"Surf and Turf” (or “Surf ‘n’ Turf") is a restaurant dish featuring both meat and seafood, often filet mignon and lobster tails. California’s Del Mar racetrack advertised “Where the Turf Meets the Surf” in 1937, and it had a “Turf and Surf Club” (also called “Surf and Turf Club"). “Turf ‘n Surf Dinner” was printed in a restaurant ad in the Los Angeles (CA) Times on December 18, 1958. “SURF AND TURF...$5.95” was printed in a restaurant ad in the Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) on May 8, 1959. Many 1960s citations are from California and upstate New York.
Other similar terms appeared from the 1960s, such as “Beef and Reef,” “Land and Sea” and “Fin and Feather” (for seafood and chicken).
Newer versions of “Surf and Turf” often eliminate the lobster and consist of steak and shrimp (or steak and crab cakes).
[This entry includes prior research by Ben Zimmer on the American Dialect Society listserv.]
Wikipedia: Surf and turf
Surf and turf or surf ‘n’ turf is a main course combining seafood and red meat. A typical seafood component would be lobster (either lobster tail or a whole lobster), prawns, shrimp, or scallops, any of which could be steamed, grilled or breaded and fried. The meat is typically beef steak, although others may be used. One standard combination is lobster tail and filet mignon.
Surf and turf is eaten in steakhouses in the United States, Canada UK and Australia, and may also be available in some British/Irish-style pubs in those countries.
Wikipedia: Del Mar Playgrounds
The Del Mar Fairgrounds is a 370-acre (1.5 km2) event venue in Del Mar, California. The annual San Diego County Fair is held here, which was called the Del Mar Fair from 1984 to 2001. In 1936, the Del Mar racetrack was built by the Thoroughbred Club with founding member Bing Crosby providing leadership.
The horse racing track is exactly 1 mile (1.609 km) long, and races are run counter-clockwise. With a capacity of 44,000, it is the second largest horse-racing venue in the western United States, after the nearby Santa Anita Park. It is known for the slogans: “Where The Turf Meets The Surf” as well as “Cool as Ever.”
It is unclear where the term originated. The earliest known citation is from 1961, in the Los Angeles Times.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
surf and turf, n..
Cookery (originally U.S.).
A dish containing both seafood and meat; esp. one combining lobster (tail) and steak, served in a restaurant. Also in extended use. Frequently attributive.
[1961 Los Angeles Times 13 Aug. (Calendar section) 7 (in box) The ‘Turf and Surf’ is an interesting combination: lobster tail and small beef tenderloin.]
1961 Los Angeles Times 17 Dec. (Calendar section) 18/4 (advt.) Surf & Turf..Australian lobster tail & choice top sirloin steak..3.95.
1973 Washington Post 27 Dec. f9/3 (advt.) Enjoy a delicious dinner of Surf and Turf Platter, Prime Rib Au Jus, or Pheasant Mirza.
31 May 1937, San Francisco (CA) Examiner, “They’re off today at Del Monte!” by Abe Kemp, pg. 23, col. 1:
More materialistic and certainly less altruistic souls down Del Mar way have been shoe horning their track into public prints on the tinkling phrase, “Where the turf meets the surf.”
25 July 1937, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pt. 2A, pg. 8, col. 5 classified ad:
WHERE THE SURF MEETS THE TURF!
26 July 1937, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Final Week for Del Mar” by Oscar Otis, pt. 1, pg. 16, col. 2:
DEL MAR, July 25.—The big week, at Del Mar, is here. Bing Crosby’s “Surf and Turf” Club swings into its big stretch run her tomorrow, climaxes Saturday with the $5000 Del Mar Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth.
1 August 1939, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Crosby’s Swank Del Mar Track Opens Tomorrow” by Oscar Otis, pt. 2, pg. 11, col. 7:
DEL MAR, July 31.—Bing Crosby’s swank Turf and Surf Club opens here Wednesday for what promises to be a meeting unique and outstanding in the West.
18 December 1958, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pt. 2, pg. 4, col. 5 ad:
Turf ‘n Surf Dinner
(Charles Soffer’s Encore Restaurant, 806 N. La Cienga.—ed.)
8 May 1959, Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY), pg. 7B, col. 3 ad:
SURF AND TURF...$5.95
(Mac’s Sirloin House, 1260 Latta Road.—ed.)
13 August 1961, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. N7:
The “Turf and Surf” is an interesting combination: lobster tail and small beef tenderloin.
17 December 1961, Los Angeles (CA) Times, calendar section, pg. 18 ad:
Surf & Turf
Australian Lobster Tail & Choice Top Sirloin Steak
(Happy Hollow on Silver Lake Blvd.—ed.)
8 March 1963, Dunkirk Evening Observer (Dunkirk-Fredonia, NY), pg. 12, col. 1 ad:
SPECIAL MENU FEATURE SUNDAY…
TURF & SURF DINNER
of Lobster Tail & Filet Mignon
(The Village Squire in Fredonia—ed.)
26 June 1964, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. 18, col. 2 ad:
Surf and Turf Plate
Broiled Lobster Tail and a Petite Filet of Mignon on Toast
Mushrooms on Toast, Potato, Vegetable Salad, Coffee
(Seneca Manor, between Waterloo and Seneca Falls—ed.)
7 August 1964, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. 6, col. 1 ad:
SURF AND TURF
A delightful hackney house treat of delicious
Lobster Tail and sliced-tender Tenderloin 3.95
4 November 1966, Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, pg. 8, col. 2 ad:
Surf & Turf...$3.95
(2 LOBSTER TAILS—1/2 LB. SIRLOIN)
1967-1968 Buffalo (NY) Yellow Pages, pg. 483, cols. 2-3:
“TURF & SURF DINNERS”
4346 Bailey Av.
1967-1968 Buffalo (NY) Yellow Pages, pg. 489, col. 4:
MICHAEL’S HOUSE OF STEAKS
SURF ‘N’ TURF
(Cor Niagara & Prospect)
949 Prospect Av...886-8929
On a restraunt menu what is considered surf and turf? is it just steak and lobster?
1 year ago (2007—ed.)
Best Answer - Chosen by Voters
Traditionally, “surf and turf” is steak and lobster, but modern versions include steak and shrimp, as well as steak and crab cakes.
The 2007 winner for “Hell’s Kitchen” on Fox used crab cakes for his version of “surf and turf”.