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 them in many mouthwatering ways.
There are larger, fancier restaurants in town – Tides Wharf & Restaurant and The Duck Club Restaurant 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 is more bait shop than restaurant, called Spud Point Crab Company (1860 Westshore Road, Bodega Bay, 707-875-9472, www.spudpointcrab.com). It makes sense, because Tony and Carol Anello catch the seafood themselves on a sturdy boat named Annabelle. You can see 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 Boat House-Bodega Bay’s Sport Fishing Center (1445 N. Highway 1, Bodega Bay, 707-875-3495), where owner Captain Rick Powers’ schooner hauls in the crustaceans, and then has 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, www.sandpiperrestaurant.com). Hearty signatures 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.
For some international variety, La Bodeguita (2001 N. Highway 1, Bodega Bay) promises Mexican cuisine, and it delivers, with Dungeness crab cakes served with aioli, clam chowder, or an array of seafood burritos.
In Bodega Bay many restaurants offer stunning ocean views and you are celebrating that you're mere steps from the boats that brought this beautiful Bodega bounty. Complete listings of restaurants along the Sonoma Coast can be found here.