Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto

3.1
2015 reviews
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$30 and under
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Seafood
Top Tags:
  • Authentic
  • Great for Lunch
  • Good for Groups
A historic landmark since opening our doors in 1890, Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto features antique stained glass and porthole windows to give you the nautical dining experience. Enjoy your lunch, dinner or happy hour while browsing century old salvaged maritime artifacts that adorn the reconstituted teak walls. Delight in viewing the "Star of Denmark" Canary Diamond and 6 foot Ming Vase in our main dining room.

Conveniently located in the trendy 4th Street shopping district in Berkeley, CA. Spenger's is famous in the San Francisco Bay Area for impeccable cuisine, an inviting atmosphere and superior service.

Planning a Private Event or Corporate Meeting? Spenger's offers unique Event Rooms for 15 to 200 guests. Our Event Manager will work with you to create a unique menu, perfect for your group. Make your next event a one of a kind, stress free experience.
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Private dining
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Seafood, Steak, American
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Hours of operation
BRUNCH: Sunday 11:00am-3:00pm
LUNCH: Monday-Saturday 11:30am-3:00pm
DINNER: Monday-Thursday: 3:00pm-9:30pm | Friday & Saturday: 3:00pm-10:00pm | Sunday 3:00pm-9:00pm
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Phone number
(510) 845-7771
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Payment options
AMEX, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Smart Casual
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Executive chef
Patrick Kehler
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
University Ave.
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Parking details
We validate for parking in the lot located across the street from the restaurant. 1 1/2 hours free before 5pm, 3 hours free after 5pm.
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Public transit
We are located a few blocks from many AC Transit Bus lines. The closest Bart stations is about 1 mile away.
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Gift Card
Additional
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, BYO Wine, Corkage Fee, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Private Room, Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access

Private Dining

An historic landmark since opening our doors in 1890, Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto features antique stained glass and porthole windows. Enjoy your Private Event while browsing century old salvaged maritime artifacts, adorning reconstituted teak walls.

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What 2015 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
3.1based on recent ratings
3.3
food
3.2
service
3.5
ambience
2.9
value
Noise · Moderate
55% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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3.0Dined on August 7, 2018

Slow service place empty, 45 minutes to get food, order wrong.

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2.0Dined on August 1, 2018

They need to do some updates and needed to give of server more help. She was taking care of a table of 30 with no help.

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4.0Dined on July 27, 2018

I was a little disappointed. The food was expensive and uninspired. My sand dabs were breaded to the point where I could barely taste the fish. Our own waitress was great but when we asked another passing staff member for something she was curt and ungracious. Not the Spenger’s I remember

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3.0Dined on July 26, 2018

Sad to see the original Spenger’s is not what it used to be. Okay all the way around but not the great atmosphere and service it used to have.

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2.0Dined on July 22, 2018

Used to love this place but it’s just OLD. Smells old, looks old and the food was just okay. Don’t get me wrong, the service was still very good and everyone was friendly and helpful.
It was a Saturday evening and not that many people in there. Sad to see, used to have to wait for a while. Needs a remodel for sure.

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2.0Dined on July 21, 2018

Spenger's is a shadow of its former self. The seafood is not local caught or fresh. The place is being subdivided for shops, and is not the classy place it was. The clam chowder had jalapenos in it and was not what would be expected. Vegetables were under cooked. The menu was limited and disappointing. I won't be back. Sad to see an icon like that die an ugly death.

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2.0Dined on July 17, 2018

The seafood was not very good. Then I remembered Anthony Bourdains articleabout how you should never eat fish at a restaurant on amp day because it’s old. It was Monday. Oh well

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4.0Dined on July 15, 2018

The food was very disappointing. our fish tasted old and the fench fries was fried hard as nails!!! it was my sister's birthday celebration. Next week we will take her out again to make up for that disaster. Needless to say we will never eat there again.

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3.0Dined on July 15, 2018

I know Spenger's from the 60s and 70s when it was a real "go to" place. Then it's been up and down ever since. A year ago I thought it was good, but recently a group of Golden Bear friends all agreed that the food was disappointing and we won't be coming back. It's a shame because the ambiance is good and the parking is nice (although I expected it would be free and it was $1.50).

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4.0Dined on July 6, 2018

The bartender was quite slow and somewhat inattentive. Aside of the inconvenience of waiting 10 minutes for a drink at far from busy bar, it held up all the waitstaff so they also had noticeable wait times ask the bar. This appreciably slowed their ability to work their tables.

