Barbara’s Fish Trap

Seafood
Memorable
One of the best
Save

When I was told about Barbara’s fish and chips, the tipster described the fish as tempura. Whether or not it officially fits that description, it most definitely has that light, crisp feel about its batter. The fish within is rock cod, a sweet, moist Pacific snapper that is cut thick enough that each time you heft a forkful, you get about 90% fish and just enough of that ethereal batter to highlight the fresh marine flavor. Chips are thick-cut fries cooked dark gold, needing only a hail of salt to attain their destiny. California malt vinegar is provided (so is ketchup), but I like the potatoes’ crispness too much to dampen it with anything.

Chowder is the other highlight on Barbara’s broad seafood menu. It is hearty but not creamy like New England chowder. Big pieces of tender clam are the dominant flavor, abetted by little bits of potato and celery as well as a sprinkle of hot pepper atop the cup or bowl. It also is available served in a sourdough bread bowl; and given the location just south of San Francisco, you can count on that bowl being delicious.

Dungeness crab, starting in the fall, is one of the region’s top treats, available simply cracked, in crab Louie or as the star player in a mighty cioppino. It’s expensive, though. In fact, most serious entrees are in the $25 range. The prices reflect quality seafood but there is nothing upscale about Barbara’s. It is a relaxed sort of place: oilcloth-covered tables, fish nets on the ceiling, neon beer signs in the window. Credit cards are not accepted, nor are reservations taken.

What to Eat
Barbara’s Fish Trap, Fish and Chips
Fish and Chips
Must-Try
A plate of fish and chips arrives still steaming and too hot to eat. But after one bite, I was willing to risk a bit of tongue burn to fork it down eagerly. It is too good to simply look at and not eat ASAP.
Barbara’s Fish Trap, Clam Chowder (cup)
Clam Chowder (cup)
Must-Try
Thick and ocean-sweet, Barbara's chowder is a classic Pacific Coast brew -- less about cream and butter and all about the taste of clams.
Barbara’s Fish Trap, Sourdough Bread
Sourdough Bread
Must-Try
Given the San Francisco area's high bread consciousness, it is no surprise that the sourdough preceding supper at Barbara's Fish Trap is excellent: chewy crumb, crisp crust, vibrant yeasty flavor.
Directions and Hours
closed now
Sunday11am - 7:30pm
Monday11am - 7pm
Tuesday11am - 7pm
Wednesday11am - 7pm
Thursday11am - 7pm
Friday11am - 7:30pm
Saturday11am - 7:30pm
Information
Price
$$
Seasons
Open Year Round
Meals Served
Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
No
Alcohol Served
Yes
Outdoor Seating
Yes
Website

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Tommy’s Joynt

    San Francisco, California

    A beloved institution since 1947, SF’s “original hofbrau” serves up hearty sandwiches, succulent brisket and unfussy authenticity.

  • House of Prime Rib

    San Francisco, California

    San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib serves 21-day aged prime rib that’s cut tableside and served with fluffy Yorkshire pudding in true English style.

  • Split

    San Francisco, California

    Whatever you order at Split — healthful or indulgent — make sure to include crispy butterball potatoes with a touch of rosemary.

  • Media Noche

    San Francisco, California

    Light-filled Media Noche is a beautiful spot to enjoy modern takes on Cuban favorites, like The Celia: crisp-fried chicken, coconut slaw, and avocado.

  • Loló

    San Francisco, California

    At Loló, creativity abounds, in food and decor. Try chile verde pork butt with crispy shoestring potatoes, roasted tomatillos, and à la carte corn tortillas.

  • Souvla

    San Francisco, California

    Bay Area ingredients get a Greek twist at Souvla, where salads are piled with spit-fired meat and frozen Greek yogurt is sprinkled with sea salt.