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Taco Temple Takes Road Food to Exalted Heights

01/10/2016

Taco Temple Takes Road Food to Exalted Heights

The best road food stops have character--enough within the walls and on the plate that they can stand in as a memorable proxy for the entire town. It doesn't hurt if the portions are generous, too.

Not unlike Taco Temple, a Morro Bay favorite dropped into a colorful backdrop with fun murals and glimpses of the ocean across Highway 1. Here a seemingly modest order of two tacos gives the uninitiated their first hint why this is a place worthy of the "temple" title.

"When someone orders a lot, we'll try to steer them to (fewer)," says Jim Leage, the restaurant's new owner. Because they're big. It's a lot of food."

For example, the signature Alaskan cod taco comes piled at least 2 inches high with spring mix, cabbage, tomato, carrots, radish, cilantro and addictive Temple house dressing — a zingy balance of garlic and pepper that works equally well with the salad and the big fillet of grilled fish beneath. It’s as much a seafood salad with an extra layer of tortilla as it is a taco.

Paired with the complimentary fresh tortilla chips and salsa bar, it could be a meal for two, for $6.50. (Daily specials like the local halibut run significantly more.)

So, understandably, locals flinched when they heard it was changing hands last year.

It turns out the change only adds to the flavor of the place.

Leage was sought out by founding chef and owner Adam Pollard, who was moving on to a new project and wanted a trusted steward for the restaurant.

A third-generation restaurateur whose family runs Great American Fish Co. and Harbor Hut on Morro Bay’s Embarcadero, Leage already loved the concept (and the house dressing).

And so the recipes and staff remain. New dishes have been added, including the Kobe beef burger and sweet potato enchiladas with roasted poblano peppers.

The freshness remains as well. As Taco Temple does prodigious volume with a tiny kitchen, it’s the only option. Besides, Leage knows every fisherman in port.

And to do it any other way would be sacrilege.

11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily except until 8:30 p.m. Sunday; closed Tuesday, 2680 N. Main St., Morro Bay, (805) 772-4965. Cash only - learn more.