California Seafood Dives

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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Andria's Seafood Restaurant and Market, 1449 Spinnaker Dr., Ventura, CA; 805/654-0546 or andriasseafood.com . A big variety of seafood―almost all of it fresh from the market half of the business―comes fried, charbroiled, or stir-fried. We love the fish-and-chips, especially the halibut. (2005)

Brophy Bros. Clam Bar and Restaurant, 119 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, CA; 805/966-4418. Regulars love the spicy oyster shooters. (1997)

Captain Kidd's Fish Market and Restaurant, 209 N. Harbor Dr., Redondo Beach, CA; 310/372-7703 or captainkidds.com . A no-frills seafood market. They'll cook whatever you buy however you like it. (2002)

Catalina Fish Kitchen and Seafood Deli, 670 W. 17th St., Costa Mesa, CA; 949/645-8873. A huge array of moderately priced seafood, prepared any way you can imagine, packs the menu. The tacos, gumbos, and chowders all draw rave reviews. The mixed seafood skewer deserves consideration, too. (2006)

Chez Jay, 1657 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, CA; 310/395-1741 or chezjays.com . A quirky meeting place for oldtime regulars, young hipsters, and the occasional celebrity. Excellent sautéed sand dabs almondine. (2001)

The Crab Cooker, 2200 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, CA; 949/673-0100 or thecrabcooker.com . "World's best" clam chowder, according to the menu, and pretty good broiled seafood too. (2000)

The Crab Pot, 215 Marina Dr., Long Beach, CA; 562/430-0272 or thecrabpot.com . Bring a friend and order a "Seafest for Two." (2000)

El Indio Mexican Restaurant, 3695 India St., San Diego, CA; 619/299-0333 or el-indio.com . Heavenly fish tacos come wrapped in two just-made corn tortillas. (2005)

Fat Face Fenner's Fishack, 53 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach, CA; 310/379-5550. Clam chowder, fish-and-chips, and messy but delicious blackened fish tacos with cilantro-lime salsa. (2003)

Gladstone's, 17300 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, CA; 310/454-3474 or gladstones.com . Giant portions of never-frozen seafood. No ties allowed. (1998)

The Green Flash, 701 Thomas Ave., San Diego, CA; 858/270-7715 or greenflashrestaurant.com . You just might glimpse that elusive moment that gave the restaurant its name―when the setting sun appears green for an instant. Delivering your heaping seafood platter, bowlful of steamed clams, or fat burger, your server will tell you to "look quick, it's awesome." (2007)

Harbor Fish & Chips, 276-A Harbor Dr. S., Oceanside, CA; 760/722-4977 or nvo.com/oceanside/harborfishchips . Serves consistently good fish-and-chips and tasty if not overly clammy clam chowder on Oceanside Harbor. (2006)

Harbor Fish Cafè, 3179 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad, CA; 760/729-4161. Order the large plate of fish-and-chips―three pieces of lightly battered fish, a mound of fries, and homemade tartar sauce. It weighs about 5 pounds, but it's worth every calorie-laden bite. (2004)

Malibu Seafood, 25653 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA; 310/456-3430. Huge variety; try the ahi tuna burger, and eat on picnic tables or the beach itself. (2000)

Neptune's Net, 42505 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA; 310/457-3095. Steamed shrimp, lobster, fish-and-chips, and creamy clam chowder. (1999)

Paradise Cove Beach Café, 28128 Pacific Coast Highway., Malibu, CA; 310/457-2503. Wide-screen views of the Pacific. The clam chowder and crispy-skin salmon are well worth the trip down the mile-long access road. (2004)

Pier Beach Grill, 668 Harbor Blvd., Ventura, CA; 805/648-3177. Pick up some chowder or fish-and-chips at this no-frills snack bar at the foot of the 1,958-foot Ventura Pier. Then enjoy the sea breeze, the cries of the gulls, and the rhythmic rush of the waves. (2007)

Point Loma Seafoods, 2805 Emerson St., San Diego, CA; 619/223-1109 or plsf.com/index.html . Lunchtime crowds favor the crab, tuna, and shrimp sandwiches, and the creamy and tomato-based chowders. (1999)

Reel Inn Restaurant, 18661 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA; 310/456-8221. Very fresh, inexpensive seafood served in innovative ways. (1998)

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, 230 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA; 805/966-6676 or stearnswharf.org . Yummy serviche (seafood marinated in citrus juice) and cioppino nearly a half-mile into the Pacific on Stearns Warf. (2003)

South Beach Bar & Grill, 5059 Newport Ave., Ocean Beach, CA; 619/226-4577. Everyone―from business types in suits to surfers damp from the waves―converges here for fabulous fish tacos. (2006)

Stacky's Seaside, 2315 Lillie Ave., Summerland, CA; 805/969-9908 or stackys.com . Light, crisp fish-and-chips, plus fish burgers and crab melts. (2001)

Wahoo's Fish Taco, various coastal locations in Southern California and Honolulu, HI; wahoos.com . This regional chain has a surprisingly healthy Mexican-Brazilian-Asian-Californian menu. The casual surfer vibe adapts to each location, giving stores a neighborhood feel. (2007)

World Famous, 711 Pacific Beach Dr., San Diego, CA; 858/272-3100 or worldfamous.signonsandiego.com . Prime ocean views, lobster tacos. (1997)

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA

Li'l Hut, 1205 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA; 805/772-3488. At this oddball stand in the parking lot of the Harbor Hut restaurant, the thick and tasty clam chowder shines. This homemade creation finds delicious synergy with the sweet pineapple coleslaw―together less than $6. (2007)

Loulou's Griddle in the Middle, Municipal Wharf No. 2, Monterey, CA; 831/372-0568. The squid (or crab cake) and eggs reels in fishermen as early as 7 a.m. Ultrarich clam chowder and flaky white sand dabs appear at lunch. (2006)

Sea Chest Oyster Bar and Seafood Restaurant, 6216 Moonstone Beach Dr., Cambria, CA; 805/927-4514 or cambria-online.com/seachestrestaurantandoysterbar . Rustic and very popular; go for the catch-of-the-day fish, with mango salsa on the side. (2003)

Splash Cafe, 197 Pomeroy Ave., Pismo Beach, CA; 805/773-4653 or splashcafe.com . Famous for chowder, but also does a nice job with fish-and-chips and steamed clams. (2003)

Totoya Japanese Restaurant, 867 Wave St., Monterey, CA; 831/375-7024. The sushi's delectable at this tiny restaurant across from Monterey Bay Aquarium. A crew of three can sample as many sushi rolls and slices of ruby red tuna as they can hold, and still get out for less than $50. (2004)

Zelda's Restaurant, 203 Esplanade, Capitola, CA; 831/475-4900. You can sit outdoors, right on the beach. The clam chowder and fried calamari reveal a kitchen that lavishes some care on what could otherwise have been standard bar food. (2005)

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