Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto

3.4
2035 reviews
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$30 and under
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Seafood
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.
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 2035 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
3.4based on recent ratings
3.2
food
3.5
service
3.5
ambience
2.9
value
Noise · Moderate
53% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
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San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

They served the Best Roasted Muscles I have ever tasted.

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved it and our sever Matthew was fantastic and on “it”!

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BH
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

The occasion was my Mom's 99th birthday. Spengers was very accommodating. Our server Matthew was absolutely delightful and took care of our every need. The Executive Chef came out and spoke with us as well and he was quite the character and all around fun guy.
The food: New England Clam Chowder is outstanding. Several of us at our table enjoyed the Lobster Bisque and it was very generous with deliciously large chunks of lobster.
My Mom enjoyed her Parmesan crusted sole and I my Linguini with clams...YUM! The fish and chips fell short in a co diner's opinion. He's a bit of a connoiseur of fish and chips and he didn't care for the breading nor the ratio of breading to fish. Sister's mussels were dandy and presented in a rich broth. Niece ordered scallops which were not on the menu at that early in the day. The chef accommodated and she was so happy. Nicely plated on top of brussel sprouts. Very enjoyable dining experience.

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AP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 3, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 4ambience 3

Our server was excellent, apologizing for the delay in receiving our drink orders do to short staff. The room is clean and welcoming with our table comfortable. Our appetizer, fried calamari was excellent although it was a surprise to have it have vegetables include in the mix. Well prepared.

This is where it went downhill. The Scallops order was incorrect, although prepared well enough, it was the wrong order. This was the better of the two.

I ordered the the Cioppino. The dish arrived and was beautiful to look at. That is about it. Of course it is partly my fault as it isn't crab season however this was the most tasteless and tired crab I ever had. Obviously frozen (unfortunately for a long time). The minute I ordered it I know it was a mistake. The rest of the seafood was poor at best. Frozen and possibly refrozen shrimp. Tired mussels which looked like they had all of the life pulled out of them, ok clams, barely there fish which I guess was a replacement for the scallops noted in the menu.

It had been years since I used to visit this place (happily) with my parents. They should not be allowed to have the name "Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto".

I was pleased to see McCormick & Schmick took over this establishment, having visited the Tigard Oregon restaurant however Spenger's must have missed the memo.

Will not be back.

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JK
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 2, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 5

Restaurant was under staffed. Only one server for the entire dinning room. The meal was lukewarm by the time it arrived.

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MM
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined on October 1, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 5

Spenger's is an INSTITUTION! All of our party went there with our families when we were growing up. But, the evening we were there, we MUST have had a new server. We had to ask for butter, water, wine glasses...and we were given the bottle of wine and told to pour it ourselves. (Again, had to ask for the glasses...and two different sizes were brought out!) It just got to the point, where we had to laugh! We know they are going through an ownership change, so we can just keep our fingers crossed that the new managers will work on training the team!

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JB
1 review
Dined on October 1, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Very disappointed, it is a different owner, the food was not good, the service was bad, the bathrooms were dirty and no supplies, this used to be our favorite spot in Berkeley, not anymore

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L
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

The service was so bad from the moment we walked into the restaurant we never got seated and left. Our reservation was at 6, we waited a half an hour and still could not get seated. Restaurant was not clean. The hostess was rude to us and she disappeared for minutes several times while we waited. She sat people without reservations before us.

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MB
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 3

Service was very slow and food quality was not what we had experienced in the past. Our food did not arrive at our table more than an hour after we were seated and came in three groups of for the eight of us. When the final person got their food the first four were already finished. Will probably not go back.

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RF
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on September 30, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

Spenger's was once a Berkeley gem. The McCormack and Schmidt took it over and it became ordinary. Now it has been sold and has become terrible. The shrimp scatter and and captains plate were over salted, over fried, and barely edible. The service is poor and infrequent. You couldn't pay me to come back.

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JJ
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on September 27, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 5

Does not take the Landry Select Card anymore as no longer a part of the Landry Restaurant group. Food was OK. Prices were high.

