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A little (sand)dab'll do ya

  • m

I keep reading about sand dabs and still have no idea what they are.

Is it a fish?

A shellfish?

Are they small like sardines or large like trout?

Where does the "sand" part of their moniker come into play? Do they burrow into the sand and become extra delicious there?

Are they always served the same way (i.e. fried) or are they prepared in different ways?

Lastly, where are the most delicious sand dabs to be found?

Please help unlock the mystery of sand dabs for me!

Mr. Taster

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  1. Sand dabs are a small flat fish---maybe two-thirds the size of a trout (at least the ones I catch). Most of the local ones come from Catalina; you'd want to avoid sand dabs from the Palos Verdes area.

    They're usually pan fried or sauteed. I've had plenty of good versions and am partial to the one's at "new" Tony's on the Redondo Beach/King Harbor pier.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Christine

      Was Tony's recently revamped or purchased? Never eaten there but I'm fond of the bar upstairs in the little tower with its great views.

      1. re: petradish
        s
        SpongeBobSquarePegs

        My favorite version as of late was at Pacific Dining Car.

        1. re: petradish

          You're talking about "old" Tony's. Which I prefer for having a drink with some atmosphere. "New" Tony's is the one facing south on the older part of the pier. (Next to the former El Torito or Red Onion, whatever it was.)

      2. Sand dabs are small white-fleshed fish, like European sole, but smaller and a bit more delicate. IMHO the best sand dabs I've had, outside of San Francisco, are at the Petit Cafe on Colorado in Santa Monica. Prepared in butter with lemon and capers, they are sublime.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mnosyne

          Print mnosyne's post, Mr T.

          Sand dabs do not get better than at Le Petit Cafe. Plus two -- count 'em -- bonuses:
          1. They always seem to be available; and
          2. LPC will prepare 'em to your liking if you are tired of or uninspired by the traditional butter, lemon, caper preparation.

        2. Sid's Seafood House in Canoga Park does a good version.

          1. For lunch, Joe's does a great version w/ avocado, cherry tomato, sweet rock shrimp and a chive nage.

            Link: http://www.joesrestaurant.com

            1. Me, I go fo the sanddabs at Chez Mimi in Santa Monica. Best ones I've ever had, and i have to sing...

              "saddabs, I've had a few
              but not too few
              to really mention
              but the best.
              at Chez Mimi
              are really good
              and for them
              I have a penchant.
              if I had my wish,
              I'd have that dish,
              I'd have it Friiiiiiiiiiidddaaaaaaayy."

              But Freday we're going to Little Ethiopia. Oh well.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Diana

                LOL.....Ol' Blue Eyes would be proud!!