If you have ever wondered what food paradise looked like, I can now tell you that it exists in San Pedro, CA. Nestled on the southern end of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, San Pedro is a historic working class community with a unique blend of charm, cultural attractions, eclectic shopping, a world-class cruise center and home to one of the most instagrammed restaurants in the world. Due to it’s prime location by the sea and the fact that the city was built on the labor of fishermen from various backgrounds, San Pedro has an incredible selection of delectable restaurants. Below are my top 3 picks of places to dine while in San Pedro.
San Pedro Fish Market
The San Pedro Fish Market is what seafood dreams are made of. It’s a seafood mecca of wall to wall fresh fish cooked to your liking while you wait. Located right on the water with spectacular views, expect large crowds on the weekend. It’s recommended to visit midweek if at all possible to avoid the chaos. Here is how it works:
Find a parking spot
Free parking can be found at our main lot just outside the restaurant in addition to nearby satellite lots. For your convenience, a trolley is available to shuttle you and your family from the satellite lots to the restaurant, but is also just a quick 10-minute walk.
Head to the seafood counter and choose your fish
Here you can pick whatever tickles your fancy whether it be lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, salmon, etc…Their crab tank gives you the option to choose any of the live crabs and lobsters to be cooked up exactly how you like it!
Take it To Be Cooked
Tell the employees how you enjoy it. Do you like it fried, boiled, flat top, cajun seasoning, or grilled
Do you like potatoes, tomatoes and Chile’s? They also give you a giant loaf of garlic bread.
There are lots of picnic tables with lots of seating near the water.
Tip: On the weekends, this is also where you can find one of their three Fajita Stands (in addition to the inside patio and outside deck) where you are able to order the World Famous Shrimp Trays without the hassle of waiting in line at the Seafood Counter or BBQ
Fun Fact: San Pedro Fish Market has been named 5th Most Instagrammed restaurant in the US
The true history of Pappy’s started back nearly 50 years ago. Believe it or not the restaurant used to be a Post Office. After a major overhaul, the restaurant is now a modern and hip dining establishment serving up fresh seafood with a very friendly staff and a full bar! The nautical themed decor and high ceilings are very welcoming and the layout of the restaurant is functional and extremely clean.
What’s on the menu?
The real question is what’s not on the menu? Pappy’s has nearly every seafood entrée you can imagine. For appetizers I recommend the ceviche with Mahi Mahi and the hush puppies served with whipped honey butter. The flavors are fresh and both items had perfect temps.
As for main entrees, I highly recommend the lobster mac and cheese. It has chunks of lobster smothered in ooey gooey cheese and topped with a panko parmesan crust. Also delicious is their lobster roll. Thick chunks of fresh lobster meat are nestled into a buttery roll and tossed with mayo, lemon, dill, celery, red onions, chives and garlic herb butter.
If you have a heartier appetite, try the clam bake! It has shrimp, clams, mussels, corn on the cob, kielbasa, red potatoes, carmelized lemons and garlic herb butter. The shrimp and chips are off the hook too!
Overall, the crowd here is mellow and the energy from the crew, decor, and music is positive. There are 2 big screens near the bar that show local and national sports and plenty of bar space and tables to seat up to 6+. I can totally see coming here with a group of friends to impress.
JTrani’s is an Italian restaurant filled with 90 years of history. The interior is all red brick, and the vibe is a little on the formal side, but still very relaxed. The exterior is similar with a cottage looking building and a bright neon green sign lit up at night.
Currently, the fourth generation of Trani’s carries on the tradition of fine Italian food and let me tell you it was delicious. On a recent visit we sampled many items from the menu. First up was the calamari. Well prepared calamari is a weakness of mine and due to the fact that you can easily mess up this dish I hold it to a very high standard. Thankfully, JTrani’s calamari was perfectly breaded with specks of sesame seed and dressed with a Thai inspired sauce. Absolutely Delicious!
Other appetizers worth mentioning were:
Cold Smoked Swordfish Carpaccio -Cold smoked red onion, micro greens, lemon, olive oil
Peppers – Tempura shishito peppers, sweet chili beurre blanc, feta cheese, basil
Entrees were equally as satisfying and I could tell that chef Dustin takes a lot of extra time and patience to make his dishes look aesthetically appealing. Swordfish seems to be a popular item on the menu so we also tried the local swordfish milanese with Mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, fresh tomatoes & basil. Wow!! The fish was tender and flavorful. And the puréed potatoes were light and fluffy. It was a perfect portion.
If you prefer pasta I recommend the Penne w/ Sunday Sauce. It has short rib ragu, Bolognese, fresh arugula & feta cheese. Your tastebuds will be screaming for more. I was also told that the wild mushroom parpadelle pasta (pic above on the right) tasted incredible. I took pictures of it, but being that I don’t eat mushrooms I did not have a chance to try it personally.
All good meals are finished with dessert. It’s just a rule I have. We were served JTrani’s famous bread pudding and it was fantastic. The bread pudding was served in a small cast iron skillet and was deliciously covered in gooey caramel and topped with ice cream. 2-3 people could easily share this and I cannot wait to come back again and try more items on the menu.
Sirens Java & Tea
Yolanda Regalado, owner of Sirens Java & Tea coffeehouse created this establishment as a way to honor fallen firefighters and law enforcement that answer the call of the siren. At Sirens you will find soothing drinks, a kind word, and a lot of heart all displayed on the memorial walls. A charity provided Yolanda an empty brass fire extinguisher for collecting donations so as a visual reminder and dynamic container for contributions, the extinguisher hangs alongside a plaque explaining why the shop is devoted to Widows & Orphans.
Brouwerij West is a unique tasting room concept where guests can taste different styles of beer in a refurbished 120,000 square foot WWII-era warehouse at the Port of Los Angeles.
Owner Brian Mercer has been gypsy-brewing his own Belgian-inspired ales at different breweries and now serves them at Brouwerji West. Food trucks regularly reside in front so guests can get their grub on from one of the many vendors. Located directly across of Brouwerji West is “Crafted“, a handmade shopping experience featuring the work of LA’s best artisans and craftspeople! Here you can find one of a kind treasures and handmade creations.
Things To Do in San Pedro
Aside from eating there are numerous of attractions to see in San Pedro. Here is a short list that will get you started:
- Visit The USS Iowa
- Take A Harbor Breeze Cruise
- Visit the Warner Grand Theater
- See Angel’s Gate Tour of Korean Bell
- Visit Point Fermin Lighthouse
Tip for getting around San Pedro
Parking can often times be a nightmare in Downtown San Pedro. So make your life easier by taking the San Pedro Trolly! The San Pedro Historic Waterfront Business Improvement District is offering the Trolley as a free service to both residents and visitors. The San Pedro Downtown Trolley route starts at the Ports O’Call Village and runs north along the waterfront to the Fanfare at San Pedro Gateway Fountain at the entrance to the Cruise Terminal Parking Lot The Trolley makes stops at the Maritime Museum and the Battleship Iowa. The Trolley then goes through Downtown San Pedro on 6th and 7th Streets. After stops at Crafted, Cabrillo Beach, the Doubletree Hotel and the Lane Victory, the trolley returns to the Ports O’Call Village parking lot.
Passengers are encouraged to get off and on the Trolley at their convenience. Enjoy fine dining from around the world, shop in unique stores, and view and purchase a variety of different forms of art in San Pedro’s many galleries. The Historic Waterfront, the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles and the shops and restaurants of Ports O’Call Village are easily visited on the trolley.
The Trolley operates every Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM and every First Thursday from 4 PM to 10 PM between Crafted and Downtown San Pedro.