“We should move to LA” is something people say when they get back from a sunny weekend in Venice. The weather is nicer, the beach situation is better, and the tacos are more plentiful. But after a sunny Sunday drinking beers and eating at Hook Fish Co., you’ll also be considering looking at real estate in the Outer Sunset (provided you don’t already live there). Until you remember about the other 340 days of the year.
In a quiet corner of the city a few blocks up from the beach, this tiny shop is doing big business, even on foggy days, and for good reason: the fish is fresh, the people are laidback, and the place just makes you feel good. You order at the counter, and can pick from the concise menu of mains (tacos, burrito, sandwich, fish and chips) with a few seafood staples to start (crab cakes, poke, ceviche). Focus on the burrito and fish tacos, because they’re pretty close to perfect. The fish (fried or grilled) is high-quality, and the topping-to-filling ratio is always right - enough to feel substantial without drowning the seafood main event. Housemade corn tortillas for the tacos and a light grill on the burrito are the touches that bring these from good to great.
In case it isn’t clear from the name, note that there are very few non-seafood options here, so don’t bring your friend who is anti-fish. Do bring your friend who cares about things like the terroir of her wine or the roasting date of his coffee beans. At Hook, the port of origin and fishing boat’s name are put up on little chalkboards above the flattop in the back, so you can feel a deep, deep connection to the red snapper tacos you’re about to inhale.
The space is extremely small, and the decor is pretty simple, with cement floors, wooden tables, and a bar inside, plus sidewalk planters and some tables outside. There are no fake yacht club flags or anchors or random buoys, and there’s no $28 lobster roll. There is a SoCal feel to the whole spot that puts you at ease immediately. You will typically have to wait, especially on the weekends, but the line moves pretty quickly, and you can get things to go or to stay - with seating turning over reliably enough that you’re never stuck standing awkwardly with a tray of tacos in hand.
This place isn’t about kitsch - it’s fully focused on getting great fish out to the people. And all the staff members, from the cooks to the cashiers, really know what they’re doing. If you try to order the fish of the day for a dish that won’t really work (like a cod that won’t grill well for a grilled option), they’ll suggest other routes that might be better for what you want. Listen to them - they are in charge. You are here to take a beach break and forget about the fact that the rain is really making your ant problem escalate. While eating some very, very good seafood.
Fresh tuna that’s not drowning in sauce, served with salty chips. One of the lighter, more refreshing things on the menu, and something we’d definitely order again. Also spicy.
Eating crab out of the shell is one of the most labor-intensive, least rewarding things a person can do. And we file our own taxes. Whoever invented the crab cake should have a national day of celebration in his or her honor. The crab cakes here are small but mighty - there’s basically no filler or thick breadcrumb shell. The crab is amazing and comes on top of some mixed greens with a side of tartar sauce that you don’t even really need.
There is one salad on the menu. It is not filling, but it’s tasty and an appropriate thing to eat alongside a lot of shared things or maybe two tacos if you’re a hungry person. The smoked trout is very salty, and the everything bagel crouton-y things are a nice touch. Just note, high odds of food envy if you get this.
Because we’re in California, this is called a burrito, but in other places it might just be a wrap. Regardless, it’s delicious. The tortilla is grilled, the cabbage slaw is just the right amount of tangy, and the fish-to-rice ratio is spot on. We usually stick with salmon, but you can swap in whatever fresh fish is on hand and you won’t regret it.
These can be customized with poke or the grilled fish of the day - and the answer is always grilled. Strong corn tortillas and a simple slaw, avocado, and pico topping make these a go-to. You only get two per order, so know that you’ll probably want more (or need an app or two).
Not a grease pile! To be honest, though, the real standouts here are the fries. They’re like the fries you used to get at the pool in those big cardboard cups with pictures of fries on the outside when you were a kid. Some salt and spices make them incredible.