9 Amazing Restaurants to Try in Morro Bay
Ocean-to-table cuisine is more than a slogan in Morro Bay, California. The fishing boats lining the docks along the downtown Embarcadero of the small town on California’s Central Coast offer a picturesque glimpse of what to expect at the many waterfront restaurants.
Diners can expect catch-of-the-day choices including halibut, rockfish and lingcod that are common in the bay. Fresh seafood is regularly served in dishes ranging from grilled fish and fish and chips to starters sautéed in butter. Add to that the region’s famous clam and squid chowder, served fried or in steaks, and you have true seafood heaven.
Morro Bay sits along the Pacific Coast midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. In addition to its active fishing scene, the town is known for its distinctive 576-foot-tall volcanic plug rising from the bay.
At many of the restaurants that line the Embarcadero along the bay, diners can enjoy exceptional views of Morro Rock as well as creative seafood offerings.
Here are nine amazing restaurants to try in Morro Bay.
1. Dorn’s Breakers Cafe
Perched along Market Avenue overlooking Morro Rock, Dorn’s Breakers Café has been a Morro Bay institution since the 1940s. Today, the third-generation, family-owned cafe offers a wonderful variety of seafood and other dishes.
For the chance to watch the morning sunlight illuminate Morro Rock, consider stopping at Dorn’s for breakfast and ask to be seated on the heated terrace. I did this on my recent trip to the Central Coast community. I also took my server’s suggestion to try Dorn’s pancakes, which she says are legendary. I agree. The stack of fluffy pancakes lived up to all my expectations of what a decadent breakfast should be. I ordered the pancakes with an apple filling, and the hot, spicy apple slices and melting dollops of whipped butter were the perfect accompaniment to the generous stack of pancakes.
Dorn’s is perhaps even best known for its seafood offerings. For lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers favorites like its award-winning clam chowder, calamari steak sautéed in butter and white wine, linguine and its clams and fish and chips.
2. JuJu’s House by the Bay
For gourmet burgers, creative flatbreads, and delicious seafood options, it’s hard to beat the House of JuJu by the Bay along the Embarcadero in Morro Bay. As the name suggests, you also get fabulous views of the bay and Morro Rock.
My visit to JuJu’s was based on another recommendation I got from a local – this time from my hotel receptionist, who told me that JuJu’s was his favorite restaurant in town. The tip turned out to be perfect. I loved JuJu’s location right next to Anchor Memorial Park which is a great place to watch a sunset.
Burgers seemed to be the go-to menu item at JuJu’s. Among the six delicious varieties of burgers is the remarkable JuJu Bleu, a burger served with creamy, crumbled blue cheese, caramelized onions and bacon. Diners have a choice of burger meats including Angus beef, bison, chicken breast, ground turkey and portabella mushroom, all served on a toasted brioche bun.
I opted for the build-your-own flatbread, also a great choice with a crispy crust and a huge assortment of sauce choices like kalamata olive, chipotle, spicy garlic, and barbecue, and choices of toppings ranging from caramelized onions to bacon to artichoke. hearts.
Pro tip: JuJu’s has indoor and outdoor seating as well as an enclosed patio with large windows overlooking the bay. I visited on a chilly winter evening, so asked for a table in the enclosed patio, and the sunsets were stunning. In warm weather the outside tables would be even better.
For another Morro Bay mainstay, head to Hofbrau, a beachfront restaurant that has been serving hand-carved roast beef sandwiches since 1971. The menu also includes a selection of burgers, salads and seafood, as well as draft beers and local wines.
Hofbrau’s specialty is its beef, and the menu has plenty of options to try it. The French sandwich section includes choices such as roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, turkey breast, ham, sausages, and corned beef. Of course, there are also seafood choices, from fish and chips to clam chowder.
And, due to its convenient location along the waterfront, the views from Hofbrau are stunning. The restaurant’s website invites diners to “watch the sailboats go by” while enjoying a glass of wine.
