Coastal City Los Angeles Offers Excellent Formal and Casual Seafood Dining Experiences for Visitors
By Sujata Day
Certain restaurants are known for their expertise at turning out signature dishes really well. They've pinned down the ingredients, mastered the process, and gained a strong following as a result. Los Angeles has had much success cultivating great restaurants and creating a substantial market for Seafood. Locals can't get enough of the city's excellent food, and you'll often find them, along with eager tourists, at famed The Lobster or at Water Grill, a major player in the field. Popular resturants among the hip crowd, Fish Grill and the Hungry Cat have opened new locations in Malibu and Santa Monica, respectively. Clam Chowder still reigns supreme at The Original Fish Company and The Madison excels at creative desserts perfect to finish your meal right. Eager to indulge in a bit of seafood shopping? Santa Monica Seafood Cafe doubles as a fresh market, offering the finest seafood specimans in the Pacific Southwent. Still dressed in your flip flops and sarong after a long day sunning at the beach? Malibu Seafood is the perfect place for a casual meal by the ocean, as you sit on wooden picnic benches. TAPS Fish house and Brewery combines excellent seafood with expert brews for an all around fantastic experience, especially at its Sunday Brunch Extravaganza. Water Grill stands above and beyond at the top of every "best List" so be sure to make advance reservations and prepare for its grand reopening in mid-January of 2012. Tie on your lobster bibs and make sure you see what all the fuss is about!
9 TAPS Fish House & Brewery
Head to TAPS for an extravagant Sunday brunch, from 9:30am-2:30pm every Sunday, featuring standouts from the award-winning menu and celebrated wine and beer lists. Exceptional service, fine food, and an expert brewmaster combine forces to provide a unique and memorable seafood experience. Choose between bottomless mimosas and two house-brewed lagers before diving into an ambrosial array of plump oysters, fresh shrimp, decadent crab legs, calamari, smoked salmon, artisan cheeses and buttery bananas foster served over fluffy waffles. Live jazz, elegant decor and impeccable service make this restaurant one of classiest seafood buffets in the city. Reservations are highly advised, especially for the popular Sunday brunch. (714-257-0101)
8 The Palm
This venerable seafood and steak spot, with its legendary LA social scene, has built its reputation on an array of dining pleasures. The old-school Hollywood venue is often frequented by celebs and industry types, and it boasts all the upscale menu standards, including crisp salads, succulent lobsters, and what many regard as the juiciest steaks west of the Mississippi. The front four tables are a hot commodity so tip your hostess and you just might score the swankiest seat in the room. You'll also find a selection of Italian dishes, especially veal and linguine options. In addition, the great bar can provide an ideal accompaniment to any meal. (310-550-8811)
7 The Lobster
This long-standing seafood restaurant — first opened in 1925 and now reborn in an impressive new structure — specializes in fresh-from-the-sea catches and affords a prime location for observing the pier and marveling at the sunset. Its mere presence stands as an unofficial landmark on the corner of Ocean Avenue, almost as recognizable as the famed Santa Monica Pier. Try anything offered, from lobster to crab Louis or white sea bass. The menu changes daily, so the variety of finfish and shellfish is always in delicious flux. The Lobster is a perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or to meet after work for drinks and appetizers. Check in for Happy Hour to taste $6 specialty cocktails and discounted small bites and appetizers. (310-458-9294)
6 Malibu Seafood
Malibu locals flock to this casual joint — right off the famed PCH — to sample classic West Coast comfort food on the oceanfront patio. The concept is simple: just step up to the counter and place your order for fish taquitos, classic fish-n-chips, peel-and-eat shrimp, or fresh Maine lobster. A market-style atmosphere pervades, which is appropriate since the place doubles as a real fish and seafood market. Patrons expecting white linens and fine china should prepare themselves for a slightly more casual affair — yes, those are picnic tables. The BYO policy is a lifesaver for folks who can't imagine calamari without a good white wine. (310-456-3430, 310-456-6298)
5 The Hungry Cat
