Indigo Moon Cafe, Wine and Cheese Shop – Cambria, California

Indigo Moon in Cambria, California

It might be easy to dismiss Cambria as a “jumping off” point to some of California’s most spectacular and  popular sites…until you actually visit Cambria.  That’s when you discover that there is plenty to see and do in this picturesque seaside village on the Central California Coast which declared “one of America’s prettiest towns.”  It’s a town virtually surrounded on three sides by towering pines and Monterey Cyprus which form a natural canopy over the beachside boardwalk.  To its west is the shimmering Pacific Ocean with some of the most pristine, unspoiled beaches in the state.

Cambria virtually unfolds along the fabled Highway 1 at exactly the halfway point–240 miles–from both San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Just barely above sea level, Cambria may not have the dramatic cliff-side vistas for which Big Sur is renowned, but its beaches are much more approachable.  So are the elephant seals which frolic and lounge on the Piedras Blancas rookery a few miles away.  The most popular draws in the area are Hearst Castle, the European-style home of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hurst, and the numerous wineries and vineyards throughout the area.

Cheese plate (Sage Derby, Lamb Chopper, Fiscalini Bandage Cheddar) of the day with mission figs, caramelized walnuts and sliced pears

Within Cambria, you’ll find an eclectic shopping district with something for everyone, especially if you enjoy art and antiques.  Most shops and galleries are clustered in close proximity to one another on the town’s East Village so walking is not only an option, it’s a joy because you’ll get to truly appreciate the quaint and eclectic architecture.  If you’d rather walk outside the concrete jungle, there are numerous walking trails in the area, including some adjacent to the beach.

You won’t find a McDonald’s or a Burger King in Cambria.  Nor will you find any of the other popular chains which dot the fruited plain.  What you will find are unique bistros and cafes–real restaurants with real food.  While several of its restaurants emphasize California cuisine and its hallmark of fresh, locally grown ingredients, Cambria has a surprising variety of dining options–from elegant fine-dining to family eateries, from Mexican to Thai, from seafood to sandwiches.  Best of all, there are a number of pet-friendly restaurants which welcome canine children.  It’s no wonder my friend Sandy Driscoll makes Cambria her first overnight stop during her annual treks to Northern California.

BLTA: applewood smoked bacon, vine ripe tomatoes, avocado and lettuce on focaccia with roasted red bell pepper aioli

For lovely patio dining on fresh and innovative gourmet cuisine, one of the most popular options in Cambria is the Indigo Moon Cafe which is housed in one of the town’s oldest historical buildings.  The enclosed patio provides a tranquil milieu amidst lush gardens.  It’s especially popular during Sunday brunch when live jazz is featured.  If you don’t opt for al fresco dining, make sure to check out the wooden beams on the ceilings of the main front room as they’re stamped with official Hearst Castle markings, designating them as having been used as shipping carts from the early 1900s.  I also spent quite a bit of time browsing the display of imported and domestic cheeses (California cheeses come from happy cows) in a display case leading to the patio.

Lunch at the quaintly named Indigo Moon is a casual affair, showcasing hearty and unusual sandwiches and housemade soups.  Fancier fare is available for dinner when seafood, lamb, pork chops and pasta are menu standards.  Did I mention the many varieties of cheese?  The restaurant’s savvy staff will happily recommend a wine pairing that goes best with the cheese you select.  The wine list features several specialty and affordable labels from the area as well as other domestic and imported wines.  If you don’t imbibe on adult beverages, there are cheeses which pair well with whatever libation you choose (even Dr. Brown’s root beer).

Duck Confit, bacon & slaw sandwich served hot on ciabatta

The cheese plate during our visit included a triumvirate of terrific cheeses any turophile will enjoy. During our visit, we enjoyed Sage Derby, Lamb Chopper and Fiscalini Bandage Cheddar.  Sage Derby is a semi-hard English cheese made from cow’s milk flavored with sage leaves which impart somewhat of a minty flavor.  The whimsically named Lamb Chopper, also made in Europe from sheep’s milk (a given) is soft and buttery with a redolent sweetness tinged with a barely perceptible hint of citrus.  It goes very well with fruits.  The Fiscalini Bandage Cheddar, made in Modesto, California is renowned for its luxurious balance of buttery, grassy, and savory flavors.  Make sure to use the accompanying fruits (mission figs and sliced pears) as palate cleansers so as to truly discern and appreciate the nuanced flavors of these cheeses.

