Donovan's Prime Seafood

Donovan’s Prime Seafood upholds the same high standards of service and cuisine as its Steak and Chophouse counterpoints. As the latest addition to the Donovan’s family of restaurants, Donovan’s Prime Seafood specializes in serving the freshest sustainable seafood and shellfish on the market. The restaurant couples its commitment to sustainably sourced seafood with its promise to use local produce and ingredients. What results from such thoughtful practices is a distinguished and flavorful menu served up in an equally sophisticated and charming dining space. Classic in design, the Donovan’s Prime Seafood dining room suites its downtown location and urban vibe brilliantly. Whether diving into a serving of Alaskan King Crab Legs in the dining room or sipping from a Georgia Peach at the bar, Donovan’s Prime Seafood is the place to sample quality.

Prime Dining for the Seafood Connoisseur

The Donovan’s Restaurant Group is a trademark in the San Diego dining community known for exemplary service and quality cuisine. While Donovan’s is primarily known for perfecting the classic upscale steakhouse, the restaurant group has set its sights on coastal cuisine for their newest venture, Donovan’s Prime Seafood. Sister restaurant to Donovan’s of Downtown and Donovan’s of La Jolla, Donovan’s Prime Seafood continues the family tradition of excellence with its fresh sea fare and attentive staff. 

Perched on the always-bustling 5th Avenue in the Gaslamp District, Donovan’s Prime Seafood offers a breath of fresh air for seafood lovers everywhere. The location is at the epicenter of San Diego’s Downtown urban scene in close proximity to Petco Park and the Convention Center. The restaurant was previously known as Circle of Fifths, a trendy lounge offering bar bites and plenty of delicious drinks for guests to enjoy.  Unlike its former counterpart, Donovan’s Prime Seafood offers much more than expertly crafted cocktails. 

 As my guest and I approach the restaurant, I observe the elegant patio overlooking the street and the Donovan’s Prime Seafood Logo with a blue background and red lobster emblem located on the lower left hand corner of the sign peeking out from under the patio awning. As we enter the restaurant we are greeted by the friendly hostess. 

The interior changes from sophisticated urban patio to classically elegant with large windows stretching across the front wall, offering plenty of light and a cool breeze from the street. The hostess seats me and my guest at a table in the front room across from the large open windows, creating an airy atmosphere akin to the outdoor patio dining. The interior offers a soothing blend of cream walls, soft red and cream patterned carpet, and classic dark wood tables and brown leather chairs. We are immediately served cold water and are offered the Dinner and Drink Menus.

We are greeted by the Manager who gives us a detailed overview of the menu as well as the wine list. He offers me and my guest a glass of wine and we readily accept. I am served the “Russian River” Pinot Noir, which has floral notes and a hint of berry. After looking over the menu, we decide to let the Chef surprise us. 

The Drink Menu offers an array of wine, beer, and signature cocktails. Donovan’s is proud to serve a 6oz. glass of wine—and they have plenty of glasses to choose from with a selection of red and white wines from primarily California, such as the Bell Cabernet Blend or the Mason Cellars Sauvignon Blanc with a few select wines from Italy and New Zealand. The beer selection includes a variety ranging from Hefeweizen to Pale Ales featuring Bass Ale, Flying Dog Snake IPA, and Carlsberg among other beers.

The Dinner Menu offers fish and shellfish appetizers, salads, and entrees for diners to enjoy. The Kona Spiced Ahi Tuna with beluga lentils, cipollini onions and green garlic sauce; Mediterranean Black Mussels; Seafood Chop Salad; and a selection of 100% USDA Prime Beef and Surf and Turf Entrees including the San Diego Carpet Bagger (New York Strip Steak Stuffed with Sautéed Oysters and Mushrooms) are featured dishes. 

The Manager takes our menus and immediately following a fresh loaf of bread with salted butter is brought to our table. The bread tastes warm and fresh, set off by the smooth saltiness of the butter. After we enjoy the amuse bouche, we are served a trio of appetizers each presented on white porcelain plates. The trio includes the Salmon “House Cured,” Ahi Tuna Tartare, and Jumbo Lump Crab Cake. 

The first Appetizer is the Salmon “House Cured” placed in the center of the plate with wild arugula in a lemon vinaigrette sauce on one side and the rich orange salmon on the other with each piece of salmon rolled into a single serving and fanned out to create a visually appealing dish. The salmon’s smooth texture creates the perfect setting to a symphony of salty, slightly smoky, and sweet flavors.  The fried capers and English mustard sauce garnish add another dimension to the dish—providing an unexpected but pleasing note of bitterness and spice. Tangy and light, the Wild Arugula salad is garnished with red onion, providing a burst of acidity further adding the flavor of the dish.  

Next we sample the Ahi Tuna Tartare served with taro root chips, presented on a rectangular white porcelain plate. A bed of fresh greens garnishes the top of the cubed tartare while the tamarind and ginger, while taro root chips are laid across the plate. I take a chip and dip into the tartare. The mixture of the earthy greens, fresh tartare, and crispy taro chip creates a dynamic range of texture. The fish screams of high quality and freshness as it melts in your mouth, bringing out hints of tamarind and ginger with every bite as the taro chip provides a crunchy backdrop. 

