Restaurants & Bars 25

road trip, central coast--tourist trap? ;mysteries of the temple

moto | Jan 10, 200604:55 AM

From our southward trip we learned to appreciate the hwy 154 option to 101, and returning north tried to get to the Cold Spring Tavern (Stagecoach Rd. just off the hwy. as one leaves the national forest going away from S.Barbara) for lunch. They don't serve food betw. 3 and 5 and we made it there 3.10. In a sour grapes frame of mind, the place does have a nice patina of age and wear, we thought it might easily be a tourist trap, because it doesn't need anything better than average food and a decent bar to remain popular. We'll find out another time. I remember seeing the Los Olivos Grocery when we passed through the previous time, and it was just down the hwy. It has a fair selection of made to order deli sandwiches and a cafe with hot foods, as well as a small-but-decently stocked with local products wine section.Our mixed italian-style cold cuts w. cheese, lettuce and tomato("tuscan") on a good, seeded whole wheat bread was fat and tasty, priced accordingly(7.50 or 8?). We'd be staying in Cambria and decided to get take-out for supper from Morro Bay's famous Taco Temple (Main St., visible from hwy.1.)It was mad-house busy at 5.45 on a Thurs., the two line cooks in the semi-open kitchen never had fewer than 12-15 tickets ahead of them, mostly 4-15 big plates or stuffed take-out boxes per ticket, during our 40 min. wait after ordering. We went with their much celebrated fish/cal. fusion tacos and tostada, in what they call their most expensive category,"premium fish", choices that night including 'Fijian'(I appreciate knowing the source)albacore, wild salmon,halibut, and sea scallops. Folks who might expect fish shack prices would get sticker shock at the "premium" price line, $9 for two tacos or twice that for a tostada. The prices for their other plates were also higher than normal for what you might categorize as "sit-down Mexican", and the special of grilled beef in red chile sauce sold out before 6. Draft beers included Anchor Steam and the very good local Firestone Ale. Another fellow waiting asked the cashier, "is it always this busy?"--affirmative--and I chipped in, it's the only place doing this kind of food on a fair stretch of coast, and thankfully that part hasn't been overdeveloped like many places in our state (the Morro Bay power plant with its towering twin 'stacks did enough to improve the quality of life).Taking our boxes of grub down the highway,the room at our inn was so comfy my wife grabbed a siesta and our food was thoroughly room-temp when we got to it, which should have uncovered any imperfections in the fish. There were none. She had four nice medallions of albacore perfectly seared, rare in the centers, for her tacos, and I got two salmon filets,3-4 oz. each, grilled medium, lightly and simply seasoned to accentuate the fish freshness, heaps of raw veg. shreds and lightly steamed florets of cruciferous,soft grilled tortillas, no oiliness or grease at all (hence the "cal.-fusion).The only ingredient falling a bit short was the black beans on my tostada, still firm and barely done because they'd been rush-restocked during our wait. We also didn't get the chips and salsa the sit-down diners received. We'll try the table service version of the Temple on another trip, and count on expending $20 p.p., but Cal.-fusion usually means a tithe. salud.

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