If you haven’t tried it, you don’t know what you are missing
—Located in downtown Paso Robles, across from the Downtown City Park, Catch Seafood Bar and Grill is a popular destination for dinner. The restaurant features an open-style kitchen allowing guests to watch the busy staff dish up beautiful plates.
Owner and chef Chico Mora holds center stage and is clearly the star of the show. He greets guests, grills, sautés, broils, plates food, pours wine, serves picture-perfect entrees, all while in constant motion. Despite the fast-paced kitchen, Chico and his staff enjoy themselves and are always smiling while chatting with guests.
Chico has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years, and many may remember his first restaurant, Chico’s Cafe, which was a small space next to what is now Catch Seafood and Bar. Chico decided to expand to the larger and newly styled space and felt Paso Robles was ready for its first seafood restaurant. That was clearly a wise choice since the restaurant has a fantastic reputation, drawing in both locals and visitors.
The seafood is sourced locally, and specials can be viewed on “The Catch of the Day” chalkboard. His menu features customer favorites like calamari steak, scallops, shrimp scampi combo, cioppino, and clams linguini. Chico’s clarified butter and sauces like lemon caper or soy ginger are the perfect addition to a fish fillet. Although the menu is seafood-driven, there are plenty of pasta dishes, vegetarian options, and items for meat lovers. Beef Stroganoff, steak dinners, and rack of lamb can all be ordered nightly. Chico even includes gluten-free options. Needless to say, being in wine country, the menu includes a nice selection of local wines.
While the venue appears modern, there are many old-school practices in play. Service begins with a complimentary breadbasket (although the menu does indicate there will be a charge when a third basket is requested) with the fresh bread nestled in a linen napkin and served with butter. Sitting at the bar, you can watch the orders being queued in the kitchen on handwritten paper tabs. In this day and age, especially with the pace at which orders are placed, that is an unusual sight. Chico said they tried automating orders from the point of sale, but felt the old-school way worked best.
You may dine without a reservation if there are openings; however, reservations are highly recommended, especially on weekends. All reservations are made by phone, so be sure to call ahead to book your space.
Once you are seated, sit back, and enjoy the show. You’ll see oysters and clams being shucked, hot pans darting in and out of the broiler, flames dancing from the grill with multiple pans in play at any time, pasta being tossed from the boiling water onto a plate, vibrant steamed vegetables being artfully added to entrees…and if you are lucky a little sample of something may come your way while you await your order.
According to Chico, “Whoever hasn’t tired it doesn’t know what they are missing.”
Catch Seafood Bar and Grill is located at 836 11th St. in Paso Robles. Open daily from 4-9 p.m. For reservations and more information visit catchseafoodbarandgrill.com or call (805) 239-3332.
— Lisa Pretty