Thank you to all hounds who helped make this trip a memorable, special birthday for our son.
Pounding rain complicated things, but we persevered & had a stellar visit to Cambria for our son's 13th. The grueling drive ruled out a stop in Orcutt at Chef Rick's. Next time, as we love it. We got to Cambria and had a reliably good meal at 4 pm at Robin's: salad, burgers on ciabatta buns, salmon bisque & salmon sandwich, belgium dark choc. mousse & cheesecake w/raspberry sauce. I wish more places were open for lunch/ all day in the village.
The highlight meal for our son was on his birthday at Windows on the Water in Morro Bay, his choice. He had a steak and caesar salad (which he pronounced better than the caesar at Water Grill in LA, his previous fave--this young man is developing quite a palate)! He was given extra anchovies, which he loves. I gave him a large portion of my clam chowder which he similarly compared to Water Grill. Not sure I'd bump the pristine chowder at W.G. from first, but this was in the same style w/clams in shell, only more rustic texture w/ potato chunks, stronger flavor of herbs. I also had a delicious pork chop on mashed potatoes with chard & winter squash. My husband had a green salad w/gorgonzola & salmon on a cedar plank. All excellent. For dessert, key lime pie for our son. We hope next time to try Orchid at the Inn at Morro Bay, and in Cambria, the Sow's Ear--we were too late to get in the next night.
Another hit on the drive home was Hoppe's in Cayucos. I had a spinach & bacon salad w/housemade ranch dressing, and wild local mushroom pizza. Our son had yet another caesar, this time with bacon rather than anchovies,also deemed very good, and kobe burger with gorgonzola on a housemade bun with sweet potato chips. My husband had a portbello burger & declared it excellent. For dessert, ginger creme brulee. Definitely will be a regular stop for us.
Despite the weather (and thanks again about Big Sur road closure, you were right) there was enough intermittent clearing to visit the elephant seal colony w/ a 3 day old newborn, beachcombing, pool & jacuzzi, & Hearst Castle. Truly a terrific trip. We were again pounded with rain on the drive back to LA; I'm still vibrating. A huge thank you to all who commented in advance!