At this roadside eat-in-the-rough cafe and seafood market you can buy whole tunas, bring your own fish to be smoked, or order from an oceancentric menu of fried fare that ranges from clam strips to halibut and chips. It’s a honky-tonk sort of place, rough around the edges, but the ultra-casual restaurant on premises serves magnificent seafood. Dungeness crabs come straight from the boat and are cooked in cauldrons by the highway out front; chunks of their cooled meat are piled into a cup with no adornment other than a wedge of lemon (and, if you wish, horseradish-hot sauce) to become an impeccable Pacific cocktail. Salmon, tuna, sturgeon, mussels, oysters, and sable are marinated and smoked using hickory and alder wood. Wild Chinook king salmon is made into “candy” by glazing nuggets of smoked pink meat with pepper and brown sugar. Each firm, moist piece packs a provocative sweet and savory punch.
Fried seafood, veiled in tempura batter laced with garlic, has few equals anywhere. Jumbo wild prawns offer two levels of crunch: first, the crackle of the crust that surrounds them, then the dense snap of the meat itself. Salmon, tuna, oysters, and calamari all are available as fish & chips, as is snow-white halibut. While the French fries are fine, we highly recommend paying a few dollars more for onion rings, too. Along with perfect o-ring circles, each basket also contains frail squiggles of batter that are merely onion-flavored and several hoops of onion with hardly any batter: It’s all good. Dishware at South Beach is paper and plastic; and you may have to dispose of not only your own, but also of that left behind by the last people who used the picnic table you claim for yourself.