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2.0Dined on July 5, 2018

I’ve been a long time customer of Spenger’s and ever since they were bought out the food has gotten decidedly worse. This was the worst meal I’ve ever had there. Our entire table ordered the same thing Fish & shrimp & chips. The fish was dry frozen breaded filets, the shrimp were mushy and the fries also seemed old.

The service is always excellent, which is unfortunate because they pay the price for bad meals. I’m sorry to say that this will be my last meal at Spenger’s.

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2.0Dined on June 30, 2018

Noise level loud; errors in orders; presentation of shrimp cocktail nonexistent; filet mignon very gristly; couldn't eat it; chocolate silk cheese cake was like slab of hard chocolate; barramundi (chef's special) was okay but not great; rib eye and halibut were good; mud pie was disappointing (no flavor).

We drove from LA to Berkeley to celebrate two sons' birthdays. We've done for many year but will never to Spengers again.

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5.0Dined on June 29, 2018

Met my cousins there for dinner. Highly recommend plank spicy salmon! We all thought food was way above good. Bar service was a little slow but loved it

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2.0Dined on June 24, 2018

They served their scallop dish without the sauce. After I asked about it they let me know they were out of the sauce. Would have been nice if they would have said they were out of the sauce before hand. Wish I would have returned the dish... Seems there was some kind of disconnect between the kitchen and the wait staff.

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2.0Dined on June 24, 2018

Terrible service. Unprofessional waiter. We were a part of 4, with a reservation. Ordered drinks. Drinks took 15 minutes, and only 2 were served. Took 10 more minutes for the second two to arrive. Waiter literally tossed the bread basket onto the table as he jogged by. At least the food was good. Shrimp coctail, chowder, fish ‘n chips. We have been here many times but have never experienced such bad service. It would be hard to recommend as a dining choice. The service was that poor. No one was at the desk when left so there was no one from whom to request a conversation with a manager.

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4.0Dined on June 24, 2018

We went to Spenger’s because we received a gift certificate. However, the gift certificate was for McCormick & Schmidt’s, which we thought still owned Spenger’s. When we went to pay the bill, the manager came to our table to advise they no longer owned Spenger’s. He couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. Because of the misunderstanding, he let us keep the gift certificate & gave us $20 off our bill as well as a gesture of good will. Excellent customer experience.

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2.0Dined on June 22, 2018

As a Berkeley graduate, I used to go to Spengers (late 1950's) and have gone there a few time since that time. Always enjoyed until this time. The ambiance was fine but the service was terrible. It was a Thursday evening and not crowded but the waiter seemed to think we did not exist, delivered drinks at random times and late (was it the bartender's fault?) and as a side, the Margarita was terrible (bitter) and even the second try with a better tequila did no better. On the good side, the shrimp dinner was excellent. There was a dessert that was called a Key Lime pie but was just a cheesecake infused with key lime flavor and was so bad that one bite was sufficient to call it a day. I heard that Spengers was bought out by someone and maybe the transfer was "Lost in Translation"

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3.0Dined on June 19, 2018

This has always been a favorite of mine but this visit has shown a noticeable change in menu and food . The food is still good but it used to be very good for the prices charged. I will still go here when getting together with friends but will probably be spending more such occasions at Skates on the Bay in Berkeley - pricey but better cost quality value at this point.

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1.0Dined on June 18, 2018

It's sad how Spengers has deteriorated. We had reservations for 7 people at 6:30 pm on Father's Day. I was told they were running behind because they were extremely busy. I did notice the dining room wasn't even half full, but thought maybe they were shorthanded. My brother and his wife arrived early and had to wait 35 minutes for their drinks at the bar. There was only one bartender working. A lot of customers were complaining at the bar and a few people asked for the manager. I complained but it didn't do much good. When I arrived at the bar we ordered a few more drinks while waiting for our table. After waiting for about 45 minutes, we finally got our table. The food was okay - not great. I got the crab louie, which I usually get, and it was about half the size it was in the past. My son's meal arrived without vegetables and he mentioned it to the waiter who said he would bring them, which he did, when the meal was just about over. Even though it was Father's Day, the place was not even half full. The only reason we went to Spengers is because my 92-year old father chose it. Both of my brothers had 2+ hour drives to Spengers and none of us will return. It's not worth the wait and the food is not worth the price. I would like to add that the waiter was working very fast mixing drinks and trying to accommodate customers. He was very stressed and I couldn't believe the pressure that was put on him. While trying to keep up, a bottle or glass broker and the waiter got a major cut on his hand. He did an amazing job trying to keep up and I'm sure the management at Spengers didn't even notice.

