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Barbara's fishtrap in Half Moon Bay..

Oh man, I ate there last weekend and it was unbelievable. We ordered the fish and chips, which were the best I've ever had, and the clam chowder bread bowl. I have never liked clam chowder, but this was delicious. It tasted like it came out of your grandma's kitchen, and it didn't have a heavy cream sauce. I reccomend ordering at the walk up window and sitting on one of the benches looking over the ocean, cool ocean breeze, warm wonderful food...perfect dining experience.

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  1. Thanks for the report. Was this your first time at Barbara's?

    Barbara's Fish Trap
    281 Capistrano Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      It was not my first time, but it was my first time trying the clam chowder. I would dream about the fish and chips but the chowder really threw me over the edge...

    2. We will occasionally drive from Oakland just to eat at Barbara's Fish Trap, which is technically in Princeton by the Sea (just north of Half Moon Bay).

      I used to look over the menu and debate, then order the fried scallops. I am *very* picky about scallops, they are so easy to do wrong.

      The fried scallops are perfection. Now, I don't bother reading the menu before ordering. We usually wait for a table, and if I am feeling particularly decadent I'll get a few more scallops at the walk up window after the main meal.

      I really only go out specifically for seafood to three places:

      Tadich Grill
      240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      Sea Salt
      2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702

      Barbara's Fish Trap
      281 Capistrano Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

      1. A few lesser-known things about Barbara's...

        - If you don't want deep fried, they'll broil just about anything for you.

        - The crab cocktail is all crab, no filler.

        - The artichoke hearts are very lightly breaded, somewhat like tempura.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Mick Ruthven

          I've been avoiding fried foods recently. I'll give them one chance for broiled or seared scallops, if that doesn't pan out I'll just alternate fried scallops with some other fresh broiled fish.

          1. re: j_b

            We made another pilgrimage to Barbara's. I didn't try the broiled or seared scallops. Instead, we shared an order of fried scallops from the walk up window while we waited for our table, then I switched to broiled Halibut. The Halibut wasn't quite as good as at Tadich, but the overall meal (even with fewer fried scallops) was still worth the drive from Oakland.

            Barbara's Fish Trap
            281 Capistrano Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

        2. Interesting. I love a great bowl of soup with bread & butter but I really hate that whole "bread bowl" concept, I find it unbalanced and just too annoying to manage.

          Anyway, for years my favorite places were Flying Fish for their fish tacos; Barbara's Fish Trap its great view (even though its touristy and greasy); and the brewery for the music and fun scene. But then last week some friends took me to their favorite place - Ketch Joanne.

          Its been at least 6 months since I've been to Barbara's so I may do a taste-off just to refresh my memory but Ketch Joanne blew me away with the quality of their food. They have two different batters - beer & "regular". The beer battered prawns we had were awesome - I'm going to dream about them. The regular battered calamari suffered from comparison to the beer batter and was merely excellent - greaseless, crunchy, fresh - we ordered extra tenicles and they were happy to comply. The fries were the big "steak fries" style which were pretty good. The seafood sandwiches and salads were also very good although a little heavier on the dressing than I would have done.

          Also, they have two chowders on their menu. I love a good chowder. The last time I was in Boston, I ordered it every time I saw it on the menu so, of course, I had to get a cup at Ketch Joanne - I found it quite respectable. I'm definitely heading back soon.

          FYI - Joanne is in a weird little strip-mall just before you get to Barbara's so there's no view (but little or no line). Also, the menu is confusing and too large - at first glance, my thought was "There's no way they're doing all of this from scratch, its got to be mostly Sysco" but there's lots of duplicates and slight preparation variations so it turned out to be okay.

          Ketch Joanne Restaurant and Harbor Bar
          Restaurant - (650) 728-3747
          Harbor Bar - (650) 728-5566
          17 Johnson Pier
          Pillar Point Harbor
          Princeton-by-the-Sea, CA 94018

          Flying Fish Grill
          99 San Mateo Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

          Ketch Joanne
          Princeton CA, Princeton, CA

          6 Replies
          1. re: larochelle

            Is that the place with the fish market in back or the restaurant on the other end of that building?

            1. re: rworange

              You may be thinking of Princeton Seafood Company - http://www.princetonseafood.com/index... - which I have not tried but does seem to have a restuarant section.

              Ketch Joanne is at the other end of the strip mall and is all stain glass and 1970's wood fisherman chic (haha!) - the restaurant is on the left and there's a bar through the swinging doors on the right.

              1. re: larochelle

                Another vote for Ketch Joanne. We think their fish & chips are the best around -- truly greaseless. They also do a halibut & chips that's great. Great breakfasts are available as well, but the fish and chips are so good that we never seem to order breakfast there. http://www.ketchjoannerestaurant.com
                Closed Tuesday.

                Barbara's is generally mediocre in our experience -- greasy fried food and uneven fish quality.