The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake is the last appetizer, also served on a circular dish with a side of remoulade. The crab cake is moist and spongy, with hints of citrus and pepper that pair well with the greens placed alongside the cake. The greens have a light vinaigrette sauce that cleanses the palate between bites of the cake. When dipped in the remoulade, a note of creaminess is added to the cake, contrasting with the bitterness of the scallions.

After we finish the appetizers we are asked if we are ready for entrees. My guest and I happily accept, excited to indulge in another round of palatable bliss. A trio of dishes served on classic white porcelain plates are placed on the table. The Chef has chosen three entrees: Monkfish, Alaskan Halibut, and Diver Scallops. 

The Monkfish is seared and cooked just right; flaking off as soon as you pierce the fish with a fork. The fish is zesty and fresh, set off by the lemon grass and ginger emulsion. A healthy portion of vegetables come with the fish, a delicious mixture of mushrooms, peppers, and braised leeks. The vegetables provide dimension in flavor and texture, providing a necessary boldness that compliments the fish. 

The Halibut, served with wild arugula and Peruvian heirloom potatoes, is a hearty departure from the previous two entrees.  The fish comes with a Kaffir lime beurre blanc sauce that pairs nicely with the Halibut, creating a refreshing twist on what I anticipated to be a traditionally hearty dish. The arugula is cooked just enough to add earthiness and texture while the fennel provides an essential note of bitterness. 

The Diver Scallops offer a delightful interlude in both texture and flavor from the fish, complete with a side of asparagus and carrots. The scallops are a dark brown on the outside and a bright white in the center— pan seared to create the coveted combination of crunchy exterior and moist, soft interior. The texture alone is enough to please the palate, but the almond, fennel crumbs, celery root purée, and pistachio oil blend to create a subtle flavor that brings out the sheer freshness of the scallops. The asparagus and carrots are lightly grilled with the signature crunchiness of fresh vegetables.   

After we finish our entrees we have the opportunity to speak to the Executive Chef Ronald Bankston who in is relaxed, friendly, and extremely passionate about his cuisine. We ask him about his philosophy and he simply stated that he focuses on highlighting the quality of the seafood, bringing out its natural flavors without the use of heavy sauces or complex preparation techniques. This philosophy is evident in each dish sampled— light, refreshing, and of course, containing fresh ingredients of the utmost caliber.

For dessert the Chef selects the Chocolate Mousse with an almond tui, a rich, sinfully sweet end to an overall light and flavorful meal. Layers of chocolate mousse and moist chocolate cake provide velvety richness while the almond tui provides caramel undertones and a hint of almond. The dessert offers plenty of texture for the palate: the chocolate cake provides a decadent backdrop to the crunchy tui, while the mousse rounds out the dessert providing creaminess. 

As our meal comes to an end, we thank our waiter and leave the restaurant. Our meal is flawless in both preparation and service. We are served with an ease that seems so natural it can be expected that patrons will barely have to lift a finger—unless to pick up a fork, take a bite, and enjoy! Donovan’s Prime Seafood embodies the qualities that have made the Donovan’s Restaurant Group successful: a killer combination of delicious cuisine and great service set to a sophisticated décor in a coveted location, making for a dining experience that will keep locals and first timers coming back for a taste of sheer excellence.

Insider Tip: 

Donovan’s Prime Seafood is a great location for large parties, offering a variety of group dining options to accommodate parties of 10 to 150. Due to its close proximity to the Convention Center, the restaurant is for perfect convention-goers in search of a satisfying meal. Donovan’s Prime Seafood also offers complimentary transportation to and from nearby hotels, resorts and businesses via the Donovan’s Complimentary Executive Coach. This service is also available at Prime Seafood’s sister restaurants, the equally tantalizing Donovan’s of Downtown and Donovan’s of La Jolla.

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Restaurant Info

  • Address: 333 5th Avenue, San Diego CA 92101
  • Cross Street: K Street
  • Location: Downtown | Gaslamp Quarter
  • Cuisine: American | Seafood | Steak |
  • Cost: $$$ | Moderate | $50 - $75
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Not Available
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Meals Served: Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Valet Parking |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover | Diners Club |
  • Corkage Fee: 20.00 | Per 750ml bottle. Limit two.
  • Phone: (619) 906-4850

Business Hours

| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
| Happy Hours 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
| Happy Hours 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 8 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
| Happy Hours 8 p.m. - 11 p.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
| Happy Hours 8 p.m. - 11 p.m.
| Happy Hours 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
| Dinner 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.


  • Full Bar
  • Private Room
  • Takeout Available
  • Winning Wine List
  • Wheelchair Access
  • Valet Parking
  • Happy Hours
  • Personal Wines Allowed
  • Lounge / Bar
  • Healthy Options


  • Dining Alone
  • Business Dining
  • Meet for a Drink
  • Quiet Conversation
  • Special Occasion


F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions

Noise level depends on the night you dine and how many other guests are dining there with you. There is light music however not overbearing. There is only a view of the Downtown Gaslamp Quarter.


