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Old Port Lobster Shack in Napa ... fried Ipswich clams ... in Napa!!!

So I'm reading carb lovers Napa report and she casually mentions that Old Port Lobster Shack opened in Napa.

This is tragic. It is too, too accessible to me. If you see the person in front with a sign saying "will work for lobster" that is me.

They have expanded their menu. I'm really feeling a drive up there around July 4th ... summer ... fireworks ... and a Maine clam bake ... 11/4 lbs lobster, full order of steamers, fries, cole slaw, corn on the cob, slice of blueberry pie and fountain drink or coffee

Then I walk outside the restaurant and not only am I still in California, but wine country. The best of both worlds for me.

Other lobster options: Baked Stuffed Lobster, Lobster Pot Pie, Lobster Ravioli, Lobster Mac & Cheese

Anyone tried it yet?

Not sure the actual name ... Lobster Shack would be part of it ... here's the website and address

806 Fourth Street
Napa, CA 94559

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  1. Hehe, I thought you might be interested in that bit of news, rworange. I'm glad you started a new thread on it. I read about it in the Mercury News one day after we returned from our trip!

    1. Thanks for bringing it up! I hope your post will dredge up someone who has eaten there. I haven't yet, and have only talked to native Californians who have eaten there and say "$17.95 for a lobster sandwich with potato chips. You gotta be kidding me!" My guess is they don't yet understand the simple beauty of a lobster roll. Someone please go and report.

      1. I noticed that the original location is referenced as a "sister company" on the web site. Does that mean that Russel has taken on partners or is he involved in each location? I don't recall a whole lot of good things posted about the NB location. In a concept where a key to sucess is simplicity, quality control is going to to be so important, and potentially hard to track given the distance between the stores. I wish them luck!

        1. Alright its on the favorite topic list... Northeastern natives please report back!

          1. Is this lobster shack related to the Lobster Shack in Redwood City?

            1 Reply
            1. re: GreenLightJerky


              BTW, welcome to the board ... it is a nice place. Looking forward to more posts from you about places you like.

            2. That flippin Main Lobster roll looks awesome! I have to try one! Im glad its the same company. Tomorrow maybe.

              18 Replies
              1. re: GreenLightJerky

                Please, please someone go try the fried clams with the bellies and report back ASAP!!!!!!

                  1. re: Dan Wodarcyk

                    So I went for lunch today. First off, very hard to find, and this is from someone who knows Napa. Their address is 4th St. but it might as well be Soscol Ave. Look for Greenberg's Motors, a used car lot, and you're there. It's actually embedded in this used car lot.

                    Heading inside, it appears much like a classic seafood joint, tables with rolls of brown paper towels, malt vinegar, hot sauces. It's very casual and you order at the front cashier station before seating. I ordered a 1/2 of the fried Ipswich clams ($10.75) and a Classic Maine Lobster Roll ($21). I chatted with a server and was surprised to hear they had been open since March. Friendly staff.

                    The clams arrived first. It was a smaller 1/2 order than I would have liked and maybe it's not Ipswich season as they were smaller than I remember having in Boston a year ago, though true belly types. Therefore, they were also a bit overcooked, so not what I was hoping for. The Lobster Roll, however, was amazing. Now I guess I've never had a "classic" before; I'm used to the one at Seasalt which is lobster sauteed in butter, served warm on a toasted roll. This one was cold lobster (mixed with a very small amount of Hellman's, salt, pepper and green onion) seved on a toasted "New England Hot Dog Bun." The bun was basically thick white bread, toasted and folded. It was stellar! The flavors and textures were perfect and the lobster was cooked just right, and a generous amount, though maybe not quite as much as Seasalt's (+-$24). It was served with wedge fries and cole slaw (with raisins in the slaw, an immediate deal breaker for me.)

                    I didn't feel I could write a complete report without trying a "mug" of their New England Clam Chowder and it did not disappoint either. Great flavors, generous amount of clams (though a slight bit too chewy) and plenty of red potatos.

                    A large menu with many more things to try. They actually have an 8lb lobster platter for $125, others at market price. I do look forward to going back and this is a great addition to the Napa scene. See links in previous posts for website with menu.

                    1. re: Dan Wodarcyk

                      "thick white bread, toasted and folded" doesn't sound like a very authentic New England Roll, IMHO.

                      1. re: Gary Soup

                        It is comparable with ever other lobster roll in the area, if not cheaper.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I am not aware of any other lobster rolls in the North Beach area and that's not my point; I'm sure the lobster used in NB pays the same air fare as all the others that end up in the Bay Area.

                          I'm unwilling to pay a high premium for nostalgia, and saving my lobster-eating for the East Coast is another reason to look forward to my annual swing through there.

                          1. re: rworange

                            are lobster rolls supposed to be served on Pepperidge Farm top-loading buns or what?

                            that's what i had heard before but i'm not a new englander. just someone who happens to like lobster and most likely lobster rolls too.

                            1. re: kevin

                              It is not brand-specific, but the bun itself that is critical. Lots of companies make these buns. Here's two with pictures.

                              Here's a discussion about why these particular buns are crucial to the perfect lobster roll

                              There big thing is that the sides are white bread and not brown crust. This allows for better grilling as seen in the first picture. Also with lobster a lot of it is about the drawn butter. These buns can be slathered with butter outside, nicely grilled brown and then loaded with lobster drenched in melted butter.

                              Also there is that nice textural contrast with the crunchy bun.

                              More about the functionality of of the bun in that link.

