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Seaport Village sardine bar demands a strong stomach and love for laughter

Oslo Sardine Bar is hard to find and only open on Thursday nights.

SAN DIEGO — If a can of sardines sounds like a delicious dinner, we've discovered a special spot just for you. In this Zevely Zone, I had to search, but finally found the Oslo Sardine Bar. 

I have covered a few of San Diego's secret speakeasies, but this was a new experience for me. I went to Seaport Village looking for a sardine bar that is hard to find. There is no sign on the building and it's only open once a week on Thursday nights.

Credit: Oslo Sardine Bar

In front of the establishment, a well-dressed sailor announced, "Simone? Simone party of two." I asked a group of people heading into the mysterious location what they were expecting? "Sardines," they said with no hesitation. Patrons then walk through a blue curtain that begins an ocean voyage of sorts. "Ahoy!!" yell the people waiting inside.  

Credit: Oslo Sardine Bar

Sometimes sailing the high seas demands a strong stomach. I asked what was available on their maritime menu. "We got smoked sardines, smoked sprat, smoked trout, smoked lobster and we also have some octopus and some squids. Everything is in a can," said Skipper Max Daily. He was in charge of launching this experience and if you're wondering why. "For the fun of it," Max told me.

As customers dug into their meals, a two-man band took the stage.  "Lucky sailors come along, come and sing the dead fish song, take your partner by the hand, spin her around until you see dry land," sang the Barnacle Boys. The band can be contacted by email at barnacleboysband@gmail.com. If they can't reel you in hook line and sinker, the food will. "So good, so good," said one customer after sliding a sardine and cracker into her mouth.  

Credit: Oslo Sardine Bar

Most sailors soak their sardines in hot sauce. "A little hot, a little salty, delicious," said another customer. "How is your breath?" I asked. He told me, "I will hide it from you don't worry."

Another customer told me, "It's the best and worst date spot." I asked Max if they sell mouthwash? "No, but you do get Swedish Fish at the end of your meal," he laughed. Once you place your order, customers sit back and watch the antics. "Skipper, I need two lemon sardines," yelled Squid Viscous into a telephone can on a string. "Two lemon sardines coming up," Skipper Max yelled back.  

Credit: Oslo Sardine Bar

Your bucket of bait travels from one side of the bar and back powered by a fishing pole. "Just like that," announced Skipper Max. I asked if they considered simplifying the process by walking the sardines over to the other side of the bar. "That wouldn't be any fun," laughed Skipper Max.  

"Ahoy, it is I, Professor Boats," announced a magician on stage. By the time, Professor Boats steered the crowd into the eye of the storm customers had the place figured out. "You need a little bit of chaos in life to make it interesting," said one customer.  

Eat your first fish around here and they call you a 'First timer'. They also make a ridiculous paper sailor's hat for you to wear. As for my first mate, photographer Scott Hall. "You got to try some," I said after eating five sardines myself. Scott traded his camera for a tin can. "Wow that's really good," he yelled. Scott's beard makes him look like a seasoned pirate. I have the feeling Oslo Sardine Bar just found another repeat customer.  

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Just when you think this ship is beyond capacity, the staff made up of a deckhand named Chum pulled another table and chairs out of thin air. The place is tiny but as you might expect; around here they pack them in like sardines.

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No reservations are required at the Oslo Sardine Bar. They are only open one night a week on Thursdays from 6-10pm.  For more information and a link to their Instagram page click here.

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