March 29, 2018

Berkeley: Super Super


80 North

Super Super  1428 San Pablo Ave./Page St., (510) 559-7759.  Daily 10am-8:30pm.  Operating out of a converted bungalow house on busy San Pablo, this family-run Vietnamese spot specializes in traditional pho soup and banh mi sandwiches enhanced with cucumbers, jalapeños, cilantro, pickled carrots, and a creamy sauce.  Rice plates as well as hamburgers and garlic fries are also on the menu.  My favorite item is the roast pork banh mi.  A good selection of vegetarian versions are available.  Order at the counter, then pick a seat either indoors or outside on the spacious sheltered patio.  Service is fast.  Plenty of free parking is in the back.

exterior of Super Super in Berkeley, California
exterior of Super Super in Berkeley, California


order counter at Super Super in Berkeley, California
order counter at Super Super in Berkeley, California


chicken and rice plate at Super Super in Berkeley, California
chicken and rice plate at Super Super in Berkeley, California


roast pork banh mi at Super Super in Berkeley, California
roast pork banh mi at Super Super in Berkeley, California


More things to do in Berkeley.

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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

March 27, 2018

Morro Bay: seashells, skate boards, and avocados


1 South

The Shell Shop  590 Embarcadero Rd., (805) 772-8014.  Daily 9:30-7, in winter 9:30-5:30.  The perfect souvenir stop, this shop has the largest selection of seashells on the Central Coast and offers them at bargain prices.  Children can walk in with just 15 cents and purchase and a lovely, tiny shell, or splurge their entire allowance and walk out with something memorable.

Blue Limpet shells at The Shell Shop in Morro Bay, California
Blue Limpet shells at The Shell Shop in Morro Bay, California

shell roses at The Shell Shop in Morro Bay, California
shell roses at The Shell Shop in Morro Bay, California


Morro Bay Skateboard Museum  601 Embarcadero, (805) 610-3565.  M-F 11am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm.  More than 200 skateboards on display here tell the complete history of skateboarding--from the 1930s through today.  Currently it holds John Lennon's skateboard, but exhibits are rotate out from private collections.  Unfortunately, it was closed when I stopped by.

exterior of Morro Bay Skateboard Museum in Morro Bay, California
exterior of Morro Bay Skateboard Museum in Morro Bay, California


Morro Creek Ranch  1800 Atascadero Rd., (805) 772-8200.  Daily 10am-5pm.  This working avocado farm features more than 11,000 Haas avocado trees.  Though the mainstay is the Hass, sometimes more unusual avocado varieties such as the Zutano are also available for sale.  A small open-air shop also dispenses avocado cosmetics, avocado oil, and more.

sign at Morro Creek Ranch in Morro Bay, California
sign at Morro Creek Ranch in Morro Bay, California

Zutano avocados at Morro Creek Ranch in Morro Bay, California
Zutano avocados at Morro Creek Ranch in Morro Bay, California


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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

March 22, 2018

Albany: Sugata Japanese Restaurant


80 North

Sugata Japanese Restaurant  1105 Solano Ave., Albany, (510) 526-3516.  L-D Tu-Sat; $$-$$$.  Reservations advised.  This intimate, atmospheric spot feels like it was lifted up from Japan and dropped down here intact.  Choose to sit at a small sushi counter, on the floor in a private tatami room, or in the small main dining room.  Lunch specials are well priced at around $13 to $14 and include miso soup, marinated cucumber salad, and fragrant tea.  My tempura bento box additionally included one shrimp and many vegetable tempuras, rice, and salad.  My partner’s bento box was the same except his main items was a chunk of fresh salmon with teriyaki sauce.  The fresh fish sushi has a stellar reputation, and I’ve heard people rave about the seaweed salad and sukiyaki.

interior and menu board at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California
interior and menu board at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California

sushi bar at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California
sushi bar at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California

appetizers at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California
appetizers at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California

bento box teriyaki salmon at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California
bento box teriyaki salmon at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California

bento box teriyaki tempura at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California
bento box teriyaki tempura at Sugata Japanese Restaurant in Albany, California
Sugata Japanese Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

March 20, 2018

Berkeley: Donato & Co.


