Berkeley >Food & Dining > Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto
1919 4th St, Berkeley, CA | Directions 9471037.867974 -122.299887
Monday - Sunday 11:30am-4:00pm : Monday - Thursday, Sunday 4:00pm-10:00pm, Friday & Saturday 4:00pm-11:00pm Served until 3:30 P.M Mon-Friday 4pm-6pm,Mon-Thu 9pm to Closing, Fri 9:30pm to Closing
Neighborhoods: Northwest Berkeley
A Bit Pricey but Good Food – Spenger's is a good restaurant to go to if you like seafood. I've never experienced the bad service that other reviewers talked about. Every time I go, I am always satisfied with the service and food. Just wish it was a little cheaper!
Spenger's is now "Corporate Owned" – Spenger's is an East Bay landmark.
The "original" restaurant was a great value and had the highest quality seafood, even better than "Fisherman's Wharf" in San Francisco.
However, the original owners (Spenger family) sold out, and now the place has become a "corporate" restaurant. Our recent visit was pleasant, the service was outstanding.
The menu has become a wee bit pricey. We can get a much better deal at "Nick's Lighthouse" on the wharf in SF. That surprised me, because the rent's so much cheaper in Berkeley.......
Don't get me wrong.......Spenger's is still a good seafood place. Their seafood fettucine is still awesome, and the burgers are first rate too. I just think $11 for calamari appetizer is a ripoff, and same with a $4 "Bud Lite." Avoid the appetizers and drinks, just ask for water........and you'll still love Spengers......
A traditional seafood menu and nautical-themed decor highlight this Berkeley landmark. – In Short
This popular seafood house serves a traditional menu to a crowd made up mostly of families and elderly diners. The dining room is decorated with a nautical motif, like cargo nets, anchors and porthole windows. The menu features old-time classics like calamari and clams. The kitchen nods to modern-day palates with dishes like tresher shark and catfish pecan.
Find good seafood elsewhere! – I'd been going to Spenger's for 35 yrs + when McCormick and Shmick took ownership. Spenger's was never GREAT; it was what it was -- fried seafood platters, seafood gratins, cioppino, lobster. Though they kept some of the old faves, M&S upscaled, and failed miserably. Mediocre old-school seafood is tolerable and sometimes just what you want; wannabe frou-frou dishes that entirely miss the mark in preparation, freshness and presentation, and high prices just take all the fun out of putting on a lobster bib. The provencal salad doesn't even pretend to have a good piece of tuna in it; it's the stringy end piece you'll find yourself masticating. Spinach salad with bacon dressing is a miracle of heart stopping pig grease. Scooping the spinach aside, desparate to salvage the spinach, the waiter took it away in horror when he saw the grease puddle. Oyster Po' Boys come with cold, overly-crunchy oysters. Raw oysters come out shrivelled, obviously preshucked and in the walk-in. The fisherman's platter and the cioppino are worth sticking around for if you're truly determined. Happy hour specials are a bargain at $1.99, and the drinks are made with fresh juices, and no stinginess in alcohol. Decor is as it always was; a veritable museum of nautical treasures, old weapons and fishing nets. Overall, a good place for drinks and a happy hour app or two, otherwise, the food is realiably poor in preparation and quality. What you're really paying for is the old school ambiance, and even that's missing something, even with the old decor and some (a very few) of the waiters from back in the day. Old man Spenger would be so dissappointed and so am I.
Lousy front-desk service, overworked servers, OK food, interesting building – We were on our way back from Berkeley to SF, decided to drop into Spengers for dinner a few weeks ago. It was a Saturday night, no reservations, but the people at the front desk said we could get a table in about 45min. So we moved into the bar just off the entry.
We ended up sitting in the bar for an hour and 20 minutes. During that entire time, the cocktail waitress NEVER checked to see if we wanted drinks, never even made eye contact. She looked harried and rushed, serving food to people in the bar (the bartender, otoh, was great, once I went up). I checked back with the front desk every 15-20min or so, finally leaning on them a little, whereupon we got a table. Once inside the restaurant, there were obviously empty, set tables. I got the distinct sense we would have been left in the bar until closing if I hadn't gotten pushy.
The menu was reasonably interesting, and the food was OK, though way overpriced for what it was. The vegies that accompianed my entree were steamed and presented without flavoring of any kind. Our server was pleasant enough, though he seemed distracted; I think I asked for something that never arrived. The building is pretty interesting, with a wall of model ships and various other nautical-theme bits hanging from the walls and ceilings.
Maybe rezzies would get you seated reasonably promptly; that would certainly improve the experience. Once seated, though, it's still a corporate restaurant chain that feels focused on maximizing revenue from transient traffic while minimizing costs for food and service. A good place to avoid.
A shadow of its former self – Its unfortunate when beloved local establishments like Spengers fall victim to generic mediocrity and corporate influence. I remember watching the super bowl in the Oyster Bar, which has since been replaced by booths; I remember the uneven cork ceiling in the cocktail lounge; I remember inexpensive chowder and fish sandwiches to-go in the fish market; I remember lobster thermador; I remember a breakfast menu; blah blah blah. McCormick & Schmick changed its once huge menu to one that is smaller and fussier. In all fairness the food is fresh and not bad; the presentation is aesthetically pleasing, and its not too expensive. If youve never been here before, you wont know what youre missing. For those who remember, prepare to be tortured.
Excellent – A year ago my boy-friend introduced me to Spenger's. H wanted me to eat the best seafood ever. He raved about the ambiance; the service and the food. He was right on target. Our server was so pleasant and very accomodating. The atmosphere was comfortable and very interesting. I have read some of these reviews and I am not sure where they ate but they should try again. People lack patience. so if they found busy, a little patience would have warranted them excellent food. Keep up the good work... We will have the pleasure of taking our parent's to your fine establishment on Father's Day. Thank you
Ps... as for the restaurant being romantic ? ... Who are you with, there is the romance !!!
Horrible – My family used to be regulars at Spengers back in the day. After hearing of the reopening, I had to give it a try. Got there at 2PM, was told there would be a 10 minute wait. With the parking lots 1/3 full, this seemed odd. Took a walk, found they closed the oyster bar in the rehab, but fould about 12 open tables. There were at least 6 open, but unbussed tables within serving areas. After 15 minutes, we left with no comment from the host and hostess (who were in dire need of personality transplants). They bought the name, but that's it! Sad.
KINDA LIKE SKIPPERS – Ewwww, this place is so overpriced, and the service is lousy. I asked for some warm bread and our waiter came back 3 times and said the kitchen burnt it!!!. If they can't even warm a loaf of bread, i wonder what's going on back there. The day i went it had been raining alot and the place smelled moldy and half the dining room was closed off because of leaks. I felt like i was in the Titanic as it sunk, because this place sure has over the years.
needs help – waitress got the order wrong, the food was disappointing.... will probably never go back...
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