Giovanni’s Fish Market – Morro Bay, CA

Central Coast, Food Adventures

Oh, Morro Bay — this sleepy beach-side town in the Central Coast is one of our favorite weekend getaways. Though we often catch a fancy seafood feast at The Galley to celebrate a special occasion, we decided to keep it simple this time with a stop at Giovanni’s Fish Market and Galley. With a large menu filled with long lists of fried seafood (anything from halibut to calamari), raw and BBQ’d oysters topped with various sauces (including sriracha lime butter!), fish tacos, burgers, quesadillas, and chowder, Giovanni’s has something for everyone.

Giovanni's Fish Market and Galley

Giovanni’s Fish Market and Galley

After our first visit to Giovanni’s a few months ago, we knew to check around online for specials. After checking in on my Yelp! app, I was greeted with a pop-up that announced a free cup of clam chowder with any $10 purchase. Sweet! Creamy New England style clam chowder, chock full of clams and potato cubes and sprinkled with parsley and a dash of Old Bay, this soup is simply perfect on a cool breezy day. And to add to the small-town charm, it’s worth noting that Giovanni’s clam chowder won the Morro Bay annual chowder cook-off three years in a row!

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

Another item that was just as good as we remembered the first time — the garlic fries. Crispy, fried-to-order pommes frites topped with shredded parmesan, garlicky oil, and chopped parsley. Always served hot and fresh, these fries make for an excellent snack while enjoying the salty sea breeze. They are also a great accompaniment for strips of fried cod or halibut to create a more interesting order of fish & chips.

Garlic Fries

Garlic Fries

Fried food aside, a major part of Giovanni’s menu features oysters, served up raw on the half shell or barbecued and topped with one of an assortment of sauces. They source many of their oysters from Grassy Bar, a local family business with an oyster bed in neighboring Cayucos. I really enjoyed these Grassy Bars; their flavor was a great balance between briny and creamy. Delicious on their own or with a twist of lemon and a dab of Giovanni’s spicy cocktail sauce.

Grassy Bar Oysters on the Half Shell

Grassy Bar Oysters on the Half Shell

Like the sauce? Apparently you can purchase it in the market, along with smoked fish, salmon “candy,” and shark jerky.

Enjoy the view of Morro Rock

Enjoy the view of Morro Rock

The consistently long lines outside the ordering window here at Giovanni’s attests to their popularity and, after trying their food for ourselves, we think it’s well-deserved. Enjoy your meal in the patio area which offers an gorgeous view of Morro Bay’s iconic rock formation, or pack up your order to-go and walk or drive down to the beach surrounding the rock itself. Just be prepared to fight off hoards of persistent seagulls. They’re fearless. But if you survive them, at least you can explore the nearby tide pools!

The otter says, "Relax."

The otter says, “Relax.” I think I’ll call him Frankie.

Or take the first option. After a leisurely meal on the adjoining patio, go on a stroll through the town, take a deep breath, and just relax. Morro Bay is a wonderful place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, and while you’re here, be sure to join the queue at Giovanni’s and try a few items off their extensive menu. Just be sure to order your own cup of chowder… you probably won’t want to share.

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Check out Giovanni’s Fish Market & Galley: giovannisfishmarket.com

1001 Front St
Morro Bay, CA 93442

See their Yelp reviews here!

 

Spontaneous Roadtrip for Inspiration

Central Coast, Food Adventures

We knew we wanted to get out of LA for the weekend. The question was… where? After all, we only had two days and didn’t want to spend the majority of that time only on driving. But then again, we also wanted the journey to be as fun as the destination, so anything within a 2-hour driving radius would likely be too close. We had already spent hours googling potential destinations the night before and woke up on Saturday excited but still not knowing where we wanted to go. The solution? Hop in the car anyway and start heading north, destination unknown. It turned out to be not only a great adventure but also a great source of inspiration for NomNomCat.

I had been dreaming about aebleskivers and Martin had never been to Solvang, so we made that our first stop. Cruising past miles of farm land and grazing cows was already enough to make us feel like we had left home.

