A popular Southern California restaurant that specializes in seafood, The Crab Cooker is housed in an old branch building of the Bank of America on Balboa Peninsula. Rich in history and deep in delicious food, The Crab Cooker is a popular stop for tourists and residents alike.
The History of The Crab Cooker
Originally located at 28th Street and Marina and named Seafood Varieties, The Crab Cooker got its start when Bob Roubian was given the opportunity to take over a local fish market. A carpenter by trade, Roubian had helped to remodel the market three years prior to the offer. With an interest in fishing combined with his carpentry skills, Roubian decided to accept the offer and, in August 1951, The Crab Cooker was born.
The original restaurant featured a large lobster and crab cookers out front. About three years after the restaurant was opened, Roubian realized that it was better known by the Crab Cookers than by the actual business name. It was then that he decided to change the name. In 1969, Venture Magazine rated the restaurant as one of the top two restaurants in the world.
The 1,700 square foot restaurant has since been adjoined by a 9,000 square foot annex next door. In addition, a second restaurant was opened in Tustin, California in 1992.
Enjoying The Crab Cooker
Considered to be a local landmark, The Crab Cooker is characterized by its bright red exterior and its unique interior items and décor. This includes theater chandeliers, paintings by famous artists, nautical equipment, a wrought-iron gate, pots and pans and even a giant shark. The logo of the bank from prior to its merger with NationsBank can also still be seen embedded in the corner of the building.
Offering a casual atmosphere, The Crab Cooker attracts tourists from around the world. In fact, it is not uncommon to see patrons waiting in long lines down the street just to get in the restaurant. These long lines gained national attraction when President Richard Nixon was in office and tried to be seated for dinner. Nixon’s staff asked for the president to be moved ahead of the line and seated for dinner, to which Roubian said the president would have to wait in line along with everyone else.
Popular traditions among those who dine at The Crab Cooker include dining off of paper plants and sending post cards from the restaurant. The restaurant also has some popular specialty dishes, including its Manhattan-style clam chowder, crab and lobster entrees, skewers of scallops, oysters, salmon fillet and crab or shrimp cocktail.
While Roubian is more of an accomplished fisherman than a chef, he maintains that good fish is easy to cook. To ensure quality control, The Crab Cooker processes and smokes onsite each day. They also cook and bake their items fresh daily. With one manager who has been with the restaurant for 50 years and some waitresses who have been their for 40, The Crab Cooker offers excellent service combined with fresh ingredients to bring fine seafood to every customer. The Crab Cooker is located at 22nd and Newport Boulevard.