Been out to Mulligan’s recently? So here’s a covid success story of sorts. Before the pandemic, COMPLETELY unknown resty–one of my favorite *secret* places to visit and plug–lots of parking, rarely busy, decent food. At the first ‘opening up’ to outdoor dining, Mulligan’s began a hearty marketing campaign: installing signs downtown and on leading roads, going all-out with outdoor dining areas and even some live music. Turns out they also GREATLY expanded the menu. Shocked to see Banh Mi, Avocado Toast, Ceviche Wonton and Hummus on a classically *hamburger, hot-dog, and club-sammie* menu. Also full breakfast all day. The Banh Mi was *ok*. Lots of juicy stuffing and PERFECT bread, but the meat was tough and weird. And the balsamic for the salad was paste. Maybe stick to the hamburger.
PORT HOUSE in Morro Bay is done. No big cry from me on that one. Beautiful spot though. Again: internal energy, I’m tellin ya! Because the concept SHOULD have worked. It wasn’t aimed *quite* at Galley, and it set itself apart significantly from the impossible competition of Dorn’s/Dutchman’s/Gafco/Harbor Hut. Both times I ate there (3?) though, it was just, like, WTF man. Get it together. Another empty resty. Up in (the EXPLODING) downtown Morro Bay, the darling little Kitty’s on the original Hwy 1 (maybe one of the oldest eateries in MB? Maybe I read that?) has freshly-papered windows and some sort of Galley-connection with a vibrant new twist–possibly southern. Man, we need a good restaurant downtown again! I sincerely doubt if this will be IT.
Harbor Hut: Favorite restaurant in Morro Bay–and my favorite steak, currently–but you know me and my weakness for Continental Restaurants. Top Sirloin of all things, but a beautiful baseball cut and provided they don’t take it a teensy weensy billionth of a second past the EARLY stages of MR, it is incredible. Unfortunately, about once out of every 5 times I order it, it arrives SOLIDLY into M–and you Just. Can’t. Eat. Top sirloin. That. Way. Did I mention the Sole Almondine is back on the menu?
Down the street, had a bright, sunlit lunch behind glass overlooking the bay at House of Juju. Hadn’t been there since BC. Also hand’t had a Wedge in a million years. Put together nicely–as simple as it is–though the dressing was ridiculously thick, almost a dip. I like to be able to spread it around a bit without it obliterating the lettuce with salt and cheese.
One more note on MB, then I’ll get outa town… Finally got into Three Stacks and a Rock for what I had been warned multiple times is “ONLY hot dogs and pretzels!” Well, somewhat true… there IS a pretzel–probably quite good because the pretzel/bakery game has been stepped up SO HIGH around here lately, you’d be an idiot to serve a mediocre one: with The Alehouse and SLO Brew and Breaking Bread and Spoon Trade serving face-melting versions. And the hotdog list is rather comprehensive: the good news is, you don’t have to drive to Stefano’s anymore for a Chicago Dog. Also Coney and you ready for this: Banh Mi Dog and Cubano Dog. There’s about 8 or 10 total and the classic Brat comes in a dark pretzel bun, gobs of sauerkraut, mustard and cheese sauce. Of course many in-house beers brewed on-premise, multiple other local breweries’ offerings, plus a bit of cider and wine. A fair smattering of left-over memorabilia hanging about from the former highlight of this location–something I’ve heard about a 50/50 split of opinion on from locals: “I can’t believe they left that horrible aquarium stuff up” and, “They left all the cool old aquarium stuff up.” I am firmly in the latter group. While we always raised our eyebrows a bit at the seals (always skipping it), my girls LOVED the aquarium when little, and it taught them a lot about marine life. Likewise the WALL at the end of historical stuff. Wonder where THAT is? What this place suffers on ambiance and menu diversity it makes up for on delicious beer and good people, but I’m warning you: take a sweater. Take TWO.
