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  • Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto

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Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto
Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto

Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.samschowderhouse.com
  • Email: paloalto@samschowderhouse.com
  • Phone: (650) 614-1177
  • Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs:
    Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm
    Dinner: 4:00pm-9:30pm

    Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm
    Dinner: 4:00pm-10:00pm


  • Payment Options: AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: Seafood, American
  • Executive Chef: Robert Holt
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Area, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Smoking Area, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Special Events & Promotions: For private dining and catering events please contact Shani Dahl at shani@shgevents.com or (650) 712-1766

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Emerson Street
  • Public Transit: When taking Cal Train please use the University stop.
  • Parking: Public Lot
  • Parking Details: Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto is located on the corner of Emerson and University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto.

    Parking is available in the city lot directly behind the restaurant,
    and in the High Street and Lytton Street garages.
A word from Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto
Sam’s Chowder House in downtown Palo Alto offers a casual and authentic seafood experience reminiscent of a New England style seafood house.

The menu includes daily fresh fish, live Maine lobster, fresh local crab, an Oyster Bar and more. As well as signature items such as clam chowder, Sam’s famous Lobster Rolls, fish and chips, and new dishes exclusive to the Palo Alto location, such as: Jumbo Scallops Wrapped in House Pancetta with Truffled Cauliflower, Celery Root Puree, Tuscan Kale & Grilled Leek Vinaigrette.

