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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
  • 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 WinnerSeafood
  • Diners' Choice WinnerKid Friendly
Diner Reviews
  • "Let me start with I Love The Lobster Roll and The Half Moon Bay Restaurant. We couldn't make it to Half Moon Bay, so we tried the Palo Alto location. There is no outside dining to speak of unless you want to invite the local homeless to join you. Eat inside. Also, The Lobster Roll at the Half Moon Bay location is out of this world. Big Pieces of Lobster. The lobster roll at the Palo Alto location was less than satisfying. There were only a few medium sized pieces and the rest of the meat were scraps of lobster. The celery pieces in the sandwich were bigger than the lobster meat. My son found several pieces of shell in his sandwich. Palo Alto needs to make a better lobster roll. I'll stick with Half Moon Bay."
    Dined on 7/27/2014
  • "Very busy. Had a reservation and still had to wait 15 minutes. Bar was very busy, mostly with people having dinner. Had the clam chowder and lobster roll. The cup of clam chowder was more like a bowl. Felt the chowder was too thin, it was more like soup. Flavor was just ok, but prefer a thicker chowder. The lobster roll was very good."
    Dined on 7/26/2014
  • "I usually judge a seafood restaurant by how well they do fish and chips. Some restaurants -- like Sam's -- don't put it on the dinner menu because it is a lower-priced item. But when I asked about it, they told me it was available "on request." So I requested it, and regretted it. The fries were lukewarm and limp, and the batter for the fish also seemed tired -- as if the fish had been sitting around for a while, even though the dish had supposedly been prepared "on request." My dining partner did better with her lobster roll -- although she questioned whether it was one of the five best in the country, as advertised."
    Dined on 7/26/2014
  • "Mother's 93rd birthday was seated by kitchen and noise level was high. Crab & Shrimp salad is wonderful! Clam chowder has great flavor but clams were a little tough. Parking hard for the handicapped. University Ave. near Stanford University is full of charm and wonderful shops and restaurants. Fun place; but more for the energetic crowd who don't mind a walk to their destination. Our server Dana was fantastic! Helpful hints for best parking in website might be helpful."
    Dined on 7/26/2014
  • "Don't have to search far for an awesome lobster roll in the Peninsula anymore. This one is in Palo Alto, which is a plus. There was so much lobster meat in the roll, I was in heaven!!"
    Dined on 7/22/2014
  • "Second visit to this restaurant on a Sunday night for mother's birthday. Check-in was slow, despite reservations. Service was slow. chowder came before drinks, had to hunt down waiter for check. Chowder was excellent, lobster rolls were good and plentiful. Ceviche should have been named "seafood salad" because it was not true ceviche and was overcooked, greasy rather than citrusy. Our last visit to this restaurant was a much better experience and lunch prices are more appropriate"
    Dined on 7/20/2014
  • "When we arrived, there was an iPad sitting on our table. I wondered, are we supposed to order without a waiter, or what? Finally, our waiter arrived, and took my boyfriend's drink order. Another server delivered the drink to me, the woman. Since when do they assume that the drink is for the woman? Besides, it was a vodka martini, in which they only put vodka, and no twist or olive. The salmon was decent, except for a strange-tasting herb. It tasted like a cleaning solution to me. But the dish included lots of vegetables, a plus for a restaurant meal."
    Dined on 7/19/2014
  • "Lobster roll is my favorite of all time. And Sam's is phenomenal. For medical reasons I now have to be gluten-free for at least one month. I hesitantly took a gluten-free English muffin with me to Sam's for lunch last week. Just so I could have my coveted lobster roll. Sam's was wonderful. They took my English muffin toasted it up and my lobster roll was just as good as normal. That made me feel really good. Thank you so much to the staff and chefs. I can't wait to go back."
    Dined on 7/17/2014
  • "An OK establishment with a limited menu and prices that far over reach the quality of the experience"
    Dined on 7/12/2014
  • "The food was just not that good. I has the cioppino which had hardly any seafood and an odd taste. The beet and gem salad was over dressed and tasteless. My son had halibut - also no taste. Scotts and Fish Market are both much better fish houses in Palo Alto."
    Dined on 7/6/2014
  • "Or maybe it is but the view convinces that the food is great. They are in a cursed location so predict closing is enviable"
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "Waiters chit chat and congregate together. Manager/bar tender sprays the wet floor then goes to poor beer without washing hands after using chemical. Food arrived with the appetizer followed 3 minutes later by the main course. Who can eat their appetizer in 3 minutes? We needed to decide do we finish our chowder and let lobster roll get cold or vice versa? The waiter said, we can put that lobster roll under heat lamp. And let the bun get dry? There were 3 of us. One out of 3 beers were bad. Yes, bad as in bottom of barrel flat! This was a terrible experience. We will not go back."
