A perennial favorite in Newport Beach for more than 50 years is the bright red clapboard Crab Cooker restaurant located near the entrance to the Balboa Peninsula and situated just a short walk from the Newport Pier. You can usually spot it by the long line of people hanging out the door.
This restaurant is the definition of a Southern California fish joint: relaxed, but frenetic, with great food and lots of close-talking chatter. It is housed in an old Bank of America building, but you wouldn't know it from the huge stuffed shark, caught a few hundred yards away and suspended from the ceiling. The walls are plastered with pictures and other artifacts of the fishing history of coastal Orange County, with some Hollywood stars to boot. You'll be served on paper plates, with plastic wine cups and cutlery, but we're not coming here for the china; we're coming for the fantastic seafood.
The fish menu is crafted to offer only the freshest seafood available each day. The food is mostly broiled on the broiler located in the center of the restaurant. Sides are limited to coleslaw, cheesy mashed potatoes, sliced tomatoes, and rice pilaf. But the seafood is the star here, wonderfully prepared, with minimal seasoning, showcasing the various tastes of the seafood itself.
We love the Alaska King Crab legs in season -- a generous portion for the price. We also are fans of the Alaska Spotted Shrimp, which are served hot and boiled, as an appetizer. Every day, a fresh fish is featured, such as mahi mahi or local swordfish. Also featured on the menu is a very nice Manhattan clam chowder, mussels, clams, squid, and crab cakes.
Enjoy the brisk but friendly service, and don't forget to bring your roll of quarters to feed the meters outside. Take your place in line and you will soon have a seat. And when you do, you'll enjoy one of the freshest and healthiest seafood meals that Orange County has to offer.
There also is a location in Tustin.