THREE new taco places are opening in SLOco: TAQUERIA SANTA CRUZ in the little horrid strip of restaurants on Foothill beside 24HR Nautilus between Dominos and Popeye’s Chicken; TACOS EL VEIJON on the strand in Morro Bay between Taco Temple and Chapala; and EFRENS #5 up on Laurel. Veijon is the only one I am not familiar with, so hope springs eternal–Morro bay has a dearth of real tacos: only the ones in the Sinclair Gas station are remotely worthy. The other two I have had on several occasions and are *passable* fare for those not too picky about the authenticity of their tacos.
Speaking of that little strip on Foothill, there’s a place going in called MILK IN IT which rumors are is a cereal joint. *cue Seinfield theme*. Kids these days. Cereal is what, like $6 a box nowdays? And milk is practically free. So you charge $5 for a bowl of cereal? not even sure this is true but it has my mind reeling.
And on those lines, I actually ate at POKIRITO the other day, curious and in love with all things poke. Don’t go here expecting poke. It is not really a poke place. It’s more of a sushi-bowl or wrap place. There’s only ONE poke in the place–rather standard ahi-sesame-shoyu fare and the rest is entirely uninteresting. And that’s NOT sushi rice. The whole thing is overly-complicated, bland and uninteresting. Not recommended.
The reason I ate at Pokirito was I had lunch plans–and high hopes–for the new PokeChef-owned MENKA RAMEN place across the street where Dickery’s BBQ was, but it is open only 5PM – 10PM, so there’s that.
I also noticed while cruising this parking lot Carl’s Jr. Has closed. Doesn’t that seem weird? I have had this discussion with many local gourmets over the years: The CalPoly strip can not support fast food burgers. Why is this? Sure, part of me wants to congratulate them, but do the math: McDonald’s has been closed for ever, Burger King couldn’t make it and now Carl’s Jr.? I suppose there are worse things to complain about. Jack-In-The-Box seems to weather it and that Taco Bell will never die.
Of course, FIVE GUYS is now open across the street and SLODoCo has expanded and are opening a new location in Paso. The quest for donuts never ends, it seems. Popped into SLO Custom Donuts or whatever today downtown. My oh my. Those are some serious creations. I can’t even. THEY AIR-BRUSH THEM. Grow up, people.
Tried to get into SCOTTY’S BBQ in Atascadero this week to continue my BBQ education and article. Closed. And interior all mussed up and re-arranged. So appearing SERIOUSLY closed. BRICKHOUSE in Morro Bay has not opened their new location yet either. So if I had to write my BBQ LIST right now, I would be torn between CENTRAL COAST MEAT MARKET, Tom Fundaro’s brisket at SLO BREW and SLO BREW ROCK, and G BROTHERS SMOKEHOUSE. Nothing else around here even comes CLOSE. Basically all of the commonly-trotted-out (and very popular) San Luis Obispo “””BBQ””” places serve absolutely inedible dretch to people with no taste buds or service standards. And as to your helpful tips, I don’t eat fuckin sandwiches and I don’t eat fuckin tri-tip, so save it.
While in Atascadero and all things *closed*, DANIELS is gone and gutted and work appears ongoing. I rather like their tacos. Placed pretty high on my TAQUERIA LIST. Oh well.
Finally got in to GUEST HOUSE GRILL. I’ve only eaten at Streetside Ale House in downtown Atascadero before and LOVED it (their Rosemary Fries are the best in San Luis Obipso County) but never in any of their other properties. They have 5 I think–including a resort in Oregon I actually used to go camping at with my parents back in the 70’s. Guest House is quite nice. It’s over in the shadow of Chalk Mountain. Definitely less *sports-bar-y* and more *restaurant-y* than Streetside. Menu a bit different, but solid offerings. Nice comfy little full bar. Wine list pretty bad. Haven’t been to Streetside Paso yet.
