We’re in the thick of lobster season in SoCal (early Oct. to mid-March). Naturally, I would have a hit list of our fave fine dining hotspots, but since Mr. has a particularly expensive daily craving for the buttery crustacean, a casual local seafood spot has become a guilty pleasure of ours: Jon’s Fish Market in Dana Point harbor.

Tucked inside the sleepy-town’s touristy harbor retail center, this local fish and chip shop and seafood market is a south county hidden secret. When on the menu, the fresh caught grilled lobster and chips ($18 half, $26 full) is the best deal in town. If you don’t see it on the menu just ask and they’ll let you pick your own from the tank on the market-side for a per-pound rate and gladly grill it up for you.

Granted, you’re dining on picnic tables with tourists and fighting brave Pigeons waiting to swoop on stray chips, but I suppose when lavish is the norm it’s all rather novelty—like date night at the fair. Counter service calls your name and serves a cafeteria-style tray of fresh grilled lobster with chips, slaw and what my Mr. Under The Sea-loving honey calls, “popcorn butter.” Even the self-serve station of mini salt, pepper and vinegar sachets and bucket of lemon add to the festivities. This is all about getting your lobster fix without having to do white tablecloth service.

And if the focus is on the lobster, the verdict is juicy lumps of savory sweet flesh. Taking cues from Mr., you can even make “lobster soup”—clouds of butter morsels in “popcorn butter.” Washed down with perfect crisp chips and homemade coldslaw. Did I forewarn this was a guilty pleasure? If you want good, fresh lobster for a reasonable prince, Jon’s is your place. Jon’s Fish Market, 34665 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629, 949.496.2807. Summer Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11AM-8PM, Fri. & Sat. 11AM-9PM, winter hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11AM-7PM, Fri. & Sat. 11A.M-8PM.

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