Waterman’s Harbor

34661 St. of the Golden Lantern
Dana Point, CA 92629
Best Of
Waterman’s Harbor

Jennifer Fedrizzi


  • $$$
  • Dinner
  • Full bar
Waterman’s Harbor is a seafood restaurant in Dana Point. It serves a dish—a whole black bass with its skin and tail in tact, its head propped upright, mouth agape—that is flash-fried under a barely there batter. Even though it’s presented whole, the fish is also nearly all deboned, with the flesh butterflied and the spine collapsed flat from the load of artichoke hearts, tiny potatoes and white beans it carries on top. Chef John Cuevas is a James Beard nominee who used to cook at the Crow Bar and Kitchen and was once the executive chef for Muse at Montage Beverly Hills. And as that black dish reiterates, he’s still the kitchen whiz he’s always been, producing exciting seafood that would’ve been unthinkable when the place was a Jolly Roger. Yet, it’s still possible to get the usual dockside fare of clam chowder, even fish and chips (which are both house-made), but Cuevas’ true treasures go beyond what you can get at any place with a crusty sailor as its mascot. His crab beignets—greaseless, deep-fried balls of pure crab meat encased in a crunchy cocoon of batter—is an indictment of soggy crab cakes. For a crudo, he bevel-cuts yellowfin tuna, applies a sluicing of seasoned soy sauce, then garnishes with jalapeños, crinkled shishitos, crushed almonds and halved Muscat grapes bursting with juice.

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