Sam's Chowder House

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4.5
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4511 Reviews
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$30 and under
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Seafood
Top tags:
  • Waterfront
  • Scenic View
  • Outdoor Eating
Enjoy a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, amazing sunsets, and fresh, award-winning New England style seafood in a casual, coastside setting. Watch the crashing surf, dine outside under a cozy heat lamp, or settle into an Adirondack chair near a toasty fire pit on Sam's dog-friendly patio, complete with wind protection and heat lamps. Featured on NBC’s The Today Show, and “Best of the Bay TV”, and named “Best Outdoor Dining in the Bay Area” by San Francisco Magazine, and “Best Seafood Restaurant in San Mateo County” by San Jose Magazine readers.
What 4511 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.4
food
4.5
service
4.5
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
92% of people would recommend it to a friend
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L
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Must make a reservation. Place always crowded. Spoke to receptionist and she said they honor reservations. Clam chowder truly outstanding as well as the lobster roll. Glass of wine accidentally tipped over, and waiter replaced it with no extra charge. Can’t wait to go back.

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L
Yosemite
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 3food 1service 5ambience 5

We loved our window table. However the Caesar salad had Brown lettuce and like a mayonnaise dressing. I thought the lobster rolls were unremarkable but the chatter was good. Our waitress was wonderful.

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SG
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic seafood
A little pricey but an excellent meal with good service
We will be back

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l
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our server Jesus was amazing. Super helpful and nice. Loved the view and the food.

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e
San Francisco
114 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Great views of the ocean! Great cocktails ! Get a lobster roll!
Perfect !!!!

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KM
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

Sam's is always crowded. I don't understand it because the food is average. I think tourists like it because of the location. Parking is a nightmare. We had calamari as an appetizer and it had no flavor, we had to add salt. It was very bland and beige, I don't think it was deep fried long enough. We had oysters too and they were great. One of us had the blackened fish sandwich which came with too many cucumbers. Could have done without a whole bowl of them. I had a shrimp/crab salad and there was too much sauce on it that I could hardly see the fish. It was on top of a little lettuce, with some radishes. Overall I did not like it. So I'd have to say that dining at Sam's is hit or miss. We've had some nice meals there but also some not so good. We're leaving California and wanted to go there one last time. I remember when you first opened we could pop in without a reservation and grab a table outside. Those were the days.

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LP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 17 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great ocean views and seafood selections. Chocolate Flan was delicious!

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DD
San Francisco
37 reviews
Dined on 17 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Lunch: Fresh everything every time—-and there have been many! Asparagus with black truffle oil and pecorino. Mixed greens that have a few distinct flavors, then tossed with sweet, peppery radish, Spicey carrots, super sweet tomatoes, and toasted nuts. The lobster rolls are juicy, with just the right mayo. The accompanying cole slaw could have been less dressed, though that’s a personal preference. Roasted peaches with Buratta? Tenderest baby kale salad with tiny roasted sweet peppers, charred broccoli and smoked paprika almonds were another thoughtful combination. There were many choices for our vegetarians, along with the super fresh, caught that day fish eaters.

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KD
1 review
Dined on 16 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We were visiting, I made a reservation on-line the day before. There was zero wait, the staff was amazing, the waitress Brianna, described the special appetizer so well we decided to try it. VERY good! Dinner was excellent, drinks were spot on. Brianna was super friendly and we would for sure recommend.

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OT
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on 16 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Chile Shrimp, Baked Chicken, Spaghetti and Meatballs

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RS
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on 16 June 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 4

It was Father's Day, so thankfully I made reservations as the wait lines were pretty long. We got seated right away! From there, the rest of the meal was tepid.

Service was slow and drinks weren't refilled. Fish & Chips wasn't on the menu, but it was available to order. Portion sizes for popcorn shrimp and the fish & chips were downsized (but the prices weren't). Oh well, at least the chowder was good!

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DR
1 review
Dined on 16 June 2019
Overall 2food 1service 5ambience 5

Food/soup was cold. Not much flavor. Great views from the resturant.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 16 June 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Fathers day

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B
London
7 reviews
Dined on 15 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Straight off the long haul flight this was just what we needed - lobster rolls and a good view. The food was excellent. You definitely need to book if your coming here

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OT
1 review
Dined on 15 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent! 👍

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DB
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on 15 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food, quick service! Loved it!

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SG
New Mexico
2 reviews
Dined on 14 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We live in SW Colorado and make a point of visiting Sam’s when we get to the Bay Area.

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SW
Toronto
1 review
Dined on 13 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We were told you have to go to Sams if you visit Half Moon Bay and the recommendation was right.
Great seafood, chowder and atmosphere. We sat on the patio for lunch with a prime view of the beach.
Make a reservation to avoid waiting. This place is busy.

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KS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 12 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Outstanding service , beautiful views, delicious food, and they have vegetarian options as well .

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SM
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on 12 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always an excellent meal with very good service

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VS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 12 June 2019
Overall 5food 3service 5ambience 5

Very nice... took a friend for her 88 th birthday. Ask the manager to save us a table by the window... so nice! Server fabulous!

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OT
1 review
Dined on 12 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

Food was excellent (though I did send my steak back - came medium well when ordered medium rare). Steak was excellent medium rare!

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B
1 review
Dined on 11 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious food, large portions and moderately priced.

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VM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 11 June 2019
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 5

Lovely, as always

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MP
New York Area
1 review
Dined on 10 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great appetizers and seafood. Service was great. Wonderful service by all. Emily was outstanding.

