Visiting the shops and dining on seafood at the restaurants along the Embarcadero in Morro Bay is always fun but it’s even more fun to spend an afternoon or evening at the new wine bar on the bay. Stax, at 1099 Embarcadero, was started by Giovanni DeGarimore, owner of Giovanni’s Fish Market, which is located just around the corner, and has been open for nearly a year now. The building that was once home to a shell shop, a gift shop, and a t-shirt store is now the hottest spot along the waterfront attracting crowds on weekend evenings.
Stax, the name a take-off on the power plant stacks that are a stone’s throw from the bar and are visible through the huge glass windows, is not just a place to come and drink wines. It is an experience in itself. DeGarimore has totally renovated both the interior and exterior of the building. At the sleek new front entrance are six large wine barrels stacked on top of each other indicating the delights that await you. The interior is elegant, done in shades of black and red with shelves of wine selections from floor to ceiling. The large granite bar is situated along the windows. Towards the back, in what is termed the VIP section, are two comfy leather couches and a coffee table. But it’s not coffee that you came for and Nick Doyle, one of the bartenders will gladly tell you of the variety of wine tasting selections available.
“We thought Morro Bay needed a nice wine bar,” DeGarimore commented, “and we found that people also wanted to be able to nibble on food with their drinks.” What makes Stax different from other wine bars is the variety of wines offered as well as the gourmet snacks, sandwiches and salads that are available to enjoy along with your tasting pleasures. With over 120 wine and sparkling wine selections to sample, you may find it overwhelming at first. Bartenders like Doyle will step in and guide you.
You might try their Sunday Sparkling Wines & Champagne special that consists of five tastes for $7.00. You will sample Italian and French champagne such as Fleuraison Blanc de Blancs -Brut, and Italian Fantinel Prosecca. Then there is sparkling wine from Tobin James, Richard Grant Cuvee Rose-Brut, and New Age White Wine. Pair these with the Imported Olive Plate for $6.00 and enjoy nibbling on Lucques olives from France, oil-cured Greek olives, Italian brine-cured black olives that have had the green preserved. Then it is time for a Panini such as the Grilled Chicken Panini with truffle-seasoned grilled chicken breast, grilled peppers, fresh arugula, mozzarella, and basil pistou for $9.00. Or you may try the Ultimate Crostini consisting of grilled filet mignon, black truffles, Portobello mushroom, bleu cheese, fresh arugula, olive tapenade, and basil pistou for $14. More panini and crostini selections are on the menu.
There is much more than that on the menu such as a full cheese plate featuring blue, Gouda, Irish cheddar and Marcona almonds that are Spanish almonds fried in olive oil and dusted with sea salt. A meat plate is also offered with Italian salami with black truffles, prosciutto, dry aged chorizo, and smoked duck breast. Still not satisfied. You can even order something at the Fish Market and have it sent over to the Wine Bar.
Friday and Saturday evenings are the busiest times. Folks almost think of the place as a nightclub, but the Wine Bar closes at 8 P.M. This is truly a place for the wine aficionado. Just browsing the selections that are stacked against the walls is rewarding. Wines are from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, Portugal and the United States. Other tasting combinations are Five Tastes for $5.00 that offers a combination of imports and California wines and Five Tastes for $10 that offers Reserve Tasting. You can also buy a glass of your favorite wine or a bottle.
The prices are reasonable and the ambiance is great. So if you like wine and great food combinations, you have to come down to the waterfront and try Stax.