Dinner Menu

  This is a sample menu only. Prices and availability may be subject to change.

Oyster Bar



Seafood Specialities

Seafood and Steakhouse Classics

Side Dishes

Happy Hour

  Happy Hour menu is available daily from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. featuring complimentary hand passed seafood treats.


Happy Hour Wine Selections

Happy Hour Martinis

Happy Hour Draft Beers

Prix Fixe Menu ($55.00)

  3-Course dinner. Price is per person and does not include beverages, tax or gratuity. This is a sample menu only. Price and availability may be subject to change.

1st Course

2nd Course

3rd Course

Dessert Menu

  This is a sample menu only. Prices and availability may be subject to change.


Coffee Drinks


Restaurant Address: 333 5th Avenue, San Diego CA 92101

User Reviews

A conference attendee from the east coast  

Pricey but worth it!

Best seafood dish ever!  

I recommend Donavan's Prime Seafood for who is going to visit San Diego. The scallop dish is excellent and the service is really great! Our waiter also recommended a perfect wine!

Excellent date restaurant.  

Great place to take a date. Had my 5 year anniversary dinner there. Great service. Great food. Will definitely be back!!


We were unable to have dinner as this was the night of the blackout but our food and service is always terrific.

OK food, horrible service  

When I am paying that kind of money for food, I expect OUTSTANDING service. I expect my water and wine glass to stay full. I do not expect to have to hunt down a waiter for another drink or bottle of wine. I took some very important clients to your restruant and the service was worse then what I would have received at Applebees.

Donovan's Prime Seafood  

Donovan's Prime Seafood is located in the Gaslamp area of downtown San Diego on 5th Avenue. Previously it was Donovan's Circle on 5th which was a martini bar; however in keeping with their upscale cuisine they opted to establish it into a high-end seafood restaurant. We made our reservation for Friday night and arrived about 10-15 minutes late we; wondered if our reservation may have been cancelled. Fortunately the hostess ladies were very welcoming and friendly we were promptly seated by the seafood display bar. The overall mood was strange; for lack of a better word. The restaurant was very quiet although it was a Friday evening and they appeared pretty busy. We noticed there wasn’t any background music which seemed odd we almost felt we had to whisper the entire time. One waiter came around and poured water and brought what may have been the best sourdough bread I have had…EVER! It was warm and soft inside with a crunchy outer layer, the butter simply melted into the dough. Our main waiter then came to go over the menu and read us the specials. We opted out of appetizers; in an attempt to watch our figures and partake in a few beverages. She ordered the dirty martini extra dirty with bleu cheese olives and I ordered the jalapeño martini which was very tasty. Being a salmon lover and have a tendency to order that whenever I see it. This time I decided I would branch out and order a different dish. Donovan’s has a seasonal menu from which I decided to try the Seared Halibut with bouillabaisse, Red Bell Pepper, Ratatouille…it sounded delicious. My friend ordered the Seared Pacific Ahi with Soy Consommé, Edamame, and Wild Mushroom. Who can go wrong with these scrumptious sounding dishes, right? Or so we thought; our food arrives and the first whiff I get is a smell of seafood broth, which didn’t smell bad. First taste, the ocean; the bouillabaisse tasted much like the sea; it was difficult to pick out any other flavors. The Ratatouille was pickled and I was able to make out eggplant, squash and zucchini aside from the bell peppers however they all tasted the same, the only difference was the texture of the eggplant which was similar to a dried fruit, only slightly softer. The fish itself was cooked well, but was lacking in flavor. The Ahi was the same story, flavorless in all aspects. There was a dollop of wasabi sauce under it, which the waiter did advise my friend however several bites later you don’t realize it’s engulfing the entire bottom of the plate, not sure who thinks that much wasabi is necessary in any meal especially tucked under the main item. Needless to say, we did not finish our entrees…and decided to skip dessert. On a positive note, the service was excellent our waiter was very attentive and even offered to take our picture when our meal arrived. Our water was always refilled which is a huge plus in my book! After this experience I doubt I will return to Donovan’s Prime Seafood. I had high hopes for this meal considering their steaks are quite delish!

Expected a view of the oceean and got fog...  

After eating at the steakhouse and feeling so special I thought wow this experience should be very special building on such a good name and experience in taking care of their guests. Boy was I wrong. Horrible ambiance and music. Forgettable help. Dry Filet Mignon. The manager was nice but dressed sloppily not badly just not impressive in his attire. Should be sharp and crisp in appearance. Attention to detail is perhaps what I am trying to express.

Expected a view of the oceean and got fog...  

After eating at the steakhouse and feeling so special I thought wow this experience should be very special building on such a good name and experience in taking care of their guests. Boy was I wrong. Horrible ambiance and music. Forgettable help. Dry Filet Mignon. The manager was nice but dressed sloppily not badly just not impressive in his attire. Should be sharp and crisp in appearance. Attention to detail is perhaps what I am trying to express.

Service needs work  

Poor service. The table next to mine was so frustrated they left without paying.