From the minute you step off the ferry or cross the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s easy to see that there’s something special about Sausalito. This waterfront town sits at the southern tip of the Marin peninsula, near the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, and has decidedly European vibes; many people compare it to Cinque Terre in Italy – high praise for a small town in California!
As you might guess, Sausalito has great seafood, like most waterfront communities. Restaurants across town source incredible, fresh seafood and shellfish to offer on their menus – and it can be hard to know exactly where to go for the freshest catch or best seafood dish.
In this post, I’ve ranked all of the seafood restaurants in Sausalito. This was hard to do, as they each offer a variety of dishes, different ambiances, and even a few fusion options. As you’ll see though, you can’t really go wrong with any of them: it’s all about finding the Sausalito seafood restaurant that matches your dining style, deciding how much you’re willing to pay extra for an incredible water view, and sitting down for what will undoubtedly be an incredible meal.
Sausalito is the traditional lands of the Graton Rancheria, Miwok, and Me-Wuk (Coast Miwok) peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation to the past and present stewards of these lands. To learn more, I invite you to explore Native Land.
This post was originally published in November 2021, and was re-ranked and updated in January 2024.
The Best Seafood Restaurants in Sausalito
Rather than rank these seafood restaurants in Sausalito based on my own opinion, I’ve designed my own formula that takes into account three factors:
- public ratings (including my own, as I leave reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook too)
- the restaurant’s popularity (total reviews)
- proximity to the Sausalito Ferry
These last two factors are “bonus” factors – they give you a sense of which restaurants are universally beloved and easy to reach if you’re visiting Sausalito. I also break ties using the total number of reviews.
In the end, each restaurant receives a score out of 5 – but a restaurant can score higher than five based on the bonuses for being close to the ferry and how popular it is. In general, the higher the score, the better – and any restaurant above 5 has great seafood! Here is my ranked list of which restaurant offers the best seafood in Sausalito:
|Barrel House Tavern
|Scoma’s of Sausalito
|Salito’s Crab House & Prime Rib
|Gilligans Poke Shop
|California Caviar Company
|Saylor’s Restaurant & Bar
|Salsalito Taco Shop
Ready to learn about each of these restaurants and choose your own favorite seafood spot in Sausalito?
1. Barrel House Tavern
Nestled in historic downtown Sausalito, Barrel House Tavern stands out as one of the loved seafood spots in Sausalito. Barrel House not only has delicious seafood but a convivial atmosphere and incredible view from the second-floor patio.
They serve California-influenced cuisine and source their seafood from local fishers. They offer plenty of options, but you can’t go wrong with the Cioppino, with Dungeness crab, calamari, clams, white fish, prawns and mussels, and a fresh tomato white wine broth. The chef has mastered the execution of all ingredients, especially the white wine broth, whose flavor doesn’t overshadow the other ingredients. To kick off the gastronomic experience, order from their Cold Oyster Bar for a taste of the freshest, tastiest oysters in Sausalito.
2. Scoma’s of Sausalito
Scoma’s isn’t just one of the best seafood restaurants in Sausalito; it’s an institution. Ranked TripAdvisor’s number-one seafood restaurant in Sausalito, Scoma’s delights diners with a plethora of seafood, from hearty chowders and steaming whole crabs to grilled seasonal fish and shellfish sauté. It’s my #1 too, so you know it’s gotta be good!
While every dish is exceptional, their Oysters Sausalito and Lazy Cioppino are game-changers. The oysters are simply sublime. The chef bakes them with garlic, adds spinach, and sprinkles creamy Parmigiano on top. The Lazy Cioppino doesn’t stay behind, brimming with crab, prawns, clams, mussels, fish, calamari, and a savory tomato clam broth that intensifies the stunning flavor combination.
