Yes, boys & girls, it’s been a long long time–three weeks maybe?–since I wrote and SOOOO much has happened and KEEPS happening, I probably won’t try to cram it all in to one blog, but maybe write several short ones this week. What I AM going to do is reflect all my notes from the past several weeks even though some if it is way old news because, if there’s one thing that continues to shock me here on the Central Coast, it’s how slowly restaurant news travels for some people.
FARMHOUSE CORNER MARKET is the hot new ticket in town, and has been fully open for a few weeks. This is Instagram heaven and I guess I kind of *get* that but otherwise… The “Gourmet Market” is dry Etto, re-packaged cheese and a few hipster wines–more of a curio shop than serviceable food market. The restaurant is counter-ordering–something loyal readers will know annoys the piss outa me. And you get a number and the waitress wanders the dining room looking for you. Wine-service is stemless–which gets another massive asterisk–and there are a few serviceable by-the-glass options. But the food. I gotta say: the food I have had and witnessed so far is top-notch. Everything obviously from scratch and gorgeously presented. As with most places, the bar-seats are where it’s at. Fully open now til late in the evening, and I would assume their wine programme includes dining-in options with the interesting bottles in the market, but I can not imagine myself actually going there with the intent of a nice formal dinner. For now it is pretty high on the list of HOT lunch-spots.
Atascadero is getting a HABIT. Before you get all huffy about more chains, I believe they are Santa Barbara local, and the burgers are quite good. I’ve tried them a couple times. Not horrible stuff at all. LA ESQUINA is finally open for lunch Fri-Sat-Sun. Mother-ship CIOPINOT has started a fresh fish market in their lobby Saturday and Sunday (I scribbled this in my notes June 4th, so see how long of catching up we have to do???) Finney’s Craft House and Kitchen in the old Forden Building downtown SLO undergoing MAJOR renovation so don’t look for that to open any time soon.
Across the street, MESTIZA–Compass Health’s latest dining spot is fully open and I had the pleasure of sitting down and going through the majority of the menu with some folks and their staff and it is beautiful beautiful stuff. Everything REALLY well thought out and ridiculously creative. The cocktail program is TOP NOTCH, and they have a bunch of interesting wines–including some Valle de Guadalupe stuff–on the list. You NEED to get in there.
Speaking of Luxe-Mexican & Mezcal, ANOTHER restaurant downtown is joining the ranks of this apparently hot dining niche. That will make 3 for us: La Esquina, Mestiza and this other place, which is going to be The Casita Buena or something…. Down in Pismo, the place ROSA’S bought at the corner somewhat of Price Canyon and Price Street looks completely finished and napkins on the tables. No sign, no news, no gossip, nothing… Have you been to Steve Shin’s new poke place in Pismo yet? Speaking of signs, Branzino finally got one… Cass House Grill hired Stacey Bareng after Cory went to Hatch… Ox + Anchor & Piadina in HOTEL SLO and Brasserie SLO in HOTEL CERRA continue to churn on, pretty sure all have passed their target opening dates comfortably, but hey: such is big construction.
Across town, I got into 1865 CRAFT HOUSE & KITCHEN finally up at the new Monterey Hotel. These are Firestone Walker people or something? I forget. They hired the former chef from Vegetable Butcher–no, not the woman co-owner, the black guy, remember him?–and they are calling it ‘gastro-pub’ which is really 2015, but hey: it’s the central coast. People still wear UGGS here. The place is huge and completely modernized, and the food is rustic situations (2 of my dishes came in toy cast iron skillets, one on a stone) presented in awkward-kinda Cal-Poly-suitable staff and demographic. Winelist nearly impossible to order from, but I think cocktails here are the way to go, as they have dedicated massive amounts of floor-space to the *bar* sections.
So think about this hotel thing for a minute. With Ralph’s or whatever horribleness that is in The Kinney, there will be FIVE hotel-specific restaurants here in town, not counting Granada or Madonna or SLObrew Lofts or anything like that. This is new ground for San Luis Obispo. And WHO is going to stay in all these rooms????