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1.0Dined on June 18, 2018

We waited 45 minutes for drinks, our order got lost in the kitchen, and one person at our table didn't get her food until 1 and half hours into the meal. Really wanted to like the place but won't be going back.

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5.0Dined on June 17, 2018

Great Father’s Day menu, great ambiance. Friendly & attentive staff. All dishes were excellent, nice wine options.

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2.0Dined on June 17, 2018

The food was decent/good. Sadly the service was pretty bad, over and over. From the fact they told us the Stags Leap Merlot (listed clearly on the menu with a by the glass and bottle option) is now only available by the bottle (after 10 minutes coming back to tell us), the waitress didn’t know what came with the meal my father ordered (so then he ordered a separate side of spinach - later seeing his meal did come with greens), from the parmesan cheese that we requested 3 times for my daughter’s spaghetti that never came, that the glasses of water went without refills that we gave up towards the end of the meal, and the finished plates that sat there far too long before being collected since there was no room for dessert menus, and the slice of birthday cake for my mom that they said was coming and never did. We gave up - and clearly there isn’t any real training for the service staff going on here. I used to come to Spengers as a family as a child. We wanted to come again under new Leadership - and sadly probably won’t be back.

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3.0Dined on June 17, 2018

Saturday evening and the place was empty. Food was overpriced. Ordered a salad which the waiter said was large, entree sized. Chipotle serves a bigger salad! Glad I ordered a regular entree to go with it.
Thought it would be a great experience since Spengers is now owned by McCormick & Schmick's. What a disappointment!

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5.0Dined on June 17, 2018

This place is amazing, the oysters are so fresh. I believe that they have an oyster bed in the basement. I imagine that it looks just like the movie Cocoon down there except with oysters. We use to be able to order an oyster sampler tray. You now have to order the oysters by the each. We ordered a dozen and the price was very reasonable. The Marin oyster was our favorite, small and easy to consume. We topped ours with Tobasco sauce, freshly squeezed lemon juice, house cocktail sauce with just enough horse radish. We tried the New England and the Manhattan Clam chowder and they were both hardy, full of oysters and potatoes. The bartender was amazing and instead of a beverage he brought us drinkable art. He made the most beautiful Mojito that I have ever seen. I requested a tequila Mojito with no syrup and he created an experience that I could taste. Absolutely an unique flavor with the rum floating across the top. The crab salad was cold, crisp, fresh and the crab flavor was so yummy. I came for the oysters and the bacon wrapped shrimp but to my dismay, they no longer carry the Bacon wrapped prawns dish.
Instead we tried their blackened chicken and fettuccine and it was flavorable and filling. My husband and I shared our meal and could not finish the pasta. The portions were a good size and we will definitely be back again soon.

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5.0Dined on June 17, 2018

Everything went well, food was served promptly ,drinks were tasty, my wife and daughter enjoyed themselves very much

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1.0Dined on June 17, 2018

I gave it 1 star, but probably should have given it 2 for the decor. I write this with a heavy heart. We have been to Spenger's many times and it was a great restaurant to meet my parents and brother due to the location. They have been in a steady decline over the last couple of years. We didn't really enjoy the food much the last time we were there, but thought maybe it was just what we ordered. We were again disappointed this time by the quality of service and the food.

The Good - The location and ambiance. This place really has great character, lots of parking right across the street and they validate parking. Located right on 4th street at the end of a very cool street with lots of great shops. Indoor is a classic old school seafood restaurant with Marlin, Sailfish and other trophy fish hanging on the wall and the nice dark wood throughout. It just has a charm about it that makes you want to come back.

The mud pie was really good and deserves mentioning.

The Bad - Everything else
Apps - Shrimp Cocktail, Oysters and Calimari - The Shrimp tasted dry, old and rubbery. Either it was grossly overcooked or was way past its prime. The oysters were fine, but the wash was mediocre and the cocktail sauce I'm sure just came from a jar. Calimari was fine just nothing special.
The mains - Filet Mignon as I was bummed last time and was even more bummed this time. Worst quality filet I have ever had. Poorly shaped, poorly cooked, lacked any flavor. Other entrees included the sole, the halibut and the Scatter. None of us were happy with the food. Just overall poor marks on every entree dish.
The service - Took an hour to order dinner, we were ready in 15 minutes. Forgot the champagne for the women until 30 minutes of being there. took 20 minutes to get the check. Total meal took 2-1/2 hours, we have a 2 year old, we wanted to be done in 90 minutes and that should be pretty easy. The restaurant was slow so no excuse about it being packed.

Desperate for Gordon Ramsey!

