Xavier Zavala’s father first opened a breakfast spot in Aptos before moving into fine dining in 2013. Xavier dedicated himself to being a restaurateur at Watsonville’s Fish House Bar and Grill. He dove in headfirst and learned everything he could about the biz. From cooking and bartending to front-of-the-house—he even took etiquette classes on the art of service.
The Fish House serves classic American seafood with Italian flare; it’s upscale yet casual enough for families. And hospitality is always a priority. After nearly a decade, the open-flame oak grill has become the go-to for halibut, salmon, tuna, octopus, Castroville artichokes and just about everything else. They are also known for their pasta dishes like the crab ravioli with bay shrimp and rosé sauce, classic cioppino and chicken piccata. Dessert offerings include carrot cake and tiramisu—they plan to bring back their popular tableside banana flambé soon, too.
There’s indoor and outdoor seating, a full bar and live music. The Fish House also caters special events. GT spoke to Xavier about his cooking technique and culture.
Why the oak grill?
XAVIER ZAVALA: The flavors that the grill imparts on the food provide a unique element to the components of our dishes and a rustic char that marries well with the other flavors. The flame helps extract more savory qualities from the ingredients while maintaining their integrity.
What makes your customer service so special?
Whether it is our guests or staff, we treat everyone like family. We view this building as our house, and anyone who comes through our doors is provided the kindness and courtesy we show to our loved ones.
The Fish House Bar and Grill, 972 Main St., Watsonville, 831-728-3333; watsonvillefishhouse.com