3. Poggio Trattoria
Honestly, Poggio Trattoria is just a delight. No matter what type of food you order, everything is wonderful, and the ability to sit out on the sidewalk feels very European for a city like Sausalito that has that vibe already. Three dishes make it to the podium, though. Their Pesce, a decadent combination of seared halibut, spinach, butter beans, clams, chanterelle mushrooms, lemon butter, and fine herbs is exceptional.
Among seafood pasta, you can’t go wrong with the Fettuccine, which the chef prepares with manila clams, mullet bottarga, garlic, white wine, chili, and parsley. Besides the fantastic food, the attentive service and welcoming atmosphere elevate the dining experience.
4. (Tie) The Spinnaker
Another of the best seafood restaurants in Sausalito, The Spinnaker offers exceptional seafood, stunning bay views, and accommodating service. Their seafood offerings include Mahi Mahi, crab, grilled lobster tail & sole filet, shrimp, scallop, and bay clam pasta.
I recommend their delicious salmon fillet. Braised perfectly with 18-year-old Balsamic vinegar, the salmon is a feast of flavors. The bed of Baby spinach also adds a fresh taste to the dish. Their seafood sandwiches are a suitable option if you’re running out of time. The crab, shrimp, and avocado club sandwich is a favorite, with a light texture and a balanced flavor combination.
4. (Tie) Copita
Time to spice your seafood up! Located in the heart of downtown Sausalito, Copita serves seasonal Mexican food. Among their popular dishes, you find creative concoctions of seafood with spicy ingredients.
First things first, though. As soon as you sit, ask for their spicy margarita rimmed with elote seasoning to set the mood. It is a must-drink! Then, try out their Ceviche. They prepare the Peruvian staple with Gulf shrimp, pickled red onion, cucumber, radish, red Fresno peppers, cilantro, stone fruit, avocado, Roma tomato, chile de árbol, and citrus marinade. Sounds delicious, right?
Photos courtesy of Ditas
Ditas is a new addition to the Sausalito restaurant scene as of 2023, so it’s exciting to be adding it to all of my 2024 restaurant guides. Delhi-based Ditas made headlines as it took over the old Ondine space next to The Trident, and it has since become a popular choice for a number of different cuisines and dining experiences you can have in Sausalito – including as one of the best Sausalito seafood restaurants.
Ditas’ menu offers a variety of different styles, but when it comes to seafood, try the Dungeness crab cakes, lobster mac and cheese (or lobster roll), or Pacific King Salmon with Schezchuan chili oil and yuzu beurre blanc; these go great with a number of recommended wines from the extensive list – and the San Francisco Bay Area views pair well too.
7. Salito’s Crab House & Prime Rib
Head out to Salito’s Crab House & Prime Rib to enjoy sweeping views of Richardson Bay and the boats passing by while indulging in rich seafood.
You might not know what to choose amid such an assortment of options. So, here’s my suggestion. Start with crab cakes, seasoned and breaded to perfection. Then, ask for their Hot Iron Skillet-Roasted dish. You can choose anything from tasty shrimp, calamari, mussels to lots of crab meat. If you’d like to delight in seafood pasta, check out their Fisherman’s Catch section. All the dishes come with seafood, acini pasta, and mixed vegetables. While it is not strictly a seafood recommendation, remember to ask for their homemade kettle bread; trust me, it’s delicious
8. Gilligan’s Poke Shop
Photos courtesy of Gilligan’s Poke Shop
Gilligan’s Poke Shop landed on the Sausalito restaurant scene in late 2022, but I had never heard of it until recently – probably because it’s not a sit-down restaurant and is located within the Sausalito Market on Caledonia and I don’t normally shop there. (It’s also considered a hidden gem that I’ll probably get some hate for sharing since it’s good, affordable, and not well known!)
In any case, I’m so excited that Sausalito is home to a poke shop as it’s one of my favorite foods and that it makes my top 10 list for the best seafood restaurants in Sausalito. Of course, poke isn’t for everyone, but those of us who love it will be delighted to try the different variety of fresh, raw, sauced, and marinated fish dishes, along with seaweed-sprinkled rice, edamame, and fish dip. They typically have three types of available poke each day.
