The Crab Cooker: Seafood in Newport Beach

If Southern California does one thing right, it would be its adoption of the beach lifestyle. We have Venice, Huntington, Newport and San Diego, all of them with their own unique style that makes them perfect places to experience the culture and lifestyle that defines California. One of my favorite things about beaches like Venice and Newport is the history that comes with them, such as one of the staples of Newport, the great seafood restaurant know as The Crab Cooker.

History

I think this little quote, taken from their site, by Bob (the owner) about how they got the name and how much he loves the restaurant sums it up perfectly.

“The original name of our restaurant was Seafood Varieties and in front of the restaurant we had large lobster and crab cookers. It took about three years for me to realize that nobody knew us by our business name, instead they referred to us as the place with the big Crab Cookers. Essentially our customers named the restaurant, and I was happy to change the name for them. Time has facilitated many changes with our building, refrigeration techniques etc., but the one thing that has not changed or will not change is our persistent dedication to constantly provide you, our customers, the worlds finest seafood. It may sound corny, but the truth of the matter is, in 1951 I fell in love with the fish business and our customers and I have been on a honeymoon ever since.”

The place has a lot of fun quirks that really show how much the owner loves it, such as this entry sign.

The Atmosphere

The Crab Cooker has been around for a while and you can tell by its design, art and atmosphere, but this is one of my favorite things about this place is that it feels like a home town joint where everyone knows your name. In addition to the restaurant, they even have salt water taffy that you can take when you leave, a full fish market with everything from lobster to albacore and a postcard area where you can mail anyone in the USA a postcard for free.

The Crab Cooker also has a lot of cool eclectic art on the wall and they really embrace the fish-eating culture that they try to create there. They even have a 25 foot bench seat that goes around the front of the restaurant for you to wait on while they prepare your table.

The Food

The Crab Cooker is a seafood restaurant, and like any other good seafood restaurant should be, they sell nothing that isn’t seafood. No chicken, or anything like that, just straight seafood and really good seafood at that. The standouts for me are the appetizer clam chowder and shrimp cocktail. Both are completely amazing.

You can also buy a hard roll for $1.50 that adds to both of these and is a great dipping item for the soup. For entrees I love the shrimp skewers. The shrimps are succulent and flavorful and the accompanying potatoes and cole slaw, the latter of which I normally hate, both add a lot to the meal. But really you can’t go wrong with most of the seafood here.

The Prices

This place is on the expensive side but seafood often is. I normally go for lunch when the food is cheaper, but if you are getting a dinner entree you can plan on spending 15-20 dollars per entree. Lunch is around 10-15 unless you are getting lobster, then it is market price.

This place is great though, the vibe, the food and everything about it really brings you into the culture that has made Newport Beach famous. It is a must try once, but if your anything like me, you will probably make it into a normal occurrence.

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  • sophocles

    My wife was determined to go here on our California road trip, so we went. I am skeptical of ancient places, as its hard to tell if they are surviving on their reputation or “the world’s finest seafood” as the owner of the Crab Cooker says. The meal started with stale bread sticks kept in open plastic jugs at the table. We both had lunch special. I had a kebob with shrimp, scallops, and a fillet of fish, served with a sides of cole slaw and potato, about $18. The kebobs were skimpy and unremarkable. The cold slaw was good. I love potatoes, but the gluey, cheesy blob was inedible. I realize this is an old post and maybe the place has gone downhill. I have little doubt that there are better places within a stone’s throw.