80 North

Donato & Co.  2635 Ashby Ave./College Ave., Elmwood District.  L M-F, Sat-SunBr, D daily.  Once a car repair shop, the gigantic space that holds this Italian restaurant is beautifully transformed into an airy industrial-chic decor with high ceilings, skylights, and seating that includes wildly spacious six-person booths as well as two long wood banquettes with matching polished-wood tables and also regular tables and chairs.  Two oversized black-and-white photographs of Bergamo--the chef’s hometown in Italy--grace one wall, and a vintage Vespa is perched playfully in the back of the room.  An acoustic sound system from Berkeley’s renowned Meyer Sound makes sure you can enjoy some pleasant music but also still hear your companion.  It feels good to be in this room, and it is a spectacular spot to celebrate a special occasion.  A showcase for rustic Italian cuisine with a contemporary twist, this restaurant produces housemade pastas and cooks locally sourced seafood and meats over an open fire.  The seasonal menu takes inspiration from all regions of Italy, and the chefs use fresh, simple ingredients in inventive ways.  In addition to some lovely local and Italian wines, craft cocktails are available.  You need to ask for the complimentary house bread and spread.  The menu is organized into four sections.  Farm & Fields offers a selection of appetizers and salads.  From this section we tried a delectable chicken-liver Vasetto with quince jam and crostini bread.  Salt & Water features seafood, shellfish, and cured items,  We chose Pizzelle--three little saucer-size pizzas topped with broccoli and pecorino; anchovies and mozzarella; and burrata and sundried tomatoes (this last one was super colorful and tasty and our favorite).  Pasta & Co. includes an array of housemade pastas, risotto, and other grains.  We enjoyed buckwheat ravioli flavored with sage and filled with Swiss chards, Casera cheese, and potatoes.  Iron & Fire brings on meats and other items cooked over a wood fire.  We had the Il Maiale house specialty, which includes pork cooked three ways--as sausage, ribs, and crispy belly--served over polenta and Savoy cabbage (my favorite of these was the flavorful sausage).  Many dishes are available in both small and large sizes, making it easy to try more items.  We shared everything and wound up with enough food left over to take home for lunch the next day.  Filled with Italian pastries and sweets that aren’t often seen here, the dessert menu is not business as usual.  As chance would have it, just a few days before I had seen in a magazine for the first time “salami” cookies--chocolate and nuts shaped into a salami roll and cut in flat slices.  And I was tempted by the Montebianco (chilled chestnut and cocoa paste).  But we decided to share an artistically plated Semifreddo Al Agrumi made with Meyer lemon-infused meringue and slathered with orange crema and crushed pistachios around the edge, plus a few mushed up pieces of blood orange for color.  Lunch highlights include panini made with housemade bread, while brunch includes Ciambellone (an Italian breakfast cake), assorted pastries, and Italian-style egg dishes--including an absolutely delicious potato-and-cheese Frico cake with poached eggs.

exterior of Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
exterior of Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


interior of Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
interior of Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


booths at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
booths at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


bar at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
bar at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


bread basket at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
bread basket at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


chicken-liver Vasetto with quince jam at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
chicken-liver Vasetto with quince jam at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


Pizzelle at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
Pizzelle at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


cauliflower steak at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
cauliflower steak at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


buckwheat ravioli at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
buckwheat ravioli at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


Il Maiale pork cooked three ways at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
Il Maiale pork cooked three ways at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


Semifreddo Al Agrumi at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California
Semifreddo Al Agrumi at Donato & Co. in Berkeley, California


More things to do in Berkeley. 

Way more thing to do in Berkeley.  

More ideas for exploring Northern California.   

images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

March 16, 2018

Morro Bay: Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe+Giant Chess Board


1 South

Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe  801 Market Ave., (805) 772-4415.  B-L-D daily; $-$$.  Reservations advised.  Here since 1942, this casual restaurant features a great bay view and is especially pleasant at breakfast, when the menu offers a choice of hearty options.  I had a satisfying omelette stuffed full of sautéed mushrooms, but was also tempted by a linguica omelette and a lox and bagel (the chocolate-chip pancakes with chocolate syrup that I remember from long ago are no longer on the menu).  My partner was very happy with his all-American crispy bacon and eggs plate.  Each item was served with a choice of two housemade blueberry muffins, three buttermilk pancakes, or toast.  The extensive dinner menu features fresh local fish and an award-winning Boston clam chowder.  While we dined, we thoroughly enjoyed the room’s spot-on view of the rock and even saw several majestic brown pelicans fly by.