Rumor is: the Italian Bistro–PIAZZA DEL PANE–which has opened in the short-lived OnBar location (Villa Creek) is owned by them too…. Or somebody from Fresno… Nobody knows… nobody cares. The REAL rumor is someone was doinkin’ someone else at OnBar so everyone had to go buh-buy. Pictures at 11.
Across the street, I finally got to experience the BL BRASSERIE re-branding of my beloved Bistro Laurent. I am happy to report very little has changed. Menu is now a huge sheet and lunch hours are expanded. That’s about it. All the loveliness is still there… the incredible winelist, the fabulous service, the ridiculously good French fare. Started with Champagne and paté, butter and cornichons, moved on to meaty legs of le lapin, ordered a beautiful 2010 Haut-Medoc and finished with beignets and crème brûlé. This is the best restaurant in Paso Robles. Don’t even argue.
That’s it. That’s my list of best restaurants around here. See the big hole in San Luis Obispo? Yeah, believe me–I do too. And it makes me ache. I need a TOP-5 and *somebody* in Pismo-Shell-Avila-SLO-Morro Bay needs to get slotted in. I just can’t come up with one. I eat at every restaurant in SLO regularly and nothing rises to the absolute top, sadly. I ate at Blue Heron Baywood last week and it doesn’t do it–I had hopes. Lido has issues I can’t resolve–it suffers more from an *ambience* thing, and Gardens of Avila or Blue Moon will never make the list. Don’t even suggest anything Italian: THAT ain’t gonna do it, EVER. Wait a minute: What about GENNARO’S? There’s an idea. Windows On The Water has seen it’s heyday. Could it be Luna Red? Can you sit down with the wine list and the service and the menu and the translation of all things to your table and put it in this group? I’m not that desperate yet. So I’m stuck with a Top-4. How awkward is that.
I suppose this is as good a place as any to mention a very nice place in Los Osos is thinking about shutting its doors. Also, an iconic spot in 5-cities is pokin around for a new EC. So if ya know someone top-of-their-game, give me a ring. I just mean, like, text me or DM me or something–don’t call me. Don’t ever call me.
Headed down south, SIDEWALK CAFE has finally opened in the old Alphy’s Broiler location: Arroyo Grande Village. God, I can’t even begin to express how happy I am that place is gone. I ate there once. ONCE. Dreadful food for the absolute LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR of diners and PACKED every day. Made me sad to my core every time I drove by. Oh well. Mentioned the new owners a few weeks ago on these pages but wasn’t sure how much detail I was able to go into, but it’s official now: it is indeed Brian Collins’ brother operating the joint. Last Sidewalk Cafe I frequented was in Venice Beach and I don’t know how they feel about this, but can’t wait to get in and give it a spin.
While in 5-Cities, DARWISH is fully open and running and reports are drifting in. Everything from OMG THIS IS THE BEST EVER to omg are you kidding me? as usual. Gonna have to pop in there one of these days.
Joshua Klapper of TIMBRE WINERY is beatin a drum about a new restaurant in The Village. Watch that guy.
Up the coast in Pismo Beach, MATTIE’S have torn the alcohol license out of their window and pulled the blinds. This is on TOP of rumors I received from at least 3 people of seeing diners and activity inside the past weekends. Now things are swirling that ROSA’S RISTORANTE ITALIANO across the street might have some cards in the game. What the hell is going on with that place? I ate there once. Did I tell you about that? No, I think I left it out of the public record. Wisely.
ESPRIT DU VIN 2019 was an absolute blast this past weekend. Did you know this is their 18th annual event? Got to mingle and taste a huge selection of local, well-priced, easy-to-find wines all paired with cheese. Lots of new discoveries and visits with old friends. Read my quick notes here: esprit-du-vin-paso-robles-quick-notes (this is going to take you to a separate blog–my wine page). This event completely sold out and will continue to do so. Tickets are already on sale for next year at a link at the end of the above blog.
