OLD SAN LUIS BBQ is opening a new location in Marigold Center by Tuesday Morning. Yay! TWO locations for their dry meat, powdered Parmesan and flavorless beans for people who have never had real food–all served gloriously in clamshell with plastic forks. I can’t wait.
Speaking of Marigold, popped into SHALIMAR‘s new location there to check it out and because I was in the mood for Indian food. Got inside and seated and SURPRISE: turns out it is a BUFFET. Walked out and went elsewhere. Pretty shocking, and not something I endorse or will support.
Pretty serious work continues on both Margie’s Diner (becoming TACO TEMPLE) and the haunted Baja Fresh/Spencer Makenzie’s/Cowgirl Cafe location on North Higuera by Uptown Espresso and LUIS WINE BAR. I’m not convinced it is remaining a restaurant, but you rarely see whole kitchens tore out. No visible movement at the old Pluto’s across from Black Sheep, and the liquor license has fallen down. Alphie’s Broiler in AG remains closed, even though it has new owners (think: EMBER). Speaking of EMBER, no obvious signs of construction movement on their new Bistro next door to the flagship resty.
Oh! Speaking of that area of Arroyo Grande, have you made it into ALDI yet??? See, I’m a total grocery-store and supermarket junkie. I will pull off the road and take wide side-steps just to walk through a grocery I have not experienced. I LOVE grocery stores–how they’re laid out, how the merchandise is marketed, packaging, the wine section, the check-out counter vibe… EVERYTHING. I cruised through Arroyo Grande’s new ALDI a couple weeks ago and although I had heard great things and even been inside wonderful versions in Europe myself, this tour was a considerable let-down. It’s just stupid, OK? I’m just gonna tell you flat out: it’s fucking stupid. Do you remember Fresh & Easy? It’s like Fresh & Easy meets Dollar General. It’s all very strange and weird and NOT impressive. I was expecting something minimalist and streamlined and kinda Trader Joe’s on heroin and it is just totally NOT any of that. Cruise through. You’ll see.
Naked Fish Sushi downtown closed. I never made it there… heard the usual smatterings of good and bad… couple friends of mine really liked it, other people were like meh. I’ve had pretty bad luck with sushi in downtown SLO. So let’s do a little scoreboard here on that block: Muzio’s: gone. Naked Fish: gone. Beba’s Beergarten: moved and replaced with Beers and Brats or something, WHICH–I might add–is getting a little competition from some sort of *beers brats and burgers* situation opening in Hotel Monterey where 1865 was. (How many German restaurants does a town need?!?!? ZERO, in my opinion–ranking right up there with English food) Anyway… continuing… Chipotle: closed and still empty. HABIT‘s the only thing there doing any good, and it looks busy every time I go by. I ate at HABIT once. It was a decent burger.
Had another RIDICULOUS dinner at GENARRO’S GRILL AND & GARDEN the other night… You know: The Forgotten Restaurant. The one in that old victorian house at the south end of Marsh right as you come into town. It was Genarro’s when I moved here many years ago and LOVED it and then he went off do other things and the restaurant went through several transitions (wasn’t it like, a Afro-Cuban place once?). Well, Genarro’s is back, with the real people at the helm and it is better than ever. I’ve eaten all over the menu now and nothing has failed to wow me. And the wine-list is phenomenal. So next time you have a hankering for LUX Italian and you’re tired of being disappointed at La Locanda, tired of the crowd at Guiseppie’s, you’ve sworn you will never eat at Cafe Roma again and want something on par with Buona Tavola, check out Genarro’s. There’s never a wait, it’s private, quiet and warm, the food is stunning and the service impeccable. There’s a beautiful full bar in one of the rooms too!
Was up in Petaluma and Napa last week. If you follow my Instagram @eatdrinkCA, you see all my movement around California, but I typically keep this column local. I have my favorites up there, but this particular trip I ate at a few new places (to me) in both towns. In Petaluma, I visited CUCINA PARADISO at the insistence of a good friend and oh boy he wasn’t kidding. The next day I re-visited a favorite I’ve been to many times down by the river: WILD GOAT BISTRO, but it was disappointing. Food was tough and bland and service mediocre and stemless glasses… and… I… just… don’t think I will eat there again.