                              Man ... lobsters ... buttter ... the days of a fresh boiled lobster filled with buttered Ritz cracker crumbs and then lightly broled. It is a wonder I lived to grow up at all and didn't die from all that butter ... and deep fried clams ... and tartar sauce ... and creamy clam chowder with salt pork and golden butter floating lighlty on top. Maybe it was the cole slaw that conteracts all that ... or fresh blueberry pie. Blueberries are health food ... right?

                              Guess those buns do look like a folded slice of bread ... especially in the second link.

                          2. re: Gary Soup

                            "thick white bread, toasted and folded" -- that's sounds exactly like the buns for lobster rolls are out here in Boston and the environs.

                            1. re: Gary Soup

                              Pic of a proper New England lobster roll on a top-split hot dog bun, sides toasted...


                              1. re: daveena

                                That is a New England roll, more or less. It is NOT a folded slice of toast.

                                1. re: Gary Soup

                                  Right, but if you haven't seen a New England roll before, and you're not looking closely at the bottom, it does look like a thick piece of bread, folded in half and toasted. (I haven't had the lobster roll at Old Port and can't confirm if it's one or the other).

                                  1. re: daveena

                                    "if you haven't seen a New England roll before" and here it was ME that rw accused of being ignorant of the cuisine. In the ever-dimming past, it was not uncommon for lunch-counter hot dogs to be served on New England rolls even in San Francisco.

                                    1. re: daveena

                                      To clarify, in my original report, I wrote that it was served on a New England Style Hot Dog Bun. Having not had a classic Lobste Roll before, it looked a lot like a piece of thick white bread toasted and folded (but it wasn't, it was a type of roll.) Just one I had not seen before (guess I've never had a New England Hot Dog before either.)

                                      1. re: Dan Wodarcyk

                                        That was how I read your post... was actually really glad to read your description, since that confirmed for me that it was a proper New England roll. My only criticism of Sea Salt's lobster roll was that it wasn't on a split top bun... although now that I think about it, the hot butter style of lobster roll probably is better on their roll, to soak up all the butter... on a New England style roll, the butter would probably soak through the sides.

                                        Wonder where they get their bread - I know Pepperidge Farm makes those rolls, but I don't think they sell them out here.

                                        1. re: daveena

                                          They brought the roll molds with them and have a local bakery custom bake the rolls. You can also buy them if you want to make your own seafood rolls at home.

                              2. re: Dan Wodarcyk

                                Would you go just for the clams or skip it?

                                1. re: lizziee

                                  No, I wouldn't. If you're in Napa, or close, I would recommend it, but not just for the clams. I plan on going back soon and trying them again because they can be so amazing. Also want to try the simpler, butter only, lobster roll.

                        2. I went to Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City yesterday to fill my chowder craving.
                          We ordered 1 cup of white, 1 cup of red and an order of Ipswich full belly clams.

                          I have never eaten ipswich full belly clams before so I was not sure what to expect. First impression was that for $20 it was a really small order. The clams were delicious. The belly had a sweet creaminess to it, reminded me of uni, that i really enjoyed. The flavor was great. Not sure if Ill pay $20 for that again.

                          The New England clam chowder had a great amount of clams in it. It was a bit bland though and most of the potatoes were undercooked leaving them a bit on the crunchy side. Add some salt and cook the potatoes and it could be REALLY good.

                          The Red Mussell Stew was ok. It had a real earthy taste. I enjoyed it but probably wont order that again.

                          We saw 3 Lobster rolls being delivered to the other patrons in the packed house and man they look good.

                          $40 for 2 cups of chowder and a basked (small) of fried clams is quite expensive. We realized that going to the Lobster Shack for the lobster is the way to go. Ill report back after my first lobster roll.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: GreenLightJerky

                            Nice update on Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City.Good to know they haven't perfected their chowder yet. If you get to Berkeley, Sea Salt has an delicious if pricy and untraditional chowder. Woodhouse Fish in SF has a great traditional New England clam chowder.

                            I really recommend the Naked Lobster roll which is just dressed with melted butter ... but that is just my preference.

                            There are reports here and there of a roll that is mainly claw meat ... which is not as good as the tail ... it should be a mix. Don't know why that happens occassionaly, but if the pieces look all pink and pointly, just bring it back and tell them nicely that it seems all claw meat. They will replace it.

                            As far as fried full-belly Ipswich clams, while the prices might be comparable to New England clam shacks, the reality is the portions are smaller.

                            One of the first restaurants to serve the clams was Yankee Pier. I remember a few years ago paying $18 for a plate of clams to get a huge mound of french fries and six small fried clams ... I guess in perspection people pay locally $2 - $3 for a single oyster on the half-shell, but still. The other two fried clam places ... Lobster Shack and Woodhouse have a better serving size than Yankee Pier, but they are still small in comparison to many New England joints.

                            For me Lobster Shack is just down and down traditional. Woodhouse is close, and as mentioned, has the better clam chowder, but has a few stray California touchees. Yankee Pier is just has too many California accents. That doesn't bother me as much anymore since i have more traditional local options like Lobster Shack and Woodhouse.

                            1. re: rworange

                              "Good to know they haven't perfected their chowder yet" ????

                              1. re: rworange

                                I had to go back again today. For consistencies sake, not to mention I was hungry. Another 1/2 order of the Ipswich's, even more overdone than the other day, and I was compelled to tell my server to let the kitchen know to lay off the fryer a little. They were very accomodating and offered me another batch, which was nice, but I had a naked lobster roll looking at me and there was no way I'd finish another round of clams. The naked roll was very good (just chilled lobster on a toasted "New England Bun" with melted butter on the side, and I left unsure which I liked more, the classic Maine or the naked. It did look entirely like claw meat however.