Let’s talk about SLO for a bit. Where is SPROUTS going? I saw something about it and assumed it was the old Fresh & Easy but it is a Dollar Store now. Then I saw the old Long’s Drugs remodel shinin bright and it kinda matched the picture but it is literally NEXT DOOR to California Fresh. Hey, and SLO PUBLIC MARKET is coming along nicely. I posted some disappointing early-tenants some months ago but check out the current list: FIGEROA MT BREWING CO. CENTRAL COAST CREAMERY. HIGH STREET DELI (seriously? You remember they are taking the old Sculpted Egg spot in Los Osos, right?). KRAKEN COFFEE CO. (that’s the Kreuzberg/Poor But Sexy people for those of you in the front rows). KROBAR & YES COCKTAIL companies COMBINED. At that point it heads off into things not worthy of these pages… Ice cream shops, açai smoothie places, yoga studios, and a bunch of stuff still not announced. So… just for reference: You’ve been to Santa Barbara Public Market, no? You’ve been to OXBOW in Napa, right? Boucheries, charcuteries, oyster and fish markets, wine shops, Italian bistros, tea shops, spice & herb shops, groceries. This BETTER turn out nice.
The restaurant going into the old Pluto’s on Chorro has stalled.
Construction continues on OTTER ROCK in Morro Bay.
BRASSERIE SLO marches along nicely.
Work continues on the highly-anticipated TACO TEMPLE in SLO which will serve literally the worst tacos ever to grace this county as if the rest of their “Mexican” wasn’t bad enough already.
No one knows if Compass Health’s newest resty: MESTIZA (upstairs where THO SLO was) will be Philipino Filipino? I never can remember or Mexican. Either way, I PROMISE more flat-screen TV will be installed. A little bird told me MANY tv’s. Yay.
What is 1085 Higuera going to be?
Got in my third? maybe fourth? visit to CIDER BAR last week before the KRUEZBERG LOUNGE Cocktail Bar grand opening. You people seriously need to go visit this place. DON’T let the name dissuade you. Sure, if you like cider, you’ll be in heaven–but THAT’S NOT IT. So many people I talk to say, “Well, I’m not really into cider” and you are missing out SO BAD. The beers are incredible the winelist is the BEST IN SLO right now period end of conversation and the food is all French Bistro perfection from a chef who worked with Robuchon. I mean–come ON, son.
Around the corner in Mission Mall, LE PETIT PARIS is rockin & rollin and serving the OPPOSITE side of French Bistro fare: Beautiful salads, expert panini, and matcha in every form you can imagine.
So…. the conversation came up the other day “We have no French food here.” and um… well… let’s do the math on that–ignoring the Pico’s and Ember’s and Spoontrade’s and Lido’s and Cass House’s who all have beautiful French renditions on their menus–STRICTLY French:
Bell’s Los Alamos
Cider Bar SLO
Le Petit Paris
Moon Over Avila
BL Brasserie Paso Robles
Madeline’s and Le Chat Noir Cambria probably should be included…
Who am I forgetting? I haven’t even spread this conversation out a little further where we all visit, Buchon etc. in Santa Barbara, does Solvang have a French restaurant? Carmel has a couple PG has one Aptos has one Santa Cruz has one and on and on…
As part of my ongoing favorite theme, I popped into ROSA’S in Pismo Beach for the pesto rotini and pomodoro capellini. See, I’m on number 4 or 5 of going to some of our rather hi-brow Italian restaurants in the area and ordering literally the lowliest pasta dishes on the menu and a cheap bottle of red wine. It’s really interesting. Try it. Walking out with a bill under 100 bucks is nice too.
I really REALLY like the pizza up at OCEAN GRILL in Avila. I love everything about that place–except the winelist. Just shockingly bad. So many great restaurants around here suffer from this problem. I’d eat at Ocean Grill once a week if they had a single bottle I could order.
Did you know KUMA has a truck parked at Sylvesters in Atascadero and is serving on their outdoor patio every day? So you have pho and ramen literally a block apart in Atascadero. Things are looking up in that part of town.
That’s about it for this week. There’s something else big but I can’t re member it.
Panda Express has no panda on the menu.
You’re not following me on Instagram??? Come’on! This is 2019! Get with it: instagram@eatdrinkCA