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Avila Beach

09/10/2010

We recently went to Avila Beach, which is a bit north of Pismo on the coast. The great thing about the area this time of year is the enormous number of birds that come through. I couldn’t get a good photo of them, because they dine a bit too far from shore, but in person, it’s amazing to see. Thousands upon thousands of sea-faring birds that chase after what must be enormous schools of fish.

This year, there were fewer pelicans than last, maybe a couple hundred. Last year, around Labor Day, we saw several thousand. Of course, there were a lot of gulls, but the bulk of the gigantic flock appeared to be Sooty Shearwaters. I’m not sure about that identification, so if anyone else knows for sure, please let me know.
Port San Luis Pier
Merchant
Selling seashells by the sea shore
The Port San Luis Pier is a working pier with a fish market, cleaning station, a couple of restaurants, and numerous freeloaders of the feathered and finned variety.
Fisherman
Cleaning Station
Sea Lion Snoozing
Puppy
Pelicans

The food choices on the pier are the usual mix of expensive and lowbrow seafood. The best-rated (and moderately priced) one, Pete’s Pierside Cafe, was way too loud that day, so we wound up at Fat Cat’s Café instead. Expectations were low, as for all touristy locations. But they had a nice patio that wasn’t blasting reggae—a big plus in my book.
Fisherman's Platter
We ordered the fisherman’s platter. This photo is only half of it. The amount of food is easily enough for two people. I had mixed feelings about the fish. The squid was fantastic. Not only did the plate include calamari rings and tentacles, there was also a big slice of tasty calamari steak, perfectly cooked. The shrimp was also very good.

The clam strips met my moderate expectations, a bit chewy, but that’s normal. It’s rare that you get tender clam strips, yet I still love them. Where the taste and prep fell short, in my opinion, were the “cod” and scallops. The scallops were overcooked, unlike everything else, and the whitefish was too firm for my taste. I’m not sure what kind of fish it actually was, but I prefer a flakier whitefish in my platter; this was more like the texture of swordfish or shark and just too fishy for me. The oysters were well-prepared but too salty. I certainly couldn’t eat a whole plate of them.

Of course, everything was deep fried. Mmmm. And the side of coleslaw was actually quite good. Fresh, not too heavy on the mayo, and plenty for two people. If we were to go back there, instead of the fisherman’s platter, we’d probably just order the squid and shrimp.

Go between 3 and 5 p.m. and the well cocktails are just $2.50. Now, don’t have high expectations. We’re talking about stock margarita mix and moderate alcohol here. But for that low a price, on a hot day, it’s far more refreshing than the awful tap water. I can honestly say that they served some of the worst water I’ve ever had. Tasted like dirt and needed a whole bag of lemons.
Margarita
Tangy lime beverage or dirt water? Which would you choose?

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From → Birds, Food, Travel

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