Private dining and Lobster Clambakes will also be available. Follow us on Facebook for more info. www.facebook.com/samschowderhousepa
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerGreat for Lunch
  • Diners' Choice WinnerKid Friendly
Diner Reviews
  • "Your service told us the only times available were 5:00 and after 7. We wanted to go to a 7:00 movie so we took 5 (reluctantly) We were the only dinners in a good sized room. Waiters were dusting chairs and window sills as we ate When we left, there were still plenty of empty tables. Why couldn't we make a reservation for 6:00?"
    Dined on 4/11/2014
  • "Beats driving to Half Moon bay for their signature lobster rolls :)"
    Dined on 4/6/2014
  • "The portion was a bit too big but I couldn't help but finishing it."
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "Good casual seafood restaurant. Always dependable whether for lunch or dinner. Lunch can be a bit pricey, but good quality."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "My friend and I were curious and excited to try a restaurant that looked very seafood directed. The caesar salad and Keylime pie were really delicious. However, found food items selected were disappointing. Although the food presentation was really nice, the foods were not very flavorful. The steamed clams lacked a richness in taste; watered down in flavor, Poke appetizer awful. The raw fish looked a day old; lacked full red richness that you find with truly fresh sashimi. Had to ask for soy sauce to make it less dry. Clam chowder was ok. Raw oysters were ok. We also ordered some cocktails. Our bill came to over $200 and for that price, I expect a dinner to be superb and it wasn't. I plan not to go again."
    Dined on 4/3/2014
  • "The food was lackluster! I don't think this place will be here for very long. Nothing negative to say about service, but nothing out of the ordinary either!"
    Dined on 4/1/2014
  • "My gf and I were planning to have dinner in DTPA after catching a double feature at The Stanford. I haven't been to University Ave in years and was thrilled to find that a Sam's Chowder House was right down the street from the theatre. Having told my friend (who spent time on the East Coast) about their fabulous lobster rolls, we decided to catch dinner there. We shared the crispy polenta fries--delicious! and had our own lobster roll which, at $21.95 might seem like a lot, but the lobster meat was fresh, as was the bun, and it was just amazing! I've visited Sam's at HMB, at the Moveable Feast in Willow Glen, and at their food trucks, and the food is consistently GREAT every time. It's a must-visit kind of place!"
    Dined on 3/30/2014
  • "We love the Half Moon Bay location and we love Sam's until we tried the Palo Alto location...... STAY AWAY until they improve their standards and serve the same as their Half moon Bay location. We ordered the Cioppino which is our favorite and we are usually overly stuffed when we leave the HMB location. However, the Palo Alto location Ciopinno was so dissatisfied. They served this "soup" in a very shallow bowl. There was barely any broth that my piece of bread pretty much soaked up the broth leaving me nothing to sip on.... This is not soup!!!! Also they gave very little seafood meat nothing compared to the HMB location. We left pretty hungry and dissatisfied."
    Dined on 3/19/2014
  • "I LOVE the Shrimp Po' Boy from Sam's Chowder Mobile and was disappointed to find the same item here was not even CLOSE!! Scant serving of overcooked shrimp on a hard french roll with an uninspired sauce, boo!!! I'm sticking with the Chowder Mobile."
    Dined on 2/25/2014
  • "This was the second visit. This is one of those places you really want to work. It could have a great niche in Palo Alto, but the food doesn't match the price. Also, the timing on the food was off."
    Dined on 3/22/2014
  • "Best ever Boston chowder. The cup is the size of a bowl. This place is pricey, but I hane not found better or equal. The roll at the Creamery is good too, but the chowder here is not to be missed. The only negative is the seating which is hard. The lobster rolls in both places beat those in Bangor."
    Dined on 3/17/2014
  • "Not great and not bad. I particularly liked the fish and chips. Welcoming place with a good wait staff. It edges toward the pricey side. I'd eat at Sam's again maybe limit myself to oysters and chowder."
    Dined on 3/15/2014
  • "We had a craving for Lobster. We found what we were looking for."
    Dined on 3/15/2014
  • "This sister restaurant to the destination Sam's in Half Moon Bay is a welcome addition to the downtown Palo Alto restaurant scene, which was missing a strong seafood restaurant. The food is always well prepared and tasty, and includes excellent clam chowder, spicy popcorn shrimp, and salads and fish entrees. If you're looking for lobster, try the award winning lobster roll sandwich. Sam's is more of an East Coast seafood eatery than a foodie destination, but the food is nevertheless delicious. The prices are not inexpensive but quite justified given the reliable quality."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "This was my second visit to Sam's Chowder House. The first was lunch for two, seated in the front area. Good food, good atmosphere, good service. Next, dinner for three at a back room table. The room is overly-mirrored, bright and bland, lacking in ambience. Food was good, not "terrific." It seems overpriced for this type of dining experience. (one wine by glass selection: $20). Waitress was good. I dine out a lot in Palo Alto and will probably return to this restaurant again at times, but wouldn't recommend it. A friend told me she had a "terrible" meal there a couple of weeks ago and had heard from others that it was a big disappointment. Too bad because a seafood restaurant fills a niche in this area."
    Dined on 3/11/2014
  • "In my mind there are some weak points as far as the food. The clam chowder is too flour-y. The lobster roll tasty but texture of lobster is like frozen fish plus mushy cole slaw and too many chips! Sour dough breat is great as is the Caesar salad. The halibut is pan fried with something gritty on the brownish side. The wine was nice, the beer good. The service was excellent, quick and pleasant. With fish being the main choice it would be foolish to have anything else but there are twists that aren't right on target. What to do!!"
    Dined on 3/10/2014
  • "Sam's Chowder House is an excellent restaurant for very good food and service in a comfortable setting. My wife and I enjoyed our appetizer, salad, and swordfish dinner as well as our glass of Rombauer chardonay. The wait staff visited often and we were most pleased with our dinner. While not inexpensive, Sam's Chowder House is an excellent choice for a downtown Palo Alto lunch or dinner."
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "If there had been an ocean view, the food might've tasted better. Very large portions of mediocre food didn't add up to a winning combination. We were especially disappointed with the batter on the deep-fried selections, which was tasteless--we stopped eating when we ran out of cocktail and tartar sauce. The fritters (more like crab cakes) were starchy and contained very little crab. On the plus side, the service was friendly and prompt (neither rushed nor slow), but we won't be back."
    Dined on 3/4/2014
  • "This was the first time we visited Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto and found the experience only fair. My appetizer of raw oysters and then the sardines were delicious. The Manhattan clam chowder was too salty, and I found the lobster in the famed lobster rolls to not have much flavor, and $13 a glass for the average Chardonnay wine was too high priced. The service was very friendly and helpful, but somewhat slow. The ambience would have been good except that the activity around our table from waiters and busboys was too distracting."
