Business often takes us to the central California coast, where there’s always a wide range of places to stay, visit and dine. This trip (3 days) we booked lodgings at the Blue Sail Inn, a block from Morro Bay’s (Pop. 10,000) popular Embarcadero. The hillside location of the inn, plus we were on the top floor, gave us a expansive view of Morro Bay’s dockside attractions and that iconic volcanic rock that juts out from the natural harbor to a height of 575 feet. The rock is an ancient plug of hardened lava that capped a now extinct volcano some 23 million years ago—give or take a million.
The rock over the years has been chipped away to provide rocks for jetties that protect the small harbor (sail and small fishing boats only). It is still climbed by native Americans to celebrate indigenous holy days, but for the rest of us climbing it is banned.
The local gendarmes hint that most arrests in Morro Bay are rock climbers, who ignore or missed seeing the ever watchful Coast Guard station nearby before making an illegal trek up the mini-Gibraltar.
Rock climbing is not on my bucket list, but taking in harborside restaurants with spectacular sunset views is au rigueur.
Each evening during our stay we dined in three fine restaurants. Each choice was made after consulting with “the locals” like Dane, who was our Sea Sub harbor tour captain. He suggested Dockside Restaurant that is located between the water and the trio of 450-foot tall smoke stacks that fell victim to California’s strict no-smoking ordinances.
We tease. The stacks are part of a shutdown power plant that left town without taking the stacks with them.
Dane pointed out management of the Dockside has its own fishing boat and the “ocean” caught fish are among the freshest. He also pointed out no fishing is allowed in the harbor because of the endangered sea otter, who number less than 3,000 worldwide. The otter find Morro Bay to their liking and the locals reserve all seafood inside the calm waters for the furry cuteness. We digress. Back to the human food.
The Dockside is right in the middle of a working fishing pier making the view more rigging than righteous harbor action, but it also has family atmosphere, chatty staff and a seafood market across the planks from the main dining room. As much as we liked the dinner, we will save the Dockside for lunch on later visits.
What we missed at the Dockside was a view of the sun slowly sinking into the Pacific from our dining table. Yes, Morro Bay spoiled us when it comes to scenic dining.
The views from the Dutchman Restaurant on the piers and Dorn’s on the hillside provided us with fabulous menus and crimson sunsets galore.
Dorn’s culinary home run was the Petrale Sole, a North Pacific mild white fish that the chef aced!
Dutchman Restaurant won us over with the lightest (fried) white fish and chips I’ve ever tasted, but it came in second to the flavorful Sand Dabs entrée.
Tasty restaurants in Morro Bay don’t have to begin with the letter D as there are quite a few in this simple seaside town with that big rock.