Best Seafood Restaurant Coos Bay: Ahi, Crab and Prawns
When you are looking for a seafood restaurant in Coos Bay or North Bend (97420 or 97459), why not go with the best? Coos Bay’s Hilltop House was chosen as the 2017 Restaurant of the Year by The World newspaper. The paper’s culinary editor raved about the location, the staff, the atmosphere and of course, the food… which he claimed was some of the best he has ever eaten.
Situated on a bluff overlooking Haynes Inlet, Hilltop House looks the part of an Oregon Coast destination restaurant. Just like the rest of Coos Bay, Hilltop House appears to the passer-by as a quaint and slightly quirky local attraction, with a coastal color scheme and traditional signage that, much like the rest of the western edge of Oregon, evokes a different time and way of living. Self-assured and evocative, it seems like it has been this way forever.
Inside, the dining areas maintain the same themes. There is a warmth and character to the place that is missing from many other “modern restaurant.” This is the sort of place where the waitstaff work hard because they like you, the drinks are always full, and napkins and tablecloths are always pressed. Huge picture windows let in the verdant splendor of the summer in full flower just as well as the vast power of the region’s frequent storms… though, when winter has its frosty hands wrapped around the inlands, the coast always provides a warmer (and sometimes even drier!) refuge. The menus are clearly written, clean and unburdened by over-flowery prose. Nothing about the accommodations is snooty or pretentious, though with the quality of the food as it is, they could afford to be. Spacious, comfortable, and inviting, the Hilltop House invites you to sit down, settle in, and get ready for the meal of your life.
The Best Seafood in Coos Bay
Chef Joseph Zamora is a huge fan of a good mixed grill. Fire and protein, though simple, can yield profound and complex flavors. Playing with these flavors is Chef Zamora’s pastime, and the results are always worth the effort. This mixed grill highlights some of the Oregon Coast’s favorite seafood: prawns, crab, and seared Ahi tuna. Everyone who eats here agrees: half the appeal of Hilltop House is the freshness and excellent quality of the ingredients Chef Zamora chooses to use. The other half is the way he marries these ingredients with great concepts and well-executed technique to pull off some of the most honest, impactful food the Oregon Coast has to offer. This is not a big-box-store restaurant, microwaving and reheated prepared foods and passing them off as fine cuisine. No, this is something else entirely. This is passion, ingenuity, and discernment tackling the natural bounty of the region and creating something special.
Mixed Grills for the Season
Using the mixed grill as a basic template, Chef Zamora riffs on the concept like a blues guitarist takes on an old standard. Other than a beautiful presentation, there is not much to hint that this place hides something special. It’s not until you start in on the dish that you start to appreciate the time and effort put into doing these ingredients justice.
In order to really understand why there is such wide variation in quality from restaurant to restaurant (especially when it comes to meats and seafood), it helps to be familiar with a little thing called the Maillard Reactions, as well as how meat and seafood cook. When you see browning on food, you are seeing the Maillard reactions. These reactions transform fats, sugars, and proteins into novel umami substances that your tongue loves. Maillard reactions happen any time food is exposed to adequate heat, which is also why bread and pastries brown as they reach doneness.
The perfect sear-marks on our Mixed Grill are also Maillard reaction products your tongue loves, but that’s not all there is to it. Proteins are tricky to deal with because when they are over-cooked they become tough and rubbery, but when they are undercooked, they never develop those umami Maillard reaction product palate. Most lower-tier restaurants don’t even mess around with a gradient of doneness: overdone and charred is easier than expert timing and finesse. When your plate arrives at your table at Hilltop House, it’s hard not to see that expert timing and finesse laid out before you, and it’s impossible not to taste it.
Cooking quickly at high heat is the key to success here, and Chef Zamora definitely succeeded. By cooking the food quickly, proteins don’t have time to dry out and toughen up. By cooking the food with high heat, those essential Maillard reaction products have a chance to emerge. Of course, as you are struggling not to voraciously devour your high-quality mixed grill in minutes, you might not be considering the science. Your tongue will love it, and you’ll just be along for the ride.
Quality Side Items at Coos Bay’s Best Restaurant
A good plate features side items that allow the main ingredients to shine. Chef Zamora has chosen his signature vegetable medley, some cheeky little rice cubes, and a bespoke mango salsa to finish this mixed grill. A slice of lemon is de rigeur. With seafood this rich and flavorful, a little splash of lemon juice helps cut some of the fattiness and brighten up the bite a bit. The rice is a similar sort of foil, serving as both a palate cleanser as well as a callback to the Ahi tuna’s other well-known traditional application: if you want, you can imagine that the mixed grill is a very high-concept deconstructed sushi. Or, you can just get lost in the whole experience, stare out the picture windows toward the shore, and be very glad that you chose to eat at Coos Bay’s best seafood restaurant. The choice, as always, is yours.
Visit Us Today in North Bend or Coos Bay
Whether you are local or just passing through, come on down to our house. Your table is waiting!
Here’s What Our Customers Say About Us
Old and funky building…very 60s! But the food was excellent! Had the cod with mango curry sauce, it was soo good, and the grilled pineapple was to die for! Will stop again if I go back that way!!
This is probably my favorite place to eat in Coos Bay/North Bend. The stuffed mushroom appetizer is worth the wait as it takes a bit of time to prepare. The dinner salads are beautiful as well as being delicious. I have never ordered anything here that I’ve been unhappy with
If you have not eaten here you are missing out on a wonderful delight. For your first trip go for an early dinner, the view is wonderful. My family has been here on multiple occasions and we have never ordered anything we did not enjoy. It is casual dining with upscale quality.
This is our go to for great food and good drinks. Whether sitting at the bar and enjoying awesome appetizers or in the restaurant with a beautiful view of the bay, you can’t go wrong.
I had a steak that simply melted in my mouth. The service was awesome and the atmosphere amazing. It was quiet, the food excellent, and it all comes with a view of the bay(free).. You definitely get what you pay for at the Hilltop.
My wife and I have been going to this restaurant for years but the last meal we had there was most excellent. She had scallops for the first time there and I had fried calamari that was the best I had ever eaten. The view, as always, is gorgeous, and on a previous visit we watched an osprey