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Your favorite Seafood Shack-type restaurant?

I am searching for the seaside seafood shack type of restaurant of my New England upbringing in the LA westside. What I'm talking about is the alarmingly simple seafood preparations that taste best with hours-old seafood, preferably served outdoors, at big, old wooden picnic tables.
Counter service is fine, ambiance is only a secondary concern, however, seaside location is best but likely impossible due to land prices.
Food is simple seafood, steamed clams, mussels, more of the steamed/ sauteed with wine and butter style than the "everybody into the fryer" school of thought.
Also missing the Rhode Island style clamcakes I grew up on but I doubt there's a lot of those floating around (although I've heard LaMille does them--haven't tried em yet)
As the days get warmer, these cravings are getting stronger, so...
everybody, what's your favorite place for uber-fresh, stripped down seafood?

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  1. I know what you asking for. I don't know why but California doesn't have seafood shacks. I'm from Connecticut and New Orleans with a lot of summers spent in Delaware eating crabs.

    I've settled on THE BOILING CRAB in Alhambra
    742 W Valley Boulevard
    Alhambra, CA 91803

    And you might like THE HUNGRY CAT in Hollywood

    3 Replies
    1. re: Hershey Bomar

      How about The Crab Cooker (two locations; Newport Beach -the original and best) and Tustin.


      The king crab legs are especially good (probably the rest of the menu is good too, but we only ever get the crab). As stripped-down as it gets: paper plates, and wine is in the same plastic cups that they bring to pour your beer in.

      1. re: mikester

        The whole menu is tasty. Love the manhattan style chowder. The grilled fish is great. When local lobster season is here, the split grilled lobsters are delish.

        And, IMHO, they make the best cole slaw ever.

      2. re: Hershey Bomar

        I try to get my fix of boiling crab at least once a month so it is definitely on my hot list. If you are on a time constraint this might not be the best place because the wait is often 1-2hours.

        The Hungry Cat is a hidden gem. I recommend their crab cakes and half/whole lobster.

      3. Quality Seafood at the Redondo Beach pier will pluck the clams, mussels, crabs, oysters and lobsters right out of the salt water tanks and steam them for you. Another option would be Neptune's Net on PCH at the Ventura County line. Across PCH from the beach. I've neve been impressed with their food but it is a fun destination.

        1. You're bummin - they don't know what clam cakes are out here. See our discussion & recipes here.

          The best shack type place that's near me, don't know where you are, is Malibu Seafood, on PCH, north of Pepperdine. Great fresh fish & seafood, made fresh. Closed Mondays, I believe.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Phurstluv

            i swear I saw them on the menu-- as "Rhode Island style clam cakes"-- at LaMille in Silverlake. Unfortunately I was there for early AM coffee and didn't order them for research. In hindsight, I should've dipped them in the coffee.

            1. re: jdwdeville

              Yeah, what's wrong with you, a little clams in the coffee? My Dad used to eat them cold for breakfast! Amateurs!!

              Never been, and a strange place to find them, but now I'll have to try the place!!

              And now, Mom ,who lives in FLA now, says "Fritters are much smaller & denser than the true RI Clam Cake.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                Well, not that strange to find clamcakes at Lamill if you consider that Michael Cimarusti who designed the menu is from Providence. But they are tasty there.

          2. I remember calling the clam fritters if were talking about the same thing.

            3 Replies
            1. re: JAB

              Maybe, but fritters connotates more of a Southern thing, in my little New England mind, and a flat fried item, as opposed to RI clam cakes, which are balls of fluffy tender dough. That's just me, tho.

              1. re: Phurstluv

                "balls of fluffy tender dough" That's how I remember them from my youth in CT, MA & RI but, remember them as fritters and not cakes. In any case, now you've got me craving something unobtainable in SoCal.

                1. re: JAB

                  So sorry! Now you know how I feel!!

                  Hey, if you're nice, you can can come by & we can have a clam bake!!

            2. Wishing So.Cal would have the seafood shacks like they do in New England but Neptune's Net in Malibu might fit the bill..classic dive but gotta love it!


              5 Replies
                1. re: Beach Chick

                  Neptine's definitely falls into the "everybody into the fryer" school of thought described above.

                  1. re: Cebca

                    Bad vibes and no dogs. I mean it's such a dog tied to the picnic table kinda place.

                    I'm bringing home Boiling Crab tomorrow for my sister who is visiting with her kids. Shrimp, crawfish, and blue crabs, yum!

                    1. re: Hershey Bomar

                      has anyone tried the fresh, live seafood side of Neptune's Net, especially the lobsters served with drawn butter? is that any good?

