MerSea’s- Avila Beach

Mersea’s, if heard first audibly, you think of the French for thank you, if witnessed first visually, it is an oasis at the end of the Hanford pier in Avila.  Mersea is the newest tenant at Port San Luis and the latest offering from the Dorn’s family. This bastion of seafood and fantastic views opened a few months ago to rave reviews and now I am going to add mine. 

We first visited on a Sunday. While most folks watch sports and yell at TV’s, we are culinary explorers, which makes for open space and attentive servers.  We saddled up to the full bar where Ron was the stalwart mixologist who had a heavy hand, a quick wit and a firm personality. Just the kind of person I want making my drinks and we became fast friends. I started with Myers Rum over ice with a twist, a classic pirate drink. I tried the local crab cocktail with diced celery on the bottom and house made cocktail sauce resting on big chucks of Dungeness crab. Gary had the Clam Chowder (that is offered in both red and white, so he tried a cup of both). The New England was full of clams, potatoes and creamy goodness. It was a contender for best of.  The Red Manhattan was made Nolan’ Style by adding bacon bits and croutons. I preferred the white, especially when you add oyster crackers and a couple tosses of Tabasco. 

Next I had the fish tacos, with the fish sautéed, served with shredded cabbage Jack and Cheddar cheese and a pico de gallo.  The fish was seasoned and cooked perfectly, I inhaled every bite.  Gary had the Crab Melt Sandwich with large lumps of rock crab, cheese and toasty sourdough bread.  While we ate, Rob shared stories of the salty happenings and people of the pier as we watched the sailboats rock on the water. I was in heaven 
   Our next visit the windows were open so we sat at the bar again for a pristine view of breaching whales and swooping pelicans.  I noticed the portholes in the floor for viewing the ocean below and the amazing light fixtures of octopus and squid.  Our bartender this time was Linda, a saucy tart with a hint of a Norwegian accent, so she fit in well with the ocean dwellers.  Mersea’s is a place where you can pretend to be a pirate, eat your fill of fresh off the boat seafood, drink strong rum or excellent wine (served smartly in a tumbler glass so the sea breeze doesn’t carry your prize away).

I ordered the crab special, a two-pound Dungeness crab steamed and served with melted butter, lemon and the tools to break that bug open.  We dug in and although it is so dirty work, the payoff is some of the most delicious subsistence you will ever put in your mouth.  The GM, Mike Hoffman was our relief bartender who was kind enough to offer me a fresh wet bar towel to clean my salty, buttery hands after devouring the crustacean. In the past, we used to steam and eat the crabs on a couple of sheets of newspapers while the wind whipped around us. I can tell you it is so much better from a bar stool with a glass of George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila.  As we watched the sunset slip into the horizon, a pod of whales breached in front of Mersea’s and we all agreed this was the finest dinner show we had ever witnessed.

Mersea’s is a fast casual restaurant with stunning views and a spellbinding location at the end of the pier. It has comfortable places to eat inside or outside that are clean. From every table you can see the ocean, as the whole restaurant is right above the sea. The inside has portholes in the floor so you can watch the sea critters below. The menu has fried seafood, salads, basic and fish sandwiches, oysters and chowders. Mersea’s is located at the end of the Hanford pier in Port San Luis, Avila; you can reach them at (805) 548-2290. They are open every day from 11:00am-8:00pm.