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Sam's Chowder House: Claw Your Way to Half Moon Bay for These Lobster Rolls
by Bob Cooper, San Francisco Reporter for HelloMetro
The lobster roll at Sam's Chowder House attracts diners from far and wide—and the lobster arrives daily from Maine. Photo by Bob Cooper
A fire pit warms diners and drinkers on the Adirondack lounge chairs behind the restaurant. Photo by Bob Cooper
The cioppino is second in popularity only to the lobster roll among regular diners at Sam's. Photo by Bob Cooper
Sam's Crab Louis combines Dungeness crab, Fuji apple slices, lettuce, cucumbers and egg slices. Photo by Bob Cooper
How can Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay, 3,000 miles from Maine, boast of its Maine lobster rolls? Sam's Chowder House can because Maine lobsters are flown in fresh daily, and NBC's Today show backed them up when the lobster roll was named one of America's "five best sandwiches."
They're lightly tossed with butter and presented on a toasted bun—and the taste is memorable. So is Sam's view of Pillar Point Harbor. You can enjoy it from anywhere inside or outside this Pacific Coast Highway restaurant, which seats 173 indoors and 130 more outdoors.
Windows line one side of the long, narrow, casual-dress restaurant. Just outside, even closer to the harbor, are eight distinct areas for eating, drinking and enjoying the view. There's a surf-shack bar, benches, tables and Adirondack chairs out there, with fire pits and heat lamps to keep you warm.
Unlike the trademark lobster roll, most of the seafood is caught locally. A dedication to sustainable seafood practices means that some menu items are not always available—but those that are will be fresh. And there's plenty to choose from, between house specialties like cioppino and crab-stuffed jumbo prawns; locally caught grilled halibut and sea bass; and New England and Manhattan chowders.
Sam's seafood is so popular, there's a Sam's ChowderMobile that serves lobster rolls on summer weekends at Golden Gate Park and at private lobster clambakes.
Luscious desserts include a roasted pumpkin and pecan bread pudding drizzled with caramel sauce and a key lime pie that mixes fresh limes, custard and toasted meringue.
Happy hour is celebrated every weeknight from 4 to 7 p.m. with two-for-one well drinks and specialty cocktails. (Order the Nadia's Raspberry Lemondrop—vodka, raspberry puree and lemon juice—and profits will go to the Nadia Gift Foundation breast-cancer research fund.) Bands play rock, blues, jazz, reggae and "surf and groove" at the indoor or outdoor bar, depending on the weather, on Fridays (6-9 p.m.), Saturdays (6-9 p.m.) and Sundays (1-4 p.m.).
HelloSanFrancisco Tip: Wondering if it's foggy before you drive over the hill? Simply check the SamCam for a live peek at the view from Sam's.