Summer may be winding down so what better way to enjoy the last days of summer than outside with delicious seafood? We scoured the coast from north to south for the best casual seafood joints to crack, peel, shuck, and eat. From fish and chips in a hidden canyon to oysters by the sea, these laidback, road trippin’ spots are a destination in and of themselves.
The smoked fish tacos at Ruddell’s Smokehouse in the charming surf town of Cayucos are in a class of their own. The little stand, a stone’s throw from the beach, offers a simple menu of smoked albacore, salmon, shrimp, and ahi, as well as chicken and pork, which you can have as a taco, sandwich, or salad. If you want the true Ruddell’s experience, go with the fish taco. Served in a toasted flour tortilla with diced apple, carrot, lettuce, celery and a secret sauce, they’re well worth the trip.
Oysters are delicious, and they taste even better when you shuck them yourself. At The Jolly Oyster in Ventura, you can order your favorite crustaceans—shipped in fresh from Baja—from the Jolly’s food truck, and enjoy them with a picnic in the park or at the nearby beach. If you’re not one for shucking yourself, they’ll do the dirty work for you at the nearby Jolly Oyster Kitchen.
A favorite of everyone, Neptune’s Net is probably the most beloved seafood shack on the Southern part of Highway 1, and it’s not just because of the stunning ocean views. Grab a cold beer from the refrigerator and order your favorites from the extensive menu: fried calamari, clam chowder, and Neptune’s sample—a heaving plate of fish, shrimp, scallops, and clams—are local staples.
Froggy’s, the beloved Topanga Canyon hideaway, has major Joni Mitchell appeal. Order the fish and chips or your favorite grilled catch at the counter and snag a table outside, where you’ll dine amongst hummingbirds in a picturesque, sun-drenched canyon that will make you feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1970s.
A historic haunt on the Redondo Beach pier, Quality Seafood may look unassuming, but it boasts some of the freshest catch in the South Bay. The resident fishmongers in their rubber aprons and wellies offer a truly authentic maritime experience, and serve up everything from Fanny Bay oysters on the half shell to steamed lobster and live sea urchin. There’s even a kitschy video arcade with a Tilt-a-Whirl next door; just be sure to give yourself enough time to digest your lunch before you climb on board.