The Spinnaker is an odd place. It’s equal parts scenic lookout, seafood restaurant, seedy lounge, and blue-hair hangout. It’s dated, charming, hideous, and beautiful all at the same time. My brain was confused by what it experienced when I visited The Spinnaker, so I just went with it and tried to keep an open mind.
” There were more electric scooters than a bumper car factory “
The Spinnaker is located right in the middle of Sausalito, a painfully charming bay-side town just north of the Golden Gate bridge. Driving into the heart of Sausalito on a weekend is an exercise in patience. The roadway is quite literally packed with tourists on bicycles that are too busy gawking at the sunny weather to realize you are about to run them over. I’m all for sharing the road, but I wish these people would choose to share back.
After a painful but scenic crawl along the length of downtown Sausalito, I finally managed to shoehorn the car into the very last parking spot in town. My lunch party and I started strolling towards The Spinnaker, debating what sorts of appetizers we should order. Arriving inside the restaurant is a bit like stepping back in time to 1982. Everything you see is dated and drab, including many of the other patrons. I don’t mean to be unkind, but there were more electric scooters than a bumper car factory.
Just as I was getting ready to make my mind up that I didn’t like The Spinnaker, the brisk and attentive host greeted us, added our names to the waiting list, and showed us to the cocktail lounge where we could wait for our table in comfort. Hmm, well, I guess they seem nice here. Within moments someone else stopped by to get our drink orders and see if we wanted to get started with an appetizer. She was helpful, competent, and within minutes we had a table full of wonderful-looking beverages in front of us.
And just like that, we were whisked away from the cocktail lounge to our lunch table. Our appetizers arrived at our new location with seamless perfection, and our new waitperson was ready and waiting to answer any questions we might have about the lunch menu. We didn’t care about any of that though, because we were simply stunned by the view. Wow.
Most of the dining area at The Spinnaker is situated on a pier directly over the water, providing amazing 270-degree views of the San Francisco Bay. Boats literally sail around you while you gawk in stupefied amazement.
We eventually snapped out of our scenery-induced haze and remembered that our appetizer was still sitting there, waiting for us. I usually don’t get all that excited about shrimp cocktail, but this restaurant’s version was very good indeed. Each shrimp was the size of a Mack truck, and the scratch-made cocktail sauce was spicy and flavorful.
Before long our lunch orders arrived, and the quality of the food continued to impress me. First up was Shrimp Louie, a San Francisco classic. Everything was fresh and delicious, and the bay shrimp weren’t the least bit fishy. As with the cocktail sauce from our appetizer, the dressing on the Shrimp Louie was the star of the show. Whoever is in charge of the sauces at this place is doing an amazing job.
Continuing with the all-shrimp theme of the meal, I opted for an order of tiger prawns and chips. The batter on the shrimp was fantastic, and the shoestring fries/chips were light and wonderful. The remoulade and ranch sauces featured in the center of the plate were – you guessed it – absolutely top notch. I would certainly order this dish again, I loved it.
We sat and contemplated the view while we finished our shrimp-filled lunch, and we all agreed that we enjoyed our experience at The Spinnaker. First impressions were not all that good; this place is sorely overdue for an interior renovation. This was quickly forgotten, however, thanks to the excellent staff, incredible views, and high quality cuisine. I give this restaurant 4 out of 5 little cups of delicious sauces, a solid rating worthy of a revisit. The next time I’m in Sausalito, I will… Ok, honestly I will be going back to Napa Valley Burger Company. The next visit or three after that, though, I’ll be going back to The Spinnaker. On a bicycle. In the middle of the road.
100 Spinnaker Drive
Sausalito, CA 94965
Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.