John Floren

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Review: Nick's Rockaway, Pacifica

Summary: An old-fashioned restaurant and lounge. Worth stopping if you want to experience the nostalgic feel of the place, but skippable otherwise.

Nick's is kind of a relic, and I mean that in the fuller religious sense: it's old, it has its origin in the Mediterranean, some people consider it really important and worthy of veneration, and I don't really understand what all the fuss is about. Way back in 1927, a Greek immigrant who was not named Nick established a restaurant off Highway 1. It burned down twice shortly thereafter, but the third iteration stuck around.

I went on a Friday with my wife and her mother. We had made a reservation, which turned out to be a good choice as the place was absolutely packed. Nick's is divided into a restaurant and a lounge, and both sides are old-fashioned. Semi-circular booths, big fake fish hanging on the walls, and one of those coin-operated candy machines near the door, the kind that gives you a handful of stale Mike & Ikes for a quarter. It reminds me of my childhood, back when these relics of the 60s and 70s were still hanging on in more places.

The crowd trended toward larger groups and older customers; I only saw one table where everyone was obviously under 40. I imagine a good portion of their business is people who have been coming in since they were kids.

I ordered a cocktail to start with, an acceptable Manhattan served in a martini glass. We ordered a bowl of clam chowder and some garlic bread to share, my mother-in-law ordered fish tacos, and my wife & I decided to split fettucini alfredo with prawns.

The chowder was decent, and the garlic bread was pretty tasty. I had a bite of a fish taco and enjoyed it. The fettucini was acceptable, although the sauce was a little bland.

I suspect that if I went into the kitchen, I would find 5-gallon Sysco buckets with "clam chowder" and "alfredo sauce" written on them, and big bags of 41/pound frozen shrimp.

The total for three drinks, soup, bread, and two entrees came to over $130 with tip. I consider that kind of high for what we got, but being in a touristy area right off Hwy 1, the prices aren't that surprising. I would go back to spend an hour in the lounge, but I wouldn't bother with the restaurant.