The Lobster is set beside the entrance to the Santa Monica Pier. It had its beginnings in 1923 as the Lobster Shack, a tiny place just 900 square feet. The glory days were the '50s and '60s, after Mateo Castillo, a former dishwasher, became the owner. Shuttered in 1985, the shack sat empty until a group of a dozen investors, including the Roberts family behind Topanga Fish Market and Reel Inn, put together a partnership to secure the site and build a bigger, brasher seafood restaurant. The new Lobster was built on two levels cantilevered out to take in a 180-degree view of sea and sand.
Since there are few restaurants in Santa Monica right on the sand, The Lobster is always packed and open seven days a week. Running this kitchen is like running the commissary for a small army. It is even more unusual to have onsite parking for the restaurant which is right next door.
We were in Santa Monica to get our long stay visa for France and met Lisa's daughter Jessica and her boyfriend Steve for dinner. The bar was packed when we arrived, they have both an indoor and outdoor bar.
The restaurant was also packed, it is set up as one large room on the second floor, looking out over the Santa Monica Pier and the ocean.
We got a seat on the window with a great view of the pier.
We decided to have some calamari and prawns, crispy as advertised, ready and willing to be dipped in an anchovy-spiked aioli.
Getting to why we went here, steamed live Maine lobster, starting at 1 1/2 pounds and priced by the pound, is served on a plate with a crock of drawn butter and emerald sauteed Swiss chard. The green's bright earthiness is terrific against the sweetness of the lobster. In season, the restaurant is one of the few to offer spiny lobsters, a sublime and truly local treat.
In common with all spiny lobsters, the California spiny lobster has two large, spiny antennae, but no large claws on its legs. They are in season from October to March. Spiny lobsters, pound for pound, have more meat in their bodies than New England lobsters do. The spiny lobster is served grilled here and this one was enormous, 7 pounds and about 2 feet long (the smallest one they had). Just to be clear, there was more than enough to share around the table, which is what we did. In addition to the tail, there is lots of meat at the base of the antennas, in the legs and in the flat tail. This one was delicious in every edible bit.
Steve wanted surf and turf so he ordered a ribeye steak to add to the lobster. The steak was well cooked and delicious.
Jessica doesn't eat lobster so she had the Scottish salmon. The Lobster is one of the best seafood restaurants on the sand in Santa Monica and while I cannot comment on much except the lobster and the view, I would recommend it to others. Some reviewers said that they felt rushed but we spent almost three hours here and had a great time. It isn't inexpensive but if you want a great meal and an even better view consider The Lobster in Santa Monica.