Home California Why Is Phil’s Fish Market So Popular?

Why Is Phil’s Fish Market So Popular?

by Penny Sadler

Moss Landing is a very colorful and funky little harbor town located on Monterey Bay in California. It’s the kind of place you can not ignore with brightly painted buildings, quirky signs, and scenic harbor – I liked it immediately. Moss Landing is tiny, only 200 people, but it has the busiest fishing harbor in California. It’s a bit off the beaten track and the only reason I ended up there was for a tour of the Elkhorn Slough (more about that later). After the tour, I decided it would be fun to have lunch in Moss Landing and do a little more exploring. Unknowingly, that was the best decision I made all day … Moss Landing is home to the world famous Phil’s Fish Market.

5 Reasons To Love Monterey California @PennySadler

Quirky exteriors in Moss Landing.

Why Is Phil's fish market so popular California

Phil’s Fish Market. The line moves fast.

Why is Phil's Fish Market so popular

There’s a lot more than cioppino on the menu

Don’t know about Phil’s? Neither did I. Even though it’s been featured on the BBC and the Food Network, and countless other places. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend you check it out when you’re in the Monterey area, assuming, of course, you like fish and seafood. Since you’re reading this… I guess you do!

Phil’s is famous for cioppino, and since that’s one of my favorite dishes, that’s what I had. It was loaded with fresh fish, shrimp, mussels, crab claws, and clams in a savory tomato base soup. The serving is huge and I wondered how I’d ever finish it. But it was as delicious as it looked, so no problem there. The cioppino is so popular they sell it by the bucket! I wanted to try several other things on the menu but that would have been total gluttony.

Top 5 Reasons To Love Monterey Phil's Fish Market Cioppino @PennySadler

Cioppino at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing. Phil’s has been voted best beach restaurant by the BBC and so many other publications it’s ridiculous.

Phil’s receives visitors from all over the world – many are repeat customers. They come for the seafood of course, always fresh and huge portions but I also liked the atmosphere. Maybe that’s because I sat at the bar where I was able to talk to a lot of different people and enjoy the show the bartender puts on.

I don’t know his name but he’s quite a character and aims to make sure everyone is happy and having a good time. I mentioned that it was m first visit to Monterey and that I had not yet tried the local wines. He poured me an impromptu tasting of three different local pinot noirs. My favorite was the SLH – full bodied for a pinot noir with lots of nice berry fruit. Perfect with my cioppino.

Phil's Fish Market, wine, Monterey Bay, @PennySadler 2015

Try this pinot noir. Delicious.

A woman sitting on my right ordered the crab louie. I really wanted to try it, and regret that I did not. Loaded with fresh Dungeness crab over crisp salad greens and the usual crab louie ingredients it looked amazing, which she confirmed. Dungenness Crab was in season, so you couldn’t go wrong with that. I don’t know if she told them to put the traditional louie dressing on the side or if that’s the way they serve it, but that was brilliant. After all, who needs fresh crab ruined with mounds of dressing? I didn’t get a taste, but I got a tasty photo.

Why Is Phil's So Popular @PennySadler 2015

Fresh Dungeness Crab. Yum. I want this crab louie.

A few tips: there’s always a long line at Phil’s, but it moves pretty quickly. You can bypass the line by sitting at the bar to eat. If you’re not a bar person there’s plenty of seating both indoors and outside. The outside seating is heated. All seating is wheelchair accessible, except obviously, at the bar. Phil’s is family friendly and I saw plenty of children there too.

Why is Phils Fish Market so popular Moss Landing

Interior dining area at Phil’s

Eating at Phil's Fish Market @PennySadler 2015

Outdoor seating

Why is Phil’s so popular? Great food, good service and fun location. It’s a local institution. If you love seafood, don’t miss it.

Phil’s Fish Market
7600 Sandholt Rd.

Phil's Fish Market and Eatery on Urbanspoon

Why Is Phil's Fish Market So Popular?

Fun bartender who does it all. Wish I had a better photo.

My trip to Monterey was sponsored by See Monterey, however my trip to Phil’s Fish Market was on my own dime. As always all opinions are my own.

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5 Reasons To Love Monterey California April 12, 2018 at 12:26 am

[…] charming and colorful fishing village of Moss Landing. Enjoy great food at the Haute Enchilada or Phil’s Fish Market.  Take a pontoon boat tour around Elkhorn Slough, one of California’s largest estuaries, […]

234 Sparky January 19, 2016 at 7:28 pm

…local Monterey resident,first dined at Phil’s 30 yrs ago.Great place for lunch when I’m working in the area…Phil’s Snack Shack not to bad either

Penny Sadler January 19, 2016 at 8:21 pm

I’ll put the snack shack on my list of places not to miss in Monterey. Thanks!

Georgia Duran January 19, 2016 at 5:32 pm

We live in South Florida but visit Northern California once every couple of years. Several trips ago on our way to Carmel, we came to Moss Landing around lunchtime and my husband saw all of the fishing boats and figured there should be a good seafood place there. We discovered Phil’s and absolutely loved it. Now when we go to Carmel we go to Phil’s every day of our stay either for lunch or dinner. The only time we’ve had a long line was dinner on a Friday night.

Penny Sadler January 19, 2016 at 6:41 pm

Wow, every day…that’s dedication. I had a great time there talking with a couple from Florida. Maybe it was you? 🙂

Mary @ Green Global Travel February 8, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Cioppino is one of my favorite dishes! Thanks for sharing this local gem.

Penny Sadler February 8, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Thanks Mary!

Tawanna February 7, 2015 at 7:25 am

I’d like to swim in that cioppino and have the crab salad waiting for me when I was done. I want to go!

Penny Sadler February 7, 2015 at 10:24 am

LOL that’s a great way to put it. If you go please let me know if it meets your expectations.

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas February 3, 2015 at 5:27 am

I’d love this place – good, fresh seafood and not pretentious patrons!

Penny Sadler February 3, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I wish I could meet you there Cat. I can see it!

Lillie February 2, 2015 at 11:56 pm

DROOL — I think the answer to the title question is clear from the photos alone. Yum!

noel February 2, 2015 at 7:57 pm

I dropped by but it was still to early in the morning, man I’m bummed because I Really Love Cioppino and I’m sure it must be quite spectacular!

Wandering Educators February 2, 2015 at 2:49 pm

OOH!! This makes me so hungry!

Sand In My Suitcase February 2, 2015 at 12:49 am

Just as well that line at Phil’s moves quickly! But it sounds like the wait is worth it :-). The fresh crab would lure us in…

Penny Sadler February 2, 2015 at 10:03 am

The crab oh yes the crab. I want to go back just for that!

Ryan Biddulph January 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

Look at that line Penny; thank goodness it moves fast! Thanks for sharing the inspired read and for giving me food images to dream about lol…that bowl of seafood looks awesome 🙂


Penny Sadler January 30, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Hey Ryan, have you ever been to Monterey?


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