Sometimes a great food experience takes just a little bit of care. How many places seem to think the bun is an afterthought, the sauce can just be bottled, the onions can be sliced too thick and be left biting. On the other hand there’s this simple, delectable, well, it’s not a dish as it comes to you in a cardboard tray-box, but that’s all about the convenience as you’re going to dine on picnic tables marina-side.
On the Alley (117 Harbor Way; 805-962-6315; onthealley.com), the spot the Bennett Family opened beneath their ever-popular Brophy’s a couple years back, cares. Especially with its crab cake “burger,” as they bill it. It’s a fine crabcake, with little filler, fried just enough without seeming to come from oil and not the sea.
But the touches are what sets it over the top: a flavorful brioche bun, egg-washed and lovely, a Tabasco mayo that zips things without igniting them, some good tomato, not just a pale imitation, and then pickled red onions, therefore not the only flavor you’re left with.
Alongside comes made-to-order chips that are a bit thicker than you might expect (to good effect) and a bit more well-fried (again, adding to their substantial crisp and crunch). There is beer on tap. You will like this al fresco lunch for a mere $8.75 in the midst of the harbor. (They’ve got one of town’s best veggie burgers, too.)