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By Miriam Raftery

July 17, 2020 (La Mesa) -- Just a few weeks ago, Anthony's Fish Grotto had announced its intent to close permanently due to the COVID-19 shutdown's devastating impact on restaurants. Then an outpouring of support from customers persuaded owner Craig Ghio to keep the doors open until dine-in resumed.  The state reopened dine-in only briefly. Now, with only outdoor dining allowed, Anthony's has substantially expanded its socially-distanced seating alongside a private lake, provided probably the most delightful outdoor dining experience in East County.

Tropical music added ambience when I visited this week, sipping a signature Tropical Cruise with rum, pineapple juice and peach Schnapps.  Homemade clam chowder in a sourdough breadbowl provided a hearty and affordable meal. My dining companion, an ECM reporter, chose a  healthy salad topped with fresh fruits; you can opt to top it off with shrimp, salmon, or chicken. The menu also includes an array of fresh seafoods, sandwiches and more.

Lush landscaping and fountains with the sound of running water, creating an illusion evocative of beaches in some far-away enclave.

New tables, all socially distanced, now extend beyond the Bocci Ball court area to accommodate many more than before. Although the restaurant was filled, we walked in and had no trouble getting a table within about 10 minutes around 5:30 p.m. on a weeknight. You can pass the time in a tropically-shaded walkway out front. Anthony's also offers a take-out counter to purchase fresh seafood, and they have take-home options for meals as well.

Check out the menu options for Anthony's Seafood Grotto in La Mesa at


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