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SB
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on September 22, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Really enjoyed the food and atmosphere, will be going back soon.

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SA
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on September 17, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Loved this local gem Plan to come here more often.

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HW
Sacramento
5 reviews
Dined on September 16, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 3

I have been a customer of Spenger's since the 1960s. It was my favorite restaurant in the entire world back then and up through the years until the Spenger family sold it. The quality of the food and service have declined steadily ever since. It's a lot like losing an old friend.

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SL
San Francisco
75 reviews
Dined on September 15, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 3

Had fish and chips extra crispy...very tasty....could be more generous with the Cole slaw...portion was very small....large group next to us made talking somewhat challenging.

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RL
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

No wait got right in and were seated. This is an established Grotto, so the Sea food was great and the Apple Pie was great.

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JP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 27, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 4ambience 4

Have been going here for about 50 years. Place has been sold recently, and we ordered our caesar salad with fried calamari, and instead of a tossed salad, all three of us received a head of romaine lettuce chopped in half, grilled till wilted, with 4-6 calamari on top and a dessert like squeeze bottle of some kind of dressing. I have never sent back an entre, but all 3 of us felt it was uneatable as given to us. It even looked like it was prepared by a valet and not a cook. Needless to say, we are never heading back until they get a new cook. Really terrible. Given one star is one too many!! Stay away.

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SW
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 3food 1service 2ambience 5

I love Sprengers, but... the food has not kept up with at times. It’s overprepared & well, greasy. The staff is still pleasant & trying hard. I love the maritime setting, it’s is wonderful.

But we had various issues, like the kitchen forgetting one main dish and everything coming late. My wife had the tremedity to ask the waiter take the garlic bread off the menu since we had to wait so long and they forgot a main dish.

I suspect because of the new corporate ownership, the waiter had to bring the manager over. Instead of apologizing the manager asked what was wrong — he was clearly trying to put my wife on the defensive.

This was over an eight dollar charge. Not good! I still will go back really because I’m unusual in that the great old fashioned setting pleases me a lot. Probably wouldn’t recommend it to others tho...

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R
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on August 24, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

Though the restaurant was fine, the neighborhood now is very sad - homeless people everywhere, including across the street in the parking area under the University overpass. The restaurant was quite empty when we arrived at 12:30 on a Friday, making me think it could be struggling.

The food was good, albeit a bit expensive for lunch, but it was as I had experienced in the past. I almost didn't get my pre-entree salad, but went for it, despite it being $8.95. It was an excellent salad, lightly dressed, with fresh strawberries and a good mix of greens, so I was glad I decided to get it.

My salmon entree was good also, a nice sweet/hot glaze along with some chard and mashed potatoes. My husband had fish/chips and chowder, which he said was good also, though he was wanting Manhattan chowder which wasn't available.

My only reason for not higher rating is just the lack of "life" (no people) in there, and the sorry state of the neighborhood. It really is too bad the City of Berkeley has allowed this to happen, as this restaurant has been here a long time, but I fear won't survive if the light crowd I saw at lunch is normal.

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PS
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined on August 20, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 3ambience 4

Friend lunch

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EC
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 1ambience 3

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

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BM
1 review
Dined on August 1, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 1

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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JR
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

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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JS
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on July 26, 2018
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

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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PC
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on July 22, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 2

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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RA
1 review
Dined on July 21, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 4ambience 5

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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OT
Atlanta
7 reviews
Dined on July 17, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 4

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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DC
1 review
Dined on July 15, 2018
Overall 4food 1service 5ambience 5

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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JP
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on July 15, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 4

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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WM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 6, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

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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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 5, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 5ambience 3

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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BC
Los Angeles
3 reviews
Dined on June 30, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 1

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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S
1 review
Dined on June 29, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

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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JS
1 review
Dined on June 24, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 4

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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MR
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 24, 2018
Overall 2food 4service 1ambience 1

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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N
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on June 24, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

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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R
Los Angeles
17 reviews
Dined on June 22, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 4

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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JM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 19, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 5

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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SD
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 18, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 2

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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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 18, 2018
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 2

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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