4. Tognazzini quayside restaurant
Featuring two restaurants, each with its own unique atmosphere, Tognazzini’s Dockside restaurants on the historic Morro Bay Embarcadero have been favorites of locals and visitors alike for years. Dockside came first in 2004 with an indoor dining room overlooking the water and serving the freshest seafood choices.
Then in 2009 Dockside Too Fish Market and Patio Dining were added directly behind the Dockside Restaurant. Dockside Too offers fully alfresco dining and allows customers to place their orders at the counter and wait for their name to be called. Local musicians are often present to add to the fun atmosphere.
Menu items at Dockside range from favorites like crab pots and steamed clams to grilled salmon and Central Coast surf and turf (boneless lamb loin, scallops and prawns served with polenta and vegetables of the season). Dockside Too specializes in choices like fish and chips, grilled oysters and fish tacos.
5. Windows on the water
The name says it all: Windows on the Water on the Morro Bay waterfront offers splendid views of the bay in a gourmet atmosphere. The restaurant is perched on the second floor of its Embarcadero location to better capture a full view of the harbor.
Windows on the Water is best known for its local halibut served with hot herb tomato salsa, but the menu also includes everything from creative cocktails like the Blackberry Bramble made with gin, muddled blackberries and blackberry liqueur, a starter of ginger Dungeness crab cake with wasabi aioli and pickled ginger and a main course of cioppino with snow crab, shrimp, mussels, clams, sea bass and calamari served in a tomato sauce with garlic toast.
6. Blue Sky Bistro
Waterfront dining at its finest awaits at Blue Sky Bistro, a relaxing spot known for offering beautiful views of Morro Rock and Estero Bay from nearly every table.
Featuring local and seasonal seafood and vegetables, the bistro’s menu is known for its stellar Mexican Shrimp Cocktail which combines shrimp in a spicy cocktail sauce with avocado, cucumber, jalapeño, red onion, tomato and cilantro and is served with warm flour tortillas. Appetizers include selections like seafood linguine mixed with shrimp, salmon, clams, and mahi-mahi and a tomato, wine, and butter sauce.
7. The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar
A fun atmosphere that features seafood from local waters and vegetables straight from the chef’s family farm in nearby Los Osos is the specialty of the Galley Seafood Grill and Bar located along the Embarcadero in Morro Bay.
The restaurant describes its menu as “Fresh from the sea. Fresh from the farm,” and it includes a range of local specialties like Dungeness crab cakes, steamed clams, and blackened Pacific rockfish. The Galley also features a full bar and world-class wine selection, including local choices from nearby Edna Valley, Paso Robles, and Napa Valley.
8. Taco Temple
If tacos with a twist sound intriguing, the fun Taco Temple in Morro Bay is the place to go. Starting with a menu of Cajun seasoned fish with fresh greens served on a Caribbean black bean tortilla, Taco Temple’s menu has evolved to offer “California fusion,” with a non-traditional take on Mexican cuisine.
The menu includes standout dishes like a calamari taco, crab cake taco, veggie burrito, and sweet potato enchiladas with corn tortillas filled with caramelized sweet onions, roasted poblano peppers, and cotija cheese smothered in hot tomatillo sauce and roasted pumpkin seeds.
9. Giovanni’s Fish Market and Galley
For three decades, Giovanni’s Fish Market and Galley has not only served some of the best clam chowders in the world, but has also served as a purveyor of a wide variety of seafood.
On my recent visit to Morro Bay, I joined the crowd lined up at the counter to sample the chowder that has always been a winner at the Morro Bay Annual Chowder Cook-Off. After tasting my cup of creamy chowder full of clams and potatoes, I was sold as well. With a cool outdoor patio overlooking Morro Rock, Giovanni’s is the perfect spot for a casual lunch or dinner. It’s also a great place to catch a sunset over Morro Bay.
Pro tip: In addition to its kitchen overlooking the water, Giovanni’s offers Gio’s Take-Out Express, a convenient place to grab a quick poke bowl or an order of fish and chips.
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