HALF MOON BAY, Calif.
The story: Opened in 2006, Sam’s Chowder House is THE place to visit if you find yourself in Half Moon Bay. Its famous lobster roll has made the list of many magazines and was featured on NBC’s “The Today Show.”
Why I went: I recently visited Half Moon Bay for the first time, and after spending some time at the beach I went to get an early dinner before going back to the beach to watch the sunset. Even though I went early, the restaurant was packed, doing steady business.
The vibe: Slightly touristy since a lot of people are out-of-towners who drove into Half Moon Bay for the day and decided to try Sam’s famous lobster roll. Many people come to just have a drink and sit in the patio to enjoy the water view.
The menu: A whole lotta seafood, with several “daily catch” to choose from. Because it’s known for its lobster, there’s a special section of lobster options, including gazpacho with lobster garnish, lobster ceviche, lobster louie, lobster spaghetti, and of course the lobster roll ($22.95).
The booze: A regular bar and a decent wine and beer list. I saw many people ordering martinis while enjoying the view, and I went for a Lagunitas beer. The alcohol is acceptable but nothing unique.
My favorite dish: I guess I would say my favorite dish was the lobster roll, but I can’t say I totally loved it. I give Sam’s a lot of credit for piling on the fresh, real lobster meat in the brioche roll, but I wished it had some moisture either with a bit of aioli or even mayonnaise to bind the lobster together. Instead it was as if someone cracked a whole lobster and placed the meat in a roll.
Insider tip: When approaching Sam’s Chowder House, park somewhere along the highway. Don’t bother going into the parking lot because it’s always packed. Unless you’re feeling lucky, save time and just park on the highway.
The last bite: There’s definitely a great view and friendly staff, and the food is admirable although a bit predictable, like the beet salad ($9.95) with strawberries, arugula and frisee. I did enjoy my affogato using espresso poured over soft-serve ice cream.
The rating: 2 out of 4 camera snaps
The deets: Sam’s Chowder House, 4210 N. Cabrillo Hwy., Half Moon Bay. PH: 650.712.0245. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.samschowderhouse.com
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