(Since many of my test drives are to California's coast, I decided to share a restaurant adventure on a recent drive)
After a fantastic day of sailing on Monterey Bay with Captain Ron and returning to the Moss Landing Harbor, sailboat passengers will be greeted by the scrumptious aromas coming from the upwind Phil's Fish Market and Eatery. Captain Ron's sailboat, "Latitude Adjustment", is berthed directly downwind from the very unique and extremely popular Phil's.
As you enter Phil's, the first thing you are greeted with is the huge selection of fresh fish, all on display and packed in mounds of finely crushed ice. If you're coming to Phil's for fresh fish, you'll find fish that were probably enjoying a nice day swimming in one of the deepest ocean bays in the world just hours earlier. Now that's fresh! Salmon, Rock Fish, Albacore, Pacific Red Snapper, Halibut, Ling Cod, California Sea Bass, Dungeness Crab, and Flounder these are just some of the fresh fish available from the local fishing boats that use Moss Landing as their home port. But it doesn't stop there...flown in fresh, customers can also choose from Trout, Cat Fish, Yellow Tail Tuna, Mahi-Mahi, Tombo Albacore, and Yellow Fin Tuna. If you want shell fish, there's a huge selection of fresh Crab, Prawns, Mussels, Lobsters, Shrimp, Scallops, Clams and Oysters. The huge varieties of fish are of course, subject to fishing seasons and weather conditions. Phil's selection of daily catches would probably beat anything you could find even at San Francisco's famed Fisherman's Wharf. But this isn't the real treat you'll enjoy upon discovering Phil's Fish Market...it's the other part of their name that will have you telling all your friends of your new find...The Eatery.
The Eatery is a stand in line (sometimes stretching out the front door), place your order and find a vacant table. The large menu is on a large overhead chalk board...chalk, because the menu is ever changing...sometimes those swimming fish just don't take the bait for an invitation to dinner. When your order is ready, waitresses will serve the food. An order of fish 'n chips will have three nice pieces of battered dipped halibut or cod served with a basket of fries and coleslaw or you can enjoy the chips with shrimp, scallops, oysters or squid at a price around $15. You can also order just about any type of fish from the charbroiler or have it breaded and grilled...you can even find most of the fish smoked.
Phil's house specials include salmon or halibut Marsala, spicy jumbo prawns, Phil's stir-fried calamari, blackened sea scallops, Sicilian salmon, or halibut tacos. Phil's pièce de résistance is their famous Cioppino which you can order in a bowl or in a special hollowed out bread bowl...I'm getting hungry! They'll even let you bring in your own pot and they will then cook you a great meal...better allow about an hour for this custom order. They also feature Cioppino in a bucket, in which they supply the bucket, it's ready to go and can be ordered fresh or frozen. Their very special Cioppino is made with Clams, Mussels, White Fish, Calamari, Dungeness crab, Prawns and Scallops. Save the bucket for your return visit and you will save $5 on your next order. You can also enjoy several dishes with various pastas and for steak eaters, they serve delicious Sirloin Steaks.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the best part of the downwind aromas we enjoy from our returning sailboat cruises...the clam chowder...prepared both as New England style, which is the white chowder, or Manhattan style, which is the red chowder(my favorite).
Phil's showcases Bluegrass Music Monday thru Thursdays nights with a different band featured each night. You can enjoy your dinner either inside or out in the enclosed patio. The atmosphere is always that of a party with patrons sharing their own story of how they discovered Phil's Fish Market and Eatery.
I think now you'll probably understand why there is usually a line out the door seven days a week...The Eatery is one of a kind. Located just about half way between the Santa Cruz area and the Monterey Peninsula, at the Moss Landing Harbor, it's worth the short drive for everyone visiting anywhere in the Monterey Bay Region.