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

Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.samschowderhouse.com/
  • Phone: 6506141177x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Mon-Thurs:
    Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm
    Dinner: 4:00pm-9:30pm

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

    Saturday:
    11:00am-10:00pm

    Sunday:
    11:00am-9:30pm
  • 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: 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
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Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto reviews from OpenTable diners
98 reviews since June 4, 2014
Overall Rating3.5
  • Food3.5
    Service3.7
  • Ambiance3.5
    Noise LevelModerate
70% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
great for lunch (33)kid-friendly (24)neighborhood gem (21)fit for foodies (15)good for groups (14)great for brunch (7)special occasion (7)vibrant bar scene (5)notable wine list (5)hot spot (4)late-night find (2)romantic (1)scenic view (1)Show More
  • Yummies
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    Fried oysters always perfect Steamed Manila clams & linguini is a favorite Special corn scallop ceviche was delicious.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, neighborhood gem, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • The Lobster Roll is Overrated!
    Harbinman
    Dined on 9/24/2014
    We came to Sam's in Palo Alto specifically to try their famous lobster roll. We've had it at their Half Moon Bay restaurant and loved it. Unfortunately, this same dish in Palo Alto was disappointing. Although there was generous portions of lobster meat, it tasted as if it was frozen too long, and void of flavor and firm texture. The roll it was on was also too soft and a bit salty. We will return and give this restaurant another chance, but certainly not have the lobster roll again. Other than that, this Sam's is good in terms of ambiance, service, and location.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Best lobster roll anywhere!
    ekzooksVIP
    Dined on 9/22/2014
    Plus many other great items on the menu that represent a refreshing alternative to the typical Palo Alto fare offered by other establishments. The fish is always fresh here and it's the best place for lobster (except maybe their sister restaurant in Half Moon Bay). Had a delicious lobster gazpacho and lobster ceviche for starters (we are obviously into lobster).
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, kid-friendly, late-night find, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointed
    BigD
    Dined on 9/20/2014
    I was so excited to go to Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto after being a huge fan of the one in Half Moon Bay. My go to meal has always been linguini with clams. I was so disappointed. The clams were fine and there were plenty, but instead of linguini in a fragrant garlic broth it was dry and greasy. The garden salad was nice but overdressed. My friends enjoyed the clam chowder and lobster roll. I don't think I'll be returning.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Dressing the salads
    OpenTable Diner Since 2002
    Dined on 9/16/2014
    If you dress your salads far enough ahead of time, then they are going to end up a bit soggy, which is how I thought my seared ahi salad was. The fish itself was fine, though I've had more sparkling fresh ahi, but the soggy greens were the main problem. Pretty good overall, but could be better still.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Great Dinner!
    Dinkeri
    Dined on 9/11/2014
    The evening I was at the ChowderHouse they had just lost power so you could only order salads and soup. Both my friend and I chose to have the shrimp and crab louis salad which was served shortly after we placed our order. Our server was attentive and pleasant and did not hurry us in any way. Definitely will return.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Sam's offers great fare
    Tanguero
    Dined on 8/31/2014
    I've been to Sam's in Half Moon Bay many times. It's great to have a location in Palo Alto. The clam chowder is to die for. Service was excellent. Cost is a bit pricey but in line with Palo Alto and with food quality and service. I'll be back.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointing
    dave
    Dined on 8/30/2014
    My visit to Sams in Palo Alto was disappointing since my expectation was high. My seared cod was a bit dry, and the broccoli was burnt on the bottom.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Food
    Donnell
    Dined on 8/26/2014
    The chowder was GREAT! I would skip the Oysters Rockefeller.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Where is the seafood in your Luis?
    BonappetiteVIP
    Dined on 8/23/2014
    hardly any crab or shrimp on a Luis salad. If there was a tablespoon of crab I missed it. Not going back. Moscow Mule was great though. Good place for a drink....period.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • High Expectations not fulfilled.
    Disappointed
    Dined on 8/21/2014
    I ordered a salad with grilled salmon. I think the salmon was left over from the day before. It was dry, hard and had no taste. My friend ordered grilled anchovies. His comment "I won't be ordering this again". And " The best thing about this dish is that there is only two" No comparison to the Fish Market in terms of food quality.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • A good find for seafood
    hnw13VIP
    Dined on 8/14/2014
    A good seafood menu with both the usual suspects and some things out of the ordinary. Good choice of oysters (but could change to include some others from time to time, such as Tomales Bay locals), very good clam chowder (white), delicious fish and chips (worth asking for, not on the menu), and the special of the day, Tuna crudo, was excellent. Good list of open wines, a bit on the expensive side. Good and cordial service.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent
    Yummies
    Dined on 8/11/2014
