Barbara’s Fishtrap | Best Fish & Chips in California

Review by: Michael Stern

Magnificent Fish & Chips

When I was told about Barbara’s Fishtrap of Half Moon Bay, the tipster said it served the best fish & chips in California. He described the fish batter as tempura. Whether or not it officially fits that description, I don’t know. But it most definitely has that light, crisp feel about its batter. The chefs cut rock cod — a sweet, moist Pacific snapper — plenty thick. Each time you heft a forkful, you get about 90% fish and just enough of that ethereal batter to highlight its fresh marine flavor. Dark gold chips want only a hail of salt to attain their destiny. Some folks add malt vinegar to the spuds (or even ketchup), but I like the potatoes’ crispness too much to dampen it with anything.

Creamy Chowder

Of the many other seafaring items on Barbara’s broad menu, hearty chowder stands out. Big pieces of tender clam dominate the flavor. Little bits of potato and celery and a sprinkle of hot pepper atop the bowl abet the sweet marine savor. You can order chowder in a cup for an appetizer, in a bowl, in a big bowl, or in a sourdough bread bowl. Given the location just south of San Francisco, sourdough wins my vote as the right thing to do.

Precious Crab

Starting in the fall, Dungeness crab appears on the menu. You can get this regional specialty simply cracked, in crab Louie, or as the star player in a mighty cioppino. You will pay plenty, though. In fact, year around, a meal for two here easily tops $50.

A Place to Relax

Barbara’s prices reflect quality seafood but the place does not put on upscale airs. It wants customers to relax. Oilcloth covers the table, fish nets hang from the ceiling, neon beer signs occupy the window. Barbara’s provides just the right casual ambience for enjoying the best fish & chips in California.

Barbara’s does not take credit cards or reservations. Bring cash and expect to wait.

Directions & Hours

11am - 8pm
  • Monday: 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM
  • Tuesday: 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM
  • Wednesday: 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM
  • Thursday: 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM
  • Friday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Saturday: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM
  • Sunday: 11:00 AM – 7:30 PM

What To Eat

Fish and Chips

DISH
Clam Chowder (cup)

DISH
Sourdough Bread

DISH

Barbara’s Fishtrap | Best Fish & Chips in California Recipes

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