California Seafood Dives

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NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Barbara's Fish Trap, 281 Capistrano Rd., Princeton-by-the-Sea, CA; 650/728-7049 or lovetoeatandtravel.com/Site/Sfbay/HMBay/Food/barbara.htm . On pilings above Half Moon Bay; huge portions. (1997)

La Cabaña Taquería, 500 Highway 1, Davenport, CA; 831/425-7742. A favorite of the surfing crowd, La Cabaña serves some of the best fish tacos this side of Baja. Try the red snapper or salmon, wrapped in your choice of flour or corn tortillas. (2004)

Cap'n Flint's, 32250 N. Harbor Dr., Fort Bragg, CA; 707/964-9447. "Family dining at family prices," including great chowder, under the high bridge in the fishing village of Noyo. (2000)

Chart Room, 130 Anchor Way, Crescent City, CA; 707/464-5993. The four-egg Dungeness-crab-and-shrimp omelets at breakfast will satisfy the hungriest travelers. Windows overlook the harbor and its resident sea lions. (2006)

Coast Café, 46 Wharf Rd., Bolinas, CA; 415/868-2298 or bolinascafe.com . Only in West Marin County would a surfer's hangout serve organic beer with fish-and-chips (made from the catch of the day). On weekends, the café offers all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab or mesquite-barbecued oysters, depending on the season. (2006)

Fisherman's Wharf crab stands, Taylor Street at Jefferson Street, San Francisco, CA. These sidewalk grottos peddle a smorgasbord of seafood gold: crab cakes, fried shrimp, and overstuffed crab sandwiches. We suggest fresh-caught Dungeness crabs, cracked to order and costing half what you'd pay in the nearby sit-down restaurants. Feeling clammy? Boudin's clam chowder in a sourdough bowl and Pompei's hearty cioppino are San Francisco classics. (2007)

Gill's by the Bay, 77 Halibut King Salmon, Eureka, CA; 707/442-2554. No-frills but well-prepared breakfasts and lunches right on Humboldt Bay. (1999)

Ketch Joanne Restaurant, 17 Johnson Pier, Pillar Point Harbor, Princeton-by-the-Sea, CA; 650/728-3747 or restauranteur.com/ca/halfmoonbay/menu/ketchjoanne.htm . Fried specialties include fish-and-chips, scallops, and jumbo prawns. (1998)

Kelly's Mission Rock, 817 Terry Francois Blvd., San Francisco, CA; 415/626-5355 or kellysmissionrock.com . Considerably spiffed up from its days as Mission Rock Resort, when we first visited, but still relaxed and casual. Terrific fish-and-chips―and water views. (updated from 1997)

The Marshall Store, 19225 Highway 1, Marshall, CA; 415/663-1339 or themarshallstore.com . A tiny grocery, deli, and oyster bar on stilts over Tomales Bay, with fresh oysters, barbecued or on the half shell. (2001)

Nantucket Restaurant, foot of Port Street, Crockett, CA; 510/787-2233. A cozy building in a working marina with great cioppino, great service, and great views of the Carquinez Bridge. (2003)

Oceansong, 39350 S. Highway 1, Gualala, CA; 707/884-1041. On California's Pacific Coast Highway between Jenner and Point Arena, Oceansong is one of the few restaurants that offers ocean vistas. Start with a cold brew and clam chowder, then round out the meal with hot fish-and-chips. (2007)

The Original Old Clam House, 299 Bayshore Blvd., San Francisco, CA; 415/826-4880. Heavenly Lazy Man's Cioppino, so-called because everything but the crab legs is shelled, steamed open, or otherwise made accessible. (2002)

Olema Farm House Restaurant & Bar, 10005 State Highway 1, Olema, CA; 415/663-1264 or olemafarmhouse.com . Fried prawns, creamy clam chowder, and enormous barbecued oysters. (2002)

Phil's Fish Market and Eatery, 7600 Sandholdt Rd., Moss Landing, CA; 831/633-2152 or philsfishmarket.com . Moved to a new building since our review, but still serves the same great cioppino. (update from 1997)

Pier 23 Café, Pier 23, On the Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA; 415/362-5125 or pier23cafe.com . In a party-hearty atmosphere, the crab cocktail gets down to basics: crabmeat accompanied only by hot sauce. Steamed mussels pair well with Anchor Steam beer. (2005)

PPQ Dungeness Island, 2332 Clement St., San Francisco, CA; 415/386-8266 or ppqdungeness.com . The real deal is dinner for two ($46.95), which includes whole-roasted Dungeness crab in a delicious garlic broth, equally tantalizing garlic noodles, fresh cabbage and chicken salad, and deep-fried banana dessert. (2006)

Princeton Seafood Company, 50 Capistrano Rd., Half Moon Bay, CA; 650/726-2722 or princetonseafood.com . This restaurant/market is justifiably proud of its "award-winning" clam chowder and ought to boast about the fish and chips as well. (2004)

Quinn's Lighthouse Restaurant & Pub, 1951 Embarcadero Cove, Oakland, CA; 510/536-2050 or quinnslighthouse.com . Former lighthouse building. Elegant dining downstairs. Upstairs has the same excellent seafood, a boisterously casual atmosphere, and sea chanteys on Thursdays. (2000)

The Ramp, 855 China Basin St., San Francisco, CA; 415/621-2378. No longer the bait and hot-dog shop it was years ago, The Ramp will dish up hot clam chowder for those foggy days, some fried Alaskan pollack and chips, and an array of salads starring tiny bay shrimp. (2004)

Seabreeze Market & Deli, 598 University Ave., Berkeley, CA; 510/486-8119. A deli/seafood shop/snack bar/produce market/smoothie stand made from shipping containers, believe it or not; good fish sandwiches. (2003)

Sharon's by the Sea, 32096 N. Harbor Dr., Fort Bragg, CA; 707/962-0680 or sharonsbythesea.com . Sharon's surprises with its large wine list and filling seafood salads. Try the crab Louie, a seemingly bottomless bowl of asparagus spears, tomatoes, and cucumbers topped with mounds of sweet crab. (2005)

Sushi Sam's Edomata, 218 E. Third Ave., San Mateo, CA; 650/344-0888 or sushisams.com . Surprisingly innovative nigiri (raw fish pressed onto a pad of rice) lies just a half-hour south of San Francisco. Grab a seat at the sushi bar and request the chef's choice. (2005)

Swan Oyster Depot, 1517 Polk St., San Francisco, CA; 415/673-1101. A tiny place with a wide variety of great seafood and the nicest proprietors (the Sancimino brothers) anywhere. (2001)

Tony's Seafood Restaurant, 18863 Highway 1, Marshall, CA; 415/663-1107. Legendary barbecued oysters and fresh-caught fish. (1999)

Yankee Pier, 286 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, CA; 415/924-7676 or yankeepier.com . Don't miss the signature lobster roll or the fabulous New England clam chowder. The crab Louie is unforgettable. Monday nights feature all-you-can-eat fish-and-chips. (2004)

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