Food & Dining
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ChatGPT inaccurately recommended seafood from Ports O’ Call Restaurant, which closed in 2018. (file photo: John Mattera Photography)

You’re probably aware that new AI systems like ChatGPT have changed the landscape for nearly everything, especially for those of us who are educators.

ChatGPT makes it easy for students to submit work as their own that the software produces in less than 30 seconds. Generally, the writing is recognizable because of the robotic language, generalized statements, and frequent inaccuracies. 

Curious to see how much AI knows about San Pedro’s food scene, I experimented with ChatGPT and asked where I should eat in San Pedro, just for fun. Out of the four times I ran this prompt, the last response was truly a gem that reinforced my existing opinions even more. 

The following are the actual ChatGPT results about each topic, followed by my accuracy scoreand notes.

Seafood: Given its coastal location, San Pedro is known for its fresh seafood restaurants like San Pedro Fish Market, 22nd Street Landing Seafood Grill & Bar, and Ports O’ Call Waterfront Dining. – Accuracy score: 66 percent. The latter is closed, making way for the upcoming West Harbor. I’d add Trani’s Dockside Station and Crazy Fish. 

Mexican Cuisine: San Pedro has a vibrant Mexican food scene. Popular spots include Green Onion Mexican Restaurant, La Barca Grill & Cantina, and El Taco Charro. – Accuracy score: 33 percent. The last two are not even in San Pedro! How about the long-standing The Original Las Brisas, Enchilada House, Puesta Del Sol, The Chori-Man, and the new-in-town Jefe’s Cocina, among numerous others? 

Italian Food: Italian cuisine enthusiasts can indulge at restaurants such as Raffaello Ristorante and Capo Italian Restaurant. – Accuracy score: N/A. You can’t trip in San Pedro without falling into an Italian restaurant, yet it only gives us one spot in town? How does AI not mention Sorrento’s Pizza House, Buono’s Pizzeria, J. Trani’s Ristorante, La Bocca Felice, and La Siciliana? Also, Capo is, obviously, not in San Pedro.

American Diners: For a taste of classic American comfort food, you can visit diners like Happy Diner, Pacific Diner, or Walker’s Café. – Accuracy score: 66 percent. ChatGPT is stirring the pot again by mentioning the recently closed Walker’s Café, yet leaving out the Omelette and Waffle Shop, Fantastic Café, and Joe’s Diner. Come on.

Asian Cuisine: San Pedro offers a variety of Asian cuisines, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese at restaurants such as Shanghai Red’s, Sushi 21, and Pho Hana. – Accuracy score: 33 percent. San Pedro’s iconic Shanghai Red Café was razed during the Beacon Street redevelopment in the early 1970s, and Pho Hana is in Palos Verdes. But we do have Nim Chan’s Kitchen, Nam’s Red Door Vietnamese, Senfuku Japanese, KoRyu Ramen, Sirinat Thai and Sushi Bar, and Baramee Thai Restaurant. 

Pub Fare and Craft Beer: If you’re in the mood for pub food and locally brewed beer, you can visit establishments like The Whale & Ale, Brouwerij West, or San Pedro Brewing Company. – Accuracy score: 66 percent. Fair, but the fate of the closed Whale & Ale is uncertain for now. 

Coffee Shops and Cafés: San Pedro has numerous coffee shops and cafés. Examples include Sirens Java & Tea and Java Man Coffee House. – Accuracy score: 50 percent. I loved Java Man, but it closed over a decade ago. We must include The Corner Store, Sacred Grounds, Colossus Bakery, Distrito Coffee, and Pepper’s Cafe (inside CRAFTED).

International Cuisine: You can explore diverse international cuisines such as Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Greek at restaurants like Niko’s Pizzeria, Ali Baba Turkish Cuisine, and Papadakis Taverna. – Accuracy score: 33 percent. The Turkish restaurant’s location is unknown, and Papadakis Taverna has been long gone. How about Big Nick’s Pizzeria for Greek options, Sebastian’s Mediterranean Cuisine, and Nazelie’s Lebanese Cuisine? 

Also, our Croatian-American population is ignored here, so I’d like to add San Pedro Café, lunches at the Dalmatian-American Club and the Croatian American Hall.

Lastly, I guess AI doesn’t know this is a sandwich and pizza town. For sandwiches, let me throw in Busy Bee Market, A-1 Italian Market & Deli, Sandwich Saloon, and Pirozzi’s Italian Deli. For pizza, Joseph’s Bakery, Bonello’s New York Pizza, Ciao Bella Mobile Pizzeria, and Miller Butler can’t be excluded.

Congratulations, ChatGPT, your final score is… eh, who cares? Decent effort, but you get an “F” because you’ll never replace suggestions from real San Pedrans. spt

Sanam Lamborn

Sanam Lamborn created the Eat in San Pedro Facebook group and Instagram account in April 2020 to entice people to patronize San Pedro’s eateries.