As we approached the town from the north, as Pacific Coast Highway curves around the coastline, Morro Rock loomed like a great battleship in the mist, or a huge craggy castle.
Morro Rock is a plug of volcanic rock, rising 576 feet high just off the harbor. When we arrived in town, it loomed ahead of us as we rolled down the road to the Embarcadero. On the opposite side of the street, a soaring three-smokestack power plant - now inactive - is a rival landmark to the Rock.
This pretty, protected harbor was first discovered by Spanish explorers in 1769. In 1870, the town was founded as a port for shipping products from local dairies and ranches. Today, Morro Bay has a population of about 10,000 people, and is mostly known for tourism and fishing.
|Dockside 3 is the pub|
The main restaurant is a sit-down joint, but we opted for the more casual fish market, where you line up at the refrigerator case and order your selection cooked to order. We snagged a plastic table and chairs right by the dock railing, with a great view of the mighty Rock itself, and waited for our name to be called.
We shared half a dozen huge barbecued oysters and an assortment of fried seafood - what's better than fried fish on the dock? Calimari, Pacific ling cod, scallops, shrimp and oysters, we dunked them in spicy cocktail sauce and a good creamy tartar sauce, squirting on the lemon juice and splashing on the Tapatio.
The oysters were huge, meaty things - abundant - larger than my preference, but perfectly grilled. The fried seafood was everything you want from fried seafood - piping hot, crispy, and perfectly cooked inside.
While we ate, a live guitarist played goofy '70s music to a full lunch-time crowd. It's also a dog-friendly restaurant, with doggie drinking fountains and signs proclaiming that dogs are welcome to bring their two-footed companions. The place was popular - it was packed!
What could be better than sitting dockside by the Rock's side?