Articles & Reviews: Best of San Francisco Bay Area A-List 2015

San Francisco Bay Area A-List

2015 "Best Seafood in the Bay Area"

There were more than 37,000 voters, over 6,100 nominees and 169 winners in the 2015 contest.

"Love the Lobster Rolls :)"
David B. • March 8, 2015

"Definitely try the chowder and I always LOVE the garlic chili prawns, the Manila clams, and the halibut!"
Chelsa D. • March 8, 2015

"Always fresh food and amazing calamari"
Erika R. • March 7, 2015

"The clam chowder is the best! Everything I've had at Sam's is great - the shrimp cocktail, the fish & chips, the desserts! Sam's is the #1 place to eat!"
Sam R. • March 4, 2015

"Great food."
Carol B. • March 1, 2015

Awesome. Fresh. Great customer service. Tasty and delicious. The best seafood anywhere on the planet.
corelli • February 28, 2015

"I love the staff!"
Tyler C. • February 28, 2015

"As close to an East Coast seafood restaurant as you can get!"
Beth S. • February 28, 2015

"Lobster Roll!"
Gabriel G. • February 27, 2015

"Great chowder!"
Debie P. • February 26, 2015

"Hands Down the Best Seafood on the WEST COAST!!!"
Debbie S. • February 24, 2015

Read more Tips from Voters...

Articles & Reviews: As Fresh As It Gets Award

Sam’s Chowder House awarded with the San Mateo County: As Fresh As it Gets award at the Platinum level for 2014-2015

San Mateo County - As Fresh As It Gets award

Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay and Palo Alto have been awarded with the San Mateo County: As Fresh as it Gets Award at the Platinum level for 2014-2015. We believe that the best food travels the shortest distance and are committed to using fresh and local ingredients whenever possible to not only serve great food, but also in support our local purveyors, artisans and farmers.
The San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, San Mateo County Farm Bureau and San Mateo County Harbor District have joined together to promote our wealth of fresh, delicious produce and seafood in San Mateo County and awarded the establishments that go out of their way to serve them.

Articles & Reviews: Palo Alto Weekly Best Of

Palo Alto Weekly - OnlinePalo Alto Weekly Best Of Award 2014

Best New Restaurant: Sam’s Chowder House

Sam's Chowder House Palo Alto owner, Paul Shenkman, pictured with restaurant managerIt didn't take long for Sam's Chowder House to win over Palo Altans. Less than a year after opening its second brick and mortar location on University Avenue, Best Of voters have declared Sam's the best seafood in town. Though the vibe of the restaurant is relaxed and casual, Executive Chef Robert Holt takes Sam's menu quite seriously — serving up delectable clam chowder, lobster rolls, fish and chips, and a rotating assortment of fresh, seasonal and often locally caught items. Co-owner Julie Shenkman said she thinks her restaurant's "New England style," which emphasizes natural flavors and super-fresh ingredients, is the secret. "There's really nothing like it in the downtown area," she said.
185 University Ave., Palo Alto,

Articles & Reviews: Travel + Leisure 2014 SMITTY Award

Travel + Leisure

Social Media in Travel + Tourism Awards 2014 - Travel + Leisure SMITTY Awards Best Overall Use of Social Media Winner for Restaurant/FoodTruck/Market: Sam's Chowder House @samschowder

Sam’s Chowder House wins Travel + Leisure 2014 SMITTY® Award for “Best Overall Use of Social Media by a Restaurant, Food Truck or Market”

Half Moon Bay restaurant honored for its standout campaigns highlighting best and most innovative use of social media and selected as one of 12 businesses nationwide to join Facebook Small and Medium Business (SMB) Council

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. – (June, 2014) – Sam’s Chowder House is proud to announce that the restaurant has won a national Travel + Leisure SMITTY® Award for "Best Overall Use of Social Media" in the category of Best Restaurant/Food Truck/Market.  The Travel + Leisure SMITTY® Awards  (Social Media in Travel + Tourism™ Awards) recognize the most innovative use of social media in the travel industry nationwide, and 2014 winners included well-known companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Four Seasons Hotels, and Expedia, among others.  The distinguished jury of nine digital insiders and travel industry experts included Al Roker (NBC’s Today Show co-host), Mike De Jesus (Twitter Head of Travel and Tourism) and Rob Torres (Google Managing Director of Travel).  The judges received entries from around the world and named winners and runners-up in 30 categories, based on their innovative, informative and compelling social media programs, and ability to connect with and engage their fans. Award winners are featured online now at and will be featured in the July issue of Travel+Leisure magazine.  An awards party celebrating the winners and judges will be held on July 9 from 6-9pm at the Rooftop of the Refinery Hotel in New York City.

