arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

Poke

The Hawaiian staple is trending in San Diego

Fresh raw fish fans can find poke, Hawaii’s traditional dish, in eateries all over town.

By: Ann Wycoff; Food, Spa & Travel Writer

Hawaiian-Style Poke is Popping up Everywhere

Poke, which means to slice or cut, is a simple Hawaiian dish, traditionally made with chunks of raw tuna, seaweed and salt. But the everyday Hawaiian staple has evolved, with new incarnations popping up all over San Diego. The popularity of poke (pronounced poh-keh) can also be seen with the success of the I Love Poke San Diego Festival launched several years ago by Nino “Neens” Camilo. “This event was created as our way of doing a backyard barbecue Hawaiian-style at the Bali Hai right on the water. We’ve become one big family; chefs participate in this festival because it’s fun and there’s a good vibe,” explains Nino.

Always fresh, poke can be sold-by-the-scoop at deli counters or found as an upscale appetizer at highbrow restaurants. According to Neens, different cultures have influenced the dish. “Californians added the avocados; Asians the wonton chips, wasabi, soy sauce and more. In Hawaii, poke always comes with rice—serving it without rice is the equivalent of serving an American hot dog without the bun,” adds Nino.

Poke’s “new skool” is a diverse landscape with poke-inspired raw fish dishes with added ingredients that go beyond the traditional. Discover these top places around San Diego to get your aloha on and enjoy poke.

Patio on Goldfinch

This striking Mission Hills eatery with its living green plant walls, fireplaces, gorgeous bar and open-air patio serves up poke-style ahi tacos with soy-sambal marinated sashimi-grade ahi, Napa cabbage, crispy wontons, and cucumber salad. Delish.

Duke’s La Jolla

Named for the Olympic swimmer, movie star and man who brought surfing to the U.S., Duke’s just opened in La Jolla where you can sit on the swanky deck overlooking the Pacific and enjoy a little aloha. Order up the fresh poke tucked into crispy tacos with shoyu, maui onions, avocado and wasabi crème fraiche with a Mai Tai, of course.

The Lanai

Head to this little Garden of Eden in Leucadia for authentic Hawaiian eats on a sunny patio with picnic tables. Chef Doug Moric delivers beautiful poke—we recommend the house with raw ahi with soy, sesame oil, sweet onion, scallions, togarashi, and Hawaiian salt or go Californian and add chunks of avo.

Zarlitos

This National City family restaurant is known for its Filipino and Mexican specialties and Hawaiian-style poke. Zarlitos takes pride in their daily poke platters, offering good variety—think spicy garlic, ahi limu (seaweed), shoyu, ahi fuikake, ahi kimchi, salmon, tako and seared albacore. Not to mention Zarlitos took first place at the I Love Poke San Diego Festival in 2015.

Fish 101

This local’s favorite in Encinitas, known for its sustainably caught fresh fish, dishes up sashimi grade albacore tuna poke appetizer with sesame, shoyu, sweet onion, wakame, and wonton chips, or try their poke bowl with rice, seaweed salads, fresh greens and cucumbers, perfect with a Ballast Point Pale Ale.

Pokirrito

This fast-casual, build-your-own poke bowl concept comes from visionary Japanese chef Junya Watanabe. Diners move through a series of stations selecting their own base (white or brown rice, or kale salad), vegetables, fresh fish, housemade toppings and sauces. You may also want to try their innovative sushi burritos.

Fishbone Kitchen

Grab a seat at the raw bar of this cool fish shop in Liberty Public Market food hall where you can enjoy lovely ahi poke presented in a martini glass.

Chris' Ono Grinds

This Hawaiian plate lunch eatery has poke made from sashimi-grade ahi tossed in Chris’ ono kine sauce. There’s also a delicious bowl with ahi, macadamia nuts and diced veggies all over rice and drizzled with wasabi aioli.

