Morro Bay, California gets to claim a lot of my favorite days, actually. For me and Jan, it’s been host to relaxing weekends, our wedding, and even a lunch destination when we were craving fresh seafood and were willing to drive two-and-a-half hours to get it.
This past weekend we stayed at a friend’s beach house in Los Osos to celebrate our four year wedding anniversary. We escaped the fog in Fresno for sunny and warm weather at the beach, accompanied by lots of great food.
Our first stop in Morro Bay was Giovanni’s Fish Market and Galley, home of my favorite clam chowder and Jan’s favorite raw oysters. The fish and chips is also excellent, and the attached market is the perfect place to buy a half bottle of wine for a picnic in the outdoor seating area overlooking Morro Rock (just remember to bring a corkscrew). This time, there was something new on the menu that we just had to try: fried Twinkie. Battered, fried, and topped with a sweet berry sauce, the warm, gooey dessert did not disappoint.
The next stop was Coalesce Bookstore and Garden Wedding Chapel to wander and reminisce in the garden, and report to the folks at the bookstore (and also our wedding officiants) that we are, in fact, still married. The bookstore is a great place to stop even if you’re not getting married, as it regularly hosts concerts, classes, and of course, offers a great selection of used books.
It was takeout for dinner from Noi’s Little Thai Takeout in Los Osos. The restaurant has a small space and limited hours (Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.) but makes some of the best Pad Thai I’ve had. In addition to Pad Thai made with small rice noodles, chicken, egg, ground peanut, bean sprouts, and cabbage, we also ordered egg rolls and Pad Kee-mow, which is flat noodles with chicken, egg, chili paste, basil, tomato, red bell pepper. I think when we were ordering the Pad Kee-mow and confirming that it was, in fact, spicy, we were actually ordering the dish extra spicy, which I don’t recommend. The flavor was great, but I could only take a few bites before my mouth was on fire.
The next day we headed to Cambria for lunch at Indigo Moon, a great café with fresh, simple dishes and a beautiful outdoor (heated) patio. I ate a Cobb sandwich with grilled chicken, bacon, blue cheese, tomato and romaine on a warm ciabatta bun, with mixed green salad tossed with mustard lemon vinaigrette. I was in sandwich love. But I think Jan was even happier with his sandwich: duck confit, bacon and slaw served on ciabatta bun, with sweet potato fries and spicy pepper aioli on the side.
When it was time for the necessary walk on the beach, we headed to Cayucos, where the beach was populated only by a few other people. When I spotted a swing set and no children nearby, I jumped at the chance to be a kid again, if only for a few wonderful minutes.
After a day of walking and eating, we were ready for some rest, so we headed to the grocery store so we could cook a relaxing dinner back at the beach house. Jan bought a rib eye steak for us to share, spicy Italian sausage, prawns, a lobster tail, asparagus, and French bread. We cooked everything on the charcoal grill while looking out on the ocean at night. It was just the kind of surf and turf that perfectly completed the weekend.
We didn’t make it to all our favorite stops on the Central Coast this time (not enough meals in the day!), but there are a few other favorite spots worth mentioning:
La Parisienne French Bakery located on the ground floor of the Front Street Inn in Morro Bay offers excellent desserts and pastries, and even has mini-sized cakes for the perfect two-person celebrations.
Tognazzini’s Dockside Too, is a fish market in Morro Bay offering outdoor dining, with live music on Saturdays and Sundays. They make my favorite fish and chips. The dining area offers dog-friendly dining, so when we’ve got Benny with us, it’s his favorite place too.
Jan likes to stop and get saltwater taffy to bring home to his brothers. Carousel Taffy in Morro Bay has giant bins full of different flavors, and you can try samples while you fill your bag full of all your favorites.
Canoeing and kayaking is a fun activity in Morro Bay, and it’s great to oar our way back to check out an alternate view of all the places we’ve walked before. We’ve launched our own canoe from The Kayak Shack at State Park Marina, but rentals are also available there.
Driving north past Cambria, Sebastian’s General Store and Cafe is a great stop for beer and ice cream. Open daily until 4 p.m. at W.R. Hearst State Beach, the café was recently remodeled and reopened, serving sandwiches made with Hearst Ranch beef. It’s a great place to watch elephant seals in January. And this section of beach seems to always be sunny when Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, and Cambria are overcast.
And we even discovered a new place to try in the future. The Gold Rush Steakhouse at the Madonna Inn was not open when we peeked our heads in for a look, but with its pink booths and floral pink carpet, it’s at the top of my list for our next visit.