Pier eating spots that stand out

San Clemente Pier in Orange County
This 1,296-foot wood-plank pier, built in 1928 and refurbished several times, is springy. There is a benign ambience here, which extends to the Hawaiian vibe at the Pier Shack & Grill at the end of the pier.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Here are some pier eateries that I found especially atmospheric.

—The ramshackle Chit-Chat Café at the foot of Pacifica Pier in San Mateo County opens at 7 a.m. and serves simple fare. Sixteen stools at the counter, a half-booth and two tables fill up with fishermen. Info: (650) 738-2380.

—On Monterey’s Municipal Wharf No. 2 Lou-Lou’s Griddle in the Middle specializes in relatively inexpensive lunches, with the self-explanatory “You Name It, We’ll Make It” option a fave.

—The Olde Port Inn on Harford Pier in Port San Luis is fresh seafood dining with a view in an old-timey setting near the pier’s end. An adjacent fish market selling the morning catch is open to the public.


—Balboa Pier in Newport Beach has the original Ruby’s diner, which celebrates its 40th birthday in December. This first location had 45 seats and rang up $63 at the register on its first day. Ruby’s early strategy was to develop locations on local piers; it has diners at the end of Oceanside, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach piers.

—The open-air Pier Shack & Grill at the end of the San Clemente Pier has a definite Hawaiian flair. A Spam Musubi (a grilled slab of Spam on a block of rice wrapped by seaweed), cholesterol-rich Loco Moco (hamburger, eggs, gravy) or the equally goopy Pepper Belly (corn chips, chili and cheese) are filling and inexpensive.

—Christopher Smith

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