Crab Cooker - Tustin
17260 E. 17th St.
Tustin CA 92680
Went to lunch today at the Crab Cooker, not the famous one in Newport Beach, but the lesser-known inland one (and only other one) in Tustin. Still owned by Bob Roubian who opened the Newport location in 1951 (and the Tustin one some four decades later), the Crab Cooker is the real place to go for seafood in Orange County. Don't be fooled by the imitators. The Crab Cooker is the real thing.
Their clam chowder is their own unique blend and is sort of a cross between the famous Boston (white) and Manhattan (red) clam chowders.
One downside is that there are no free refills on sodas but at only 90 cents a glass it's still a bargain.
Clipped to my menu was a little note on yellow paper that said, "Yes, We have it! Alaskan Spot Shrimp!" This is a good-sized prawn that has a taste like a cross between shrimp and lobster and a little firmer than other shrimp. They are served hot with lemon and drawn butter and your choice of two sides (cole slaw and rice pilaf in my case). This may not be a permanent menu item so if you're craving spot shrimp then you should jump at the chance.
Alaskan Spot Shrimp
Their cheesecake comes from the Cheesecake Factory and they generally have three or four flavors a day to pick from so ask your server what's available. You can also help yourself to a complimentary piece of salt water taffy from out of the fish bowl on your way out.
Having gone to the Crab Cooker for as long as I can remember I still cherish my visits. With their authentic seafood prepared with time-honored techniques, and their decor that stubbornly refuses to yield to modernity and contemporary trendiness (even their website seems like it could've been made in the 1950's), it is impossible to go to either location and not sense centuries of seafaring mystique and atmosphere. If you saw their logo on a sign hanging outside a shop in a Pirates of the Caribbean movie it wouldn't seem the least bit out of place. You can even purchase some fresh seafood at their Fish Market display case to cook yourself when you get back home.
Key Lime Cheesecake from Cheesecake Factory
UPDATE (May 12, 2007)This was entirely unplanned but I ended up going yesterday to lunch at the Crab Cooker on Balboa. They have the Spot Shrimp there too but this time I got the combination plate with fish, shrimp, and scallops on a skewer.
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