As you peruse the lunch menu, you’ll be mesmerized by the California fresh soups, salads and starter options, any three or four of which will make an excellent tapas-style lunch.  Were we not planning on walking and not waddling through the town, we would have had at least two starters and the sandwiches we ultimately settled upon from a line-up of excellent sandwich options.  Now, you can have a BLTA (applewood smoked bacon, vine ripened tomatoes, avocado and lettuce on focaccia with roasted bell pepper aioli) anywhere, even in New Mexico, but it won’t be as fresh as you can have it in California where the components are incomparably fresh and flavorful.  Even the accompanying sweet potato fries are unbelievably fresh, easily among the best we’ve had anywhere.  The roasted bell pepper aioli is simply wonderful.

Cookie Plate with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: Chocolate Chip and Macadamia, Chocolate Chip and Snickerdoodle

The duck confit, bacon & slaw sandwich served hot on ciabatta is even better.  Piled on thickly, the duck confit (duck cooked in its own fat) is incredibly succulent without being oily and so sinfully rich, you’ll need to seek absolution after eating it.  The coleslaw is also moist, but not runny with salad cream.  It’s an excellent complement to the duck confit.  Then there’s bacon which goes well with absolutely everything (including ice cream and cookies).  The marriage of duck and bacon is one of those too good to be true couplings.

Indigo Moon’s dessert menu is largely based on fresh California fruits and as tempting as those are, the sweet special of the day when we visited was a Cookie Plate with vanilla bean ice cream.  Three outstanding cookies: chocolate chip and macadamia, chocolate chip and a citrusy snickerdoodle made me wonder why more restaurants don’t offer cookies as a dessert option.  It also made me yearn for a tall glass of cold milk. 

The only thing which could have improved our simple, but very satisfying meal at the Indigo Moon would have been having my friends Sandy Driscoll and Bill Robens, both of whom have thoroughly enjoyed their time in Cambria, with us. Both have regaled me with stories of their happy life experiences throughout the Central California coast and would certainly have enhanced our visit even more.

Indigo Moon Cafe, Wine & Cheese Shop
1980 Main Map.6f78c2f
Cambria, California
(805) 927-2911
Web Site
LATEST VISIT: 20 July 2012
COST: $$ – $$$
BEST BET: Cookie Plate with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Cheese Plate, BLTA, Duck Confit, bacon & slaw sandwich

Indigo Moon Cafe Wine and Cheese Shop on Urbanspoon

5 thoughts on “Indigo Moon Cafe, Wine and Cheese Shop – Cambria, California

  1. Sr and Senorita Plata hopefully will hit the beaches of Cambria in Spring of 2018 will have to try this place as well as others in the area. Cambria has been mainly a drive thru for me as I grew up in Los Angeles but went to San Francisco State U which means I had a lot of time driving up and down the beautiful coast of California. Hermano De Sr Plata (and Señorita Plata) will be here with his bride quite a bit and thus Sr Plata has a place to visit and new eats to . Gil, please write a comment as my brother is now a member of your food blog and may want to hear more about the Indigo Moon Cafe and more…

    1. TripAdvisor named Indigo Moon one of the best restaurants in Cambria, a beautiful seaside village at the very launching point to both wine country and Big Sur. As with so many restaurants in the area, it celebrates California cuisine, the vibrant, fresh cuisine which showcases locally grown produce and cheeses. We tend to overindulge in cheese plates when we visit the area. California cheeses are superb! So, too, are the wines, but as you know, we don’t indulge in adult beverages if we’re driving. You’ll love Indigo Crow…and Cambria.

      Is there any truth to the rumor that Loren has purchased the Hearst Castle just north of Cambria?

    2. LOL….Love Coincidences! My kidlet is taking off today to camp over Christmas up the way at Big Sur. Curious about your Cambria? Here is more info than perhaps desired by scrolling down through pics on the Left Click on pic to expand; watch for “circling arrow” as you can 360 that one.

  2. Cambria is our favorite California coast town. Still mostly undiscovered. We found it when we first moved to Santa Fe by drawing a straight line from here to the California coast. Besides eating, we love watching the sea otters from Moonstone Bay.
    When we drive it we stop overnight in Bakersfield and have Basque food at Chateau Basque.

  3. Hi Gil! I am amazed at the number of wonderful restaurant reviews you were able to publish in your short sojourn up (and down) the beautiful S CA/ Big Sur coast! I’ll have to put Indigo Moon on my list to try during my next annual road trip up the CA/OR coast from Los Angeles! Sounds like you had a fabulous time and enjoyed every bite! For you, and those readers who might make a similar trip (with or without dogs) here is a link to Cambria Pines Lodge, which is a lovely spot with walking trails that caters to people and dogs!

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