exterior of Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe in Morro Bay, California
exterior of Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe in Morro Bay, California


interior of Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe in Morro Bay, California
interior of Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe in Morro Bay, California


mushroom omelette at Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe in Morro Bay, California
mushroom omelette at Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe in Morro Bay, California


bacon and eggs at Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe in Morro Bay, California
bacon and eggs at Dorn's Original Breakers Cafe in Morro Bay, California
Dorn's Breakers Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Giant Chess Board  Embarcadero Rd./Front St., in Centennial Park, (805) 772-6278.  M-F 8-5.  Reservations required.  At the base of a 44-step stairway (Dorn's is at the top) is one of the two largest chessboards in the U.S.  (The other is in New York City's Central Park  http://travelswithcarole.blogspot.com/search?q=Central+Park.)  The redwood chess pieces stand 2- and 3-feet high and weigh from 18 to 40 pounds, making a game here physical as well as mental exercise.  Both the stairway and the chess pieces were made from redwood reclaimed from two dismantled town water tanks.  From noon to 5 p.m. each Saturday, the Morro Bay Chess Club sponsors games on the giant 16- by 16-foot concrete board, and non-members are welcome to challenge.

Giant Chess Board in Morro Bay, California
Giant Chess Board in Morro Bay, California


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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

March 13, 2018

Morro Bay: Anderson Inn+The Galley Seafood Grill+STAX Wine Bar


1 South

Anderson Inn  897 Embarcadero, (805) 772-3434.  8 rooms; 2 stories.  No pets.  Located waterfront, this small family-owned boutique-style lodging includes three deluxe guest rooms with a fireplace, soaking tub, and great view of the town's famous rock.  The others each have a small balcony from which you can also get a pretty good view.  All guest rooms are on the second level and feature a high vaulted ceiling, while the office is on the ground level.  An elevator makes arrival and departure a snap.  Part motel (you can park your car adjacent) and part boutique hotel (the decor is clean-lined contemporary), it provides spacious rooms and bathrooms and the convenience of being in the heart of town so you can walk most places.

guest room at Anderson Inn in Morro Bay, California
guest room at Anderson Inn in Morro Bay, California


view of Morro Rock from guest room at Anderson Inn in Morro Bay, California
view of Morro Rock from guest room at Anderson Inn in Morro Bay, California


Downstairs, The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar ((805) 772-7777 overlooks the harbor and has that same view of the rock.  A bank of comfortable booths provide prime seating.  Unfortunately, for dinner in fall and winter, darkness cuts out the great view of the rock.  In business since 1966, the restaurant specializes in premium seafood.  We started with a cup of the house clam chowder.  My main was shrimp scampi, with the prawns perched around a mound of garlic mashed potatoes and topped with fresh asparagus.  My partner had blackened rock fish.  Additional popular items include the pan-seared scallops, calamari steak, and several steaks.

interior of The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar in Morro Bay, California
interior of The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar in Morro Bay, California


shrimp scampi at The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar in Morro Bay, California
shrimp scampi at The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar in Morro Bay, California


blackened rock fish at The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar in Morro Bay, California
blackened rock fish at The Galley Seafood Grill & Bar in Morro Bay, California
Galley Seafood Grill & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


A few blocks away, STAX Wine Bar & Bistro (1099 Embarcadero, (805) 772-5055) offers a wine menu that includes vintages from the Central Coast and from around the world.  We sat on a stool at the bar, which overlooks the quiet street and the old landmark power plant stacks, and did the basic tasting of five wines ($10/person) to Otis Redding background music.   We especially enjoyed a smooth Rhone from Arroyo Seco and a pretty Merlot from Rutherford.  If we hadn’t already made dinner arrangements, I would have stayed on for a glass of wine and the artichoke appetizer followed by a few more selections from the small-plate menu that features Morro Bay Grassy Bar oysters, locally made cheeses and meats, paninis, salads, and more.  Most of the seating is at the bar and raised tables, but a few couches let the friendly clientele get really cozy. 

interior of STAX Wine Bar & Bistro in Morro Bay, California
interior of STAX Wine Bar & Bistro in Morro Bay, California


wine tasting at STAX Wine Bar & Bistro in Morro Bay, California
wine tasting at STAX Wine Bar & Bistro in Morro Bay, California



March 9, 2018

Morro Bay: Morro Bay State Park + Morro Bay Museum of Natural History


1 South

Morro Bay State Park  On State Park Rd., at S end of town, (805) 772-7434.  Campsites available. 

