Hofbrau der Albatross isn’t all that much to see, but it serves one of the best French dip sandwiches anywhere on the road. As an added bonus, you will enjoy the freshly carved roast beef on a patio overlooking Morro Rock rather than in a Los Angeles cafeteria.
The prime cut here is a top round roast beef, a glistening side of meat that is brown on the edges and juicy pink in the middle. It is carved to order by the counter person. The jus for it is unusually dark, the color of French roast, and it stains bread like coffee stains a dress shirt. It has the right amount of salt, a strong celery aroma, and suspicious levels of umami. We dip, double-dip and triple-dip.
Pastrami is also of a high caliber, and sits well on a Rueben sandwich, which benefits from the warm, spice-laced sauerkraut on the Hofbrau counter. All sandwiches on the menu come with a cup of the beef jus, including the Rueben. The pastrami is salty enough as is. We don’t dip it, but many do.
Whole-grain mustard isn’t ideal for this food. We’d prefer a spicy brown, but when it is combined with the fierce horseradish in the condiment bar, it makes the grade. The horseradish is indeed some of the spiciest that we’ve been served in a restaurant.
Aside from the iconic (and endangered) Tommy’s Joynt in San Francisco, West Coast-style Hofbrau is an endangered genre of eatery. We’ve found it attached to a suburban Chinese restaurant and a Los Angeles strip club (Since they brought in the dancers, Sam’s Hofbrau in Downtown L.A. no longer operates as a true countertop carvery, presumably for sanitation or safety concerns; the Sam’s Hofbrau in Sacramento is still an actual Hofbrau). It is surprising and delightful to find this Hofbrau alongside the taffy shops and fish mongers of the Morro Bay Embarcadero.