                    2. re: Cebca

                      Many people don't realize that there are two sides to Neptunes. I mean "sides" literally -- the left side has all the fried stuff along with burgers and such, while the right side has fresh/live crab, lobster, clams, and the like. The fried side is disappointing, but the last time I tried the fresh seafood it was pretty good. (Admittedly, that was a while ago.)

                  2. I'm not a fan of Neptune's Net but Malbu Seafood is pretty much the closest you're going to find to exactly what you described in LA. Now if only they served Lobster Rolls...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Discokill

                      I have been here. Very good, albeit mostly fried, seafood. The location, however, leaves much to be desired....

                      Kidding. The setting is beautiful!

                    2. I dunno if it's my "favorite" as I don't know more than one seafood shack-type restaurant other than Reel Inn in Malibu.

                      Outdoor area? Check
                      Wooden tables? Check
                      Counter service? Check
                      Simple seafood? Check. Pick your fish, then pick your style of preparation.
                      Huge portions? Check.

                      Reel Inn
                      18661 Pacific Coast Hwy
                      Malibu, CA 90265
                      (310) 395-5538

                      9 Replies
                        1. re: westsidegal

                          What are your primary gripes about the food, westsidegal -- freshness? preparation? price? variety?

                          1. re: Mel Gee

                            the fish quality was poor. (lot's of it though--like the old joke )

                            1. re: westsidegal

                              I tried Reel Inn for the first time two weekends ago. Admittedly, the food is not amazing, but I didn't think there was anything horrible about it. The cajun snapper with fried eggs we had at brunch was acutally pretty solid.

                          2. re: westsidegal

                            I don't believe good food was one of the criteria in the OP.

                            And, really, isn't good food antithetical to the whole concept of a "Seafood Shack-type restaurant"?

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              No, the food must be good but simple.

                              It's weird that out here they make such a big deal about seafood.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                having lived in new england, my opinion is that good food is NOT antithetical to the whole concept of a "seafood shack-type restaurant.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  Absolutely not. The idea is the absolute freshest ingredients in the simplest of preparations/setting, i.e., just raked-up clams with garlic, fresh butter, and wine. nothing else but a hunk of bread to go with it. yum.

                                  1. re: jdwdeville

                                    you now have me salivating!!!
                                    i'll be imagining those clams all day!

                            2. There is a place just past the pier that is really a shack...and then there is the fish market in San Pedro at Ports o call. You can either choose your fish from the market section and tell them how to cook it and eat it outside or eat at the inside area and order off the menu. It's simple, fresh and incredibly cheap. I'd stay away from the outside on weekends.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: bex29

                                There are a lot of piers along our coastline. Which one are you referring to?

                              2. What is the place on PCH on the way to Malibu that has the sign with the terrible fish puns? I don't recall the quality of the food there but it's the only thing without driving halfway to Ventura that I know of that qualifies as a fish/seafood shack.

                                (That's not Neptune's Net, is it?)

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Cinnamon

                                  It's the Reel Inn. I think the fish is fresher and better prepared at Malibu Seafood.

                                  1. re: whatsfordinner

                                    Agreed, tho I do go to Reel Inn sometimes since it's closer. Don't know what westsidegal had that was bad, and I'm very picky re: my fish & seafood. Bad night, maybe?

                                    1. re: Phurstluv

                                      I find the preparation inconsistent - when it's busy, the fish is overcooked. When it's quiet, it's fine. Although the fries are rarely good.
                                      Malibu Seafood much more consistent quality.

                                2. Tacos Baja Ensenada (please take large shell along for "sounds" of seaside)

                                  Tacos Baja Ensenada
                                  5385 Whittier Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022

                                  1. It's malibu seafood hands down -- served outdoors - check. Picnic tables - check. Seaside location - check. You won't find the Rhode Island Clamcakes, but their New England clam chowder is good, as is all the fried seafood we've had.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: JPomer

                                      Agree totally. You can also BYOB!

                                    2. Heard the Fisherman's Outlet on Central in downtown LA is worth a visit.

                                      Also, I've eaten at the California Fish Grill on Artesia in Gardena. Limited selection, but good.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Altadena Hound

                                        I can second the reco for each of these, however, their both waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy lacking in seaside-type atmosphere.

                                        The former is in a depressing part of downtown LA near skid row and Little Tokyo, the latter is located in a large, busy strip mall off of several freeways.

                                        FO's food can be rather greasy and expensive. CFG has really good food from the fried stuff to the charbroiled fish to their fish tacos.

