on the Brigantine side, and I enjoyed a tasty West Coast IPA while appreciating the golden light leading up to sundown. I ordered Brigantine’s best-selling classic, grilled swordfish, and served with avocado butter and broccolini over risotto. Honestly, this was the best version of the dish I’ve tried all my years in this town. Quite satisfying.

The dining room at the Brigantine

But that’s not to say I didn’t want to follow up with a fish taco or two. Sparkling lights were coming alive around the harbor, and besides, I still had room (always have room) for tacos. The same could be said about beer. I waved over our server, and asked to see a taco menu.

That’s when I learned that happy hour wasn’t the only thing restricted to the bar. At this new Brigantine, tacos are available in the bar area only.

The domed bar and grill of Ketch Brewing, at Portside Pier

There are two exceptions: the lobster taco plate offered on the dining room menu, and all-day Taco Tuesday specials offered throughout the restaurant. But my taco-as-dessert ambition would be vanquished.

I suppose I could have crossed over to the bar, ordered tacos and beer, then returned to our table with a view. But should I have to?

Grilled swordfish with broccolini, avocado butter, and risotto

I can appreciate, in a new, multi-million dollar restaurant, that Brigantine might want to reserve its best tables for someone more spendy than a casual taco diner. But considering I’d already ordered and eaten an entrée, and tacos were being served elsewhere in the restaurant, I found this taco blocking activity an odd stance. So, rather than order more food and drinks, we went elsewhere. With room for taco to spare.

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Comments
2

My wife and I are "regulars" at the La Mesa Brig. In fact, we met there 25 years ago. We still love it! Unfortunately, with temperatures hovering in the 90's, outdoor dining is not a pleasant experience for us in La Mesa these days. We decided to try the new Portside Brig for lunch his week. As a bonus, our dynamic and favorite server, Armando, has transferred from La Mesa to Portside. So, we looked forward to seeing our friend as well. We had reservations for 11:15am. We spent $7.50 in quarters for 3 hours of meter parking on Harbor Drive (a complete rip-off) And strolled a short distance to Portside, arriving at the sidewalk reservation podium/circus at 11 am. Upon arriving, I informed one of the 3 stooges manning the podium of our 11:15 reservation in Armando's section. We were asked step to the side which we did for about 5 minutes. One of he stooges then walked us to a table in a back corner with no sun shade, with the only view being that of the Russian submarine at the Maritime Museum. (Probably a reminance of the Trump boat parade held the day before). I immediately objected to the seating choice, noticing dozens of nice view tables available. Her response was, "You asked for Armando. This is his section." So be it. We sat here a couple of minutes when a young server approached, "hi, I'm --, and I'll be serving you today". I reflexively responded, "No you won't. Armando will be serving us." Simultaneously I spotted Armando a couple sections over and he spotted me. He hustled over and took control of the situation, moving us to a much better table in his section and apologizing profusely to both my wife and me, and to the initial server. He is a class act! Anyway the 3rd member of our party arrived, and we had lunch. As usual with Armando, the service was spot on. The food was OK, but certainly no better than our beloved La Mesa Brig. But the overall experience was mediocre...Much to do about nothing! The "big boys at he Harbor District and the Brig ownership have blown it! The Harbor Drive frontage of the building is hideous, resembling a large corrugated metal storm drain. Most of the sightlines from the inside are decent. But he ambiance and personnel are less than impressive. The "Reservation" podium is like something out of a 3 Stooges movie...good luck! And the parking, $7.50/3hours meter; $15+/3 hours Valet. What a rip-off So that's the best the shakers and movers could come up with for one of the most prime harbor side properties?! No thanks!. No return. This may be a treat for vacationing desert dwellers (although there are much better options along the harbor) but we'll stick with our La Mesa Brig, even if we have to wait a few weeks longer to enjoy it!

Oct. 10, 2020
This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.
Oct. 15, 2020

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