·Bird Sanctuary  This is the third largest bird sanctuary in the world.  A trail through the marsh and hills allows the possibility of sighting more than 250 bird species. 

·Heron Rookery Natural Preserve  20 State Park Rd., at Fairbank Point.  No one is allowed inside the rookery--one of the last where the Great Blue Heron is found--but herons can usually be viewed from an observation area.  Droppings from these large birds cause a high acidity level that has altered the ecosystem, which is now basically a cluster of dead trees.  Both Great and Snowy Egrets, Cormorants, and Black Crowned Night Herons are also often seen here.
Heron Rookery Natural Preserve in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California
Heron Rookery Natural Preserve in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California

·Morro Bay Museum of Natural History  At White Point, (805) 772-2694.  Daily 10-5.  $3, under 17 free.  Situated on a scenic perch over the bay, this small museum has large windows that provide excellent views of the estuary.  A stellar collection of taxidermied local wildlife specimens makes it a must-stop, and a telescope permits up-close viewing of living wildlife outside.  A Chumash garden in the back displays native plants, and a steep path leads up through a small rocky area where you can see mortar holes where the Indians mashed acorns.  In winter, guided walks visit the monarch butterflies that congregate nearby. 
Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California
Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California

view of Morro Rock from interior of Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California
view of Morro Rock from interior of Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California

taxidermied Northern Harrier Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California
taxidermied Northern Harrier Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California

taxidermied Long-billed Curlew Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California
taxidermied Long-billed Curlew Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California

skeleton of Minke Whale at Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California
skeleton of Minke Whale at Morro Bay Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California

·Marina Peninsula Loop Trail  60 State Park Rd., at Morro Bay State Park Marina (across form the campground).  No dogs.  This .7-mile boardwalk trail winds through a variety of estuary habitats, including a sandspit, mud flats, and salt marsh.  It offers good birdwatching.
Marina Peninsula Loop Trail on Estuary in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California
Marina Peninsula Loop Trail on Estuary in Morro Bay State Park in Morro Bay, California


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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

March 7, 2018

Morro Bay: background information


1 South

MORRO BAY

sunset at Morro Rock in Morro Bay, California
sunset at Morro Rock in Morro Bay, California

A Little Background
     Named ”El Morro” in 1542 by explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo because it reminded him of a turbaned Moor, the huge volcanic rock here is visible from just about everywhere in town.  The area is also referred to as the “Gibraltar of the Pacific."  Morro Rock stands 576 feet high and is now a State Monument.  Peregrine falcons--said to be the fastest moving animal in the world and an endangered species--nest at the top.  Rafts of sea otters can also usually be viewed in the bay here.

viewing a Peregrine falcon nest at Morro Rock in Morro Bay, California
viewing a Peregrine falcon nest at Morro Rock in Morro Bay, California

     Because the area’s wide variety of landscapes offer myriad nesting sites for some of California’s most interesting birds, bird-watching is particularly good.
     Commercial fishing is this small, picturesque town's main industry.  Albacore and abalone are the local specialties, and they frequently show up on restaurant menus.





Morro Bay National Estuary Preserve  Located along the Pacific Flyway, this 800-acre wetland consists of salt marshes and mudflats that are the winter home to more than 250 species of land, sea, and shore birds, plus dozens of endangered species such as Peregrine Falcons.

The small Morro Bay National Estuary Center (601 Embarcadero, in Marina Square, (805) 772-3834.  Free.) offers an array of exhibits--including an 18-foot mural depicting habitats in and around the bay--as well as a spectacular view of the bay and Morro Rock.  See steel-head trout in an aquarium, and hermit crabs and tine anemones in an eel-grass tank.  Local travel literature is also available.

Morro Bay National Estuary Center in Morro Bay, California
Morro Bay National Estuary Center in Morro Bay, California

Getting There
Located approximately 30 miles south of San Simeon.  Cayucos and Avila Beach are just north.

More Information


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images and video ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers