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MINI-REVIEW: Seafare Inn - Whittier's Heirloom of the Sea

Seafare Inn
16363 Whittier Blvd.
Whittier, CA 90603
(562) 947-6645

Same location, family ownership and, largely, clientele for nearly 50 years. The Milhous family runs a pretty tight ship (it’s moored right out front!) when it comes to delivering great, fresh seafood to a largely geriatric clientele. One day in the not too distant future, I’ll be one of the old geezers. Until then, I’ll contentedly continue to use my own teeth to nosh through some really fine and sometimes rare jewels of the sea like fresh John Dory, swordfish, shark, abalone, whole body Ipswich Clams, sole, sand dabs, deep fried lobster chunks and homemade pickled herring. Daily specials. Delicious, plump, fresh oysters are a real steal at only $12.95/doz! Their battered and fried shrimp are second to none. Wonderful crab sandwich made with 100% real crab, no filler! Can’t get enough of that pickled Cole Slaw made without mayo. Great clam (red) or fish (white) chowders. Where else can you go and be offered a choice of cottage cheese or tomato instead of fries or baked potato with your meal? A nursing home, maybe?

I luv this place! Been goin’ for 25 years with nary a disappointment in food or service. My favorite day is Tuesday. They’re closed on Sundays and Mondays.

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  1. Hey, you weren't kidding -- a restaurant in Whittier owned by the Milhous family. No mention of the trickster, however.

    It sounds like a great throwback (the 1961 menu is a nice touch) and reminds me of similar restaurants all over the Midwest, usually near a lake. I think I'll stop by and do my part to lower the average customer age.

    By the way, the Web site ( http://seafareinn.net/ ) says they're open on Sundays.

    -----
    Seafare Inn
    16363 Whittier Blvd, Whittier, CA 90603

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harry Nile

      Yo, Harry

      Thanks for the heads-up on Sunday hours. Turns out they have been open on Sundays since day one! One of the many things I appreciate about Chowhound is that any misinformation tends to get weeded out promptly. Kinda like a self-cleaning oven.

      1. re: degustateur

        The self-cleaning oven doesn't even come close. ;)

    2. I noticed that Seafare Inn serves Ispwich Clams. Is that Ispwich Clams with bellies?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Norm Man

        I am not sure if this answers your question, Norm, but under the "History" section it mentions "whole body Ipswich clams".

        1. re: WildSwede

          Sure looks to me like they got them clam tummies. I await stirrings of interest from our pals in Culver City...

        2. re: Norm Man

          Yes indeed, Norm, the "tummies", as Will O. refers to them, are attached. I did state "whole body" in my OP. BTW, the portion size is HUGE, enough for 2 @ $16.95 - the most expensive item on the menu, I believe. Delish!

        3. I went to the online site and found ZERO photos of ANYTHING on the menu.
          That's off-putting for me.
          Does anyone have any photos to share?
          I just took my daughter to Mt SAC today & we must return next Tuesday.
          That's not a far drive, it seems.
          I've printed driving directions & plan to dinner there next Tuesday, but, PHOTOS, please!
          ALSO:
          I enjoyed reading this just now on the clam front:
          http://www.e-cookbooks.net/articles/i...
          AH!
          And I'm seeking "what's the don't miss it" flight of items for this place?
          Lastly, how's the tartar sauce, honey mustard, etc ~ They say "made in-house", as they say of the cheesecake ~ Is it "worth it"? Is the creme brulee "worth it" there?
          Thanks!
          :-)

          1 Reply
          1. re: SusanaTheConqueress

            Oh Susana, don’t you cry for photos! … sorry, but I couldn’t resist ^_^

            Thanks for the great article on Ipswich’s. It is quite accurate. I’ve got to ask Gary or Scott where they source theirs. As for Seafare’s not to be missed items, there are quite a few IMHO. Below, somewhat in my order of preference depending upon mood:

            Oysters on-the-Half-Shell - fresh, huge, clean yet slightly briny flavor

            Jumbo Fried Shrimp - perfect size, perfect execution. Often, they’re what bring me there

            Deep-Fried Lobster Chunks - OMG!

            Steamed Clams – awesome!

            Fried Sole - on request; normally comes grilled

            John Dory, Swordfish, Chilean Sea Bass, Abalone - when available on the specials
            board behind the register

            Crab Sandwich – 100% fresh lump crab meat (I’ve yet try their crab cakes, but can only
            imagine the same). I usually take one home for later

            Marinated Herring - house-made. Yum!

            Chowder – fish (white), clam (red)

            Cole Slaw

            The Tartar Sauce is great. No honey mustard to my knowledge. No sour cream for the baked potato either – use their blue cheese dressing for optimal results.

            All desserts are house-made. I’m not really a dessert type of guy, but those who’ve dined with me have found the various cheesecakes excellent and the Crème Brule very respectable for this type of establishment.

            Another thing I really appreciate about Seafare is that they remain open continuously throughout the day. No shutters between lunch and dinner.

            I trust that you and your daughter will enjoy your dinner next Tuesday.

            Bon Appetit!

          2. Thank you for the heads-up on this spot; nice to have something within reason of north OC.

            2 Replies
            1. re: OCAnn

              I posted on this place years ago.

              They have the BEST tartar sauce, and their homemade cream pie is delish. I remember their crab louis was fantastic...I really need to go back.

              1. re: OCAnn

                You're welcome, Ann. Hope you get to try it soon.