Over in Napa (and when I say, “Napa” I mean NAPA–the town. If I’m in ‘Napa Valley’, I will SAY I’m in St. Helena or Yountville or Calistoga or whatever. But when I say Napa: I mean Napa) finally got to check out CHARLIE PALMER STEAK NAPA in the beautiful brand new ARCHER HOTEL downtown. And I roll my eyes a little bit–I will admit–whenever chain steak houses are mentioned, but this place: OMG. It was really late–it was, like TEN O’CLOCK–and all my usual faves were closed (I’m lookin at you, Angele), so we drifted in to an abandoned dining room not expecting much but a few calories and a glass of wine. Well, ol’ Charlie Palmer had other things in mind. Out came the wine-list BINDER and several dishes and a bottle and a couple hours later we said goodbye to their meticulous and patient staff who danced around us all night, leaving with a new appreciation for Charlie Palmer’s. Next time maybe we’ll check out the roof-top resty.
Speaking of road-trip: There’s an interesting new burger joint on I-5 out in the m i d d l e o f n o w h e r e (actually it’s the Panoche exit at Firebaugh) that is pretty good! I’ve eaten there several times now in the past couple years and it sure beats Taco Bell and MacDonald’s. It’s called WAYBACK BURGERS and it is really a breath of fresh air between LA and Sac. I even had their vege-burger this time!
Oh and while we’re on the subject of Sacramento, got to eat at REVOLUTION WINERY & KITCHEN again in mid-town practically UNDER the WX. I love this place. And the wine is good too. Yes, it is an actual working urban winery with crushes and presses and barrels out back and you can even bring your jug and get it filled. I guess we call it a ‘growler’ now, but that’s beer–this is wine. And wine comes in a jug! Get the cheese plate. Get the hamburger. Get the vegan cauliflower.
OK, back to home. I know how unpopular out-of-town stuff is. Hell, most of you can’t even find Arroyo Grande Village, much less an awesome oyster bar in Sonoma with all natural wines… Oh oh oh! wait a minute I just thought of something else I have to mention in Petaluma because I just found it and had some afternoon snacks and wine quite by accident but NEXT TIME I am EATING THERE. It’s called frog or donkey or something, hold on–I gotta google it. CROCODILE! it’s called CROCODILE, and the wine list is INCREDIBLE and the menu positively drool-worthy and I am sorry we already had reservations that night.
OK, back home: SIX TEST KITCHEN pretty sure closed in Arroyo Grande at the end of November and will not re-open in Tin City Paso Robles until January. Seating for 12, couples welcome, a full-time somm on the floor and $50 corkage. A little bit of a change for some of you. Change is good. Y’all ready for this?
Speaking of Tin City, TIN CANTEEN is up and running! I haven’t been there yet, but hearing good things. This is the first full-time restaurant in Tin City, no? Six Test will be the second. Maybe one of the breweries has something running by now, I don’t know. But I always say: a new hot item needs THREE restaurants to be on the IT list. Look at Los Alamos: Full of Life Flatbread, then Bell Street, then Bob’s Well Bread and BOOM: Los Alamos is a destination and has never looked back. Watch Santa Margarita, boys & girls: I’m tellin ya! It’s the NEXT ONE. The Range has muddled along in relative dinner-only obscurity for a decade, Porch is working things out, a couple other places have new owners and plans all-the-while, brand new ROSALINA continues to KILL IT with their perfect 21st-century renditions of California-Mission-Rancho-Mexican staples and luxury plates washed down with plenty of inspired adult beverages. Santa Margarita is *so close* to having 3 restaurants. You watch: Santa Margarita is NEXT.
ENJOY EURO MARKET has really been playing the *theme-dinner* thing lately. Friday, December 7 they are doing a vegetarian passport to Greece meal, with all the usual suspects in vege-style. Love their food. I shop there fairly regularly for all my Eastern-European staples.
I’m not out of stuff, but I’m gonna stop.
STOP GOING TO SHITTY RESTAURANTS!
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