The Top 5 Dishes in San Pedro

San Pedro Fish Market Shrimp Fajitas   |  Photo: Joshua Lurie
San Pedro Fish Market Shrimp Fajitas | Photo: Joshua Lurie

San Pedro has some of LA County’s richest history. Portuguese explorers first set eyes on the waterfront community in 1542. More than two centuries later, Spanish settlers took hold. The Port of Los Angeles has been in operation for over a century and played a key role in America’s shipbuilding efforts during World War II. The Port currently ships the highest percentage of cargo of any port in North America. San Pedro was also the setting for a Don Draper storyline on Mad Men. Depending on the block, San Pedro still feels that retro. The 12-square-mile span on the end of a peninsula retains a wealth of old world charmers while welcoming flavorful newcomers. Start with these five dishes.


Red chorizo breakfast burrito at The Chori-Man | Photo by Joshua Lurie

The Chori-Man – Burrito Con Papas

Humberto Raygoza, aka The Chori-Man, got his start selling red and green chorizo at the Flower District Farmers Market and to restaurants like Salazar and Sonoratown. He drew the attention of Mandy Barton Clark during pop-ups at Crafted and Brouwerij West and a dedicated customer became his partner. They took over a tiny pizzeria with a single shaded picnic table, stuffed sausages hanging from white walls, and an open kitchen. Their hearty breakfast burrito contains roasted potatoes, two eggs, molten mozzarella cheese, and a choice of meat. Clearly, this is a job for chorizo. Red Zacatecas-style chorizo centers on chicken leg and thigh meat and comes seasoned with guajillo chile, garlic, and spiced vinegar. Green Toluca-style chorizo pairs pork butt and neck meat with mild poblano peppers and cilantro. Get a boost from the salsa bar, either chunky jalapeno relish folded with chopped onions or habanero salsa blended with roasted vegetables.

Swordfish sandwich at Crazy Fish Grill & Market | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Crazy Fish - Swordfish Sandwich

Wholesale seafood veteran Joe Tomasello teamed with four partners on Crazy Fish Grill & Market, expanding an ambitious oceanic vision to a strip mall in north San Pedro. White walls are lined with colorful faux seafood. A case by the register displays fillets of fish like wild Alaskan salmon, yellowtail and trout, all available for home cooking or to eat grilled in-house. They also feature four house specials, none better than the swordfish sandwich. This firm white fish is notoriously difficult to prepare juicy, but Crazy Fish nails it. Two thin-sliced fillets are marinated with parsley, herbs and spices, grilled, and served on a soft bun with crunchy cole slaw and a sweet-tart papaya, apricot and cranberry chutney. Each sandwich comes with a choice of standard French fries or sweet potato fries.

Gaffey Street Special Breakfast at Gaffey St. Diner | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Gaffey St. Diner - Gaffey Street Special Breakfast

Gaffey St. Diner is a classic spot located just past the 110 Freeway’s southern end that’s lined with port photos, fishing nets and other nautical bric-a-brac. The restaurant appeared on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives,” but locals have championed their comfort food for years. Current owners Desiree Garcia and chef/husband Jerico Hernandez took over in 2017. People still fill cream-colored booths for hearty scratch cooking. Gaffey Street Special Breakfast features a fluffy chorizo omelette made with four eggs and judiciously spiced, house-made beef sausage. They fold each omelette over melted cheese, top with guacamole and tomato slices, and plate with crusty skin-on home fries and a choice of carb. I’d suggest their biscuit with butter and honey. Accentuate your combo with a “mild” tomato-based salsa or thicker, spicier “super” salsa made with chile de arbol.

Majestic Wet Beef Sandwich at J. Trani's Ristorante
Majestic Wet Beef Sandwich at J. Trani's Ristorante  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

J Trani’s Ristorante - Majestic Wet Beef Sandwich

The Trani family has been feeding San Pedro residents and port workers since 1925. Dustin J. Trani is currently executive chef, following in the foodsteps of father Jim Trani Jr., grandfather J. Trani, and great grandfather Filippo Trani, who first called the family restaurant Majestic Café before going eponymous. The current location resides in a brick and wood building with a unique round bar up front, dining room with historic photos, and Frank Sinatra on the stereo. The “Majestic Wet Beef Sandwich” is a lunch-only homage to the family’s original restaurant, featuring a baguette piled with rosy thin-shaved tri-tip, sharp Provolone, and navy bean chili, all ladled with au jus. This rich sandwich is like a double-decker, open-faced French dip. Each order comes with a steak knife, but many diners prefer to get messy and just dive hands first into the bowl.

Shrimp fajitas at San Pedro Fish Market
Shrimp fajitas at San Pedro Fish Market  |  Photo: Joshua Lurie

San Pedro Fish Market - Shrimp Fajitas

San Pedro Fish Market debuted in Downtown San Pedro as Vista Seafood in 1957. Mackey Ungaro eventually relocated the market to the waterfront Ports O’ Call Village, where son Henry and friend Tommy Amalfitano took over operations. They always steamed crab and lobster for customers, but to truly stand out, they added a restaurant on Good Friday in 1982. Now the Ungaros and Amalfitanos can seat 2,000 people at a time, many of which come for the views of the cruise ships, Port of Los Angeles and squawking sea gulls. People tend to order plates or trays of seafood fajitas, depending on the size of your group, loaded with griddled shell-on shrimp and/or sea bass fillet and/or lobster, all lavished with grilled onions, green bell peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes.