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Your favorite Seafood Shack-type restaurant?

jdwdeville May 4, 2009 01:03 PM

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. Hershey Bomar RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 01:12 PM

    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
      mikester RE: Hershey Bomar May 4, 2009 01:28 PM

      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
        DrBruin RE: mikester May 5, 2009 04:57 AM

        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
        wesleywong RE: Hershey Bomar May 13, 2009 12:21 PM

        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. t
        TomSwift RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 01:45 PM

        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. Phurstluv RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 01:47 PM

          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
            jdwdeville RE: Phurstluv May 4, 2009 02:19 PM

            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
              Phurstluv RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 06:01 PM

              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
                Chowpatty RE: Phurstluv May 23, 2009 12:23 PM

                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. JAB RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 01:51 PM

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

            3 Replies
            1. re: JAB
              Phurstluv RE: JAB May 4, 2009 02:10 PM

              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
                JAB RE: Phurstluv May 4, 2009 03:54 PM

                "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
                  Phurstluv RE: JAB May 4, 2009 06:10 PM

                  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. Beach Chick RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 02:30 PM

              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
                Hershey Bomar RE: Beach Chick May 4, 2009 03:35 PM

                Terribly disappointing.

                1. re: Beach Chick
                  Cebca RE: Beach Chick May 5, 2009 09:19 AM

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

                  1. re: Cebca
                    Hershey Bomar RE: Cebca May 5, 2009 09:48 AM

                    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
                      kevin RE: Hershey Bomar May 6, 2009 05:32 PM

                      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
                      Bjartmarr RE: Cebca May 6, 2009 05:27 PM

                      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. Discokill RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 05:27 PM

                    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
                      jdwdeville RE: Discokill May 6, 2009 05:23 PM

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

                      Kidding. The setting is beautiful!

                    2. ipsedixit RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 10:37 PM

                      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: ipsedixit
                        westsidegal RE: ipsedixit May 5, 2009 12:12 AM

                        reel in:
                        horrible food? Check

                        1. re: westsidegal
                          Mel Gee RE: westsidegal May 5, 2009 01:49 AM

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

                          1. re: Mel Gee
                            westsidegal RE: Mel Gee May 5, 2009 11:04 PM

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

                            1. re: westsidegal
                              mollyomormon RE: westsidegal May 6, 2009 05:44 PM

                              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
                            ipsedixit RE: westsidegal May 5, 2009 09:14 AM

                            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
                              Hershey Bomar RE: ipsedixit May 5, 2009 09:17 AM

                              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
                                westsidegal RE: ipsedixit May 5, 2009 11:03 PM

                                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
                                  jdwdeville RE: ipsedixit May 6, 2009 05:21 PM

                                  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
                                    westsidegal RE: jdwdeville May 16, 2009 10:22 AM

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

                            2. b
                              bex29 RE: jdwdeville May 4, 2009 11:19 PM

                              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
                                Servorg RE: bex29 May 5, 2009 05:11 AM

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

                              2. c
                                Cinnamon RE: jdwdeville May 5, 2009 07:49 AM

                                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
                                  whatsfordinner RE: Cinnamon May 5, 2009 09:39 AM

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

                                  1. re: whatsfordinner
                                    Phurstluv RE: whatsfordinner May 5, 2009 12:14 PM

                                    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
                                      MissCast RE: Phurstluv May 16, 2009 02:43 PM

                                      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. Servorg RE: jdwdeville May 5, 2009 09:21 AM

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

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

                                  1. j
                                    JPomer RE: jdwdeville May 5, 2009 12:25 PM

                                    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
                                      MarlaPR RE: JPomer May 5, 2009 04:08 PM

                                      Agree totally. You can also BYOB!

                                    2. a
                                      Altadena Hound RE: jdwdeville May 5, 2009 04:39 PM

                                      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
                                        GK in SO RE: Altadena Hound May 5, 2009 04:46 PM

                                        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
                                          JeetJet RE: GK in SO May 6, 2009 11:19 AM

                                          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. c
                                        CCDiner RE: jdwdeville May 5, 2009 11:20 PM

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

                                        1. m
                                          MariaFeliz RE: jdwdeville May 6, 2009 09:46 AM

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

                                          1. f
                                            funkycold RE: jdwdeville May 6, 2009 09:54 AM

                                            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
                                              sdv231 RE: funkycold May 6, 2009 10:39 AM

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

                                            2. j
                                              jdwdeville RE: jdwdeville May 6, 2009 05:25 PM

                                              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
                                                Phurstluv RE: jdwdeville May 6, 2009 05:38 PM

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

                                              2. h
                                                helenD RE: jdwdeville May 13, 2009 01:11 AM

                                                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. o
                                                  ov1 RE: jdwdeville May 13, 2009 09:08 AM

                                                  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. c
                                                    csiprod RE: jdwdeville May 13, 2009 12:07 PM

                                                    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. w
                                                      wesleywong RE: jdwdeville May 13, 2009 12:27 PM

                                                      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. t
                                                        trimtab RE: jdwdeville May 13, 2009 06:06 PM

                                                        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
                                                          jdwdeville RE: trimtab May 14, 2009 11:49 AM

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

                                                        2. Lewes17266 RE: jdwdeville May 16, 2009 08:01 AM

                                                          Coastal Living has this article about the country's best seafood shacks divided into regions.

                                                          1. s
                                                            spiffnme RE: jdwdeville May 16, 2009 06:00 PM

                                                            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. p
                                                              paprkutr RE: jdwdeville May 16, 2009 09:28 PM

                                                              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
                                                                bllrdfam RE: paprkutr May 17, 2009 01:21 PM

                                                                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. m
                                                                miwine RE: jdwdeville May 23, 2009 02:38 PM

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

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