Seafood Lover’s Paradise Chronicling my holiday trip to California - Ch. 3

If you love seafood, move to coastal California. That’s my pitch for the day. Seriously. In the first 72 hours since arriving in Camarillo, I’ve eaten more seafood than I can remember in my short lifetime.

But I’m not complaining. Honest. I love seafood and I’m always on the prowl for new dishes and new takes on classic dishes–minus the battered and fried stuff (unless by some magical hand it’s gluten-free). Despite their favorite go-tos though, I still wouldn’t call my parents foodies. Maybe bougie foodies? Pseudo foodies? Or maybe just people who like to eat at “clean” places (i.e. places that appear clean with clean-looking employees). They enjoy good food (who doesn’t) but their “adventures in food” don’t seem to move outside a certain style of restaurants (i.e. where other white people and tourists frequent).

I could be selling them short right now. But I’m also sure that if given the option, they’d choose a restaurant in a tourist trap over a really good food truck/hole-in-the-wall/Bodega counter every. single. time.

Why? Because if the place doesn’t look clean and the people don’t look presentable, it surely can’t be good.

Sorry mom and dad. But not really.

This isn’t to say that they don’t have decent taste in food. The places they’ve taken my brother and I so far have been very good, if not lacking in “adventure.”

The Stops

Tavern 1 Grill & Tap House – Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
This was the first stop within hours of landing at LAX last week. It wasn’t anything special though. The restaurant sits right on the PCH and the inner decor is woodsy and plays homage to Route 1 with the highway signs and photos, as well as other random tidbits of decoration. It’s a seafood tavern. If you’re traveling along the Pacific and need a quick bite, it’s not a bad place to stop.

The food: I ordered the shrimp scampi. It came with a nice amount of jumbo shrimp, pan-roasted vegetables, and a dome of pilaf — all of it swimming in some kind of white wine/butter sauce.

It’s been a while since I’ve been somewhere that serves “rice domes.” The presentation wasn’t exciting. The little dome of rice pilaf … why? And everything was segregated from everything else–connected only by the sauce. The shrimps were lined up in the butter sauce. The pilaf dome occupied the center of the plate. The vegetables taking up the other corner of the plate.

Am I supposed to mix this or eat each thing separately?

I was genuinely confused for a moment. I decided to just mix everything together. The pilaf had an overpowering briney taste to it that was subdued somewhat when eaten with the vegetables (which didn’t have any flavor to them). The shrimps were cooked well–not too tough, not spongy. They weren’t flavored, but maybe that’s what the butter sauce was for?

Lure Fish House – Multiple locations: Ventura; West Lake Village
Ever since I landed, my dad has been going on, nonstop, about these charboiled oysters. “You gotta try ’em! You like oysters, right?”

I’m not a big fan of raw oysters, but ever endeavoring to try new things, I agreed to try some charboiled oysters. They weren’t terrible and I certainly ate my fill of them. But by Day 2, I was oystered out. (There are also fried oysters for those who like fried stuff.)

For the entrée, I ordered Wild Mahi Mahi and a side of sweet potato fries at the Ventura location; and the Lure ceviche (sold as a starter) and a side of parmesan potato cakes at the West Lake Village location.

The sides themselves weren’t anything special. Sweet potato fries, okay. Potato cake, eh. The Wild Mahi Mahi, which appeared to be pan-cooked was okay. From what I can remember, it lacked any real flavor. But it was moist and flaky, so that’s always good. The ceviche, served with house-made corn chips, was a nice “refreshing” lunch. But again, it didn’t have a lot of flavor to it. Over time, the acidity of the ceviche became a bit much and I started getting a little heartburn.

I wouldn’t be overly excited about this place–except, maybe, for the oysters–but if you’re looking for a nice place to take your family for lunch or dinner, I’d say check this place out.

View from Neptune’s
Neptune’s – Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu
This was a fun little lunch spot to visit along the PCH. If you’re a surfer or you’re visiting and need a place to eat, this would be a great place to check out. Similar to Tavern 1, Neptune’s is located right on the PCH and you can’t miss it.

It’s got a blue-ish facade that screams “lunch counter” but in a comfy, inviting way. The place has patio seating facing the beach side, which is great for those nice mild days. It’s also split into two sections. In one section, you go in and order your boiled or fried seafood goods. The other section is your regular “restaurant” side, where you grab your drinks from the cold case and order tacos or soups or sandwiches.

My dad was really into their boiled shrimp so naturally we ordered some boiled shrimp. From the restaurant side, I ordered pescado tacos. A trend I’m noticing by this point: food seems to be somewhat under-seasoned here in Southern California. The fish tacos were good: the fish wasn’t dry and the fixin’s were tasty. But it could’ve been a tad more flavorful. I don’t know what was on the fish tacos, but if it was Old Bay, there could’ve definitely been a good punch of it.

And the butter for the boiled shrimp. How can butter taste like nothing? At least the cocktail sauce was your standard cocktail sauce. And the boiled shrimp by themselves were tasty. They were cooked just right. Not rubbery or tought at all.

So again, if you’re looking for a quick “sandwich”-like place to grab some food while traveling solo or with friends and families, Neptune’s is a good place to stop.

And that’s all for today’s food post. Check back for another food post because I’m sure my parents have more food places to take us to. Hello, Ojai.


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