It has been an exciting month in dining around the Central Coast and a few additions and updates to THE RESTAURANT LIST have transpired.
The most exciting thing, of course, is the opening of BLUE MOON OVER AVILA overlooking the beach on Front Street in Avila Beach. I live nearby and have been watching the build-out of this space for months and months and listening to the rumor-mill speculate. First I heard it was a wine-bar. Then I heard it was a pizza-joint. As luck would have it, it opens as a full-blown French bistro with local star José Dahan at the helm. A tightly-packed menu of classic fare accompanies a curt list of FABULOUS wine selections from under-appreciated corners of France and beyond. Escargot, anyone? House-made country pâté with Dijon and cornichons? A simple pepper-corn/cognac flatiron for 15 bucks? Crème brûlée and perfect espresso? If you like ceviche or poke: Get the POISSON CRU!
And naturally enjoy everything with $50 bottles of Burg and Chablis or $35 bottles of Chinon or Cru Beaujolais. With a chef from the South of France, of COURSE there is proper rosé by bottle or glass: dark brooding Tavel or delicate Côtes de Provence in the salmon-shaped bottle. I’ve eaten at this place so many times since opening they practically have issued a restraining order. Heck, I’ll probably go there this afternoon! Safely and comfortably lands on the list at an outstanding ♦♦♦
I have been to PICO LOS ALAMOS several times for quick items, events or wine-shopping, but until last week had not enjoyed a full-on, sit-down, formal dinner. Snuck in quietly following a VISIT SANTA YNEZ VALLEY meet & greet across the street and promptly commenced a two-hour ordeal which I decided will culminate in the Central Coast’s FIRST ♦♦♦♦ score.
From the atmosphere, the service, the attention to detail, preparation and consideration of dishes all the way through the RIDICULOUS wine-list, PICO is firing on all cylinders and deserves a trip quite out-of-one’s-way to experience. The Los Alamos dining scene is blowing up and Will Henry and crew have crafted a definite winner in PICO.
After attempting to eat at LIBERTINE in Morro Bay numerous times and the filth and smell changing my mind before even being seated, I decided to give the brand new LIBERTINE BREWING COMPANY location in downtown San Luis Obispo at try for lunch.
Bright, open, airy and clean, it immediately gained a passing score. Winelist sufficient, food hovering somewhere between mediocre and passable, fairly greasy pub-fare, all. The sandwiches were pleasant, the Garlic-Parmesan Fries inedible. ♦
While we are on the subject, another pub eatery I have been quietly enjoying lately is STREET SIDE ALE HOUSE in downtown Colony District Atascadero. Another restaurant which pops up at the head of the list whenever eating out is mentioned, service is incredible winelist and cocktails agreeable, all the dishes WAY above & beyond expectations, and THE best French Fries in the area PERIOD.
I have been so blown away by STREET SIDE and BAYWOOD ALE HOUSE this past summer I really REALLY need to re-write my Top 5 Brew-Pub List.
Another place I have been enjoying immensely lately and have not written about other than a few posts on Facebook and Instagram is HAPY BISTRO in Pismo Beach. As any local gourmet will attest, our Greek food selection has been seriously lacking here on the Central Coast. While one can find a “Greek Food” section on several local menus, the dishes arrive to an embarrassing reality. With Petros in Santa Barbara closed, my hope for decent Greek food around here had collapsed. NOT SO FAST!!! Guess where the chef at Hapy is from? Yup! Petros. I ate there twice before learning this tidbit and now it all makes sense why the food is so solid. The wines available by-the-bottle far outrange the BTG list–and both are fairly safe lists. Nice un-hurried service and usually a pretty good buzz around the dining room any given afternoon and evening. I am hapy they are doing well. Comfortably on list at ♦♦
As anyone who lives in a popular tourist area can appreciate, occasionally you are *required* for various reasons to dine at a place quite “outside” one’s preferred gastronomical universe. I had this situation arise recently and made the trip to BRAD’S RESTAURANT in Pismo Beach. Added to list at ◊ and no, there are no pictures to document this adventure. HOW do places like this have hour-waits?!?!?
On THE TACO LIST side The Taco Stand in Atascadero has closed their brick & mortar (they are still taco-trucking events and catering) and another truck and event stalwart, TAQUERIA DON JOSE has opened in their place. A few differences on the menu, and some obvious nuance-changes with the new styles and recipes coming in. I like it better. Added to list at ♦♦♦ which those in the front rows will notice is Atascadero’s first 3-diamond score. I am not necessarily saying it is on par with equal scores in other areas with hi concentrations of taquerias, but is CLEARLY the best in town, and deserves notation as such.
Follow me on Instagram @_soifeats
and of course the wine-feed @_soif
Facebook: Steve McConnell–Soif