Chances are, if you live in southern California, you’re familiar with the iconic San Pedro Fish Market (SPFM). I’ve visited the original at Ports O’Call Village on numerous occasions, always blown away by the fish market itself, where you can purchase fresh seafood, either to be cooked and eaten there. Of course, you can buy the seafood to take home, as well.
(**photo from 2018)
The story of San Pedro Fish Market starts with Mackey Ungaro, who, in 1956, founded and opened the first SPFM location in 1956, with his son Henry, and his nephew Tommy Amalfitano. Originally called Vista Seafood, it was located to its current location in the early 60s. In 1982, this waterfront location was rebuilt and renamed San Pedro Fish Market and Restaurant. The restaurant is renown for its famous, over the top, heaping seafood trays, huge enough to feed a small army.
Shockingly, even though I’ve visited SPFM many times before, and walked through there so many times, I’d never eaten at San Pedro Fish Market. Recently, I had the chance to visit its location in Long Beach, located adjacent to the 2nd & PCH shopping center, overlooking Alamitos Bay.
One of my favorite local chefs, Frank DeLoach, helms the kitchen here, and has brought an updated flair to the traditional menu that’s been a long standing staple of SPFM. Since joining SPFM, he has added brunch to the menu, something that’s never been done before in the restaurant’s long history.
My first experience with Chef Frank was over a decade ago. I was so blown away by his ability to create the perfect balance in Asian cuisine without having grown up with it, so I have 100% confidence in him, and consider him one of my favorites in southern California.
The Long Beach restaurant is beautiful, overlooking the water, with a myriad of boats docked in the bay. Walk inside to find an open kitchen where you can pick and choose your fish — and other seafood — displayed in the cases as you filter your way through. The massive seafood trays are available here just like the original location, but the difference is that at this location, you’re surrounded by private boats in an alcove, rather than watching commercial liners drift across the water. A full bar means you can take advantage of a drink or two with your meal either downstairs, or upstairs, with patio seating on both floors.
While there are several trays you can choose from, you may also customize your own depending on which seafoods you decide you want. Alamitos Bay Tray ($119.99) consists of grilled shrimp, whole Maine lobster, premium fresh fish fillet, black mussels, calamari, crispy whole tilapia, sliced SPFM veggie mix, and corn on the cob. Since Chef Frank knows my palate well, I left it to him to create the tray for us. He customized it with scallops, spicy sausage, potatoes, but did away with the veggie mix and corn on the cob.
Chili Crab, Chef Frank’s riff off of the famous Singaporean Chili Crab is available soon (or has already launched). Using local Rock Crab, this dish brought me straight back to my childhood in southeast Asia with its distinctive umami aromas. My first bite was such a Ratatouille moment I actually groaned in total bliss. The flavors were spot on – slightly toned down in heat – packed with flavor and the richness one would expect from Singaporean Chili Crab.
Come hungry, and preferably with a small group of friends in tow. The portions are beyond generous and it is one of those experiences best enjoyed with others. The seafood is extremely fresh and abundant, but the best part is how tasty everything is. It is also the perfect spot to bring out of town guests to soak in the laid back Californian lifestyle.
San Pedro Fish Market — Long Beach
6550 E Marina Dr
Long Beach, CA 90803