East Coast-style seafood travels west to this hip, casual restaurant. Oysters, clams, and crab cakes are stars of the dinner menu — try Dungeness crab with black rice and spicy coconut sauce or a half-pound of deliciously fresh peel-and-eat shrimp. The unique scallop and sea urchin ceviche is a must for adventurous seafood connoisseurs. If you're more into turf than surf, the "Pug Burger" — bacon, avocado, and blue cheese — has your name on it. Lunch and Sunday brunch also bring crowds to the tiny spot, so make reservations early. If the weather permits, take a seat on the laid-back patio. Enjoy the social and family-friendly atmosphere at the new Santa Monica location which opened in May 2011. (323-462-2155)
4 Fish Grill
Obsessed with fish and treating family members to years of grilled barbecue seafood specialties in his own backyard, Aharon Klein opened the very first Fish Grill in 1986, following his principle of serving "simply the freshest fish." This casual, kosher spot is popular with the lunch crowd, who mainly carry out delicious, simply-grilled fish dishes. Generous portions of tuna, trout, and salmon arrive with hot, fresh fries on the side (or rice pilaf, for a healthier choice). Salads topped with grilled fish filets come with a sweet honey-dijon dressing. Sides include crunchy cole slaw and heavenly baked potatoes. Fish Grill satisfies your craving for a tasty, quick, and healthy meal. (323-937-7162)
3 The Original Fish Company
Owned and operated by the Rothman family since 1981, much of the staff has been employed there for over fifteen years. Home to what many consider the best chowder on the West Coast, this award-winning seafood restaurant is a standout in California's culinary scene. Simple recipes and bold, bright flavors delight patrons as they savor a relaxing dining experience on the vibrant outdoor patio. After tempting taste buds with the crave-worthy chowder and succulent crab trio, diners indulge in such delectable dishes as the Australian lobster tail or calamari sandwich with garlic chive aioli. The L.A. Times and Zagat Guide have both showered The Original Fish Company with numerous kudos and recognition. (562-594-4553)
2 Santa Monica Seafood Cafe
This renowned seafood market and restaurant, a local landmark since 1939, has earned a well-deserved reputation as "the cathedral of seafood." A family-owned business with a history dating back to nineteenth-century Italy, Santa Monica Seafood is the city's go-to for the freshest catch, boasting the largest selection of fresh seafood in the Pacific Southwest. At the charmingly casual cafe, diners swoon over smooth, sweet oysters and decadent clam chowder followed by roasted whitefish drizzled with lemon oil or a rich, satisfying bowl of cioppino stew. The café has once again recently started offering Marine Stewardship Council Certified Chilean Sea Bass Fillets. (310-393-5244)
1 Water Grill
Closed for renovations, set to reopen in mid-January 2012, this esteemed seafood mecca ranks at the top of almost every "Best List" in terms of all around delicious cuisine and in particular, succulent seafood. Try the featured dishes like salmon, swordfish or award-winning clam chowder, or tantalizing choices from the fresh oyster bar. The beautifully appointed dining room, perfectly prepared menu items, and a wonderful wine selection merge to form an outstanding dining experience. Perfect for lunch or dinner, families and business professionals flock here for flavorful fish. Located near the Music Center on the ground floor of the Pacific Mutual Building, enjoy all the delights Downtown Los Angeles has to offer. (213-891-0900)
About Sujata Day
Living in the land of perpetual sun, beautiful beaches, and gorgeous people has fueled Sujata Day’s creativity in myriad ways. Her short story “Forbidden Fate” won the WRITE STUFF competition sponsored by MTV and People magazine, birthing a prosperous writing career. The tale was published in a collection of short stories titled Pieces, edited by Stephen Chbosky. Reviews hail Pieces as “an exciting glimpse into the future of fiction” and “endearingly raw, undeniably bold, and engagingly inventive.” Since moving to LA from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA, Sujata has appeared in many TV shows, films, and internet productions. TV credits include Desperate Housewives, Secret Life of the American Teenager, Campus Ladies, Greek, and The Loop. She plays a supporting role in 2009’s Down For Life, alongside Danny Glover and Snoop Dogg. Sujata produced, wrote, and starred in the web pilot Raveena and the Vampire chosen to launch as a 2010 premiere vehicle on the popular internet channel, Somebody’s Basement. Currently, she stars as ‘CeCe’ in the hit web series, Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. Sujata can be seen next starring in the film, Big Breakin', to be released in early 2012.
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