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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

SPENGER'S FRESH FISH GROTTO
BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA

I was first turned onto this outstanding restaurant way back in early 1980 when I went to work in San Francisco.  Having just moved to this expensive city from the relatively affordable Tampa Bay area my fellow workers heard me complain about sky high restaurant prices and recommended Spenger's.  And it was one of the best recommendations I've ever been given when it comes to restaurants!

Your are greeted by an unusual sight in front of the restaurant in Berkeley, or as we used to jokingly call it "Bezerkely."  It's the bow section of the USS Indiana.  It saw heavy duty in the Pacific during World War Two.

As the name would suggest, this is the place where you come for seafood.  And while it's not cheap, it's a lot more affordable than many seafood palaces in the heart of San Francisco on the other side of the bay.

Your meal will include what may be the best loaf of sour dough bread in the Bay Area.  In fact, it may be the best loaf of sour dough ever baked!  Everybody raves about it.  The "starter" was reportedly established many decades ago and it's the that starter that keeps the same quality of bread coming out of the oven.

I usually start out with an appetizer of simply steamed mussels.  I know they come from a long way off--the East Coast--but they're very well prepared here.  They also have New Zealand green lipped mussels which are larger and also very good.  Clam lovers will find nicely steamed clams.  Oyster lovers will go nuts with a vast variety of raw options from several different coasts.

For the main deal you can't go wrong with any of the fresh fish selections.  And Spenger's offers a huge variety of fish, all fresh.  I usually go with the halibut if it's available.  My wife loves salmon.  But we've also enjoyed tuna, sole and other fresh selections here.  They serve Dungeness crab, of course, and a wide selection of "prawns" which is just another word for shrimp.

Meat lovers aren't left out here and they also offer some nice pasta dishes.  But the reason to come here is for the fresh seafood.

Even if you're staying in downtown San Francisco, Spenger's is worth the trip across the bay!

Spenger's is located at 1919 4th Street in Berkeley. Their phone number is (510) 845-7771 and a reservation would be a wise idea.  They've got a web site here.

Side Note:  In all our experiences there, we've never seen anybody famous.  But in reviewing the restaurant's web site, it lists some very famous people as patrons over the years.  People such as Clark Gable, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, Spencer Tracy and even Ernest Hemingway.  Who knew?!