Are swashbuckling sailors stowing away in your dreams and making you crave… seafood? Then let On the Menu prove that you don’t have to be Captain Jack Sparrow to get savory seafood with these local restaurants.
101 E. Cabrillo Blvd.
Price: $10 – $20
Take a drive downtown and walk into a world of old sea captains, great ocean adventures and charthouse-style architecture. The misty realm that has struck the fancy of many is no other than the family-run restaurant FishHouse.
For a dinner delight, day manager Derek Turpin said he suggests the lobster or the Macadamia Crusted White Sea Bass, which includes a white sea bass covered in Hawaiian macadamia nuts that is sautéed, baked and then placed on a bed of white rice and sugar snap peas. The meal is topped off with a lemon beurre blanc sauce that Turpin said finishes off the meal nicely.
“That’s what makes the dish come together,” he said.
To finish off the meal, Turpin suggested the Banana Tart Tartar, which he said is like a Bananas Foster and is served hot with the decadent accent of vanilla bean ice cream.
If a more relaxed and less filling meal is desired, the happy hour menu contains many of the restaurant’s main entrées, but discounted. Turpin said the FisHouse is known for its delicious Shrimp and Scallops served during happy hour, which are sautéed in a mixture of white wine, garlic, butter and capers, and then served on polenta.
“These are very popular,” he said.
If you’re looking for satisfaction beyond just watery delights, the FisHouse offers happy hour at the bar Monday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. During this daily two-hour window the restaurant provides a well cocktail, like a vodka soda or a rum and coke for the low price of $4. For a more specialized taste, a patron can order a Key Lime Martini or a Cosmopolitan for only $5.
The restaurant boasts an outside patio with a fire pit, and Turpin said that the set-up of the restaurant is conducive to both quiet dining and friendly gatherings at the bar.
“The bar area is separated from the dining area,” he said. “Which we’re really happy about.”
Additionally, Turpin said that a great attraction for customers is the restaurant’s prime location in downtown Santa Barbara.
“A lot of people are drawn to us based on location,” he said. “We’re across the street from the beach and close to State Street.”
Turpin also said that people return to the FisHouse because of the high quality of both the food and the service.
“People come back because of the quality and consistency of the food,” he said. “We have the freshest seafood available and a very attentive staff.”
No matter the seafood craving, the FisHouse has a menu that is sure to crack your hunger crab Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 9 p.m.
Grillin’ and Chillin’
113 Harbor Way
Price: $10 – $20
Ocean views, harbor noises and scrumptious seafood are all parts of Santa Barbara’s own Waterfront Grill. The restaurant sits atop the maritime museum and boasts an assortment of selections from both the surf and turf.
Bar manager Mike Holland said the Teriyaki Rib Eye, which is marinated, grilled and then served with rice or vegetables, is both a customer and restaurant favorite.
“It’s a signature dish,” Holland said.
Holland also said another patron top choice is the Sesame Crusted Ahi, which comes with a wasabi sauce and is served on a bed of snow peas and red onion coleslaw. The Pork Chop Special is a 10 oz. center cut pork chop that is brined, put in salt water to seal the flavor, grilled and then served with spiced apples. Like the restaurant’s name, Holland said, grilling is the main method of cooking at the Waterfront Grill.
“We grill everything,” he said.
For a lighter meal, Holland suggested the Ahi Spinach Salad, which consists of seared ahi served on a warm spinach salad with a bacon curry dressing.
The restaurant also provides a large selection of tacos and burgers with a twist – you can get either with a choice of salmon, beef, cod, halibut or lobster.
For those on a budget, the restaurant serves a Sunset Special every day from 5 to 6:30 p.m. The discounted dinners include a choice of a full meal of trout, chicken, steak or salmon.
During the eatery’s happy hour – Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. – Mai Tais or a glass of the house red or white wine are available for $5 each and a margarita or draft beer is only $4. Holland said that along with the price of drinks, their tasty dishes are also available at a lower price.
“It’s our entire menu, just discounted,” he said.
Additionally, Holland said that customers are drawn to the beautiful views, scenic location and various forms of entertainment.
“We’ve got a great view down here” he said. “We’re right on the water and the mountains are behind us. We’re the only place that has a view of the ocean and pool tables in Santa Barbara.”
The restaurant offers live music from around 6 to 9 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays featuring acoustic rock. Holland said that customers can also take full advantage of the jukebox.
Waterfront Grill is open to clam up your seafood cravings Sunday through Thursday from to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 10 p.m.
131 Anacapa St.
Price: $10 – $20
Take a break from shopping on State Street and get treated to a divine marine delight at the Bay Cafe.
Manager Terry Martin said that the restaurant has a delicious selection of fresh fish and that the rest of the menu is also tasty.
“[Try] any of the fresh fish,” she said. “Our regular menu is great, too.”
Martin said a popular choice is the Saffron Prawns, angel hair pasta and scallops on a half shell. The eatery also offers a fresh fish of the day, which changes daily depending on availability.
“Anything related to seafood is excellent,” she said. “We have great portions, and [our customers] won’t go away hungry.”
A unique aspect of the Bay Cafe is its fish market, where customers can go and handpick their entrée. Patrons can even call ahead to secure an order of rare fish.
Martin said a must-have at the restaurant is its New England clam chowder made by the cafe’s chef.
“We have the best clam chowder in the world,” she said. “We have the Picasso of chefs.”
The establishment has a full bar and, according to Martin, boasts excellent margaritas, which are hand-shaken and made with fresh-squeezed lime juice and agave nectar.
“We have the best margaritas in town,” he said
According to Martin, customers continue to patronize Bay Cafe because of the prices, atmosphere and attentive staff.
“Fresh food at a reasonable price, great ambiance and a friendly staff,” she said.
The restaurant has three outdoor patios with two fireplaces available for dining all year round. The establishment has a banquet room to entertain large parties, and Martin said that the eatery has a wine cellar with wines from all over California and even a few organic wines.
“We have some of the best wines around, including local wines, some from the Central Coast and some from around the world,” she said.
Bay Cafe can harpoon anyone’s hunger Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
119 Harbor Way
Price: $10 – $20
Take a trip to the bustling Santa Barbara Harbor, and right on the cusp of the coast find the tantalizing tastes of Brophy Bros. just waiting to serve up one of its delectable dishes.
Manager Alice Ruhal said that the ever-changing fresh fish of the day, especially the lobster, is an excellent choice for newcomers and a popular favorite of the regulars.
“The local lobster right now is unbelievable,” Ruhal said. “We marinate it in garlic, butter and herbs, and then we grill it.”
According to Ruhal, a must-have at Brophy Bros. is the Oyster Shooter. The treat in a shot glass contains an oyster, horseradish, cocktail sauce, Parmesan cheese, Tabasco sauce and lemon – the alcohol is optional.
“You have got to have the Oyster Shooter,” she said. “When you come, it’s a must.”
Ruhal said that the clam chowder is the most popular dish at Brophy Bros.
“The chowder is definitely the number-one thing for Brophy’s,” she said. “People come for the chowder.”
The friendly staff and location of the restaurant are all reasons that people keep coming back to the establishment, according to Ruhal.
“The staff knows everybody,” she said. “It’s a great way to start off their State Street venture.”
Other than the scenic harbor views, Ruhal said that the restaurant is a great place to hang out with friends and to meet new people.
“If they haven’t already, they should come because it’s a fun little gathering spot,” she said. “It’s friendly and down to earth, and you can just be yourself.”
Brophy Bros. is ready to reel you in Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
On the Menu promises you could sail the seven seas and still not find all the seafood surprises these local restaurants have to offer – even land lovers will dive for their dishes.