9. The Trident
A Sausalito classic, The Trident is a restaurant with a rich history and a delicious assortment of food and drink. The Kingston Trio owned the restaurant during the 60s, and the spot played host to music legends like Janis Joplin and Billy Graham.
The fresh Ling Codfish and the Cioppino are a must. The fresh Ling Cod Fish is so tender that it melts in your mouth. As for the hearty Cioppino, they prepare it in a perfect San Franciscan Style, with fish, squid, shrimp, clams, muscles, and half the legs of a crab. It also comes with a loaf of nice toasted bread.
10. California Caviar Company
Put on your fanciest clothes, it’s time to sample the king of seafood. As the name suggests, California Caviar Company specializes in serving the finest caviar in Sausalito. They have a wide selection of premium Caviar, and you can sample plenty of them if it’s your first time.
Par of the course with a caviar restaurant, there’s a bit of a performance to the whole experience. The restaurant’s atmosphere is very upscale and elegant, with crystal glasses and silverware. Their chef has mastered the art of plating, presenting each dish with the utmost class. As for suggestions, go for the Siberian sturgeon, with a rich, nutty, and luxurious buttery aftertaste.
Other Great Sausalito Seafood Restaurants
As you can probably tell from reading this list so far, seafood is far and away the best – and most widely available – type of food you can enjoy in Sausalito. (Fitting, of course, as the city is well placed between the Bay and the Pacific!). Instead of detailing the remaining restaurants outside the top 10 in great detail, I thought I’d just summarize each briefly to help you find the right one for your visit – assuming those listed so far don’t quite fit what you’re looking for.
- Seafood Peddler – Seafood Peddler is a five-time winner of the Pacific Sun Best of Marin award for Seafood Restaurant; the menu features an assortment, including Dungeness Crab, wild-caught gulf prawns, Maine lobster, local Petrale Sole, Hawaiian Swordfish, Ahi Tuna.
- Fish. – You can’t compile a list of the best seafood restaurants in Sausalito and not mention Fish – the fact that this wildly popular seafood spot only ranks #11 shows how many great options there are. Everything is delicious, but their fish and chips is tops, as are their fish tacos.
- Lighthouse Café – When it comes to seafood, Lighthouse Café mostly serves Norwegian-inspired dishes. The Norwegian Smoked Salmon is delicious; it also with a bed of creamed spinach to balance the salmon’s buttery taste. You can also try their Pickled Herring marinated with onions, capers, and lemon juice.
- Saylor’s Restaurant & Bar – Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar marries Mexican and Californian cuisine in each one of the dishes. Locals rave about their blackened salmon fish tacos for having a kick and bold flavor combinations, which helped it earn a spot on my list of the best fish tacos in Sausalito, too.
- Le Garage – Le Garage, a French Industrial-chic bistro, serves mouthwatering dishes by the Schoonmaker Marina; the menu includes seafood staples including oysters and Moules Marinières that both pair well with almost any choice from their awesome white French wine list.
- Salsalito Taco Shop – Salsalito Taco Shop is another Mexican restaurant that gives seafood its own spin; it’s the first place my husband and I ate in Sausalito after buying our boat here. Their seafood staples are the Ceviche de Camaron or Ceviche de Pescado; if you’re in the mood for Tacos, try out their Taco de Pescado, with Baja-style fish and shredded cabbage, carrot, and Pico de Gallo salsa.
- Sausalito SeaHorse – While the Sausalito SeaHorse isn’t along the main routes most people visit in Sausalito, it’s worth seeking out, for some of the best seafood and Italian food in town. Their most popular order is the Calamari Fritti, and the Harbor Carpaccio is just sublime, with loads of swordfish, thinly sliced sushi grade with celery, arugula, and ginger.
Have any questions about these seafood restaurants in Sausalito and my ranking of them? Let me know in the comments!