Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Feb 17, 2009 07:16 PM

Santa Monica Seafood

I know you are never supposed to try a restaurant on its second day in business. I thought perhaps since the fish market has been around for forty years or so this might be an exception. Based on the service (or lack of) i received today I was wrong. On the positive side everything was delicious - not amazing - but fresh and very good. They have a decent selection of fresh oysters, both New England and Manhattan Chowder as well as a fish soup, a nice selection of fish (Mahi Mahi looked delicious), a few salads, a good Cioppino, a great tuna melt and salmon burgers as well as mini bagels with smoked salmon, stemed clams and mussels, crab cakes etc. The fresh fish department is enticing and they now sell flowers, bread, home baked muffins and other desserts as well as all types of salads to go. I will absolutely go back. The prices were reasonable and while my waitress seemed to have left her brain at home the other people working were friendly and apologetic for our two hour lunch! They serve their full menu starting at 9:00 in the morning and there is ample parking behind the restaurant. It is at Tenth and Wilshire in S.M.. Enjoy!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Looking forward to having a new source of retail oysters. Thanks for the report.

    1. we've attempted to go twice,
      but turned away after seeing the crazy crowds of people
      spilling out onto the sidewalk.
      friend waited 45 minutes in line to then be told they
      would not take any more food orders for two hours!

      9 Replies
      1. re: NumeroUnoEat

        I'm speaking only from the perspective of a retail customer at the fish counter, but the new place is hugely disappointing. I've been going to SM Seafood 4-5 times a week for over a year, but I don't know if I'll be returning much now. Here are the problems:

        1. The fish quality took a serious nose dive. This is the biggest issue for me. Some of the stuff Monday night looked downright something you'd get at Whole Foods. Only a couple of selections (sea bass and snapper) looked fresh. The rest, particularly the salmon, halibut, barramundi, and ling cod looked dry and very discolored, with substantial separation in the flesh. I notice that that air temperature is warmer in the new place and the fish is now resting on plastic trays rather than metal. I don't know if those are factors, but the fish definitely looks more stale than before.

        2. The signage is less informative now. At the old place, every fish would be accompanied by a sign saying whether it was fresh or previously frozen, wild or farmed, and often times the location of source. Now, the signs say nothing about fresh v. frozen or source. This is important info to have for some customers.

        3. The wait times are ridiculous. I went on Saturday at 3:00 and Monday at 4:00. Both times, I had to wait at least 15 minutes to get service. Monday was particularly frustrating since it was not busy and I was only third in line when I got there. They are woefully short staffed and/or devoting too much staff to the restaurant/bar service at the expense of the fish counter.

        4. The parking is a disaster.

        The staffing issues might shake themselves out as they learn the new place. And the signage is an easy fix. But there's no excuse for the poor fish quality, and there's no fix for the parking. I hope they fix things soon!

        1. re: Nootka

          >>The wait times are ridiculous.
          >>The parking is a disaster.

          Did anyone *not* expect this? Maybe after everyone settles down about this place, it will find it's proper equilibrium?

          1. re: Nootka

            Thanks for saving me the trip and the frustration. I'll wait to hear when they get their act together. Plastic trays?? Fish should be on ice, not in trays. I think that the only place to buy good seafood now is downtown at the fish markets or the Redondo Pier.

            1. re: Baron

              Have you tried any of the fish stands at the farmers markets?
              I don't eat much fish but I've had the farmed clams from Carlsbad, which are sold at the Saturday Santa Monica FM on Arizona and twice they've been the best clams I've ever bought. I stopped in at the old location SM Seafood a month ago to look at their clams and was disappointed in both the clams and the appearance of most of the fish. It just didn't seem like the same place I remembered.

            2. re: Nootka

              I was there yesterday and it appeared to me that all the fish had signs with information about fresh v. frozen, wild v. farmed and source.

              1. re: mollyomormon

                how was the fish?

                even if there are arduous lines and egregious parking issues, if the seafood is actually fresh and good i will go. i did like it back when it was a modified fish house a la malibu seafood or gerlach's grille, where you could get a fresh and relatively cheap fish plate for under 12 bucks called the 10th st cafe. there ahi tuna burger was pretty darn good and almost a downright bargain too.

                1. re: kevin

                  10th st cafe was sm seafoods' temporary outpost as they were constructing the new store.

                  1. re: wilafur

                    Agreed the local seabass "not the frozen one" and the snapper looked better then everything else when i went. The rest of the fish was average to poor quality.

                  2. re: kevin

                    I really wish they would have stuck with that old menu because it was a bargain. Currently, I feel like they're sort of having an identity crisis. They're aspiring to be a sit down, dine in relatively nice place, but the execution is really not there. Hopefully they'll work out the kinks.

            3. I was there today, and there are flaws with the new store. Parking is way too small with the additions of all the other stores it has too share the lot with.
              The eat in menu didn't do it for me, I wish they had some nice big salads, like a louie, and they have fried fish for kids, but I would like to see some nice large fried shrimp, because there is none around.

              About the fish, not all the fishes and tags on them, we had to ask what some of them were and the price.
              The person saying the quality was better at Whole foods, I disagree. We walked across the street to get some lettuce, and I looked at the fish.. The tuna and alot of other fishes looked very dry. I asked the man, why and he said it was the dry air and that they spray them ocassionally, but they get fresh fish 6 days a week.

              1. This is just too weird -- because the Costa Mesa location, which is 90% fish market, is the same exacting standard it has been. Did they shut the original Broadway/12th location? It had better parking.

                I miss the location in Orange, though...

                3 Replies
                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  I used to shop at the Orange location, years ago... do you happen to know when it closed?

                  1. re: Allmodcons

                    Four years ago or so. The only shops are Costa Mesa and Santa Monica.

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Ya, I use CM now. But the Orange one was very convenient... an oasis, really.