La Jolla’s Crab Catcher nets patrons fresh seafood, Cove views

By Daniel K. Lew

With a 30-plus year track record, Crab Catcher restaurant has found its ingredients for success: Fresh seafood, generous serving portions, and a seaside location that’s tough to beat — perched right on the edge of the cliffs overlooking La Jolla Cove.

“Not only are we a very local, family owned-and-operated restaurant, we buy local and have very special connections with local fishermen and divers,” said proprietor Jerry Burwell, who is proud to say he, his family and staff are mostly graduates of La Jolla High School.

Burwell, along with his wife Jeani who handles the restaurant’s marketing and interior design, have developed Crab Catcher into a 3-in-1 establishment: The main restaurant with indoor-and-alfresco dining areas with panoramic Cove views, an adjacent Oyster/Sushi Bar, and a Crab Catcher Market Cafe, which is both a deli and gift shop.

The Crab Catcher family affair also includes sons Jon Burwell as executive chef and Justin Burwell as assistant manager.

Longtime patrons come to Crab Catcher for seafood, where “fresh is the best,” Jon said.

During lobster season and other times of the year, it’s common for Jon to meet fisherman at the docks as they return with the latest catch. “Within hours, something that was just swimming in the ocean could be served at your table,” Jon said.

Jerry and Jon are also proud to mention the menu’s daily updated insert — what they call a “Fresh and Live Seafood Orgins” list so customers are kept in-the-know. Jerry and Jon know what seafood they like for the right season and where to get it — from boat captains around the globe to specific aqua farms.

“We’re very specific about where we get our seafood and produce,” said Jerry, who adds their local, organic produce also comes from farm owners they personally know within San Diego County.

Crab Catcher’s menu selection is filled with enough seafood choices and surf-and-turf combinations to satisfy the pickiest customer. But the giant Bering Sea Red King Crab reigns supreme as both the restaurant’s signature dish — and the Crab Catcher logo. Bering Sea Red King Crab is available for its legs — or whole at a hefty 5 to 8 pounds enough for a table of seafood lovers to share.

Crab Catcher

• Address: 1298 Prospect St., La Jolla

• Phone: (858) 454-9587

• Website:

• The Vibe: Casually elegant, romantic, relaxful

• Signature Dishes: Whole Bering Sea Red King Crab, Red and Golden King Crab Legs, Cioppino, Crab Catcher Sandwich

• Open Since: 1980

• Reservations: Yes

• Patio Seating: Yes

• Take Out: Yes

• Happy Hour: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily

• Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Saturday

• Dinner: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday

• Sunday Brunch: 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On The Menu Recipe

Each week you’ll find a recipe from the featured restaurant online at Just click ‘Get The Recipe’ at the bottom of the story. This week: Crab Catcher’s Cioppino