                1. re: Steve Green

                  I'm definitely going to try ketch joanne now. Thanks I'm excited!

                  1. re: angie2210

                    It's been awhile but I remember having a good slice of pie at Ketch Joanne's for dessert. We had the best luck with the simpler preparations ...... the fried seafood was expertly done. The "light" cream sauce was not so light : ~ )

                    Ketch Joanne
                    17 Johnson Pier, Princeton-by-the Sea, CA 94018

                  2. re: Steve Green

                    Anyone tried Joanne's ''famous' cioppino?

            2. I'm happy to hear that you had a great experience there. I used to go to Barbara's Fish Trap all the time about 10-15 years ago, but I stopped about 5 years ago after three straight visits of getting what seemed like as much sand in the chowder as clams. Before that started happening, the chowder was easily the best I'd ever had.

              2 Replies
              1. re: porkphat

                Another vote for Barbara's Clam Chowder. It is my understanding that the thickness and creaminess comes from potatoes rather than cream.

                1. re: SunsetKid

                  I agree about potatoes in the chowder. My wife makes routinely fabulous soups with potatoes for thickness. Getting the potatoes ready for the soup definitely takes more labor.

              2. Because this thread got revived and because it was so foggy it was actually raining last night in El Granada and because both my husband and I had crap days at work we decided to go to Barb's for dinner last night. Figured on a foggy Thursday there would be no wait. And there wasn't. The fried scallops are excellent. Sweet, tender with a crisp medium light batter-I'd have them again in a heart beat, though of course my heart might just stop beating if I ate them too often. My husband had a the combo fried platter-I didn't get even a nibble (it was just that sort of evening.) But he ate it appreciatively and fully. The fries were at best so/so-a bit soggy not much flavor. The clam chowder was seriously awful. It was like no clam chowder I have ever had-more like eating a thickened roux that a creamy chowder. The wine list is boring and bland-but they have tons of bottled beers-from the ordinary to the micro.

                6 Replies
                1. re: artychokeasana

                  you've concurred with my minority opinion on their chowdah -- it fails the basic 'clammy-ness' test for me. [there are excellent versions of the soup on the east coast in clam harvesting regions where the chowdah isn't thick at all ; if the potatoes going in the soup are run of the mill and bland, what's gained by making potato soup with clam bits ?] One of the best new england style chowdahs in my recent eating was at Sotto Mare in north beach.

                  Sotto Mare
                  552 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                  1. re: moto

                    I disagree... I think Barb's chowder is some of the clamiest chowder I've had... artychokeasana said that the chowder isn't creamy not that it isn't clammy. I don't always want really creamy chowder; too much calorie guilt... I prefer good Manhattan chowder (although it is hard to come by), so I really like Barb's chowder. It is definitely not new England style, so if that is that you are expecting, you will be disappointed.

                    1. re: lrealml

                      It wasn't partuclarly clammy but what was wrong was the texture. I think that white clam chowder is best as a veloute and this was grainy and almost thick enough to stand a spoon in. Not at all oh say vichcoisse like either. It comes as part of the meal so I'll try it again to see if it was just a bad night.

                      1. re: artychokeasana

                        Hmm, I last went a month ago (exactly actually), and it was definitely not that thick...
                        Maybe it was an off night.

                  2. re: artychokeasana

                    Their "chowder" is eccentric for sure. I thought it was like vichyssoise with clams and turkey stuffing spices added. There were plenty of flavorful clams in the bowl I had. I liked it but probably wouldn't order it again.

                    1. re: artychokeasana

                      Last time I was there, the server told me that their chowder is dairy-free. I asked if she was sure about six times because I'm very lactose intolerant. She confirmed, I ate it, and I confirm that the chowder must be dairy free. I really enjoyed my cup, but agree it is not a traditional new england clam chowder at all.

                    2. I take my east coast friends there when it was sunny out and they demand a California experience - fish & Chips AND crabmeat sandwich plus Chowders. The grilled fish is not as tasty. We just take loads of napkins to soak up the grease first.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Ting Ting

                        I usually take my touristy self to Sam's Chowder house. I love sitting on the deck eating all the cliche chowder house favorites.... and I must say that Sam's Chowder and Lobster Rolls are better than Phil's in Moss Landing, but I love Phil's location (no view, but a real beach just steps away...)

                        1. re: myst

                          I don't even know where Phil's is..I'll look for it. Also good at Sam's are the polenta fries-they might be my favorite thing on the menu, Wish Sam's would get someone who could shuck an oyster properly.

                          1. re: myst

                            i'd second the lobster roll at sam's.

                            1. re: myst

                              I haven't been to Sam's Chowder House, but I've eaten the food from their Chowder Mobile -- which was the best Lobster Roll I've had in the Bay Area. The chowder was also very good, and not heavily creamy.

                              Sam's Chowder House
                              4210 Cabrillo Hwy, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019