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    Posted January 5, 2013 by
    Moss Landing, California
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    100 places to eat like a local

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    Is it Worth Waiting in Line?


    Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery is a favorite off-the-beaten-path spot to locals. Literally. From the front, it appears to be small, tucked in on a little Bay road servicing Moss Landing’s fishing village and related industries.
    And that's only part of it's charm and allure.
    A constant clientelle of locals frequent the restaurant, but the parking lot is also packed daily with license plates from all over the country and two large maps on the wall that tout visitors’ pins from literally all over the world. Four pins now share the tiny spot designated Virginia Beach, Virginia. Phil says he’s had to change the maps five times because they keep filling up.
    He says he works hard at making the award winning restaurant family-friendly and accommodates everyone of every age and ability.
    Framed awards on the inside dining room walls attest to that as Phil’s has won numerous awards, including “Best of Monterey County Readers Poll Award” eight times since 2002, including the last 4 years in a row.
    Phil said he started out as a cook on the Monterey wharf at Angelos. He knew cooking was his passion so he ultimately took a chance at putting his recipes, talent, and entrepreneurial ideas and spirit to the test when he opened his own restaurant.

    Besides delicious food, everything about Phil's is unpretentious, quaint, charming, and intriguing with a surprise in every nook and around every corner, including live music.
    As it turns out, Phil made the right choice. Even before 5:00 PM a long line had formed at the counter, where diners place their orders and pay, and are given a number and a cup or glass for their self-serve beverage.
    Service is quick, efficient, and friendly, with a constant stream of waiters who deliver hot plates of seafood to the tables.
    A menu with a variety of items, large portions, and oysters as large as the Cod fillets are only some of the reasons Phil’s is so popular.
    The long deep dining room has hand painted murals on one side and simple siding with plenty of ventilation for summertime guests on the other.
    If the weather's nice, an outside patio has plenty of tables and offers guests a view of Monterey Bay. Tonight, with temperatures chilly and in the low 50s, everyone opted for an inside seat, though some stole a minute to hop out onto the patio and snap a photo of the colorful sunset over the Pacific.
    Those who still longed for the great outdoors though, could watch a live webcam of the beach behind Phil’s at the bar, where Phil says he serves only beer and wine and closes it when the kitchen closes.
    He says the webcam has become a favorite, especially to surfers, who monitor the waves and storms in real time at his website to pick and choose the best time to be on the beach.
    At the bar, Phil also proudly displays clips from the Throwdown he did with Food Network's Bobby Flaye, his appearance with Paula Deen's boys, and the photo of Dirty Jobs' Mike Rowe when Phil's was on the Discovery Channel.
    Large steaming bowls of his now famous Cioppino sat on the tables of about 1/3 of the guests there tonight. Because it's become one of their most sought out dishes, Phil started shipping this favorite to patrons around the world. To keep up with the times, he says he takes orders via his website at www.philsfishmarket.com, or an App on their iphone or Android.
    Home cooks wandered in and out of the seafood market inside the building too, buying freshly caught local seafood. What he can’t get from the local fishermen, he flies in from all over the world, but his priority is supporting local watermen, he says.

    Another good reason to stop by Phil’s and add your pin to the map when you’re near Highway 1 somewhere between San Francisco and Monterey, California.

    Was it worth waiting in line? 

    If you can, arrive before 5PM, but if not everything was fresh and delicious and it was definitely worth waiting in line, though it was a surprisingly short wait.

    This iReport is part of an assignment that we created with Travel + Leisure:  100 places to eat like a local
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