Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto
For hearty, stick-to-your-ribs New England-style clam chowder, seafood lovers should look no farther than Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto. Yep, the restaurant, with a history on Fourth Street dating back to the 1890s and real fishermen roots, may be owned by mega-chainster McCormick and Schmick's these days, but the creamy bowls of soupy sustenance are worth slurping and sopping up with the accompanying French bread. This is clam chowder from the ages, the stuff Berkeley students were telling their out-of-state parents about decades ago. It's chowder that many will associate with their childhood since Spenger's was one of the area's real first seafood houses. And it's said to have something of a storied past, attracting in the old days the likes of movie stars, writers, politicians, and socialites. Maritime memorabilia such as ship's wheels and anchors plus mounted fish and antique guns are everywhere, reminiscent of the high seas and a pretty good gimmick that gives diners something to marvel at.