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "The preparation and freshness at Halfmoon Bay is far better than in Palo Alto. We ordered the special appetizer, soft shell crab which was very good. I ordered lobster roll w/ french fries instead of chips & they charged me $2 extra for that (should be nc, it is the same ingredient, potatoes and oil). The lobster did not taste as fresh as I have them at the other lobster place (i.e. Sams HMB or lobster shack in Redwood city). The fries (nicely fried)& cole slow in my opinion had a bit too much black pepper. My husband ordered the scallops which were very good and nicely cooked but again, the black pepper taste was a bit too much for our taste. We believe the spices should complement the taste of the ingredients not over power them."
    Dined on 7/1/2014
  • "My husband, son, and I came here to eat the other night to try it out since it's new to Palo Alto. The ambiance would lead you to believe that it was a reasonably-priced restaurant, but the prices are quite steep. Along with the steep prices comes a very fair meal. My favorite part was the gem lettuce and beet salad with blue cheese dressing, otherwise the chowder, fish and side dishes we ordered were nothing out of the ordinary. We also noticed that the food was extremely salty. We won't be back again -- there are many other Palo Alto restaurants with much better food for the amount we paid."
    Dined on 6/17/2014
  • "The only thing going for PA is the lobster roll. Menu is limited, service was lacking, apps came with meal. We were in & out in 45mins. Won't be back. Will continue to Half Moon Bay location."
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "Sam's has a lot to recommend it. Unfortunately a lot of the food for me is an "almost", with one ingredient mixed in that kills some of the items for me (that is my problem, not the restaurant). The most frustrating thing for me is the lobster ... when you order the whole lobster they don't prep it for you at all (I asked). That makes it incredibly difficult to eat, more than I want to go through when semi-dressed up for dinner. I wish they would change that because it means I go away disappointed every. single. time."
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "The PA location doesn't have the view or charm of the coastal location, of course. But the food wasn't as good either. Just doesn't translate well to downtown PA. Lots of better options."
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "I love the Sam's in Half Moon Bay. I was disappointed in the atmosphere and restaurant was extemely small. The roasted cod was great. The other diners were disappointed in the lobster roll as it was dry and needed sauce. The waiter brought tartar sauce and it definitely helped. The clam chowder soup was amazing and the Bibb lettuce salad was refreshing. I will have to return to try more dishes."
    Dined on 6/14/2014
  • "This was my third visit to Sam's Chowder House. Twice in Half Moon bay and once in the new location in Palo Alto. Great little spot, although I was expecting more of a romantic feel, rather than a close quarters dinner style. The seatings needs work and the tables were wobbly. The food is has never disappointed me, but the Clam Chowder should come with a bread bowl as optional."
    Dined on 6/13/2014
  • "Food was good. Excellent lobster roll -- though potato chips are chintzy compared to fries -- and good rock cod and captains platter. Service was just OK. Food came quickly but server disappeared after that, never refilled water which would have been welcome."
    Dined on 6/8/2014
  • "very plain i felt as if they just covered their requirements."
    Dined on 6/4/2014
  • "I lived in Boston for four years, and NOBODY puts as much pepper in New England clam chowder as this. Consistency and contents were desirable, but the over abundance of pepper ruined the dish. I guess they must sell a lot because it is in the name of the place, but I certainly wouldn't order it again. "
    Dined on 6/2/2014
  • "horrible service and food not good. too bad as it so bad as we love to find places close to home. we have given it several tries but this is the last we think."
    Dined on 5/30/2014
  • "Sam's Fish and Chips were outstanding, with a crunchy batter coating that was not too oily."
    Dined on 5/28/2014
  • "Excellent seafood overall. I was especially impressed by their steamed whole lobster that they get shipped fresh from New England. We had the clambake for two; fun and delicious and a generous portion. The only dish that we didn't enjoy was the grilled octopus that seemed too chewy and too heavy on the lemon dressing. I was impressed however, that the waiter made a point of asking how we liked the food and when we mentioned that the octopus was not to our taste, he removed it from the bill. Definitely, shows a commitment to customer satisfaction! "
    Dined on 5/25/2014
  • "The beet salad didn't have all the ingredients listed on the menu and was not very exciting. All the rest, though, was great."
    Dined on 5/23/2014
  • "Had been really looking forward to a lobster roll. But the lobster roll meat tasted old and fishy, not right. The whole thing was really dry even though it was greasy with butter. Had to request mayonnaise to make it edible. The toasted roll somehow didn't even taste right either, like they forgot to butter it before toasting it. N.E. clam chowder was OK. Shrimp scampi pasta was fair, and only had a small amount of shrimp. Service was friendly and fairly good, until time to get the bill we had to wait a long time. Disappointed they don't serve lobster bisque...didn't the Half Moon Bay site used to have it? Restaurant was very loud, especially the room straight ahead from door. Asked for the room on the left, which was better. "
    Dined on 5/21/2014
  • "Sam's was very accommodating when we wanted to change our reservation time at the last minute, on a Saturday evening no less! Food was outstanding - great Fish & Chips, Mussels were excellent!"
