The Sonoma Coast town of Bodega Bay is best known for its fresh California seafood, from sweet Dungeness crab, to rockfish, salmon, ling cod, albacore, and halibut.
There’s little better in life than this fresh-from-the-sea goodness draped in garlic butter and kissed with lemon, or deep-fried and dunked in tangy tartar sauce. This small town on the Sonoma Coast is big on excellent restaurants, where the chefs shop the docks daily and prepare their fresh choices in many mouthwatering ways.
There are larger, fancier restaurants in town — Tides Wharf & Restaurant (835 California 1, Bodega Bay, 707-875-3652) and Drakes Sonoma Coast Cuisine (103 Highway One, Bodega Bay, 707-875-3525) to name just two — but for this little adventure, let’s focus on where the locals go for the freshest, fastest, bargain-priced delicacies from the sea.
One of the best-known destinations is a tiny café that looks more bait shop than restaurant, called Spud Point Crab Company (1860 Westshore Road, Bodega Bay, 707-875-9472). It makes sense, because the café is owned by Tony and Carol Anello, and the Anello family has two sturdy fishing boats that bring in the fresh catch.
During the season, watch crab cooked whole in the boiler right outside the store, then buy it by the pound to take home. Or, if you’re feeling picnic-y, take a seat at an outdoor table and dig into crab cakes, crab cocktail, or crab sandwiches. Oh, don’t forget the clam chowder; and, if you’ve ever had it, you never will. Make sure everyone gets their own pint. It’s just that good.
The idea is similar at The Boat House, Bodega Bay’s Sport Fishing Center (1445 N. Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 875-3495), where owner Captain Rick Powers’ schooner hauls in the crustaceans, which his cooks craft into buttery crab cake sandwiches, light-as-air fish-n-chips, briny oysters, and breaded clam strips to eat at a table overlooking the Bay.
Things get a little fancier at Sandpiper Restaurant & Café, but the shanty flair remains drop-dead charming, and the prices entirely reasonable (1410 Bay Flat Road, Bodega Bay, 707-875-2278). Hearty signature menu items include a crab melt, crab and shrimp omelet, crab cake sandwiches, crab stew in tomato broth, crab cake with lemon linguine and spicy tomato coulis, crab ravioli, and crab and shrimp Benedict. Get the idea? Seafood is king.
Not to miss are the Lucas Wharf Restaurant & Bar (595 Coast Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 707-875-3522) and the new Fishetarian (599 South Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 707-875-9092), which is also a fresh seafood market.
For some international variety, La Bodeguita Mexican Grill (2001 N. Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 707-875-9190) promises Mexican cuisine, and it delivers, with Dungeness crab cakes served with aioli, clam chowder, or an array of seafood burritos.
Many Bodega Bay restaurants offer stunning ocean views, often mere steps from the boats that brought in this beautiful Bodega bounty. For other options, check the list of restaurants along the Sonoma Coast, and find more things to do in Bodega Bay.