“When our first Sam’s Chowder House opened in 2006, social media was in its infancy,” says Julie Shenkman, co-owner of Sam’s Chowder House.  “When we launched a second Sam’s seven years later, our Facebook page was open for business months before the restaurant was even open.  Today most of our guests are using social media, and it’s the cornerstone of our marketing strategy.  We connect with our seafood-loving community online to extend the restaurant experience, so our guests feel special until they can come back and dine with us in person.  It’s really changed the dynamics of the business – with social media we can easily engage with our guests, whether they are locals who live down the street or visitors from faraway places such as Hong Kong or Italy.”

In addition, Shenkman was also selected by leading social media company Facebook to join the social network’s first 2014 Small and Medium Business (SMB) Council, after the engagement on the restaurants Facebook page caught their attention.  Comprised of 12 small businesses from different industries across the U.S., the SMB Council met in March of this year at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Ca., to help build a small business community, boost advocacy, and provide feedback on how the social network can improve the experience for business owners.  Sam’s was also chosen by Facebook last year to be one of three national companies featured in a success story video to highlight “best practices”:
The restaurant uses a variety of social media platforms, which include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, for menu updates (fresh local crab has arrived!), education (how DO you properly crack and eat a whole lobster?),  special offers (it’s Dollar Oyster night!),  event promotion (come to our Wine Lover’s Dinner!), building relationships (please welcome our newest sous chef!), a feedback channel (what’s your favorite dish?), information sharing (hurry - it’s 80 degrees here in Half Moon Bay), current events (The Prince and Princess of Monaco just dined at Sam’s…really!), and to nurture ongoing relationships with guests.  Social media is also used for menu management across multiple sites, for recruiting new staff, and to connect with potential diners from its fleet of Sam’s ChowderMobile food trucks, which travel the Bay Area serving the restaurants famous Clam Chowder, Sam’s Lobster Rolls, and catering private events.
While serving social media to over 30,000 fans across the globe, the two Sam’s Chowder House restaurants and four mobile food trucks serve over 600,000 guests in person annually.  Join Sam’s Chowder House and Sam’s ChowderMobile online communities to stay up-to-date about latest news, menus and special offers on these social media channels:
Facebook:  (Half Moon Bay) (Palo Alto) (mobile food trucks)
Known for award-winning ocean fresh New England style seafood, and farm-to-table cuisine, Sam’s Chowder House is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner daily, and Sunday Brunch. Sam’s Chowder House overlooks the ocean in Half Moon Bay, CA., at 4210 North Cabrillo Highway, and is now also in downtown Palo Alto, CA., at 185 University Avenue.  Takeout, gluten-free and vegetarian options, childrens menu and private dining are available.
Media Contact: Julie Shenkman
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 650.726.1005

Articles & Reviews: SF Weekly


Sam's Chowder House Expands to Palo Alto, Puts Killer Sardines on the Menu

by Trevor Felch Wed., Feb. 26, 2014

Sweet and sour sardines at Sam's Chowder House, Palo Alto
photo by Trevor Felch

Away from its original, idyllic oceanfront spot just north of Half Moon Bay, Bay Area diners were at first very skeptical about how Sam's Chowder House would evolve. Could the Sam's vaunted lobster roll really taste as good without a background of surfers and sea lions?

Instead of being just a carbon copy of the original, the Sam's in Palo Alto has taken on its own identity. The menu shows more ambition and creativity thanks to chef Robert Holt. After serving as executive chef for Campo 185 during its brief run in the same space (under the same ownership as Sam's), Holt remained for the restaurant's transformation.

The much-maligned sardine is always a great litmus test for a chef's talent with seafood. Holt's sweet and sour preparation ($8.25) even overshadows the famous lobster roll. And it's only served in Palo Alto.

These fish are local, from right off the Half Moon Bay coast. They're actually substantial in size, weighing in around three ounces each before cleaning. As an appetizer, two are plenty. And they should be eaten with the skin on. Holt cures the sardines in-house for about three hours in two kinds of vinegar, sugar, and toasted coriander seeds. Together, the skin and thin filet have a slight fishy, umami tinge.

The sardines are given a pleasant jolt from accompaniments that could easily overwhelm their soft texture and flavor. Holt's multiple visits to Sicily inspired the combination of castelvetrano olives and golden raisin agrodolce, a mix of syrup and chutney. What could be a too sweet palate coater is perfectly balanced with the sourness of white balsamic vinegar. I couldn't help but think how this has the same extremes of Bi-Rite's salted caramel ice cream, translated into a fish dish. Citrus slices add a final garnish.

As simple and rustic as this dish is, there are an unordinary amount of compelling flavor contrasts to make the sum of its parts far more exciting than the list of ingredients.

Now, about that lobster roll you see at least half the dining room digging into. It's a winner, full of oversized chunks of moist meat given some heft from a fair amount of butter. But I'd trade the sunset view any day for these superb local sardines with a Sicilian accent.

185 University Ave., Palo Alto; (650) 614-1177.