              2. Checked out Seafare Inn for lunch today based on your rec. Got there just before 11:30am and when the door opened there was a swarm of reitrees shortly thereafter.

                Started with the Manhattan clam chowder which is a thick chowder. I'd say the chowder at The Crab Cooker is a little better with more clams. Ordered the littleneck clam appetizer for $6.50 for a half dozen. Decided on the fried combination plate to get an idea of their different items at one time. The oyster was big and plump, the scallops were decent sized, the fried shrimp was good sized and not from frozen. Their fried shrimp platter would definitely be better than the pre-frozen fried shrimp you get at most places. SO had the crab sandwich which she said was pretty good. We both agreed they had excellent French fries.

                Definitely a cliche seafood joint from the 50's and 60's. The service staff is very friendly and accomodating and I think the retiree clientele is at home with that and the prices. The waitress knew it was our first time there and suggested I try one of their fresh fishes next time. She tried selling us on their desserts which are all made on the premises, but we said we were full and we'd leave room the next visit.

                 
                 
                 
                4 Replies
                1. re: monku

                  This is one of the things I love about CH: someone will mention/review a place and another will go soon after & give a follow up review. Maybe I can drag Mr OCAnn here before the end of the month.... Thank you for the follow up, monku.

                  1. re: monku

                    Right on, Monku! Thanks for taking the first hit for the team. Glad it was good for you and your SO. If you like oysters, next time get a dozen on-the-half-shell along with your selection. They are my favorite along with the fried jumbo shrimp lunch/dinner - together, what a meal. I forgot to tout the French fries; they are indeed excellent, made from whole potatoes.

                    Take a look at my response to SusanaTheConqueress for my list of don't miss items. Another thing I appreciate about Seafare is their consistency. Tastes the same every time.

                    Also, thanks for the photos. I believe that they are the first photos of Seafare's menu items anywhere online. You're a true pioneer.

                    1. re: degustateur

                      I've probably eaten 4 or 5 dozen raw oysters in the last month, so the littleneck clams were a good diversion. I was delighted they give you cocktail sauce and a side of plain horseradish with the clams on the half shell. Have to save room for the desserts, they all sounded good.
                      Next time I'm going to shoot for the sand dabs or grilled halibut.

                      It is a bit daunting the number of retirees there, but I guess they know good value and the portions are probably suited to their appetites. We were the only youngsters in the place by about 20+ years.

                      1. re: monku

                        What’s a bit eerie to me is that, over 25 years ago, when I first ate there, the patrons were all the same age as they are now. Kinda like being stuck in a time warp in Heaven’s Waiting Room.

                  2. Can't believe Seafare Inn is topical!

                    My family's been eating there since 1962, and it's charmingly unchanged -- even the average customer age.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Allmodcons

                      Umm, yes, we old folks love to eat fish because it's easy to chew, ya see...

                      My first Chowhoundish mentor was my grandpa Kuntz, a connoisseur of roadfood before that was even a known category, and himself an excellent cook. Because of that I used to assume that old folks were the ones who knew where the good stuff was. Then I discovered that they went for the price, since they'd lost their sense of taste anyway. Now, for some odd reason, I find myself trusting them again... or, I should say, trusting US!

                      Anyway, this sounds like a must-stop for me, and Mrs. O will definitely be looking into the sand dabs. It'll be a while, but I'll post our impressions, especially if they differ much from all the above.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Yet my age has continued to advance in this same interim -- just doing my part to maintain the statistic, I guess.

                        Fried is good here, as has been mentioned, as is one of the fresh fish, griddled or as they call it grilled.

                    2. Gave the Seafare Inn another shot today.
                      Had a very good calamari appetizer, surprised there were no tentacles. Decided on the broiled Chilean seabass lunch special for $12.95.
                      Still no room for dessert.

                       
                       
                      1. Went back to Seafare Inn yesterday afternoon. Everything was, again, wonderful. The fried jumbo shrimp were exceptionally good. The oysters, while very fresh and delicious, were a bit smaller this time around. A seasonal anomaly perhaps.

                        Took a few photos that you can view here:

                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/46575498...

                        1. We went today for an early dinner. In a nutshell, Seafare Inn is a seafood version of the LaPalma Chicken Pot Pie Shop. We ordered crab cakes apps, fried oysters with french fries and coleslaw (for me), and pan fried tilapia with green salad & baked potato (for Mr OCAnn). I thought the oysters, while delicious, was a bit heavily breaded...and the coleslaw on the vinegary side. Mr OCAnn thought his tilapia was good, though nothing special. The real stand out were the crab cakes. They were very, very good. Briny, not salty and moist. Oh, and I love...LOVED...the tartar sauce. If they jarred the sauce, I'd buy a couple, take it home and eat it straight from the jar. It was that good. The meal for two, inclusive of tax and 20% tip was about $40...cheap!

                          While for me, it's certainly not a destination restaurant, it's a great go-to for good, neighbourhood, inexpensive seafood.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: OCAnn

                            Uh oh ... the tartar sauce [as well as 5 other sauces] are jarred to go in half-pints and pints.

                            http://www.seafareinn.net/extras.htm

                            1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                              Aw dang....I missed that! Thank you for letting me know; I shall buy some next time around. =)

                              1. re: OCAnn

                                I told you the tartar sauce rocked...perfection, indeed!

                                (Don't compare this place to the LaPalma Chicken Pot Pie Shop...the ultimate insult.)

                                Try the crab louis and the homemade cream pie.