The location: Loco's Crab Shack.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. The patio of Loco's Crab Shack, an informal seafood restaurant.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Somewhere in Miami.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode Two: "Crocodile".

    Dexter goes to the restaurant with Rita for a double-date with his sister Debra and her new boyfriend, a somewhat dorky loser with whom Debra is temporarily infatuated.

    Throughout the meal, Debra and her new guy keep making out.  Dexter, on the other hand, basically ignores Rita, while grilling the dippy boyfriend, and Rita eventually begins to feel neglected...

    While this is going on, Dexter is keeping an eye on a crime boss called Guerrero, who is buying a lobster from his car, parked just outside the patio.

    Dexter remarks to himself that it's out of character for Guerrero to buy lobsters to boil at home, since Guerrero usually leaves the killing to others.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A sports bar.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. This is actually a small patio on the west side of a sports bar called "On The Rocks".
The address is 239 N. Harbor Drive, in Redondo Beach, CA.
The name is a pun, since can find it next to the rocky breakwater at the Redondo Beach harbor, just north of the Redondo Beach Pier.

For those unfamiliar with Southern California, Redondo is a west-facing beach in the South Bay area, located between Hermosa Beach and the hills of Palos Verdes.

The sports bar is one of several restaurants and cafes located in this King Harbor area, and sharing the same large parking lot.  On The Rocks is just south of Ruby's Diner, and just west of a short pier.

Before it became "On the Rocks", it was previously known as "Chillers".
Be aware that there are actually two patios here: a large patio to the northeast, and a small patio closer to the water (to the west).  This scene was shot on the smaller patio to the west.

Also, despite the address, don't expect to find "On the Rocks" right on Harbor Drive.  It's set back about 200 feet from (west of) that street, behind a parking lot, and almost literally "on the rocks" that line this marina.

I shot these photos of the "On The Rocks" patio in 2011:

There is a small road which runs between the patio and the breakwater.  It is there that they filmed the scene of Guerrero and his lobsters.

Here is a screencap of that shot, followed by a matching photo I took outside of "On the Rocks":

Note how the color of the rocks on the breakwater changes from light to dark...

Here is an aerial photo of the location.  And here is a map link.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A. Since this was Dexter's very first season, when many of the locations were actually filmed in Miami back then, I wasn't at all sure whether "Loco's" was in Florida or California.  (For a while, I even thought it might be Jimbo's.)

    And since they showed so little of the restaurant in the scene, I didn't have much to go on, so I assumed that if it was in L.A., it must be in either Marina del Rey or Long Beach.  When I couldn't find it at either of those two places, I basically gave up on it back then, assuming it was probably somewhere in Miami.

    In 2011, I happened to re-watch the first episodes, and I realized that I had never found this spot. And with 6 years of experience (in finding "Dexter" locations) now under my belt, I decided to give it another try.

    Checking out Miami first, I realized that there simply weren't many breakwaters in that city, and none with restaurants.

Next, looking at the various breakwaters in the SoCal, I ruled out the Cabrillo breakwater and the Long Beach breakwater, and I couldn't make a match at Marina del Rey...

But then I realized that I had never checked the Redondo Beach breakwater.

( That's ironic, since I had previously found a large number of filming locations for "The O.C." in Redondo Beach.)

The Redondo breakwater looked like it might well be the right location, so I started looking at all of the restaurants near the breakwater, trying to determine which one they might have used.  And there are a lot of them: The Charthouse, the Bluewater Grill, the Cheesecake Factory, Baleen, Ruby's, Polly's...

For a while, I thought it must be Joe's Crab Shack.  Its location looked good, and the name was perfect, of course.  But the matching details just weren't there.

What I was looking for, most of all, were those large, red, round pillars that surround the patio.  Plus what seemed to be a small wharf briefly glimpsed on the edges of the scene.

While Googling for images of Redondo restaurants, I chanced upon an old photo of "Chillers" (the former name of "On the Rocks"), where some of those red pillars were visible.  I immediately checked Bing's Bird's Eye View maps, and everything seemed to line up.

So, there was only one thing left to do.  The next morning, I headed down to Redondo, before the place opened, and got some good, matching photos of that patio.  Clearly, it was the same place.

Oh, the producers had made a few changes, including making the horizontal board a bit more colorful, changing the tables & chairs, and adding a large BBQ unit to the patio, but otherwise it was the same.

The capper was that brief shot of Guerrero buying a lobster, outside the restaurant.  I found a perfect match for that shot, right down to the large rocks, the edge of the small wharf, and the distant rocks on the breakwater changing to a darker color as they head south.

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