Well, here’s one you’re gonna like. No conversation about dining on the Central Coast can get too far along without mention of at least one of the trifecta of steak and BBQ. I have seen week-long threads with thousands of comments–often going to near-fisticuffs–over which is better: Jocko’s, Hitching Post, or Far Western. Everyone has a favorite, but you’re not gonna drag me into THIS one*. Ofttimes, things like Shaw’s, AJ Spurs, Madonna, McKlintocks, Alex –or lately: EMBER–get drug into it. Until Far Western Tavern moved into brand new digs in Old Orcutt. Burning down was not what killed Far Western, moving did. Rick Manson (Chef Rick’s) was originally at the helm, but it wasn’t enough and the restaurant disappeared off the face of the map for most fans. The point of all this is they just hired Maili Halme as Executive Chef. Maili is working closely with the owners to bring the *shine* back to Far Western Tavern, focusing on the CLASSIC menu its reputation was built on for decades in Guadalupe.
There’s something called Downtown Doughnut Factory coming to downtown SLO, like across Higuera St. from Luisa’s. Best I can tell, a machine cranks out a naked doughnut (although nothing NEAR as fascinating to watch as Krispy Kreme’s machine) and you decorate it with a bunch of crap. Wait, hasn’t SLODOCO had this for years??? Oh, and if we’re comparing, I PROMISE you SloDOCo’s espresso is better. Have you had the espresso at slodoco? Doesn’t seem like a likely spot, but it is. SLODOCO is opening a new location in Atascadero, too.
While we’re comparing things, popped into BATCH in downtown SLO for some ice cream the other day. What a disappointment. The problem here is that I had JUST been to REIMERS in Avila the day before, so I decided to be adventurous and order the EXACT SAME ITEM: Single scoop chocolate on a cake cone. OMG what a difference. The hot new place in SLO was pale, watery, and flavorless, impossible to compare to the dark, dense richness of the Reimers version.
Speaking of downtown, still haven’t made it into MARK. Tried to really hard the other day–parked and walked specifically to there, and was stopped by the new menus at the door. All colored with pictures of the food and stuff. Just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Went somewhere else. I know it sounds trite to judge a restaurant by how their menu is printed, but that’s how I’m wired. Lots of people tell me it’s good–maybe someday.
Did you know SLO CREEK FARMS has an organic U-Pick???
CROMAVERA has closed their Avila Beach tasting salon and is now fully open in SLO down on South Broad, like, next to the Dodge dealership in that little center behind BROAD STREET PUBLIC HOUSE. People always complain there no TR’s in SLO, well now there is. Cromavera is a newish label with top-notch fruit-sourcing and wine-making team in Paso Robles which specializes strictly in Spanish varieties. But you don’t have to go to Paso to taste it. Right here in SLO.
Finally made it into the new taqueria in Los Osos in the back of SAN MIGUEL MARKET. Literally some of the worst al pastor tacos I have had. Dry chunky grainy red cubes of meat I wouldn’t feed my DOG. A classic example of a taco-joint teetering between ◊ and ♦ on The Taco List. I haven’t decided yet.
EDIBLE SLO has published their last issue. It releases Sept 20 with a party at SLO PROVISIONS. You need to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to attend.
SHALIMAR in Marigold Plaza where the horrible Mexican place was.
ROSALINA in Santa Margarita kitchen finished and crankin out some baby baby test-runs on food.
Practically a new restaurant a week opens in that horrible strip in Santa Maria containing Lowe’s and Costco at Betteravia. I’ve never heard of most of them don’t plan on ever visiting any of them (although I am kinda curious what chic-fil-a is, exactly).
SOME WEIRD SANDWICH SHOP–part of a small chain from Fresneck. I’m pretty sure that’s its official name too: Some Weird Sandwich Shop. Hold on, I’ll google it…. SEQUOIA, that’s it. Anyway, coming soon to that little hellish strip of double-zero cuisine in front of Borders–Downtown Centre.
MONGO EXPRESS (?) Not sure I have that name right, but open in Mission Mall downtown SLO and peeking in the windows it looks EXACTLY like the Mongolian BBQ I grew up with in Sacramento. Big round griddle in the dining room, fill a bowl from the buffet and watch it get worked around the fire. Haven’t had this food in 25 years, but looking forward to it. Cool thing about this food: it is as fresh and as natural and as vegetarian as you choose.
SLO BREW ROCK EVENT CENTER All christened and broke in after their 30th anniversary festivities were held there this past weekend. This state-of-the-art concert and event venue has no equal in San Luis Obispo and watch for a hard-charging calendar of music.
Speaking of SLO BREW: you know the failed Mark attempt mentioned above and “going elsewhere”? Ended up at SLO BREW downtown… again. Ever since they hired Chef Fundaro, I keep finding excuses to eat here. There’s a couple dogs on the menu, but most of it is quite hi-quality. His BBQ brisket is the best I have ever had in my life… You know I did a little BBQ blitzkrieg through SLO a while back with the intent of writing a piece comparing a bunch of places but never have finished it because there’s a couple places people tell me I NEED to visit (I’m looking at YOU, San Luis BBQ) and I haven’t made it there yet. So stay tuned for that. If you’ve read even a few sentences of mine, you can probably guess “BBQ” is not something I speak fluently and eating it produces a lot of “WTF” moments. But I tried.
BEACH BUMS BEVS & BITES is open in the space formerly Full Moon Tasting Room in Cayucos.
Did you know OLDE PORTE INNE Avila Beach has free corkage on the first four bottles? You know I wrote a blog listing all the wine-deals in town (special discounted nights and corkage waivers) about a year ago and it was THE least popular thing I have ever written. To this day, I believe it has maybe 5 clicks on it. So funny, because ALL wine-people are gourmands, but very few foodies are serious about wine.
PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD and then follow me on Instagram @eatdrinkCA
*The Spencer at Jocko’s, The Quail at Hitching Post, and The Far Western Bullseye.