    We were totally impressed, this 2nd time around. We shared the lightly battered flash fried oysters and we thought they were the best we had in a long time. Then we shared the field green salad and it was a little over dressed for my taste but still a nice healthy portion. We both ordered the steamers with linguini and it was totally the best. Nice light wine/broth base with sweet cherry tomatoes, peas shoots, spices and surprisingly lots of large number of clams. The wait staff was very very attentive and checked on us several times to see how we were doing or if we needed anything. It will be one of my most memorable birthday dinner experience. Great Job to Sam's Chowder House of Palo Alto!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Crab/apple louie
    Applesalad
    Dined on 8/11/2014
    Crab Louie could be better with less apple slices and a bit more crab!
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Sam's Chowder House Gets An "A"
    Yankee
    Dined on 8/10/2014
    We love Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay and were happy to see one open in Palo Alto, a much more convenient drive for us. As a former Rhode Islander, I judge Sam's lobster roll to be authentic, and ordered one again. We also had a half-dozen oysters, very fresh. Unfortunately, they were out of the PEI Malpeques, which I really wanted to try because I feel Atlantic oysters are superior to the Pacific ones. My partner had the special Mediterranean sea bass, and while previously complaining of a grouchy stomach, he did eat most of it and praised the cappuccino he had afterward. Drinks were good. Prices are on the high side, but justified. The ambience isn't as great as at Half Moon Bay, but PA University Ave. is no match for the shore.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • I will not go back
    Critic
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    Sam's Chowder in Palo Alto is Not good at all. The Chowder soup is disgusting. Very watery. For the salad, I can make a better salad. The Chiopino tasted like they used canned Del Monte tomato sauce for it. The Ahi Tuna is not good at all. The Fish and Chips looks so greasy. When I go to restaurants, I expect to have half way decent food for the prices they charge. This place is so expensive for the food that they serve. It's not worth it. I will not go back even if they charge me half of what they charge now.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • great service
    motherof6
    Dined on 8/7/2014
    Great food very pleasant staff not rushed to pay .Would highly recommend friends to go for the food .
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • MUCH more than expected
    EatAtSams
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    Never been to Sam's Chowder House on the coast, but knew the parking lot was always full and hard to get a table. Expected Sam's Palo Alto to be kind of "chain restaurant, junk-food, yummy but unhealthy" fare. NOT!! Really great, tasty, fresh salads, mouth-watering lobster roll, cioppino, and of course fried breaded calamari. Portions are generous. Quality very excellent. Service was great. Menu offers good selection for healthy eaters and fried food cravers alike. Would definitely go to Sam's regularly. All the diners around us were happy. It's always a good thing when diners chat each other up about how good their meal was!
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, good for groups, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lobster roll needs improvement
    SDog
    Dined on 7/27/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Mixed Review
    WineTaster
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Disappointing fish & chips
    AlanVIP
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Lunch First Time Experience
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Chowder, baby!
    rodc
    Dined on 7/25/2014
    The clam chowder is a consistent favorite! I will always return to have some more!
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Awesome lobster roll
    Foodbits
    Dined on 7/22/2014
    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!!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for lunch, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Second visit
    armadilloa
    Dined on 7/20/2014
    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
    Special Features:
    special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Low-class atmosphere, mediocre food
    FoodieVIP
    Dined on 7/19/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent and caring
    Spdybug
    Dined on 7/17/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Way overpriced
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 7/12/2014
    An OK establishment with a limited menu and prices that far over reach the quality of the experience
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food Disappointing
    CarrieVIP
    Dined on 7/6/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Not like the original
    RhinoVIP
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    Or maybe it is but the view convinces that the food is great. They are in a cursed location so predict closing is enviable
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Fire The Entire Staff
    FoodVIP
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2010VIP
    Dined on 7/1/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Nothing special
    BWILD
    Dined on 6/17/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Go to Half Moon Bay Instead
    Hiphome1
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Pretty good, really
    GirlsNightOUtVIP
    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.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Try the HMB location
    Jeaniet
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Sam's
    KatsuyaVIP
    Dined on 6/14/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • 3rd times a charm
    Zwenge
    Dined on 6/13/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, late-night find, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good food, indifferent service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2002
    Dined on 6/8/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • food is just correct not special
    FogoFanVIP
    Dined on 6/4/2014
    very plain i felt as if they just covered their requirements.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 58 ratings-only reviews submitted since June 4, 2014
    • Overall Rating3.8
    • Food3.8
    • Ambiance3.6
    • Service3.9
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 126 reviews are from the Sam's Chowder House - Palo Alto reviews archive.