Edible Monterey Bay

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Found Treasure: Baja Fish Tacos in Moss Landing

July 2, 2021 – Fresh catch of the day, hauled in by a fisherman who happens to be part of the family that runs the restaurant—and, on a recent Friday lunch, happened to be sitting a table over. Outdoor tables right on the dock, with arresting views of Elkhorn Slough, the iconic power plant stacks and beyond. A sharp selection of local wines and craft beers.

If there’s a better recipe for a summer lunch, I’m not sure what it is.

So it goes at Sea Harvest Moss Landing, which is coming up on a year anniversary of its reopening, which itself came after three long years dormant. Tableside service has been swapped out for more casual counter-style flow, and there are atrium and indoor seating on top of the outdoor options. It’s conveniently located but perennially overlooked, perhaps because it shares the bay with famed Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery, only with none of the lines and a fraction of the price tag. 

Great seafood selection with views of Elkhorn Slough at the Sea Harvest in Moss Landing (Photo: Mark C. Anderson)

The dry-erase menu is as simple as its features are fresh: Pick a seafood from the grill or the fryer to go with two sides, or steer toward a calamari sandwich, Shrimp Louie salad or clam chowder in a bread bowl.

Local catch is flagged as part of the menu presentation, and on our visit that included local salmon, halibut and rockfish (at around #20-$25 a plate with two choices from rice, fries, coleslaw, sauteed vegetables and Caesar salad). Sablefish, prawns and sea bass round out the board. 

Each tempted in its own way, and clams and chips from the fryer side of things felt like a novel change of pace, but my fate was pre-sealed when I saw the Baja fish tacos ($4/each, $15.95 for four). 

Sea Harvest ranks among my favorite seafood spots, so my expectations were high, and promptly surpassed. 

Baja-style fish tacos made with fresh, locally-caught rockfish at Sea Harvest (Photo: Mark C. Anderson)

The rockfish tasted as fresh as it gets; it turns out the Deyerle family who owns the place uses their own boats to catch their rockfish, so it comes in fresh and direct almost daily. The crispy tempura batter was spot on—airy, crispy, ungreasy—and the garlic lemon aioli, house pico de gallo, and lime-zinged cabbage slaw complete a tasty and sizable spread.

Roxanne Deyerle was the manager manning the counter on my visit. Her dad started the original Sea Harvest in Monterey in the early ’80s. Today her uncle and cousin run the Monterey and Carmel spots, which like Moss Landing are independent operations with the same base menu and identical from-the-grill and from-the-fryer choices, though each property enjoys a different personality and setup. 

Deyerle’s fellow manager and fiancé, Blaise Lewis, worked for years in beer making and bar management, which helps explain the exceptional lineup of beers and wines he assembles.

Beverage line up for all tastes (Photo: Mark C. Anderson)

The easy flow and upbeat mood at Sea Harvest Moss Landing on a summer Friday helped reveal why its team is pleased with reopening adjustments. 

“We had a chance to rethink it, make it more COVID friendly,” Deyerle says. “We basically tried to streamline it as much as possible, and make it a cool spot where you can eat outside.”

That they have, and I’m glad they did.

Sea Harvest Moss Landing is open 11am-7pm daily at 2420 Highway 1 in Moss Landing. More at (831) 728-7081 or @SeaHarvestMossLanding on Instagram.

A hefty serving of french fried artichoke hearts

About the author

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Mark C. Anderson is a writer, photographer, editor and explorer based in Seaside, California. Reach @MontereyMCA by way of Instagram and Twitter.