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 2023.
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:
|1||Scoma’s of Sausalito||5.38||–|
|2||Barrel House Tavern||5.30||–|
|3||Salito’s Crab House & Prime Rib||4.99||–|
|4 (Tie)||Poggio Trattoria||4.93||↑3|
|4 (Tie)||The Spinnaker||4.93||↓1|
|6||California Caviar Company||4.92||↑2|
|13||Saylor’s Restaurant & Bar||4.51||↓4|
|14||Salsalito Taco Shop||4.18||–|
Ready to learn about each of these restaurants and choose your own favorite seafood spot in Sausalito?
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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
4. (Tie) 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 Filet. 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, Avocado Clubhouse sandwich is a favorite, with a light texture and a balanced flavor combination.
6. 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 the most luxurious buttery aftertaste.
You can’t compile a list of the best seafood restaurants in Sausalito and not mention Fish. The Sausalito restaurant offers the freshest seafood in town as they follow a sustainable approach to harvesting their fish.
You don’t need to ask for a fancy dish to experience their fish’s outstanding quality. Just ask for their classic fish & chips. You’ll try the softest, flakiest, and tastiest fish in a fish-and-chips lunch. You can also sample their trout special, which has a tender texture and exquisite flavor.
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?
9. Lighthouse Café
Located along the main strip by the bay, Lighthouse Café is a favorite among Sausalito seafood restaurants. Their menu has an interesting choice of American and Norwegian fare.
When it comes to seafood, they mostly serve Norwegian-inspired dishes. The Norwegian Smoked Salmon is delicious. The chef subtly cures the salmon with smoke and adds the perfect amount of salt. It also comes 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.
10. Le Garage
Le Garage, a French Industrial-chic bistro, serves mouthwatering dishes by the yacht harbor on San Francisco Bay. Their menu includes French seafood staples, and they are scrumptious. Their Oysters with champagne mignonette are the perfect balance of acidity, sweetness, and buttery taste. Their pot of classic French Moules Marinières is as decadent as it comes. The combination of seafood, fresh shallots, and parsley brings freshness, while the splash of white wine gives the dish an extra kick. It feels like a celebration in your mouth.
11. Seafood Peddler
Seafood Peddler is a five-time winner of the Pacific Sun Best of Marin award for Seafood Restaurant. Clearly, you’re in for a decadent experience with their seafood. The restaurant uses only the highest quality ingredients, with all of their fish coming directly from their fisherman to your table.
Seafood Peddler offers an impressive assortment of options for every seafood lover: live Dungeness Crab, wild-caught gulf prawns, Maine lobster, local Petrale Sole, Hawaiian Swordfish, Ahi Tuna, to mention a few. I recommend you try the Hot Lobster Roll, a hefty portion of big creamy lobster chunks stuffed in a soft roll.
12. 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.
13. Saylor’s Restaurant & Bar
Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar marries Mexican and Californian cuisine in each one of the dishes. On the menu, you will discover a wide variety of fresh seafood.
Locals rave about their fish tacos for having a kick and bold flavor combinations. Their Blackened Salmon Tacos are delicious, overflowing with perfectly seasoned plump fish and fresh ingredients. The two corn tortillas come with corn salsa and cilantro cream on top. You won’t try a more tasteful red snapper anywhere in Sausalito. The chef grills the salmon to perfection and serves it with polenta, sautéed spinach, herbed roasted tomatoes, and lemon beurre blanc.
14. Salsalito Taco Shop
Salsalito Taco Shop is another Mexican restaurant giving seafood their own spin. You’ll love the restaurant’s Mexican fiesta vibes and creative Mexican dishes.
Their seafood staples are the Ceviche de Camaron or Ceviche de Pescado. Both dishes come with chilled shrimp and/or fresh fish, which the chef leaves in lime juice, tomato, onion, Serranos, and cilantro marinade. They serve it with a crispy tostada, although you can ask for chips or lettuce cups to accompany the dish as well.
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.
15. Sausalito SeaHorse
Their fish comes right off the boat; they prepare it following traditional seafood recipes from the coast of Tuscany. Their most popular order is the Calamari Fritti, and not by mere chance. It is delicious, or molto delizioso, as Italians say. The Calamari Fritti is incredibly fresh and crispy. Desire being battered and fried, you won’t perceive oiliness or toughness in their texture. The Harbor Carpaccio is just sublime, with loads of swordfish, thinly sliced sushi-grade with celery, arugula, and ginger.
By the way, you can’t beat Sausalito SeaHorse’s atmosphere. Between the colorful decorations, the breeze off the water, and the sunshine, this place is a gem of a restaurant.
Have any questions about these seafood restaurants in Sausalito and my ranking of them? Let me know in the comments!