PICTURED: Andria’s classic fish and chips is always a solid bet. Photo by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer
Andria’s Seafood Restaurant and Market
1449 Spinnaker Dr., Suite A, Ventura
Before Andria’s even opens its doors at 11 a.m., a line usually has already formed. Tourists visiting Ventura Harbor from far and wide come in search of clam chowder (possibly in that sourdough bowl) and fish and chips — those classics that seem like a must on any trip to the coast. But out-of-towners aren’t the only ones queueing up: Just as many locals are happy to wait their turn to place an order at the counter, because in these parts, everyone knows that Andria’s is one of the best places, period, for fresh seafood.
In fact, its been a local favorite since opening at Ventura Harbor in 1982 (its sister location in Santa Barbara was established in 1974). The restaurant and fish market recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and during a May 12 ceremony, founder Michael J. Wagner and daughter Andria Bargiel (yes, the place is named after her) were honored with a Certificate of Recognition from a representative of California State Assemblymember Steve Bennett.
Government accolades and history aside, Andria’s is the epitome of good eats harvested from the sea (plus a few chicken items, because there’s always someone who can’t or won’t eat seafood). Grilled, steamed or deep fried, dipped in batter or blackened, served on a bun, over greens or simply on top of a big pile of French fries, there are few places that boast the variety of fish preparations that have made Andria’s famous . . . each and every one delicious.
Truthfully, when I’m hankering for fish and chips, Andria’s is the first place that comes to mind. The original style is my go-to, and in all these years it has never been less than perfect: large pieces of fresh fish battered and deep fried to a super-crisp golden brown, tons of perfectly fried potatoes, and a generous portion to boot (I rarely can finish the platter). But you can mix it up with (drum roll, please): Alaskan cod, calamari, clam strips, halibut, oysters, scallops, shrimp (medium or popcorn sized) or a mix of them in the Captain’s Combo.
When I want something lighter, I look to the many grilled options, which include ahi, halibut, mahi mahi, salmon, seabass, shrimp, snapper, swordfish, thresher shark ad yellowtail — served with salad rice, bread and your choice of side. Or a rich bowl of cioppino, which is so wonderful on a foggy day. I also love the steamed clams, with a sauce so good you’ll want plenty of bread on hand for mopping it up. I’ve never had the stir fry, but based on everything else I’ve sampled, I’d almost guarantee it’s just as good.
Yes, that’s a LOT of seafood — which is exactly why everyone loves Andria’s.
All food is made fresh to order, so some of these items can take 20 minutes or longer to prepare, but the quality is well worth the wait if you have the time. But if you’re in a rush, consider one of the fish burgers, which can be grilled or fried. I’m partial to mahi mahi grilled with Cajun seasoning, but the Krabby Cake and ahi burgers are great, too. One word of caution: Andria’s loads on the cheese, so consider asking for it without if that’s not your thing.
If Andria’s was just a hole in the wall, it would still be worth it for the quality and variety — and certainly plenty of people get their food to go to enjoy at home or possibly on their boats. But the restaurant has an enormous space, with ample seating inside and out. It’s an order-at-the-counter, seat-and-serve-yourself kind of place…nothing fancy here…but that makes it the perfect post-beach, -surf or -boating pitstop. And of course, their seafood market is top notch, so you can always get something to bring home and cook yourself.
After all these years, Andria’s hasn’t lost its touch, which is why the crowds keep showing up decade after decade. Because freshness and quality never go out of style . . . and Andria’s never fails to deliver.