Restaurant Gossip 10.7

Remember when the excellent FIG GOOD FOOD in Atascadero closed and there were so many rumors about what she was doing… going to Templeton… things like homeless shelters or non-profits and such? Well it all pretty much dropped off my radar–forgotten–until something popped up this week and reminded me. Apparently: FIG AT COURTNEY’S HOUSE exists in Templeton and is open Mon-Sat 9-3. Have you been? Check it out at

Another one to add to THE TAQUERIA LIST, and not horrible stuff: MORRO DELI in the back of the Sinclair gas station at the round-a-bout in Morro Bay. Not the best tacos in the world–don’t get me wrong here–but running through a quick inventory of everything else in Morro Bay they come out on top. Far and away better than ARIANA’S down the street and Head-and-shoulders above TACOS DE MEXICO out there. Much more authentic than any of the sit-down joints out the North end: Maya, Lolo, Manuella’s whatever. So yeah, by default: Best tacos in Morro Bay. Congratulations on your tarnished star. Oh and if you say Taco Temple please go directly to the little X up in the top right corner of this page and press it firmly and never come back.

Speak of the Devil: Did you hear the one about TACO TEMPLE coming to San Luis Obispo as in old Margie’s Diner location? This would make so many people without taste buds happy.

I have yet to eat a full-on lunch or dinner off the menu at MINT + CRAFT, but I have attended several of their excellent Our Local Table Supper Series. The LAST ONE for 2018 is coming up on October 24, 7:PM. Limited to 26 spots, everyone sits at a big long table inside, and 3 or 4 courses are served family-style with an optional wine-pairing. They’re cheap… they’re incredible… they sell out… and you meet so many new people. They’re not exactly secret, but they don’t exactly broadcast then heavily either. As of this writing, this event is not listed on their website OR Facebook page. Go here: Supper Series

SCONOS Arroyo Grande closed. There’s a shocker. I feel bad for the chef. The food was really good. Just… um… everything else made you go, “Why?”

I went to FLOUR HOUSE once way back maybe the first week they were open. Long-time SLO residents will remember Joe & Debbie’s daughter Jessica growing up running around Vieni Vai. So you do KNOW her and her husband are who owns and operates the new restaurant, right? Keep it in the family, baby. The first time I went, it was heavily announced–we were with people who also have the capability of swaying public opinion–and featured table-side chef service, the red carpet, blah blah blah that whole scenario which is *OK* but kinda gives the whole experience an asterisk–especially when it happens right after grand opening. Well, after a 2+? year hiatus, I went back recently and enjoyed an informal, incognito meal at the bar. They make a very interesting carpaccio with cured beef sausage instead of raw filet. At first I was like HOW DARE YOU but changed my mind after the first bite. Definitely something very appealing for anyone with oogyness about raw red meat. The pasta dishes were good to above average. Pretty sure they make all their own pasta–and it shows. The bucatini came coated in a fairly bland, quite grainy brown pesto heavy on nuts; the lamb Bolognese was proper with meat and carrots front-and-center and any tomato-presence reduced to a mere binder in the distant background. [There’s NO tomatoes in my Bolognese at home, but that is another topic for another day which often results in fisticuffs and unfriending.] In classic trattoria fashion, I ordered an EXCELLENT simple red Italian wine off the absolute bargain end of the winelist. All the meal needed was for Joe to pull his jar of fava beans out from behind the bar and Debbie to get her thin, Euro-style steak. I miss the old bar-keeps too (Mario? and that tall skinny white guy), but Justin from Grenada is a welcome touch.

Doug Margerum is leaving WINE CASK in Santa Barbara. I certainly hope lessons have been learned from the past about what to–and what not to–do with this restaurant when Doug is not at the helm.  It has been restored to its former glory and it would be nice to see it stay that way.

Anyone who reads me regularly knows the anticipation–and ultimate let-down–surrounding LE PETIT PARIS in Mission Mall downtown San Luis Obispo. I’ve stopped by several times in their scant weeks opening and every time it is like watching a very slow-moving trainwreck. Allegedly, it is being re-tooled with some local talent, so stay tuned for even MOAR anticipation on this column. Sorry, but you say you’re gonna open a French bakery and bistro, and I’m gonna watch. Hard.

