Ruddell’s Smokehouse, Cayucos, California

Ruddell’s serves “the ultimate tuna sandwich.” Says so on the menu. And with a big, perfectly cooked piece of smoked albacore and what amounts to an entire salad all in an oversize roll, it really is. This hut, across the street from the beach, makes everything to order and even provides a guitar for customers to strum while they wait.

What you’ll shell out: $9.50

Still hungry? All of the smoked seafood carries exactly the right infusion of woodsy tang. 101 D St.; 805/995-5028 or smokerjim.com

Illustrator Matt Caserta

We took the plunge and found some keepers along these salty shores.

By Coastal Living

Michigan
The Bluebird Restaurant & Bar, Leland
What to expect: The Bluebird, one block from Lake Michigan in this fishing village-turned-tourist town, has evolved into a white-tablecloth institution. Or at least the dining room has. The bar, with its more casual menu, remains a relaxed throwback to the restaurant’s 1927 roots as a sandwich and soda shop (with the addition of a wine list). Definitely try the fried whitefish, either the sandwich or the platter. On later visits you might explore the smelt, perch, or walleye.
Check it out: 102 River Street; 231/256-9081 or leelanau.com/bluebird

Ohio
Jolly Roger Seafood Restaurant
, Port Clinton
What to expect: “Lake Erie's finest perch & walleye,” claims a sign at this otherwise modest little place in the Lake Erie Islands summer resort area. We won't disagree. Locals line up out the door for tender, juicy fried perch and walleye, which come with excellent waffle-cut fries.
Check it out: 1737 East Perry Street; 419/732-3382

New Sandusky Fish Company, Sandusky
What to expect: The New Sandusky Fish Company serves huge fried-fish sandwiches smothered in tartar sauce. Choose walleye, bass, perch, or catfish. A frog leg dinner with a side order of clam strips makes a tasty alternative. No seating is available inside, but nearby benches and gazebos overlook Sandusky Bay.
Check it out: 235 East Shoreline Drive; 419/621-8263

Minnesota
Howl’n Wolf Saloon & Grill
, Grand Marais
What to expect: This small-town bar on the North Shore of Lake Superior serves excellent lemon-pepper grilled walleye and wonderful Minnesota wild rice pilaf with almonds. If you wish to howl, then stop by on Thursday or Friday night for karaoke.
Check it out: 2066 West Highway 61; 218/387-1236

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