I was a little hesitant about eating at any place on the Santa Cruz pier. After all, the area is designed to attract and entertain tourists. And everyone knows tourist food, is cheaply produced with little flavor. And in my humble experience, this is usually the case, but Firefish in Santa Cruz is one of the best seafood restaurants I’ve ever eaten at.
Located on the Santa Cruz pier just shy of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, this establishment is not really eye-catching from the outside. Not to say it doesn’t look nice, but the exterior doesn’t match the food. What will catch your attention is the see-through kitchen which allows you to watch a handful of chefs sliding big chunks of fish on skewers from outside. These skewers are one of their signature dishes.
The interior of the restaurant is quite nice. There is a huge bar that greets you at the door, and tucked behind it are the dining areas overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Dress is casual as the average customer is a beach comber or tourist just coming in to grab a bit to eat after a day at the boardwalk.
I played it safe and ordered clam chowder in a bread bowl. I’m a local Bay Arean, and pride myself on having access to the best clam chowder in the world– right across the Bay in San Francisco. But Firefish beats any clam chowder I’ve eaten in San Francisco. This restaurant literally offers the best bowl of clam chowder in the bay. And it doesn’t stop there.
The drinks are great too! The Chi Chi is my favorite, basically a Pina Colada, less the Rum in exchange for Vodka. Much easier on my system. And if you are a Bloody Mary fan, they have the best. To add treat to treasure, a cold, perfectly-Cajuned shrimp sits on the rim of the Bloody Mary glass. The shrimp is so good that we requested just a plate full of them, even though they aren’t on the menu.
For kids, they have a small selection of kiddie favorites. My son munched on the chicken nuggets and French fries, of course. The chicken nuggets are actually quite delicious, and obviously made with the same care as the selections on the adult menu. He had no complaints.
Put simply, the seafood at this restaurant is so good, we went back the very next day for more.
Looking for another great seafood restaurant in Santa Cruz, try the Aquarius restaurant.
More info on Firefish.