Velkommen to Solvang!

A Docked “Galley” in Morro Bay

Central Coast, Food Adventures

In a recent weekend trip to Morro Bay, we were trying to find a relatively nice sit-down restaurant to dine on Saturday evening. Many of the oceanfront restaurants seemed to cater to tourists and a brief glance of their menus didn’t spark any interest.

After doing a brief search on Yelp!, we decided to check out the menu at The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar and a place to stay at the adjoining inn. Although the inn had booked out along with every inn on that street, the manager recommended we make reservations in advance for The Galley.

The Galley Car

The host, John, was very friendly and took our reservations for 8:30pm. After a few hours of walking around and realizing that Morro Bay is a small retirement ocean-side town that, after the peak summer season, had very little to do, we decided to arrive at The Galley a full hour early. John, who had seen us hovering around over the menu outside deciding in advance what we wanted to order, came out and offered to seat us earlier if other parties had not arrived by 8:15pm. It was difficult not to notice how busy they were despite being in the off-season. We even noticed John turning away other parties due to the number of reservations.

We came back later and by this point, both he and another staff member had recognized us and immediately showed us to our table. We were seated in a corner section in the dimly lit Galley which was frequented by an older and local crowd.

Let’s start with the table bread. Alice and I are both suckers for warm ciabatta and look what they had…mini ciabatta loaves, served with homemade whipped herbed butter.

Mini Ciabatta Loaf

We decided to splurge, ordering up a half dozen oysters that, according to our server Jennifer, came from British Columbia. These things were ginormous, a lot larger than the Fanny Bay varieties served at seafood restaurants in Santa Monica and Venice during happy hour. They were sizable and very briny, delicious.

Oysters On The Half Shell

Alice knew exactly what she wanted for her entree, the Pan Seared Scallops, a Galley specialty. The scallops were moist and perfectly cooked — a beautiful golden sear on the outside, nice and opaque on the inside. The garlic mashed potatoes, made with Yukon Golds, was flavorful and even better with the pan jus drizzled on the plate. The assortment of steamed vegetables were well cooked and nothing was soggy. Bringing a bit of autumn into the kitchen, the “garnish” was a slice of steamed kabocha, wonderfully sweet and starchy.

Pan Seared Scallops

Torn between the Blackened Local Snapper, Pan Seared Scallops, and Rack of Lamb, I asked Jennifer for her recommendation but she made a simple suggestion: get what you crave. Rack of Lamb, rare, was the final verdict. I had to ask her if they would be able to do that because some restaurants refuse to serve lamb rare in fear of diners getting sick, but Jennifer seemed confident that their quality was high enough to serve it however I wanted.

The lamb was amazing, very tender on the inside and seared to a slight crisp on the outside. Again, a very sizable portion with 4 double-ribs. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Kalamata tapenade but that is a personal preference. The garlic mashed potatoes, tucked under the rack of lamb, were a big hit as well but I wish they had given a larger scoop.

Rack of Lamb – Rare

After Alice and I polished off our plates, we finished up with the Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée. I amused myself for the longest time saying the name while waiting for our dessert, it just rhymed so well! (Try saying it out loud, noting that Marnier is pronounced like marn-yay, not mar-nee-er.) I have to say this crème brûlée marginally overtook the Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée we had at Opal in Santa Barbara, which, for its simplicity, was very high in quality. However, the Grand Marnier added an extra citrusy zing that was different from just vanilla beans. Five stars for sure.

Grand Marnier Crème Brûlée

Overall it was a great experience with phenomenal service through the whole night, even before we were seated. The food was excellent and the staff extremely accommodating.  Shout out to John for his amazingness of working to getting us seated earlier than expected and Jennifer for being so attentive to our needs and excellent recommendations. We will definitely be back if we find ourselves in Morro Bay again.

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Check out The Galley: www.galleymorrobay.com/

899 Embarcadero
Morro Bay, CA 93442

See their Yelp reviews here.