Bali Hai

Shelter Island’s Polynesian palace and iconic tiki temple since 1954 is another tropical outpost for poke. Dig into the house special, the Island Poke Bowl with ahi over rice and mac salad, or savor their top-selling pupu—poke with avocado cream cheese, seaweed, masago (roe) and wontons.

Chandler’s

At the friendly restaurant at Cape Rey Resort in Carlsbad, one of Chef Teri McIllwain's hits is her take on poke. Head out to the fire pits and savor the Capeside Poke, a mélange of high-grade ahi, rainbow quinoa, Thai chili aioli, marinated seaweed, cucumber, lime and ponzu with wonton chips, perfect for a sunset snack by the sea.

Good Time Poke

This new, casual daytime eatery in Pacific Beach offers delicious poke bowls with Big Eye tuna, fresh albacore and Skuna Bay salmon or Spanish octopus. The eatery also fronts a tiki-themed speakeasy, The Grass Skirt, for rum-inspired cocktails and nighttime fun.

Pokewan

Carlsbad’s grab-n-go and build-your-own poke concept, created by the owners of Love Boat Sushi, has seven different types of fish with one special catch of the day and a variety of bases, sides, sauces and toppings.

Local Farmers Markets

From Hillcrest and Little Italy to Scripps Ranch, Encinitas and Oceanside, several companies are selling delicious poke to take home or eat while strolling the farmers market. Look for the San Diego Poke Company, It's Raw Poke, and Iln Lyf Food.

Make Your Own Poke

If you want to make poke for yourself, Catalina Offshore Products reigns as the place for fresh fish. Talk to San Diego’s finest fish monger Tommy Gomes and he’ll lead you in the right direction.

I Love Poke San Diego Festival

This island-spirited celebration of Hawaiian culture and cuisine takes place each May at Bali Hai on Shelter Island. It features Pokeland where 20 creative chefs compete for the “Best Poke” crown, and Foodland, a sampling zone with Hawaiian and Asian-inspired foods. Poke-making demos and live music add to the fun. Don’t miss this mecca for poke that raises money for charitable causes.

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Related Articles and Features

Deals just for you

Accommodation

Welcome Back To Island Palms Offer!

Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina
Valid: Jun 30 - ongoing

Brighter days are just around the corner, and we are sure you are eagerly awaiting your next escape. Plan ahead now that we are re-opened, with this special offer for travel dates from now through...

Accommodation

Dreaming Of The Days Inn Offer

Days Inn By Wyndham San Diego Hotel Circle
Valid: Jun 30 - ongoing

Dreaming of a lazy summer getaway or a reason to get out of the house? We've got you covered. With our Dreaming Of The Days offer, we've got rates from $69 including free nightly parking. When you're...

Accommodation

Getaway To Holiday Inn Bayside Offer

Holiday Inn San Diego Bayside
Valid: Jun 30 - ongoing

Our Getaway Package is waiting for you when the time is right and you need a change of scenery! Book this package to include everything you need – a clean and comfortable room, daily breakfast,...

Events to check out

Event

Supergirl Surf Pro

Aug 14 - Aug 16, 2020

The world’s top professional female surfers are back in Oceanside, CA for the 13th Supergirl Surf Pro, a 3-day event August 14-16, 2020. The weekend will be jam-packed with world-class...

Event

Bike the Bay

Aug 23, 2020

Experience Bike the Bay, a scenic bayside ride, and also enjoy a rare opportunity to ride over the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge.

Event

USA Ultimate National Championships

Oct 22 - Oct 25, 2020

The USA Ultimate National Championships represent the pinnacle of elite ultimate in North America and crowns champions in three divisions: men’s, mixed and women’s. 

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China FlagChinaGermany FlagGermanyGreat Britain FlagGreat BritainJapan FlagJapanMexico FlagMexicoKorea FlagKoreaSwitzerland FlagSwitzerlandBrazil FlagBrazilFrance FlagFranceAustralia FlagAustraliaCanada FlagCanada USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Español Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish