I did a bunch of research on places to eat in Santa Barbara, and for seafood, the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company kept coming up. I decided to try it, mainly because of the location right at the end of Stearns Wharf Pier, and when I arrived at a page long wait on the sign-in sheet, I knew it must be good. I have been back many times since the initial visit, and I always enjoy having a meal here because of the great food and the magnificent views. Here is all the information if you want to check it out.
- 10-20 dollars a person
- Plan to wait at least 20-30 minutes during peak times
- Can order to-go from the side window
- I wrote this in 2015
This restaurant has no tables inside, just bar seating on both walls. If you chose to eat outside, there are about four tables you can sit at, which provide great views over the water.
After getting a seat at the bar, I looked over the extensive menu of seafood. The waiter recommended anything fresh (still alive in the tanks), which included rock crab, spiny lobster, and Maine lobster in the larger tanks.
We ordered a rock crab, the Cioppino, an oyster shooter, and onion rings. Here are my thoughts.
Onion rings – Amie and I both agreed, these were probably the best onion rings we had ever had. At least I can’t remember when I have had better ones. Flakey and deep-fried to perfection but not overly breaded. A must order.
Oyster shooter – This one will vary widely on whether or not you like oysters, but for $2.50 for the shot, I enjoyed it. It had an oyster, cocktail sauce, lemon, and grated Parmesan cheese on top. Lots of tasty flavors altogether and the Parmesan cheese was a hit.
Caesar Salad and Clam Chowder – Highlight of the salad was the croutons; they were great, other than that it was a typical salad. Clam Chowder was well done though; I would order that again.
Rock crab – The crab came out whole, and it was massive! It was already cracked for you and had big chunks of crab that were buttery and sweet. There was a lot to go around, and it came with the above clam chowder and a salad — big fan of this crab.
Cioppino – This is mainly a seafood stew with a marinara based sauce. I usually wouldn’t be too excited about a marinara sauce, but this one was simply perfect. The clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp were all cooked in it then dumped in a bread bowl. It had a little spice too, which I loved, and I didn’t want it to end. I would probably order the same thing next time.
Update 2017 – I went again, and I ordered the Cioppino again. It was even better then I remembered.
Make sure not to wear nice clothes if you are ordering crab as you will have to crack some of the pieces, and it can get messy.
All in all, this place was amazing. It is on the pricey side if you order like we did, but you can’t say you didn’t get the freshest food when you see it sitting in a tank across the restaurant. I have no problem recommending this place, so check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.