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HD
San Francisco
16 reviews
Dined on 10 June 2019
Overall 2food 1service 4ambience 2

Great view, bad food, horrid front desk. Had a res. for outdoor, after waiting got stuck in a hot corner inside. Packed so didn't wait for outside. Oysters bad, mushy, one empty. It got replaced but why deliver the empty one. Expensive lobster roll mediocre. Salad soggy. I'd go for a drink outside for view but skip the food and the clueless hostesses who clearly do not want to be there. Go eat at Barbara's.

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FH
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on 9 June 2019
Overall 4food 4service 2ambience 4

Food service was excessively slow about 30 min to have food served. Food quality was good however. Busboys would seem to mill about while we had dirty chowder dishes on the table. Needed a chiller for our white wine. Should not have to ask. We were looking forward to certain fish on the menu and they were out. Actually out of quite a few items. Noise level had improved from last time. Just too expensive not to have great everything.

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BM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 8 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I love Sam’s but so does everyone else. You definitely want to make a reservation. The food is great and the servers are friendly! Extra special if you make it to the outdoor terrace on a warm evening.

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on 8 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was a hot day and it was pretty busy. Our waiter was very nice given the facts that it was super packed. It was also nice that our friend received a delicious dessert on the house because it was her birthday.

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OT
New York Area
30 reviews
Dined on 7 June 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

We had the seafood spaghetti and the local halibut. Both entrees were well-prepared and generous portion sizes. The views from the restaurant are also incredible. Overall a great experience.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on 7 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Have been coming here for years now, It’s a great place to dine with a outdoor seating area that over looks the ocean! A must have is the lobster roll and the rockafella oysters, you won’t regret!

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E
San Francisco
16 reviews
Dined on 7 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary with a bountiful and delicious lunch. Seated at a table by the window inside the dining room with a full view of the cove. Our server, Monique, was outstanding. Friendly, professional, and accommodating.

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BS
Phoenix
50 reviews
Dined on 6 June 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We ordered fish dishes and I think when you eat here you stuck to the lobster roll and oysters. Other seafood wasn’t that great. The Key Lime Pie is the best I’ve had from FL to CA! Don’t miss it!

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A
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on 6 June 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

My mother uses a wheel chair. Restaurant staff were very accommodating, kind and efficient from the greeter to the bus boy. The food was as good as the view, the service was fast and the noise level indeed "Energetic". Sam's manager kindly helped us get out the door when our meal was through.
I only wish there had been more than 3 handicapped parking spaces on the busy day we were there.

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MG
1 review
Dined on 6 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

My wife and I enjoyed lunch at Sam's this past Thursday. Great lobster meat rolls, grilled haibut, calamari, and clam chowder. The service was excellent. Live the ambience and location on or near Half Moon Bay. Joe Bob says:. Check it out!

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ES
San Francisco
27 reviews
Dined on 5 June 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Excellent food, wonderful views, and very good service. Some of the best seafood around, especially the lobster roll!
Definitely get a reservation in advance!
We'll be back.

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JM
Phoenix
23 reviews
Dined on 4 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 4

My 13 yr old niece and I visited here together as a treat while she was in town. We loved the whole experience. It was a little slow getting our table even though we had reservations. Also a little slow getting our check but everything in between was delicious!

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PC
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined on 3 June 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

We've been eating at Sam's since its inception. What brings us back is fresh seafood, a pleasant view and good service.
On the other hand it is so popular that parking is often difficult, even though they have a large lot. You are taking your chances with a spur-of-the-moment visit unless you are very familiar with their customer patterns and are way off-hour. Weekends? Forget it. Get reservations for a stress-free experience.
Appetizers and sides are among best value and quality. Sam's apparently rotates sides based on what's fresh and available "locally". Result? Good taste. Wood-grilled sardines are particularly good.
Desserts? Nothing special or memorable. To be fair, it's not their thing. If you must have a sweet to end your meal go with one of the Strauss soft-serve ice cream menu items.
We shared a Seafood Risotto for our main as we were filling up on the prelims. A large portion, a decent amount of seafood in the dish, but rice was off. Not surprising, as risotto in any restaurant is iffy unless you have plenty of time while the dish is prepared.
Restaurant does have pleasant view of south end of Half Moon Bay harbor and breakwater. They have outside seating with heaters and wind-screens, which are often needed given area's offshore winds. If we remember correctly the outside area is dog-friendly.
If you are looking for reasonably priced seafood near Half Moon Bay (reasonable prices for fresh good quality seafood, that is) Sam's is a reliable place to go. We're a lot more fond of crab than lobster, so we can't comment on their lobster rolls. The one time we tried them we found them to be way too rich - almost drowned in butter.
We've never been there when their live music was present - could be worth trying sometime. We're about 30 minutes away over the hill on 92, so it's not a major trip.

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NY
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on 2 June 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

We had a lovely experience at the restaurant. Asked for, and received, a lovely table by the window (a friend was visiting from out of town and she & her husband had always loved the coast and this was a special memory for her - he died many years ago. Our waitress was fabulous - I apologize that I cannot remember her name but she was of Egyptian descent and couldn't have been better. The restaurant is fortunate to have such a lovely & efficient representative. I also loved the zydeco band playing on the outside deck - they were fun.

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TO
Orange County
1 review
Dined on 1 June 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Perfect everything! Will be back! Great Location, Friendly service from hosts desk, waitstaff and busser. Deliciously made food, decidant desserts!

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