Cambria is an adorable little town with lots of little shops and cafes. We didn’t notice any national chains, which we loved. When you travel, you don’t need to see Starbucks, Burger King, and Banana Republic. We’ve got plenty of those at home. We lucked out and found this town accidentally. It’s just eight minutes from Hearst Castle, a known tourist destination, but even people in town asked us, how ever did we find them. Well, Hearst Castle is in San Simeon, but there isn’t much there besides the Hearst Castle, which is fun (we saw it on Wednesday). So when Lon was searching for recommended food nearby, we found Black Cat Bistro 1602 Main Street, Cambria, CA 93428, which is in Cambria.

Black Cat Bistro serves surprisingly modern American food for such a small town, with an inventive flare and diverse options. Lon started with a Pork Belly, which reminded me of the Chinese version but a little more refined with carefully crisped edges. The cinnamon churro was a fun compliment.


I started with the abalone, sourced from a farm close by. I could smell the hazelnuts and brown butter as it was being prepared, but the wonderful aroma was better than the product. Ultimately, the coating masked the flavor of the abalone, but it was by far the most tender I’ve had. The mashed potatoes underneath did not add anything to the plate and weren’t impressive on their own either.


Lon was in the mood for steak, cooked a nice medium rare, leaning on rare, which he asked for. The meat was a bit chewy though. Lon remembers liking the slaw but doesn’t remember what it was anymore. (Sorry, we’ve been doing way too much eating!)


My Chipotle Shrimp Linguine was a winner. The sweet corn and roasted chili gave it a southwestern flare, yet the light cream sauce with oven roasted tomato was reminiscent of Italian. The large shrimp, cut up in chunks, wasn’t necessary in the dish for enjoyment, but adds protein for a more balanced meal. We discussed trying to replicate this one at home.


Black Cat Bistro is enjoyable and the ingredients are incredibly fresh, but you’ll be paying city prices. The decor is average, but our waiter was fantastic, passionate and knowledgeable about what he was serving. It’s a toss-up.

The next day, we went back to Cambria for lunch, mainly because Hearst has a ranch and we were told that Linn’s Restaurant 2277 Main Street, Cambria, CA 93428 serves their grass fed beef.

We started with Meatloaf Sliders, which were pretty much individual meatball parmigianas. The sauce was sweet and tomatoey, but too acidic. The hearty balls of meat were satisfying.


Linn’s is also known for olallieberry (cross of loganberry and youngberry) products, so Lon tried the Olallieberry lemonade, but seemed unimpressed.


He was equally unimpressed with the Mixed Seafood Fish and Chips, with the exception of a great big piece of tender fried calamari (seen here to the right of the cod).


We had come to try the Hearst cattle so I got a burger with roasted pepper, Monterey Jack, caramelized onions, and bacon (with barbecue sauce on the side). It was a tad passed medium rare, but otherwise exactly how I like it. The meat is thick and juicy, served on a springy ciabatta roll, smothered with great toppings. The fries were the perfect size too, thin and crispy but still taste like potato. Lon particularly loved this burger.


Since we were stuffed, we decided to walk around town for a bit before dessert. Linn’s has a mini-empire going on here with a gourmet store, a gifts and home goods store, and a pie cafe. We finished at the pie cafe, Easy as Pie, with a slice of warm Olallieberry Pie. It was simple and not too sweet. The olallieberry filling tasted a like it had a little tea in it, which I really liked. Since they don’t sell fresh olallieberry, I’m not sure if that’s the taste of the berry or another flavor they added.


We took an olallieberry and cheese muffin to go, along with a pecan cookie. These were for the road, but weren’t as good as the pie.  These pictures were snapped on a cliff, a road-side view point along Highway 1.  Lon suggests that we might be the only people on Earth who go to one of the most beautiful vistas and then take pictures of our food.  (OK, maybe we snapped a picture or two of the landscape).

Ollalieberry & Cheese Muffin Pecan Cookie
View along Highway 1

I was sad to leave without seeing more of Cambria. If you’re driving up the coast of California, stop in to this friendly little town.

posted by jessica at 05:28 PM Filed under American and New American, Restaurants, Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.