Last weeks tutorial on good vs. bad “al pastor” caused SO much ire from morons toward me I’ve decided to do it AGAIN. Visited bro-fave Taco King in SLO, as it had been a few years. Nope. Sorry folks. That is NOT an al pastor (or adobada–more accurately) taco. Period. NOTHING about it makes sense, from the soggy tortillas through the horrible chunks of flavorless meat and into the depressing salsas. That’s just not right, and I suppose if you’ve been raised on a steady diet of Senor Sanchos or Old Juan’s Cantina, you might think you have a pretty authentic handful in front of you. All you need to do is find a GOOD one–in this case even a mediocre one–and you’ll never eat this shit again.
TO WIT: And here I have to back-pedal a bit, because Papi’s in Paso Robles (remember: in the old building with the MONITORED parking lot which moved a few blocks away when BRUNCH moved from the cheese shop?) I never gave high marks to. Ate there several times and they do NOT have a very good score on The List. Always found it lacking. Fast-forward to Atascadero, and that stand-alone little spot just north of Colony that has seen MULTIPLE–all terrible–Mexican-food tenants the past decade or more. Well, Papi’s #1 is there now, and yes–I asked–they are the Paso people. The tacos were amazing–like, possibly Top-15 county-wide category. OK, maybe even Top-10. I guess I need to visit Paso Papi’s again… but this wouldn’t be the first time locations varied. Look at Taco Time Paso vs. SLO. Look at Taqueria Santa Cruz Monterey vs. Foothill. One inedible–one delicious.
Jack’s–part of the Streetside empire–across the street from Pig Iron in Templeton–has a luxury Italian project going in Atascadero: Celio? Cielo? The new soul-food Paso Grille fails to unlock its doors, though apparently: Hemmingway’s is opening to the public this week. New pizza place going in at the huge facelift of the old Mazda ‘ship in SLO and I’m hearing of yet another chef-change down at PICO Los Alamos.
The old KONFUSION spot in Pismo has changed from local-chain Thai Elephant to SUNSET THAI. Not sure what’s going on there and don’t really care: as pho has remained on the menu. Pretty much the only place to get pho in SoCo anymore besides @bites at the far north end of SLO. EVERYTHING else is gone. China Gourmet, Lotus, Dragon Buffet…. And it’s quite good, and they *speak* it–as in: they don’t even waste your time with a menu if you just pull up and say you’re here for pho. A quick “What kind?” and BAM: heaven in a bowl. Good broth, strong nutmeg/allspice nuance, decent threads and plenty of accouterments. Speaking of Lotus, have you seen Mission Mall lately? There’s alot of transition goin on in there–and a lot of empty spaces. I think the handlebar mustache wax men’s store could have succeeded with better exposure–maybe, but still kinda scratchin my head over both iterations of Paris Cafe–and then stalwart Lotus–failing. I feel it was an *internal energy* thing, honestly. Speaking of Lotus, still haven’t been in Chinelo’s since they moved from MB. Either closed or something off the menu every time… I dunno… get kinda a weird vibe from that place. Anybody buy BIG SKY CAFE yet?
Still with Thai, but changing noodles–and country–branched my wings out a bit at SLO Public Market and stepped up to BAHT and since Boat Noodle was out that day, opted for the Drunken Udon. Drunk on salt and sauce, that’s for sure. Just a little too Umerican-rich for me. You know Brooks Burger is coming in there–love their place in Pismo, though went by the other day for lunch (during announced hours) and they were closed. But it’s going to be all the way across the parking lot which… I mean… I know I’m being curmudgeony here, but… kinda squishes the *public market* vibe, am I wrong? Maybe they should call it SLO Food Parking Lot. Oh yeah: and ground has broken on what is advertized as the Public Market area of San Luis Ranch, but checking the map, it’s in the area colored for “Hotel” so a bit confused there.
That’s about it for this week. I’ll think of more.