Lunch in Bodega Bay

Chowder at the Sonoma Coast
Eat some delicious chowder at the Sonoma Coast.
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Bodega Bay, the California beach town and harbor immortalized on film in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller, The Birds, is so much more. Venture out toward Spud Point Marina and admire the rows of yachts and fishing boats.

Don’t blink and miss the tiny seafood shack that, according to several reliable sources, serves the best clam chowder in Northern California, Spud Point Crab Company. This is mostly a take-out operation – you walk into the small shop and place your order from a limited menu posted on the wall. Once you’ve paid and picked up your food, you can take a seat at one of the few picnic tables out front, which look across the street at the bay, or you can drive to some nearby spot with a view and make a picnic out of it.

Just a couple of hundred feet down the road, Westside Regional Park has picnic tables overlooking the harbor, or you could head back to Highway 1, turn north, and devour your feast at one of the many cliff-top pullouts overlooking the ocean between Bodega Bay and Jenner. Spud Point Crab Company is run by the Anello family, who opened the retail operation in 2004 and whose descendants came from Italy to Bodega Bay more than a century ago to make their livelihood fishing. The Anellos set out at dawn during the fishing season to catch the very super-fresh crab and salmon they sell at their shop, along with several other items. The New England-style clam chowder, which is, indeed, outstanding – loaded with chopped clams and with a smooth yet rich consistency, and nothing of the heaviness that sometimes mars chowders.

The other item for which the shop is most renowned, an elliptical, lightly toasted bun packed with ultra-fresh, faintly sweet Dungeness crabmeat. It’s simple a simple creation, devoid of filler, heavy seasonings, or anything else to distract from the purity of fresh seafood. (Insider’s tip: Everyone gets their own pint of clam chowder. Trust me, that rule has saved many a friendship and marriage. As an added bonus, you can share a crab sandwich.) Spud Point’s menu also includes shrimp, barbecue tri-tip, meatball, and breakfast sandwiches, as well as chili dogs, crab or shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, and they also offer a red-style tomato-broth chowder. They also smoke their own fresh-caught salmon and sell whole-cooked crabs (they’ll clean them for free for you), picked crab meat, and bay shrimp and prawns.