During our most recent trip to Santa Barbara, we stumbled upon Mac's Fish & Chip Shop. The restaurant is located on lower State Street, which is a main artery in Santa Barbara. The sidewalks are packed with locals and tourists and lined with small business. Restaurants seem to take up a majority of the commercial space on this street and offer a large variety of options.
The brightness of Mac's caught our attention. The glass doors and windows offer a guilt free look into the restaurant as well as a inviting and casual feel. The British colors also pulled us in to try the "authentic" fish and chips. The restaurant has a walk up counter for ordering with a full view of the kitchen. The blackboard like menu hang on the wall with descriptions guaranteed to make you chuckle.
Regular Fillet + Chips
Of course, we had to order the fish 'n chips. The regular fillet is an 8 oz piece of sustainable Alaskan cod coated with a beer batter and fried to golden brown perfection served with tartar sauce. It is worth mentioning that each fillet is battered and fried to order. The batter was light, crunchy and delicately seasoned. The fish was fresh, flaky, sweet and moist. The chips were double fried and nothing like french fries. These chips were meaty and fatty. A few of the chips had some crisp, but the majority fell between the consistency of crispy and chewy steak fries. I'm not sure what "authentic" fish and chips is supposed to taste like as I've never been to the United Kindom, but I know this was one of the best fish and chips I have tasted.
It was hard to leave without trying something else on the menu so we ended up ordering a wee haggis. This is a traditional Scottish dish made with chopped up liver, heart and lung. The haggis was coated with beer batter and fried. We were told to eat it with HP sauce, which could be found on the condiments table. I was expecting the haggis to be dense and heavy due to the ingredients, but it was surprisingly light. The haggis tasted meaty and slightly sour, but not in a bad way. The HP sauce, which is similar to A-1 sauce with more of a vinegar flavor provided a nice balance to the flavors.
Overall, the fish and chips at Mac's is mouthwatering and a must try for anyone visiting the area. The haggis is an acquired taste and worth a try for the adventurous diners. The prices are fair for the quality and quantity of food and the service is fast and friendly. Beers are available on tap, televisions broadcast sporting events and there is plenty of seating. Although the restaurant has been only open since June of 2010, I think it will become a longtime tenant on State Street.
Mac's Fish & Chip Shop
503 State St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Plenty of side street parking. The closer to State Street the shorter the allotted parking time. Park several blocks north of State Street for free no restrictions parking. Also several parking lots in the area.