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The Original Sand Crab Tavern

59 reviews
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$30 and under
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Top Tags:
  • Neighborhood Gem
  • Good for Groups
  • Kid-friendly

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The Original Sand Crab Tavern is a special place in Escondido precisely because of its low-key atmosphere that forms a fitting place for friends to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Add in the abundant seafood on offer, such as the fresh lobster and succulent crab, there are plenty of delicious starters and sides available.

The Original Sand Crab Tavern has been serving its patrons since 1988. That speaks volumes about how good the food and atmosphere really is. Each dish at The Original Sand Crab Tavern is carefully created by expert chefs who take pride in each and every meal they put out.

Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Seafood, Creole / Cajun / Southern, Comfort Food
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Hours of operation
Tuesday – Thursday: 11:30am – 9:00pm;
Friday – Saturday: 11:30am – 10:00pm; Sunday: 2:00pm - 9:00pm


Sunday: 11:00am - 2:00pm
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Phone number
(760) 480-2722
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Payment options
Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Seafood boils and limited menu items available for your private event, up to 100 people
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Cross street
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Parking details
Also plenty of parking on the street
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Public transit
Very near the SPRINTER train stop at Nordahl in Escondido
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Check the website for our Live Music schedule
Bar Dining, Beer, Corkage Fee, Entertainment, Happy Hour, Outdoor dining, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wine
What 59 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
3.8  based on all time ratings
Noise · Moderate
84% of people would recommend it to a friend
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Harv (San Diego)
3.0  Dined on December 30, 2015

Crab cakes were bland and the sauce was horrible. Sweet mayo? Should be hot sauce or Tarter for Crab Cakes. Not authentic cajun cakes. Service very slow. They need more help. Fish and chips $32.00. Every body else in San Diego has the Alaska Cod and Chips for about $22.00. MANY years going to the cafe and this was my last. I will go to Bud's which is authentic and priced write.

HungryMan (San Diego)
2.0  Dined on December 22, 2015

We had enjoyed our first time at The Original Sand Crab Tavern a few weeks ago, but were very disappointed this time. They didn't have any crab! The excuse was their supplier didn't show up. The service was extremely slow because they only had one person waiting on tables. The food we had was okay but nothing exceptional.

Judy (San Diego)
2.0  Dined on November 29, 2015

I had been to this restaurant at least 5 other times. Because of lack of advertised live music the last time I was there, I called on Friday to make sure there would be live music (as advertised) for Sunday brunch. When we got there on Sunday they said there would be no live music. For the third time in a row they had just (at 11:30a) "run out of key lime pie." There has been a steady decline in food and enjoyment and this was my last visit, sorry to say.

OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on November 28, 2015

the food was excellent. the price was a bit steep for what you wanted there was no beer on tap when we were there. some of the booths need updating.

Oceansidefoodie (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on November 21, 2015

Such a fun place with great seafood. One of our favorites. Can't wait to go back!

llho (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on November 3, 2015

We've been here many times and almost always order the sampler. It's good as usual.

Week nights are the best time to avoid the crowd.

OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
2.0  Dined on November 1, 2015

I had tried them about a year ago and had a mediocre experience, but they did have an interesting entertainer and one larger table was celebrating which may have enticed me to come back and try again.

This time was a total disaster. Something was wrong with literally everything we were served from the wilted greens on the seafood salad to the cardboard taste of the store bought key lime pie which was served on badly chipped plates. I asked for eggbeaters to be used for my omelet and to make sure that the omelet was undercooked. The waiter didn't seem to know what eggbeaters were and the omelet came out quite well done (somewhat brown). The crabcake benedict's eggs were also overcooked with only a trace of runny yolk and the crabcake itself masked the crab taste with too much breading. Both entrees were served with something that looked like O'brian potatoes which were barely warm and appeared as if they were originally cooked the night before. Overall, the food would have to have been absolutely excellent to justify the high prices.

I think our server was the only one for the entire restaurant. After bringing our "starter" salad, the entree came out about 5 minutes later - before we were half finished with our salad. The rest of the service was minimal as we had to ask for hot sauce, additional water and finally the check as we wanted to exit ASAP. BTW - the advertised entertainment never surfaced.

Maybe it was the overall experience or the bad food, but I did not feel well later that evening.

BennieL1 (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on October 24, 2015

Everything was great. After our meal our dishes never got cleared off the table before we left. We were the to see the Bill McGee blues band. They were very entertaining. We will go back again.