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "My sons and I are always trying to find the best Lobster Club around, and I think Sam's Chowder House has one of the best ones I've ever tasted! Fresh bun, lightly buttered and toasted with lots of fresh lobster meat. Delish! The crab louis salad with julienned fuji apples is also something special. Our service has been exceptional both times we've been there, which is great, because we like to get a quick, delicious meal before Stanford basketball games. Sam's Chowder House is close to campus and has great service and excellent food."
    Dined on 2/27/2014
  • "Loved this restaurant. The staff is helpful and kind, the food is amazing, and the ambience is good. We had incredible Hawaiian swordfish with white beans and olives. Perfect. Very lovely dessert selection too! Will come back here for sure."
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "Probably a victim of ridiculous downtown Palo Alto rents, but regardless this place isn't worth the cost. Lots of other good, reasonably seafood town."
    Dined on 2/21/2014
  • "This restaurant always disappoints me. Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay is really good; this one is not. The service has not been trained. For example, the server doesn't provide the flatware necessary for each course. The food runner drops the food and runs and then the diner has to flag down someone, anyone who might help while the food loses temperature. The servers and kitchen are also not in sync. If a diner orders the soup and sandwich lunch special, the sandwich is served and then five minutes later the soup arrives. This is wrong. The kitchen also isn't as skilled. I think sticking to basics like the lobster roll is a better idea than trying a special of the day. I also got a hair in my salad. That's not a good experience."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "I heard about this restaurant from a friend who loves the original Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay and swears the New England style clam chowder is the best. I was happy there was one closer to where I live on the Peninsula. I went to the Palo Alto location which was fairly easy to find. I ordered a bowl of the New England clam chowder, calamari and a cocktail. The clam chowder didn't taste any different from a can of Progresso clam chowder, the calamari was plain (no special seasoning or texture) and the cocktail was very watery. I've eaten clam chowder in Boston & San Francisco that tasted much better. The service was good and the environment was pleasant. I'd probably go back to try other options from the menu but not so soon."
    Dined on 2/17/2014
  • "Good food ans same quality as the first store. Easier to park and convenient for us."
    Dined on 2/17/2014
  • "We enjoyed the chowder (New England) and salads. The chowder was a nice texture and it had lots of potatoes but I would have liked more clams. The salads were tasty but a bit overdressed and over-topped. The bay fries were good but unexpectedly spicy, which wasn't ideal for my daughter. The polenta fries were great -- nicely crispy on the outside and hot and creamy on the inside with a nice tomato dip. The sourdough bread was excellent and served warm. The menu has lots of gluten-free menu items but unfortunately the New England clam chowder is NOT one of them, so this is not the place for people with celiac disease who love NE chowder. For that reason, we can only come here without one of my daughters, so our visits here will be limited."
    Dined on 2/15/2014
  • "New England chowder was some of the best I have ever tasted. Lobster roll was OK. The place was packed, but service was very good."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Fabulous seafood ! Can't beat Sam's for consistency and quality. It's great to have a 2nd Sam's Chowder House location for times when a drive to Half Moon Bay is impractical, and there are more parking options close by."
    Dined on 2/15/2014
  • "Their fresh fish recipes appeared to be a little too doctored up......but I'm from the northwest where the best restaurants keep seafood recipes simple, fresh, and healthy. It is really just ok for the price, and we were there for lunch."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "This isn't great dining, but it's very pleasant dining, and the chef has some imagination and finesse. We enjoyed our appetizer, which was a special that evening, a mélange of tiny octopus and calamari, seasoned with some heat, and our Dungeness crab salads. Portions were reasonable but not overboard. The wine list is fairly extensive, a little more expensive than at comparable eateries, I thought, but very nice choices available. Service was friendly and attentive. Just remember that this is downtown Palo Alto and parking is nearly impossible, so allow plenty of time if you need to drive."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Drinks- good Dinner- Crab Salad - good French Fries- so salty as to be un-eatable-if you order rtquest fries with NO salt Server- very attentive- give high rating"
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "The food and service was very good...not noisy able to have a conversation.. will be back."
    Dined on 2/14/2014
  • "Sam's brings a much needed quality lobster roll to Palo Alto, about same quality as lobster shack in RWC"
    Dined on 2/11/2014
  • "Our meal was tasty and service was really good. My husband's Crab Louie was fresh and tasty. He really enjoyed it. I had the lobster roll, and it was absolutely delicious. Loved the chocolate cake with homemade ice cream. I had just a couple of issues. First, I was very clear to order steamed veggies with no butter of spices. What I received was a bowl of extremely greasy sauteed veggies - what about "steamed without butter" did this say? I don't know, but I didn't bother to send them back because we were hungry and just wanted to eat and get home. Also, I ordered a bottle of water and the waitress did not bother to let me know it was a very large bottle. By the way, the greasy veggie thing happened to me at Sam's in Half Moon Bay too."
    Dined on 2/11/2014
  • "Wonderful bar with excellent happy hour, including oysters at $1 apiece till 7 pm. Reliable seafood including excellent cioppino, chowders, lobster rolls, fish and chips, and grilled seafood. On one particular night there was a wonderful Sicilian Lifeguard Calamari special that was off the hook. The only menu item from my several visits I woudn't recommend is the gumbo. If you want good gumbo, come to my house."
    Dined on 2/10/2014
  • "The tables were so close together that even the waiters couldn't get by. There is absolutely no space and you feel like you are all sitting at one table almost. It doesn't compare to their Half Moon Bay location. We will not gp back."
    Dined on 2/8/2014
  • "disapointing. wasn't anything like the original. Very pricey for what they're serving"
    Dined on 2/8/2014
  • "Not nearly as good as their Half Moon Bay location (which happens to be one of my favorites). I was highly disappointed. Service was slow, the dining room was cramped, and the food quality was not up to par (my favorite menu item was also missing)."
    Dined on 2/2/2014
  • "not as good as the one in half moon bay. ambience is different. food is pretty good though."
    Dined on 1/15/2014
  • "Fish and seafood is very fresh and recipes are tasty. Mussels were delightful and the lobster roll was fantastic. Stay away from the Soft-Serve with Sea Salt and Olive Oil. Too much salt and oil were overpowering."
    Dined on 1/26/2014