Speaking of French bistro, have you been to CIDER BAR yet??? It has a bad name. I’ve had this discussion with several people, and there’s SOOOO many people NOT going here because the name is misleading. DON’T DO THAT. This is literally the best restaurant in San Luis Obispo right now and it is a FRENCH BISTRO. Sure, there’s 30 craft ciders on tap on the chalkboard front and center. But once you get past that, there’s a cooler full of beer, an INCREDIBLE wine-list curated by Bistro Laurent’s former somm, and a quiet young chef who worked under Robuchon cranking out perfect inexpensive simplistic complexities from his little corner kitchen. If you’re letting “Cider Bar” prevent you from experiencing this place, I feel sorry for you.

On the topic of wine, you’ve been out to WINESNEAK, right? I still talk to people around town who don’t know this exists. Everyone knows about TASTES OF THE VALLEYS in Pismo Beach, but few realize they opened a HUGE wine-warehouse (practically) and tasting room right here in San Luis Obispo. And the new place is big enough to host all their regular wine & food events. Coming up Oct 21, a big bash featuring Cotiere winery with the winemaker and BEAR & THE WREN (pretty much my current favorite caterer-about-town). These things sell out: Sunday Supper

Did you hear the one about the STREETSIDE ALE HOUSE/GUESTHOUSE GRILL/COUNTRY TOUCH CAFÉ people moving into the old Artisan spot in Paso Robles? While I am rolling my eyes a bit at this one, I DO LOVE STREETSIDE ALE HOUSE in Atascadero (never been to the other two and not planning on it). If they can take that menu and turn it up a couple notches and maybe turn down the TV’s a couple notches, I would eat there. Gladly. (Streetside’s rosemary fries are the best french fries in the county–prove me wrong).

Along the Paso beat… The artist formerly known as ONBAR (in the old Villa Creek spot) has re-opened this week as something-or-other I’ve forgotten the name already and if it’s anything like OnBar, the food will be forgettable too.

Have you been to JEFFREY’S WINE COUNTRY BBQ yet? Again, don’t let the name fool you. It’s like BBQ-meets-California bistro-meets-winebar, and everything I’ve had there is TOP NOTCH. Probably my second favorite resty in Paso right now.

We’ve all enjoyed Adam Lazarre’s wines for decades (you may not realize it, but if I told you the names of all of them, you’d be like, HOLY SHIT YES: I’ve had ALL those wines). He also has his own label, but no way to get them unless you are lucky enough to run into them at a restaurant or the rare retail placement. Well, LAZARRE WINES is opening their first ever TASTING ROOM in Downtown Paso Robles. They are taking the front lobby spot at THOMAS HILL ORGANICS which has been occupied by several other small wineries the past few years. Let’s hope this sticks. Technical grand opening is next Saturday, the 13th, but I’ve heard all kinds of rumors about them pouring this weekend and into the week.

Just down the street, but a LOT closer to us down in SLO, Santa Margarita’s ROSALINA has a finished kitchen and an Instagram with food pix for proof. These are the RANGE people and the beautiful remodel of the old watering-hole is being billed as “barrio soul food” with a wine and cocktail list following suit. Santa Margarita is the next hot spot, people. I’m tellin ya. I’ve always said forgotten bedroom communities like this need 3 RESTAURANTS. They aren’t legitimate until they get 3 RESTAURANTS. Remember Los Alamos haha? That place was a shit-hole and then Full of Life, Bell Street, and Bob’s Well Bread and KABLOOEY look at it now. Same for Los Olivos. Look at Templeton. So now we have RANGE, PORCH, SOUTHERN STATION got new owners, and ROSALINA, with the former two probably not counting as full points because of limited hours–but we’re getting close. Watch Santa Margarita. It’s the next destination. You heard it here.

That’s about it for this week.

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