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5.0Dined on June 16, 2018

Great server named Linda G. Our food was served piping hot and the mud pie was one of the best we ever had. Excellent portion of Fish and Chips. Uncle eats a lot and he left full. He had a great Father's Day weekend treat. We were impressed because both the Manager and Chef came by our table and greeted us warmly. A+ for customer service.

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3.0Dined on June 11, 2018

Whenever we're in Berkeley, we try to stop in at Spenger's. Our last trip tipped into fair eats, instead of reliable fresh seafood. Our cioppino dishes were overcooked so the seafood was tough. And even with the pepper flakes, the linguini and clams were bland. We'll chalk it up to an off day for the restaurant.

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2.0Dined on June 4, 2018

Very slow service. Only one of two identical drinks ordered were served. It took a long time for the second Manhattan to be brought to the table. The lobster was over cooked and “medallions” turned out to be only one medallion. Only one person in our party was happy with their food. We used to dine here often, but this is the last time we go.

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2.0Dined on June 3, 2018

I was very excited to revisit Spenger’s after a number of years, but was highly disappointed. We made a reservation and were seated immediately, and our drink orders were taken within a few moments of sitting. However, it took almost 40 minutes to get our drinks. One being the incorrect glass of wine and the other a pint of beer (please note it took the waitress almost that entire time to notify us that the originally requested beer was tapped out). The appetizer and soup/salad came out timely, as well as the main course. But the blackened rockfish was over cooked and chewy, and the grits it was plated with was so salty it was inedible...the entire dish was sent back after 2 small bites. The waitress was gracious and apologized for the dish. There seems to be a disconnect between the high prices and the quality of service and good quality which I have not experienced at other McCormick and Schmick restaurants. I most likely will not be back.

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2.0Dined on May 31, 2018

The food was amazing, but one should have to ASK three times for there beer!
We had appetizers, and ordered. Our salad came with the dinner, even thou we asked for it to come before.
The food was amazing, but the service wasn’t good! Perhaps a little training on the waiters! 😬

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2.0Dined on May 28, 2018

The food and cocktails were excellent. But the service was some of the worst our party, which included a restaurant professional with 40 years experience, had ever seen. We specifically asked the waitress to stagger our order -- appetizers first, then salad, then entrees -- and after a really long wait, it all came at once. Once the food came, no one ever came by to see if we needed another drink or anything else. The restaurant had only a few patrons at 6 p.m., but as used dishes piled up on our table, several staff members walked by and didn't even glance to see if the table needed clearing. Another guest noted our problem and said she'd had the same kind of experience, having to go to the bar herself to get another beer. On a previous visit we enjoyed sitting at the bar and having appetizers, but we won't go back for a meal.

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1.0Dined on May 28, 2018

Host/Hostess were unprofessional. They never checked their computer to check us in after we said we had a reservation. Couldn’t find menus, had to leave us standing in the entry for several minutes while he looked for menus. Restaurant had very few patrons, it was dark, dirty, and dismal. Sat for 20 minutes while no one came to our table, so we got up and left. As we left, the host thanked us for coming in, apparently forgot that he sat us 20 minutes earlier. Prices were quite high for this dump. This place is a bad joke.

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3.0Dined on May 24, 2018

I think Spenger’s has gone don’t some since the family sold. I see today a public notice that it is changing owners again. I like the ambiance and the food is not bad, but a bit pricey nowadays. I will still come from time to time, but it is not what it used to be.

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4.0Dined on May 19, 2018

Limited selections and no fried oysters which previous owners had

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1.0Dined on May 19, 2018

Horrible service - Sever ignored us, screwed up orders. Manager apologized and said “I’ve only been on the job 2 Days”. They did cut the bill; but basically wrecked our daughter’s graduation celebration. Fortunately, we have no reason to go back

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3.0Dined on May 15, 2018

The food was pretty good, especially the key lime pie, the New England clam chowder, and the blackened rockfish. The service was sufficient, but very slow. We had a party of 4 for lunch and we were there for 2 hours (granted we did do 4 courses, but it could have been quicker) The manager Charles did check in with us at the beginning of the meal, which was nice.

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1.0Dined on May 14, 2018

Place has really gone downhill. Menu is a tenth of what it used to be. Prices are for a 4-star restaurant but the food was bland and the floor under our table was filthy. In addition, my wine glass had buildup from the dishwasher which made me wonder if it was old lipstick.

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1.0Dined on May 14, 2018

1/2 the menu was out. Very limited food available for mother’s day. If they would have let me know ahead we could have made other arrangements.

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1.0Dined on May 14, 2018

changed ownership, isn't part of Landrys' anymore, service was awful, food was just ok.

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