My search of the board revealed scant discussion of this place. Well, to begin with they discontinued the fish market part of this operation some time ago, despite what the sign says. After driving by this place for 20 years we finally went last night with some friends. Overall, a splendid decision.
First, the setting is great. You sit outside at pic-nic like tables under the tall trees. As the light begins to darken the major source of light is the neon beer signs hanging all around. Salt, pepper, Tabasco and Pic-A-Pepper sauce on the table. Knife and fork wrapped in a paper napkin that you pick up yourself. This is SO casual that I felt overdressed in a Tommy Bahama shirt.
You order inside at the counter, they give you a number to put on your table and the food is brought to you by a runner. What we had: A prior post mentioned the fried calimari so of course we tried that. NO TENTACLES, only body rings, despite our specific request for extra tentacles. We're later told that they buy tentacle-less frozen squid. However, as fried calimari goes in this town it was right up there (but nowhere even close to Il Grano), with a tasty crust and it wasn't rubber-bandy at all. Very tender. A mild marinara sauce that improved with a dash of Tabasco. $6.95.
The special soup was lobster bisque, and a prior post had mentioned the fish chowder. We got tastes of both and chose the fish chowder. Both were made with the same seafood soup base and both were good. The bisque had no potatoes and lots of chunk lobster. Pretty tasty. The fish chowder had potatoes and chunks of a flavorful firm white fish, with corn. Delicious. My notes written at the time say "great." $7.95 for both. Service timing was poor, however. The mains arrived right in the middle of the soups, so to eat the mains while they were hot required that the soups be abandoned. Those who tasted the cold chowder, though, said that was still pretty good. Also, grilled veggies that were ordered never arrived but we weren't charged for them.
The mains were seared Ahi ($16.95) with garlic mashed and slaw. There were mixed views on the slaw. It was thickly sliced and very crisp, but needed more vinegar to give it some bite. Not too sweet for me. The fish was cooked perfectly for my taste, charred on the outside and raw in the middle (even though this wasn't my meal). A side of sauteed onions was tasty but needed to be cooked longer to develop a nice brown. Fish tacos (grilled not fried) were pronounced "pretty good" but when ordered no fish was specified and we couldn't figure out what kind of fish it was. Both were eaten, though, as was all the slaw. As for me, well, you'd think I'd be tipped off by the name "Fish Market and Restaurant." Nope. One of the specials was BBQ babyback ribs and the counter girl said that it was one of their most popular items and that people complained when it wasn't available. So much for them. A half slab ($15.00) of some of the worst ribs I've ever not eaten. I got through 3 ribs and left the rest, which our guests took home to their dog. An agreeable mild sauce but these clearly had been baked then sauce slathered onto them with no grilling or true BBQ at all. Avoid these. Instead of the listed mashed, I got well-done fries (not the home fries, with onions, which are also offered but we didn't taste). These were the stand-out of the entire meal. A heap of fries, hot and crispy with real potato flavor. I'd say that they cut their own but my overall impression of the place is that they use frozen. But you couldn't tell it.
Corkage is $5. The total for two bottles of wine, 2 draft beers, before tip was $84.78, for 4 people. Pretty reasonable, especially considering the setting. It does get cold so a wrap or jacket would be a god idea. It is VERY casual and by 8:30 had filled up with a bunch of Topanga regulars. We'll certainly go back but no ribs for me!