                                        1. re: GK in SO

                                          I waited to post on this topic because of the seaside request of the OP. I knew in time that the thread would go this way because L.A., is lacking in small places to eat at along the beach. Now that Fisherman's Outlet has been mentioned I will 3rd that rec. IMO, although it is not near the sea the ambiance is very much like a seaside shack. The shrimp cocktail is really good and so are the deep fried or grilled fish plates.

                                          Another place even more inland but once inside you might get the New Emgland feel is Original Shrimp House. All things shrimp are worth a try here.


                                      2. Give Neptune's Net a try. It is on the north side of Malibu near the Ventura county line.

                                        1. Not in the Westside, but sure does fill the seaside location /shack request:
                                          "Chowder Barge"

                                          1. Fisherman's Outlet in downtown LA!!! There should not be any further debate for stripped down, good, fresh, simply prepared seafood!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: funkycold

                                              and how is the seaside location the OP asked for ?.........I say go with Malibu Seafood, you wont be disappointed

                                            2. I have to go to Silver Lake tonight. If LaMille is open when I get there, I will report back on the elusive RI style clamcake for the 3 of us here who know and love these treats.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: jdwdeville

                                                Oh you're such a good soldier! Do let us know!!

                                              2. I love Fish Grill on Beverly Boulevard just west of La Brea in West Hollywood. It has sawdust on the floor so it definitely qualifies as a shack. Pretty big outdoor patio. It's Israeli-style fish (excellent fish tacos), delicious, huge portions served with half a baked potato and Israeli salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc...). Super healthy and delicious. Inexpensive too. Seems like a lot of their customers are religious Jews (especially on Fridays and Saturdays), so my advice to the ladies: If you're showing a lot of skin, you might not be well-received...

                                                1. I'm a fan of Neptune's Net - but I always go to the steamed side, never done the fried. They've usually got a shrimp combo plate (w/ corn and vegetables), so I get that and add a big crab leg - comes to about $20-$25, but it's a lot of food. Add a six pack of Land Shark Lager and you've got one of my favorite meals in LA.

                                                  1. Neptune's Net on PCH at Ventura Co. line is it. Pick your crab, lobster or shrimp on one side for boiling, or fried stuff (we like the clams) on the other. My wife rarely eats anything fried, but she will from this place. Lots of varieties of beer available. The atmosphere is 1950's-60's surfer/Harley crowd meets the Malibu in-crowd. Great people watching in the most casual friendly atmosphere.

                                                    It's not New England, but the closest we've found. Anybody find any good lobster rolls out here?

                                                    Eat at the wood tables or get it to go and watch the wind/kite surfers across the street. If you get the boiled shrimp, be sure to ask for and add horse radish to the cocktail sauce.

                                                    1. I like Crab Pot in Long Beach. Its pier side so the scenery is nice. There are a big menu but my girlfriend and I are a sucker for the Alaskan Seafest ($33 a serving; minimum of two orders). You get king crab, dungeness crab,snow crab, shrimp, sausages, corn, potatoes, muscles, and clams dumped on your table with bibs and mallets.

                                                      I will be going there this Friday and I will be posting a review on Saturday on www.twohungrypandas.com and here on Chow Hound.

                                                      Crab Pots Website (check out their Seafest section): http://thecrabpot.com/

                                                      Crab Pot
                                                      215 N Marina Dr, Long Beach, CA 90803

                                                      1. I haven't been down there for years but there used to be place right on the water in San Pedro that absolutely qualifies as a seafood shack. You'd order stone crab or spider crab or fresh fish grilled or deep fried and they'd serve it up on paper plates with cold beer and a mallet (if needed). I think it was called Googies or something like that. Can anyone help out here? Hopefully it's more than a fond memory.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: trimtab

                                                          oh man, that sounds like my kind of place! really, does anyone know if it's still there?

                                                        2. http://www.coastalliving.com/travel/l...
                                                          Coastal Living has this article about the country's best seafood shacks divided into regions.

                                                          1. wow...sounds like you're describing my favorite place in the world....Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine. :)

                                                            *sigh*...oh to find food like that out here in LA.

                                                            1. How about Captain Kidd's in Redondo Beach? They have fresh fish or fried fish it is just north of the pier.
                                                              I like Neptunes Net, especially the drive on a beautiful day. A lot of bikers on th3e weekends.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: paprkutr

                                                                I agree with Captain Kidd's - good place to go. They also have whole fish - I always buy 2 whole salmon and have them filleted (free service) when we have a large party.

                                                              2. Malibu Seafood - but nor anything fried. Great chowder,grilled fish, cold cooked shrimp. Bring your own wine.