OpenTable Diner (San Diego)
3.0  Dined on October 2, 2015

Located in an industrial area. Surrounding streets dark but parking lot lighted. Atmosphere very casual, bar like, 8pm arrival. Not busy so not real loud. They serve til 9:30. Music good, audible but did not impede conversation.
Lobster bisque B+. Fresh oysters on half shell cold, fresh, good. A+. Bread (finally) served cold C-. Alaska crab boil B-. Portion size $42 had lots of potatoes & sliced sausage, 2 crab legs. A bit pricey. Can be shared between 2.
So maybe the server was tired? She was not friendly, not patient with an elders' questions (she herself was middle-aged), took forever to bring the cold bread that we had requested and we all 6 talked about her actually making faces, showing her impatience and to hurry us along! Were we putting her out? We felt unwelcome.
We still left 15%(usually give 18%) - but we won't return.
When service is subpar, it matters not if the food is good. If you decide to try this place, get the young server and the lobster bisque. It was very good although not as good as in New England if you're a foodie.
The man (owner?) saying goodbye was friendly and thanked us.

llho (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on September 29, 2015

We always come to Sand Crab when we crave for fresh seafood. We were not disappointed.

SD2foodies (New York Area)
4.0  Dined on September 27, 2015

We ordered oyster shooters. They were fresh & juicy!! The fried halibut & crispy french fries are heavenly. My order of fried oyster tacos came with home made slaws were absolutely delicious & filling. The side dishes of New England clam chowder & seafood gumbo were outstanding. We will return soon.

Hmmm (San Diego)
3.0  Dined on September 17, 2015

Very pricey and servings small. The restaurant does not accept Amex and there is no signage to indicate this. Bummer

Michelle (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on August 19, 2015

We went for a birthday dinner, because we wanted a variety of seafood in a casual, fun atmosphere. The wine list is non-existent so bring your own bottle, and the corkage fee is only $7.50. Enjoyed the shellfish, sausage, corn and potatoes dumped on the table. I will go back.

mbx2 (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on August 7, 2015

Looks like a crab/fish shack plucked from back east with all of the wonderful seafood our area has to offer, plus more for others who like different types of food items.

vipMichele (San Diego)
2.0  Dined on August 2, 2015

We dined at this establishment for brunch. Brunch is $25.00 per person without a beverage. It is 3 courses (appetizer- soup or salad, entree, dessert) The restaurant was not full and it took over 2 hours from the time we arrived til the time we got the bill. Our salads came 35-40 minutes after we were seated with only 6 other tables occupied. The entree was warm at best and probably sat for awhile before it was brought to us. The ice cream dessert (bananas foster) was 95 % melted. Take your money elsewhere. Other patrons were complaining as well. There are plenty of brunches at restaurants with way better food, service and value.

Oceansidefoodie (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on July 26, 2015

Love introducing this out-of-the-way spot to other people, who always love it too!

SuznDave (San Diego)
5.0  Dined on July 25, 2015

We used to visit Sand Crab a couple of times a year, for many years. But, we moved and haven't made the time to go back. We had a not so great experience the last time we were there... an obnoxious diner in the next table, and another time I took my daughter for her birthday, but since there was only 1 server, the service wasn't good. We decided to try it out again because of the entertainment that night and we are really glad we did. We sat in the semi outdoor seating in the back near the band and visited with the couple sitting next to us. The food was fantastic! Music was awesome! We will definitely be going back a little more regular. We may even try to do the brunch on Sundays.

Downtowner (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on July 25, 2015

Food was excellent. The cup of gumbo & clam chowder was killer - I'll get a bowl or two next time! It would be nice if there was a selection of grilled or fried fish sandwhiches though.

BeeP (San Diego)
3.0  Dined on July 3, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed my dining experience here. The seafood was amazing. My only complaint is that the sourdough bread was store bought sliced bread, and the potatoes were hard as rocks. The flavor was definitely there though! The atmosphere is nice, and our waitress was lovely. Just please cook your potatoes thoroughly!

Disappointed (San Diego)
2.0  Dined on July 2, 2015

We had been to Sand Crab Tavern a few years ago - it's pricey so is a special occasion location. We won't be back. Service was beyond slow - only 1 waitress/hostess/bartender (all the same person), 1 bus person. Calamari strips were horrible - batter didn't stick, take a bite and everything falls apart. For the price, we could have had a much better quality and quantity meal at home. What was once a fun place...isn't.