The Pacific Coast Highway(PCH), California Route 1 runs from San Diego, in the South, to Crescent City CA, near the Oregon border. When is can it hugs the coast. It is not the fastest route but certainly the most scenic.
Two weeks ago we left our sons house in LA and three blocks later were on the PCH headed North.
We had rented a car at LAX and when it had some problems it was replaced by a full sized model. We did not want to drive, that, over a 1000 miles, gas is approx. $3/gal so we had arranged to trade this in for a 3rd car at the Santa Barbara airport. Thus, that was our fist stop.
The "Hertz Lady" suggested we have lunch at Goleta Beach, less than 2 miles from the airport and luckily we took her suggestion. Goleta Beach is just a sandy strip with a public park and the "Beachside Bar and Cafe" 5905 Sandspit( what else) Road, Goleta Beach-805-964-7881.
To our surprise the parking lot was full and with a wait for a table of 30 minutes or more. We took a seat at the bar where they serve the regular menu, as well as beer and wine. The "Beachside" is a typical ocean side establishment, a little nicer than most, with views of the surf, sand and a pier. It obviously is know in the Santa Barbara area. The food was way above expectations and the service was prompt and pleasant. Marilyn started with a grilled artichoke, perfectly prepared, and I had the "El Dorado" sandwich, grilled Mahi with a Caribbean salsa and served with a rice pilaf and cut fruit, a wonderful platter. Since Marilyn's appetite is unbounded, currently, and so she ordered a burger and ate 3/4. I can't let food go to waste, so all was demolished. A very satisfying lunch.
Our daughter-in-law had suggested the we break our trip and spend the night in Cambria, CA., which we did.
Cambria is a charming sea-side town, half way between LA and San Francisco. It is similar to Carmel before "Starbucks", and others, invaded. We stayed at a motel, on the ocean. The balance of the afternoon, about two hours, was spend in individually owned shops, galleries, wine stores and restaurant shopping. Luckily we choose "The Black Cat" 1602 Main St. Cambria CA-805-927-1600, for dinner. After a short rest we returned to "The Black Cat" at seven. It is a small American Bistro with a somewhat limited menu and an extensive wine list. On Monday night all the service was handled by one server and his backup. The kitchen staff seems to be about 4 in number including the chef-owner, a Sous-chef, a prep person and a dishwasher. There were eight tables in the dinning room another 4 on the deck and a wine and food bar. Service was surprisingly good and attentive.
I started with a salad of greens, roasted beets, goat cheese and spiced pecans. Next for a main course I had pan seared scallops, in a light butter and wine sauce and grilled baby Brussels Sprouts. The wine I chose was an Austrian White(Greuner) and since it was not on the "by the glass" list I was hesitant. The server told me that any, except the most expensive wines, would be served by the glass. They will add the remainder to the open list or the staff will finish. The pour was over 6 oz and when I still wanted additional he told me he would bring a half portion, if I desired. A very generous and customer friendly wine policy.
For desert I chose a fresh Plumb upside down cake topped with a light, home-made whipped cream. The cake was served warm and was delicious. No trouble sleeping with the sound of the ocean and an overstuffed gastro-intestinal system.