Pre-gaming before the Padres baseball game
Pre-gaming before the Padres baseball game

With the first day of spring less than one month away, many San Diegans are already thinking about spring training and the start of baseball season. The home opener game for the San Diego Padres is Monday, April 4 at Petco Park downtown. The game kicks off at 4:05 p.m. against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Every year on opening day, the East Village Association hosts a free Opening Day Block Party on J Street between Sixth and 10th avenues from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Enjoy live entertainment from local bands and deejays, purchase craft beer from the beer garden, and order grub from the food trucks on-site. Since opening day is usually the busiest day of the season at Petco Park, I’d advise getting downtown EARLY. Most people end up taking the entire day off work so they can hit up the block party before the first pitch. This year the home opener giveaway promotion is a rally towel from Sycauan Casino, which you’ll pick up inside the gate before heading to your seats. Even if you never make it inside the ballpark, all the nearby bars and restaurants will be one big party (Padres attire required).

Just a couple blocks from Petco Park, Water Grill opened last year on the corner of J Street and Sixth Avenue. With additional locations in Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles, Water Grill is owned by King’s Seafood Distribution that provides fresh seafood to the company’s family of restaurants. Water Grill has an extensive raw bar menu, as well as appetizers, salads, sandwiches, whole fish, seafood and non-seafood entrees. I love that you can actually taste the clams in their tasty New England-style clam chowder, and the lump blue crab cake is packed with crab meat instead of fried breading. One of their most popular menu items, the Chilean sea bass is pan sautéed to perfection and comes with ricotta gnudi and brown butter. SO good. The entrees are served a la carte, so I recommend ordering a few sides like the Brussels sprouts with bacon and chestnuts, or the roasted butternut squash. For a refreshing cocktail, try the margarita verde that has cucumber, basil, jalapeño and lime. Don’t leave without ordering the caramel bread pudding – it has to be the best bread pudding I’ve ever had. The texture of the bread is extra decadent because it’s made with brioche and croissant, and then topped with housemade caramel ice cream. #wow

The Chilean sea bass, clam chowder, margarita verde, and caramel bread pudding at Water Grill
The Chilean sea bass, clam chowder, margarita verde, and caramel bread pudding at Water Grill

When ordering shellfish, you can take a walk back into the kitchen and select your own lobster/crab/spot prawn from the live tanks. The red king crabs are usually seven to nine pounds each, so bring a friend (or three)!

Red king crab in the live tank
A 9 lb. red king crab in the live tank

Water Grill is a great place to accommodate big groups because of the size of the restaurant. The ambiance is similar to that of an (upscale) fisherman’s warehouse, with a massive dining room, upstairs and downstairs bars, raw bar, and lounge area. The upstairs bar/lounge area feels a bit less formal than the main dining room, but the nautical, rustic decor is uniform throughout the restaurant. They also have a private dining room for special events.

Pass the crab legs, let’s play ball!

Advertisements