    Dined on 5/17/2014
  • "Really wonderful chowder and fish but the fries were too salty, we asked for no salt on the potatoes, but the waiter told us they come already salty. (I don't think so, they sprinkle them with Old Bay, could be less) Otherwise as always a good place to eat. "
    Dined on 5/17/2014
  • "If you have a seafood craving, Sam's Chowder House is the place to be. Not a huge oyster selection, but the ones they do have are so fresh, they taste like the ocean. Salmon ceviche was good, though the flavors were not as interesting as I'd anticipated. Freshly steamed lobster totally hit the spot. Super meaty and sweet. Drinks were well-made, service was quick and friendly. Definitely my new favorite seafood restaurant in the South Bay. "
    Dined on 5/16/2014
  • "With so many wonderful eateries in Palo Alto, it's good to have a restaurant that is fish centric. I took my elderly parents here on Mother's Day. The staff was very helpful and understanding. My only suggestion would is that they need to train their waitstaff a bit more. Our's was very junior, and didn't know how to pronounce our wine maker, and came back to our table to ask how it was before we even got a bite. Overall was what we expected, as we have eaten at the HMB location, and from their food truck."
    Dined on 5/11/2014
  • "The food was good and our server was friendly. Would dine there again."
    Dined on 5/11/2014
  • "We ordered the lobster rolls for $22.95 each. I was very disappointed since I was comparing it with the lobster roll one get's at Sam's in Half Moon Bay. Their roll was filled from top to bottom with wonderful claws. In fact, I had to take half of them home. The ones we ordered here in Palo Alto had about 3 or 4 claws on top and underneath were very small pieces of lobster. Certainly not for $22.95. They should take a lesson from Half Moon Bay. "
    Dined on 5/4/2014
  • "The decor of Sam's reminds me of the seaside restaurants in New England. With that said, some of the dishes are true to that character i. e. fried seafood platter, others definitely west coast-- ahi poke, cherrystones instead of soft shell clams. The food was generally good, however the $23 lobster roll, billed by the waiter as "best in the country" was not. As a New Englander I know lobster and this was over cooked and rubbery or just plain cooked and frozen. While I was hankerin for a great "lobsta roll", I should have made it myself, steer clear. "
    Dined on 5/3/2014
  • "Enjoyed a fantastic dinner with several friends! The Lobster Rolls were delicious and beyond our fondest expectation. Your maitre'd and wait staff (Matt) were exceptional! Thanks for such a friendly dining experience!"
    Dined on 5/3/2014
  • "After dining at Sam's HMB numerous times & palo alto a couple of times, I've decided it's worth the trip to HMB, for better food preparations, atmosphere & service. The servers at palo alto don't seem to know the menu thoroughly and they dissappear for long periods of time. The lobster rolls in HMB seem to be better prepared"
    Dined on 5/2/2014
  • "Sam's in P.A. is still good with food, service, & although it's downtown & can be intimidating, there's lots of free parking. BUT....it doesn't have the view like the Half Moon Bay Sam's. If you don't feel like a trip to the cooler coast & fighting traffic/parking, then P.A. Sam's is the place. If you go early to HMB on a weekday, then do the ocean view place; maybe sit outside (they have heaters)."
    Dined on 5/1/2014
  • "Good food and beer. The lobster roll was fresh but could have been better with more lobster inside the roll. The oysters were very fresh and well presented. But there should have been french fries instead of the store chips. The cod my husband had was also fresh and good. Overall, it is good to have a seafood restaurant in downtown Palo Alto after many years."
    Dined on 4/26/2014
  • "This new seafood restaurant is a great addition to Palo Alto. It includes a large menu and excellent service. I especially liked the clam linguini, and the other seafood dishes looked great. The service was outstanding."
    Dined on 4/25/2014
  • "We came for lunch to try out this new Palo Alto branch of Sam's Chowder House. We have enjoyed the original in Half Moon Bay and looked forward to having easier access in Palo Alto. We have nothing bad to say about the restaurant....but we have nothing particularly good to say either. The food was OK but not special. Nothing was unique or particularly tasty. The service was fine, a little slow but not bad. All in all, with so many interesting and yummy places to eat in Palo Alto, we probably won't return for a second visit for quite awhile. There was nothing special to draw us back."
    Dined on 4/25/2014