201 S B St
San Mateo, CA 94401


Neighborhoods: Downtown
Cuisine: Creole, Cajun, Latin American

Kingfish is a Creole, Cajun, and Latin American restaurant where most Menuism users came for fun with friends, paid between $10 and $25, and tipped between 15% to 18%.

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  • 4/18/2018

    A Creole food lover from Missoula, MT tried it.

  • 7/20/2014

    A Creole food lover from San Jose, CA tried it.

  • 2/16/2014

    A dining patron from San Jose, CA tried it and liked it. They liked the food and liked the service.

13 / 20
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 San Francisco, CA

Creole-inspired food in a colorful Southern atmosphere

Executive chef Tony Flier is running the kitchen again at Kingfish and last week, the San Mateo eatery launched his new, all-day menu. It is more focused and has fewer items than before but the way the menu is laid out, it seems like there’s tons more. During my single days, I used to head over there after work with friends for happy hour. But after I left my job in Silicon Valley, I just stopped going there, for no particular reason other than there were so many other fun places closer to home in San Francisco. Yesterday, my girlfriend, her three-year-old son and I met there for lunch and it was nice to see that the space, decorated throughout with colorful, whimsical art, still has its Southern charm and lively vibe.

My girlfriend is a healthy eater, she’s studying to become a registered dietician and used to be my personal trainer. So I exerted some self-control and opted to go on the lighter side – I figured I’d save the gumbo and blackened catfish with cheesy grits for when I’m alone and feeling skinny. We both ordered from the “warm and field good salads” section of the menu. She got the King Louie Salad ($16.50) with poached shrimp, Dungeness crab, boiled egg, cucumbers, radishes, capers, red onions, and watercress in classic louie dressing. She substituted other greens for the iceberg and asked for dressing on the side. I had Tony’s Grilled Calamari Salad “Goombah Style” ($12.95) with cannellini beans, oven ripened tomatoes, frisse, mache and watercress in a lemon vinaigrette.

My friend enjoyed her dish which looked good; light and fresh. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for mine. The calamari was soft, almost mushy. And there wasn’t very much of it, which in this case, was a good thing. The rest of the salad was mediocre because the ingredients didn’t seem to mesh well together. I also had the grilled artichoke ($8) which came with two types of Creole remoulade. The artichoke was steamed to perfection but lacked smokiness from the grill. One dressing was like a sweet relish that was too chunky to spread onto the artichoke leaves, it kept falling off. The other looked like classic tartar sauce but was milder. It may not be fair to compare, but I have to say that Pacific Catch on 9th Avenue is still the one to beat for great grilled artichoke, especially because it comes with that yummy basil aioli. But that’s another story.

Our server brought my friend’s son a mini sketch board to keep him occupied as he waited for his order of corn bread ($6). They do have a kids’ menu, but my friend decided to share her shrimp salad with her youngster. When the corn bread arrived in its cute cast iron pot, our little eater dug right in with gusto. But halfway through, he scrunched up his face and exclaimed that it was too spicy. When my friend took a taste, she realized that it did pack some heat. Oops, it would have been nice if our server had mentioned that when we placed our order. Nevertheless, our server was super nice, conscientious overall, and quick on her feet. She immediately brought a small cupful of maraschino cherries which cooled down the young tyke’s tastebuds and brought a smile to his face.

Some prices seem a bit high – a couple of the fish dishes that caught my eye range between $21 and $27, a tad too steep for lunch. But, they do have a slew of lower priced items such as po’ boys between $12.50 and $19.50, bowls of beer crab bisque and clam chowder for $9.50, steamed mussels and clams for $14, and sushi rolls for $9.50 to $11.50. They also have a bunch of affordable appetizers like potato skins with a tasso ham-jalapeño fondue ($8.50), filet mignon potstickers ($8.50), salt and pepper calamari ($9), three lil’ boys hamburgers ($10) and crawfish dumplings in coconut curry sauce ($9.50).

Based upon today’s samplings, I have to say I was a little disappointed but I will most likely be back. The thing is, I want to like the place because it’s a pretty cool spot and holds special memories of good times spent with friends. Besides, what’s not to like about a restaurant whose motto is “Eat like a King, Drink like a Fish” and boasts an artsy setting with cozy booth seating, an oyster bar with a TV, three cocktail bars with sports TVs, occasional live music, a private Estate Room perfect for smaller dinners, a pretty King’s Room and spacious Mezzanine upstairs? Since they are only a week into their new menu, I’ll cut them some slack and revisit them down the road.

grilled calamari salad

The calamari was shockingly limp and almost had a slimy, mushy consistency – but the good thing is that there was a pretty skimpy amount in my salad so I could almost ignore it. The tomatoes were soft and the beans of course were soft, so the whole thing was just off, texture-wise. And it was pretty bland, overall, too, with the dominant flavor being bitter from the greens. Next time, I’m avoiding the salads.

Creole Cajun Good for groups
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Kingfish is located near the cities of Burlingame, Foster City, Hillsborough, and Belmont.
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