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Clam Chowder in Santa Cruz and post-kayaking food near Moss Landing?

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Hi Chowhounds,

Mom will be visiting and wants to hit up some lunch in Santa Cruz before we go kayaking in Moss Landing. She loves the idea of the clam chowder in the bread bowl, which I know I've seen all over the place on the Wharf. Is there any place you'd recommend we stop at, either on the Wharf or nearby?

After kayaking in Moss Landing, we'll need to find a bite to eat - any suggestions near there, or perhaps in Gilroy on our drive back home? Seafood would be great - nothing too exotic. ;)

Thank you!

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  1. There are 2 seafood options in Moss Landing. The first is Phil's Fish Market, which is counter service ordered/delivered to your table, very casual and busy. It has a very extensive menu and Bobby Flay has done a throw-down against Phil's for cioppino (I don't know who won). It is off the main path, in a funky part of Moss Landing near the Monterey Aquarium research center; parking is limited but not impossible.

    The second option is Sea Harvest which is a more upscale/white tablecloth place. It has a nice view of ocean side of Elkhorn Slough and the sea otters, if you didn't get your fill while kayaking. They have a less extensive menu and is more expensive than Phil's. It is right on Highway 1 and ample parking.

    I think that Phil's would probably be the better bet after kayaking, save Sea Harvest for a dinner experience, IMHO.

    Another thought--there are 2 more options in Moss Landing. One is The Whole Enchilada, the other is The Haute Enchilada, same owner. One is Mexican, the other more more contemporary. I forget right now which name is where, but the Mexican one is right on Highway 1 at the entrance to Moss Landing, the other one is further down the road. Both are good. The one in town has patio seating.

    4 Replies
    1. re: rednails

      A couple years ago, my husband and I stopped in at Phil's about mid-afternoon. because we wanted to try some place different from our usual Sea Harvest lunch. The mixed aroma of not-so-fresh seafood aroma & lysol/pinesol (?)stopped us from staying.

      Simple preparations are the better choice at Sea Harvest: clam chowder in the bread bowl; fried seafood. The grilled preps can be cooked too done for my tastes -- even if I request a medium rare prep.

      Warning: Exiting Sea Harvest's ample parking lot to turn left (north) onto Hwy. 1 can almost be heartstopping. I've found it easier to go right (south), cross the bridge, turn left at the power plant, make a U-turn and then head back north.

      1. re: rednails

        Has something changed at Sea Harvest? The tablecloths have been multi-colored print and the prices were lower than Phil's.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I think the best place in Santa Cruz would be Rivas on the wharf. Nothing fancy; just good seafood, & you can get really good chowder in the breadbowl, although I like it best in a a regular cup.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I meant the general experience, not the tablecloth color :) I'm probably wrong about the pricing tho, as it's been about 2-3 years since I've eaten at Sea Harvest. Phil's usually works into my travel plans better.