Paso Robles is getting a Public Market. PASO MARKET WALK is what it’s called and it is under construction up on Spring at the North end of town. Can’t remember if that was where the nursery was or a car dealership. The usual early spots assigned: brewpub, ice cream, coffee, “an experimental nursery”, and this one’s actually getting a wine-shop, unlike our SLO PUBLIC MARKET. *visibly yawns*
Bang The Drum Brewery is closing August 1st. Vegetable Butcher closed last week. How long ago did you read that here? MmmHmmm… Le Petite Paris in the back of Mission Mall has by all rights & purposes closed. Neighbors report long absences. CIDER BAR hasn’t closed yet, but they COMPLETELY re-configured their menu into a bunch of bites. I’m guessing BEAR & WREN hasn’t opened yet, I always forget too look because Spikes was just SOOOO completely off my radar as an eating establishment it might as well not even existed. I did hear Bear & Wren are not accepting new catering jobs as they work on the brick and mortar. There’s a coffee shop and a french bakery with some strange hours in the same courtyard now too.
While we’re on the Creamery, I FINALLY got to eat at MISTURA. Had wanted to for YEARS, but just never made the trek up to Paso for it. Now that they are occupying the old Foremost Wine Co. spot, we have it right here in town. And it’s GOOD. No, SERIOUSLY good. What is Peruvian food? Well, it’s not weird, for starters. There is lots of fresh seafood prepared in crudo or sashimi style, lots of meat, great starches, and a completely serviceable winelist of Argentinian and Iberian bottles. Oh. And Alpaca. Yes, I ate my first alpaca. He also will bring in a Guinea pig to roast whole for you if you call ahead. Apparently, it is quite the Peruvian delicacy. I’m RATHER adventurous an eater, but kinda gotta think about that one for a while.
Oh, I know you all were holding your breath about THIS one, but Taco Bell out in Marigold is re-opened after the complete color-change and remodel chains like this do every few years. It’s blue now. A collective sigh of relief rises from the masses. In the same center, OLD SLO BBQ–a place that scored nearly dead last on my recent BBQ TOUR OF SLO is not open yet–but close. Another collective sigh of relief rises from the masses.
Look who’s back. EDIBLE SLO has new owners and is back in publication. The first issue just came out, but unlike former administration, I wasn’t invited to the roll-out. I’m not pouting, really. And no, the new co-owner’s last name of “Lewis” is no relation to the former editor of the same surname. Did you know THE BUCKHORN in Cuyama is open again??? YOU DO NOW. Bet ya didn’t read THAT in the new times. MATTINA FIORE is opening a tasting room in the Spyglass Center in Shell next to De Paulo & Sons. Blue Moon Over Avila opened a tapas/wine/jazz? place next door called LOUIE’S AT THE BEACH. MONTEREY STREET MARKET had their grand opening last weekend, it looks nice. They put in a winebar, which cranks my impression way up. Probably have to sneak in there soon. I’m *guessing*–and this might be presumptuous–but an awesome Italian deli with a winebar *probably* serves a wicked meat & cheese plate. Just a hunch. BRUNCH moved down into the antique Papi’s Mexican Restaurant space on Pine Street in Paso. End of an era there, but I can’t say I am saddened, as that Mexican food was barely palatable. PORT HOUSE is not yet open in the old Otter Rock in Morro Bay, FRANCISCO’S COUNTRY KITCHEN has re-opened in the Smart & Final shopping center where the bad lingerie shop was in Arroyo Grande. Now THERE’S the end of an era. Wonder what will happen to that beautiful old diner by the freeway that probably pre-dates the freeway? More importantly, where will we get bad lingerie?
Am I done? That’s the end of my notes. You’re not *completely* up to speed, but close. If you followed my Instagram @eatdrink101 you would get the DAILY scoop.
No 7-Layer Dips were harmed on my 4th of July. And I have all my fingers. Have a taco: