As if I'd died and gone to seafood heaven, I recently transcended to the quaint fishing village of Moss Landing for lunch at the famous (or is it infamous?) Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery. Sure, Monterey County has a plethora of seafood restaurants to discover. But this, fellow foodies, is one not to be missed.
Saying hello to the sea lions in Moss Landing works up an appetite — time to head to Phil's!
First of all, Phil DiGirolamo is no slouch. This Monterey County native comes from a long line of Monterey fisherman and restaurateurs. He knows the biz. His restaurant and fish market is revered by locals and visitors alike. In fact, his cioppino recipe bested Bobby Flay’s in a Food Network throw down. You can buy this seafood stew by the bowl or even the bucket, thanks to Phil’s adjacent market.
Phil's Fish Market & Eatery knows their seafood!
Upon entering the venue, it’s clear that Phil’s is all about seafood; cooking it, selling it (they can help guests select the perfect fish or crustacean), and of course enjoying it fresh out of the ocean — seared, stewed, grilled or fried. The menu is extensive, putting yours truly in quite the dilemma! With so many seafood sandwiches, pastas and other entrees, it’s tough to make a decision when confronted with so much aquatic cuisine.
A few Monterey Bay locals atop my plate: blackened Lingcod with a sweet chili glaze.
I opted for the Lingcod, one of my favorite rock fishes and a local catch off Monterey County’s rugged coastline. It was topped with prawns and served blackened with a sweet chili glaze, steamed local veggies and roasted potatoes. Sitting outside on Phil’s patio that is bathed in sunlight and seemingly casual décor truly puts one in the laid back, coastal state of mind. I couldn’t help but smile as the fragrant vapors steamed up my sunglasses.
The local clam chowder poses for its close-up next to a photo of Phil's famous cioppino.
The meal was just what the doctor ordered. We started with a platter of crispy delights: fried calamari (a local delicacy), local artichoke hearts, scallops (my personal fav!) and butterflied prawns, and a savory cup of clam chowder. Needless to say, it was difficult saving room for the main course.
The Lingcod was superb – dense yet buttery texture and perfectly blackened without being dried out. The sweet chili glaze was a nice surprise to this dish, adding just the right element of heat and dimension to the fish. The veggies were crisp and tasted fresh out of the field, which can be expected with Monterey County’s farm-to-table appeal.
More turf less surf: Phil's makes a mean patty melt.
My fellow diners were equally pleased. In fact, a friend who doesn’t care for seafood (I know, don’t get me started) had a darn good patty melt experience, complete with perfectly grilled onions and a killer sauce. Bottom line: by land or by sea, put Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery at the top of your list and plan a day in charming Moss Landing to work up an appetite.
Phil's Fish Market and Eatery
7600 Sandholdt Road (see map)
Moss Landing, CA