Disputed & Delicious: The History of Surf & Turf

Learn about the East and West Coasts' claims to this dinnertime splurge, and judge for yourself which one has the rightful claim! Plus, guess what they call the classic in Australia.

January 13, 2023
Disputed & Delicious: The History of Surf & Turf

It’s famous. A dish that, at its most basic, implies a special occasion. It’s no wonder that there’s been a great deal of bickering over its origins throughout the decades. When it comes to Surf & Turf (or, Beef & Reef as the Australians delightfully call it), the two contenders you’re likely to hear about are the East and West Coasts. 

The West Coast makes its claim 520 feet above sea level. Fans of land and sea cuisine point to the Seattle Space Needle, where the dish was first served in 1962 during the World Fair. 

The East Coast drops a pin on the map of Massachusetts, claiming Lowell as the birthplace of the dish. Their evidence comes later but is more technical – as it was the first city to officially refer to the dish as “Surf ‘N Turf” in 1966. 

While we may never know which side of the country made the pairing we know and love today, we do know that a different version of the dish predates these claims by hundreds of years

Long before mid-century steakhouse menus, Native Americans enjoyed their own feasts of Surf & Turf as long ago as the 17th century. While we now consider the standard to be filet mignon paired with lobster tail, they indulged in spreads of venison, turkey, guinea, peafowl, goose, duck, swan, partridge, clams, eel, cod, and lobster. Now, that’s a tall menu!

Surviving and evolving through the centuries, Surf & Turf has more than withstood the test of time. And now, it’s easier than ever to indulge. So, skip the steakhouse this weekend. Send Surf & Turf to your doorstep for a date night or on repeat!

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