Located at the messy intersection of La Cienega Boulevard, San Vicente Boulevard and Burton Way, the Smith Bros. Fish Shanty was known to Los Angeles residents as “that place where you walk in through the whale’s mouth.” If you did, you got pretty good seafood served to you by friendly waitresses who seemed to have been there forever. You could always take their word on what was good and fresh that day.
One was always quietly warning me away from a side dish option they had called “Warm Potato Salad with Bacon.” It had once been a specialty of the house but, she said, the current chefs didn’t make it as well as their predecessors. Everything else, she said, was great and she seemed to be right about that. The fried shrimp and the abalone were especially grand. We miss the cuisine and we miss entering via the whale’s jaws and feeling, just for the moment, like Pinocchio.