The Whole Enchilada
I have been hearing great things about the Whole Enchilada for quite sometime, so on a recent trip to Elkhorn Slough, we decided to stop here to fuel up before our walk. I knew exactly where the restaurant was located, because we often stop just across the street to watch the otters play in the marina.
Upon entering the courtyard and patio areas, we were made comfortable by the fountains, lush vegetation, and unique signs and sculptures. Amazing to thing we were just feet from busy Highway 1, yet so secluded. Inside the restaurant we first saw the little bar, and the dazzling bold, bright colors found throughout Latin America. We were immediately seated by a window with a view of Highway 1 and the Moss Landing power plant over the artichoke plants growing in the flower bed.
The menu is big, with a great variety of traditional Mexican dishes alongside local creations. Mexican seafood dishes are always good in California, so I decided on the seafood enchiladas and Laura chose the Mariscos Chimichanga. The meals came out within 10 minutes of us ordering, and were very impressive. The seafood enchiladas ($17) included one shrimp enchilada and one crab enchilada, topped with a pasilla chile salsa and cheese and served with rice, beans and salsa fresca. Laura's Mariscos Chimichanga ($20) had fluffy fried flour tortillas stuffed with a seafood mixture of snow crabmeat, shrimp, white fish, jack and cheddar cheese, served crispy, and also served with rice, beans, and salsa fresca. Both meals were garnished with an olive, lemon slices, parsley, and cheese and chips in the beans, making for a perfect presentation. The food was outstanding--a great mix of flavors that left me scraping the last morsels off of my large plate. My only minor complaint would be the size of the tiny shrimp in my enchilada.
Overall, the food is great, service was fantastic, but prices are a little steep for Mexican food.
The Monterey County Weekly has given the Whole Enchilada a handful of awards in the past few years including 2008's Best Mexican Restaurant in the county, and Best Restaurant in north Monterey County in 2000 and 2005.
The owners of the Whole Enchilada run the neighboring Moss Landing Inn, the Lighthouse Harbor Grill, and the Whole Enchilada Market (where you can get much cheaper sandwiches!). Their daughter runs the artsy Haute Enchilada, also in Moss Landing.
Phil's Fish Market
I first heard of Phil's in the Monterey County Weekly where it was named best restaurant in the northern part of the county. VT member Atufft also had rave reviews for this seafood restaurant in tiny, bay side Moss Landing. I finally made a trip to try this restaurant in April 2007, and I was very impressed with the food, atmosphere, and the huge crowd despite the mid-afternoon time of my visit.
When you enter the front doors you'll find yourself in the "out door" dining area, actually a covered addition to the original warehouse restaurant. A quick right turn will take you to the fish market area, and the counter where you'll place your order. Behind this ordering counter, is a small indoor dining area. Phil's has a huge menu with most dinners (such as stir-fired calamari, cioppino, and grill snapper/sand dabs/sole/calamari steak/crab cakes) about $15-$20. We decided on two crabmeat salad sandwiches with fries/coleslaw, cheese, and your choice of bread for a high $16 each. We also decided to share a medium pint-sized bowl of clam chowder ($5.50). After ordering, we sat in the outdoor area while awaiting our food. The chowder came in a huge bowl and was excellent, almost enough for a meal in itself. The sandwiches were also excellent, but to me not worth the money as similar crab salad sandwiches can be had in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf area for maybe $6.
All in all, this is a great seafood restaurant with a huge & loyal following. The food is outstanding, but a little expensive for a limited service restaurant with no real wait staff.
The Monterey County Weekly has given the Phil's high accolades in the past few years, naming it the Best Restaurant in north Monterey County in 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, and 2002. Its Moss Landing neighbor, The Whole Enchilada took the honors in 2000 and 2005.
The Haute Enchilada
This funky little Mexican cafe on Moss Landing has a small indoor dining area and a large outdoor patio heated by open fires and heat lamps. The entire restaurant is very quirky with bright colors, odd art, leather chairs, even a book shelf outside with a variety of reading material.
We had a great little breakfast here, bacon and egg bagel sandwiches ($7 each) with double cappuccino ($2.50 each). The sandwiches were truly outstanding... bacon mixed with scrambled egg and lots of cheddar with a thin layer of avocado on top. The majority of the menu is Mexican food such as tacos ($2.75), enchiladas ($9-13), and burritos ($5-9), and they have a variety of alcoholic beverages.
Open daily from 7am to 5pm.
Phil's Fish Market and Restaurant: Great Seafood All Around
Phil's is located where the local fishing fleet brings in the catch, and so the locally caught fish is very fresh. But, Phil's also has a great assortment of fish brought in from the world market. Virtually everything can be found here when other places, particularly the fishmongers in Monterey and Santa Cruz seem to have empty ice shelves. Fresh oysters of various types, crabs, lobsters, mussels, clams, shrimp, rock fish, halibut, mackel, salmon, bass, swordfish, squid, octopus, anchovies...Have I missed anything? Prices of seafood are high everywhere these days, but these are about as low as can be found, and it will be in stock. More typically though, people stop by Phil's to eat in the restaurant. Chowder, cioppino, raw oysters, fish sandwiches, grilled fish, fried calamari, and so on, are all on the menu, along with a good wine and beer selection, and a full espresso bar. Order the food at the counter, take the number, and the food will be delivered. The place is not a gourmet spot, doesn't have a good view, and caters to children and noisey adults, but for basic good seafood this is the place. Prices are very reasonable and service is excellent. When I did the research for this tip, I was surprised by the number of services this establishment provides. Check out the web link below for more details.
Favorite Dish: I've rarely been here for dinner, although from the menu, I can tell that it's great. Nothing fancy in terms of sauces, and frankly I can do without the french fried fish and chips, but for simple fresh fish; this is the place. Last time there, I had a crab sandwich, which came on a sourdough bun and cheddar cheeze. My wife had a cup of clam chowder. The cioppino is bound to be a favorite for many people.
- Food and Dining