Restaurants, Whale Watching, Margaritas & Traveling Back In Time Along Busy Highway 1
Along the busy two-lane highway between Monterey and Santa Cruz on the Central California coast, which on one side sits a power plant, is a little gem of a place that’s worth pumping the breaks for in order to come to screeching to a halt in front of, but hopefully not into, the Whole Enchilada Cafe.
You’ve just landed in Moss Landing.
Once the dust has settled – you see, like everyone else you’ll be screaming along Highway 1 at 70 mph and not even notice it until you’re past it and remark, “say was that…” – then get out, stretch the legs and go explore this quiet paradise.
Note that Moss Landing is just past Castroville if you’re northbound and Watsonville if you’re headed south.
In addition to the Whole Enchilada (which can get a bit lively as a bikers’ stop on sunny Sunday afternoons) and a small row of a couple of other restaurants and a fresh fruit stand, is a whole interesting world worth exploring.
There’s marshland like something you’ll find along the coast in South Carolina or North Carolina’s Outer Banks, an old marina with aging (but still operating) fishing boats and a small beach with hardly anybody on or even anywhere around it. If you’re looking to escape from it all, you could come here and not be noticed for the better part of a week.
On a short back street, there’s a couple of galleries that look like something out of the Old West, and long-abandoned wooden boats and other nautical items lead to the oasis in these parts, the Haute Enchilada Cafe, which has great food as well as both margaritas and sangria that match the quality of the cuisine.
In many ways, being in Moss Landing is like standing still in the middle of a place where time stands still.
As far as activities, you can go sportfishing, whale watching ($50 for 3-4 hours and you can bring your own alcohol on-board; how does a little Monterey County wine sound with seeing a few whales!?), take a tour aboard a “Coast Guard approved pontoon boat” with the interestingly-named the Elkhorn Slough Safari (daily 2-tour tours, $38), even camp overnight in its RV Park (reservations at 800-562-3390).
If you have too many drinks at either Enchilada and want a bed instead of a campground, the Captain’s Inn is a quaint B&B with fireplaces in every room.
So the next time you’re in the area – whether you realize it or not – pull over and check out Moss Landing. You may just wind up staying a while.