The Sow’s Ear (2248 Main St., Cambria, 805/927-4865, www.thesowsear.com , daily 5–9 p.m., $10–30) does its best to create the proverbial “silk purse” dining experience with its upscale comfort foods and romantically dim atmosphere. Some diners feel that the prices for items such as lobster pot-pie and chicken and dumplings can run a bit high, but if you’re longing for a taste of old-fashioned Americana, you can get it here.
If the smell of the salt air on Moonstone Beach leaves you longing for a seafood dinner, head for the Sea Chest Oyster Bar (6216 Moonstone Beach Dr., Cambria, 805/927-4514, daily 5:30–9 p.m., $20–30, cash only). No reservations are accepted, so expect a long line out the door at opening time, and prepare to get there early (or wait a long while) for one of the window-side tables. The seafood here tends to be fresh, with a good selection of raw oysters, and touristfriendly.
Perhaps the most famous, if slightly overrated, restaurant in Cambria  is the Black Cat Bistro (1602 Main St., Cambria, 805/927-1600, www.blackcatbistro.com , Thurs.–Mon. 5 p.m.–close, $20–40). An interesting California-French menu contains both small and large plates, each with a suggested wine pairing. Despite its fancy food, the Black Cat prides itself on its casual resort-town atmosphere.
Part of an expansive but still totally local family business, Linn’s Restaurant (2277 Main St., Cambria, 805/927-0371, www.linnsfruitbin.com/restaurant , daily 8 a.m.–9 p.m., $10) serves tasty, unpretentious American favorites in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. If you love the olallieberry pie with your meal, you can purchase a ready-to-bake pie, jam, or even vinegar at the Linn’s café, gourmet shop, or their original farm stand while you’re in Cambria .
In ubiquitously high-priced Cambria, one of the best food bargains in town is Wild Ginger (2380 Main St., Cambria, 805/927-1001, www.wildgingercambria.com , Fri.–Wed. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m., 5–9 p.m., $15). This tiny pan-Asian café serves delicious, fresh food at its few tables, and carries an array of take-out fare displayed in a glass case crammed into the back of the dining room. Come early for the best selection of dishes.