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Jan 22, 2009 02:01 PM

Central coast seafood... Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo and....?

I'm making a road trip with an occasional pescatarian and I've gotta have something wonderful in my back pocket to fish out (rim shot)

Unfortunately, my central coast endeavors are limited pretty much to Jocko's (Nipomo), Big Sky (San Luis Obispo) the occasional lame Solvang smorgaasbord or aebelskiever, and the Madonna Inn coffee shop (just for the kitsch and whimsy).

I know of the clam chowder at Splash in Pismo. Really tasty, and much better than Brad's.

Surely some of you may have some advice for local, fresh seafood within these regions? (or even slightly further afield.... Cambria, Big Sur, or ....?)

Thanks hounds!

Mr Taster

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  1. Sea Chest in Cambria

    Taco Temple in Morro Bay

    Tognazzini's in Morro Bay (sit outdoors by the market)

    Bayside Cafe in Morro Bay (inside St. Park)

    Pete's Pierside in Avila, fish tacos and more

    Chef Rick's in Orcutt

    Brophy Bros. or the Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. in SB

    1. The SB Shellfish Co on the end of Stearns Wharf (they'll validate your parking) is fantastic- keep in mind it is all bar seating, and not cheap- but the simple food is very good. Great mussle, clam and oyster usuals. Crab sandwich and a cold Firestone- unbeatable! The live tank is always holding something good- have never had a bad crab or lobster there. Taco Temple in Morro Bay is great- and if you are going that way- might as well go 15 minutes further for the elephants seals- FANTASTIC beach viewing this time of year- the babies are on the beach with the big ones- not to be missed!

      1 Reply
      1. re: JalamaMama

        SBSC had Hama Hama oysters when we were there a couple of weeks ago, heaven!

      2. The Chase in Santa Barbara for one of the best calamari picattas ever...they prepare it so well that it almost taste like's that good!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Beach Chick

          I agree--that calamari picatta is what I ALWAYS order when at Chase.

        2. Great recs for Santa Barbara.... any great seafood recs further north?

          Mr Taster

          3 Replies
          1. re: Mr Taster

            I have heard good reports of Windows on the Water in Morro Bay (but pricey). We like The Dutchman in Morro Bay for fried stuff. I also recommend Stearns Wharf, there is a place past the SB Shellfish Co that will sell you a crab & loan you a mallet to eat crab on the pier. Oysters too. I can't remember the name of it though. The Sea Chest is very good but note that it is cash only and gets crowded in a hurry.

            1. re: ErikaK

              There is no restaurant after Santa Barbara Shellfish- that is the last one on the pier. There is LongBoards/The Harbor Restaurant, then Moby Dicks, then SB Shellfish. I want to demoish my crab with a mallet!

            2. re: Mr Taster


              Pete's Pierside on the Harford Pier (farthest out) in Avila Beach. Not much more than a take-out window and great food. Bring a mallet and enjoy whole crab right out of the cooker, at plastic patio tables. Great Mexican flavors in seafood tacos, burritos, etc. Also great cod F&C with red potato fries. Flies can be pesky in warmer weather. Fish is fresh off the boats based out of Avila.

              Bayside Cafe at the Marina at Morro Bay St Pk, great cozy cafe rijust steps from the moorings. They do salmon well, and their crab cakes are rich. Not fancy dining but good. Great hospitality too.

              Chef Rick's in Orcutt is Bistro style with great wine list and a cajun flair, but inland from the ocean. Masterful sauces.

              There is a tiny place in Cayucos right next to the seawall that smokes albacore and tuna. Serve burgers and fish sand's too.

              Giovanni's fish mkt and take-out on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay always has good smoked fish, and great wild, line-caught local fish.

              Toganzinni's is just a block or so north from Gio's toward the stacks (power plant) and has good F&C as well as other seafood. Seating is outside at patio tables but great on a nice day. Sits right alongside the Coast Guard pier with commercial fishing boats as a backdrop. Very fresh fish off their own boat.

              Bayside Cafe
              10 State Park Rd, Morro Bay, CA 93442

              Chef Rick's
              4869 S Bradley Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93455

              Tognazzini's Dockside Restaurant
              1245 Embarcadero, Morro Bay, CA 93442

              Pete's Pierside Cafe
              39 Avila Beach Road, Avila Beach, CA 93424

              Giovanni's Fish Market
              1001 Front St, Morro Bay, CA 93442

              Ruddell's Smokehouse
              101 D St, Cayucos, CA 93430

            3. The Hungry Cat in Santa Barbara never disappoints.

              The Hungry Cat
              1134 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101

              3 Replies
              1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                Check out the local reviews. Hungry Cat is good for food, but often ruins the dinner with their unpleasant and often haughty service. Mixed feelings whenever I see this place recommended. Best to keep complaining and hope it doesn't always fall on deaf ears. They could be so much better than they are. So much better.

                Best advice for Hungry Cat: eat at the bar. Bartender is usually cool and you can watch the chef work his wonders at the grill. Avoid the table waitstaff at all costs. If they only offer table service, tell them thanks but............ another time.

                1. re: glbtrtr

                  Interesting observation. I've only eaten at the SB Hungry Cat 5 or 6 times, but haven't had an issue. However, I always choose restaurants soley for the food, unless I am hosting others. I am extremely disappointed with great ambiance with good service and terrible food - exhibit A: Gladstone's in Malibu.

                  1. re: ElissaInPlaya

                    Yes, the only thing that would get me back to Hungry Cat is their food, which is good. I agree with you also hating to pay for ambiance and getting insulted with mediocre food.

                    But since this complaint about the Hungry Cat service has not changed over time and is registered by so many others, it seems this is the way they like it. And therefore I think I will like to spend my money somewhere where I feel better enjoying the food.

                    It is a shame because I don't get it why they so consistently turn off so many people with their service since it is such a small restaurant and I would assume needs more local loyalty than the hit and miss tourist crowd.

                    Maybe they have another agenda I just don't understand. I am glad they are still there as it is always a shame to see one more restaurant go bad in that difficult spot. Dang, I do miss their Pug Burger.