Culinary travel in the West

Top 10 seafood restaurants

Here's where to find the best fresh fish, just a hop from the ocean's waves

Fish and chips
Photo: Andrea Gomez

7. SANTA BARBARA, CA

Endless Summer Bar-Café
Epitomizing the town's casual surfer chic, this harborside gem has surfboards hanging from the ceiling and surf videos scrolling, reminders of the world's perfect waves. And, yes, Bruce Brown, director of the original Endless Summer (1966), eats here. But it's the food that stars: seafood fresh off the docks, transformed via the lightest batter and seasonings into something mouthwatering. Try the popcorn shrimp or the sesame-crusted ahi on a warm spinach salad. INFO: $ (half-price tacos 4-6 Mon-Fri); 113 Harbor Way; 805/564-4666. -Ken McAlpine

8. VICTORIA, B.C.

Barb's Place Fish & Chips
Floating at Fisherman's Wharf, Barb's Place serves up fast, fresh fare ― deep-fried, steamed, or grilled fish ― from a cornflower blue cabana. Fanny Bay oysters from "up island" are an area favorite, served beside chips in newspaper cones. Dine picnic-style on the gently bobbing dock while taking in the resident harbor seals and colorful houseboats all around you. INFO: $; Fisherman's Wharf, 12 Erie St.; 250/384-6515. -Fiona Gilsenan

9. PRINCETON-BY-THE-SEA, CA

Barbara's Fishtrap
With its anchor-and-schooner tablecloths and faux-fishnet ceiling, the Pillar Point Harbor classic is strictly old school ― just the way we like it. Barbara's is famous for its dairy-free clam chowder, but everyone waiting in line for a table has a different favorite. For many it's the fish and chips ― flaky rockfish and thick-cut fries in portions suitable for two. Others wax rhapsodic over the tempura-battered calamari. Whatever you order, tear yourself away from your plate long enough to appreciate the view of Mavericks, California's famed big-wave surf break. INFO: $$$, cash only; 281 Capistrano Rd.; 650/728-7049. -Samantha Schoech

10. VENTURA, CA

Shoals Restaurant
Hidden inside the Cliff House Inn, north of Ventura, the Shoals serves fine and fresh seafood: sea bass, shrimp, scallops, calamari, and clams, bathed in delicious sauces. The restaurant fills up fast, so make reservations. Just beyond the patio tables lies the surf break of Mussel Shoals; from here on a summer night, you might see the dark forms of dolphins gliding past, backlit by glittering moonlight. INFO: $$$; 6602 U.S. 101; 805/652-1381. -K.M.

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