Couple of closures announced: A-TOWN DINER is gone or will be shortly. Apparently quite an institution, though I never ate there. So there’s another prominent space open–isn’t it right in front of Diamond Adult World? TIN CANTEEN’S abrupt announcement shocked a few. “Due to circumstances beyond our control”. Now, I DID eat there several times–but never under the current regime. One of those restaurant stories starting off with a bang–PLEASE STOP ME IF YOU’VE EVER HEARD THIS BEFORE–top-chef, curated winelist, cool toys, pointed focus… and then one-by-one those items get canned or stripped away or outright gutted. This is one of those stories. How many more could you name? OMG don’t even get thinking about that. I could do, like BOOM 5 or 6 right off the top of my head. Now all the drunks who literally want to do a winery-CRAWL and stumble next door to eat are whining about the lack of food in TIN CITY. Grow up, people–and get over it. Wineries used to be out in the sticks, not in neat rows by a freeway offramp. Restaurants used to be in town, not next door to the tasting room. Someone will grab that space… I mean: there’s a lot of dollar bills staggering by, and not all of them want to go to a brewery BBQ. Maybe a Tahoe Joes or Claim Jumper?
Speaking of claim-jumping, serial pin-dropper Starr Hall has a new wine & bites project opening in Old Orcutt. That brings the wine-shops to what, THREE? The wineries have all fled, but independents keep popping up. Is VINO AMICIS or whatever still open? On-again/off-again and never really sure about that place. STELLAR’S CELLAR opened a few months ago–there’s EASILY the most experience behind that one–and the list will show it, I PROMISE. I love Old Orcutt, and for an old strip of town, shows amazing flex and constant expansion. Finally got in to THE HOMESTEAD a couple weeks ago. Fun spot for lunch, though the driest tuna sandwich I’ve ever had in my life. The 825 BLAST BREWERY located there is my FAVORITE of all their–what, 7???–locations. Far Western is of course there now, plus a smattering of other spots. Orcutt has LITERALLY the only restaurants in Santa Maria. And been that way since the original Chef Rick’s at Clark & Bradley.
Speaking of FAR WESTERN TAVERN, drove through Guadalupe for the first time in a bit. Still the saddest grouping of gorgeous antique empty store-fronts on the planet, BUT! the resty-scene there–especially the Mexican portion of it–has seriously expanded. When Romo’s tacos took a nose-dive in quality a few years back, there wasn’t much else around (as much as I love LA SIMPATIA, it is simply NOT a taqueria). Now there are 5 or 6! Every four or five doors it seems is a taco spot. I ventured in to long-closed (south of town) LA PASADITA OAXAQUENA (new place up IN town) and tried their stuff. Not bad at all. Homemade tortillas and a decent adobada-version of al pastor. Need to go down there and do a taco-crawl!
More wine news… A couple wine-shops had major transitions in management recently. Aaron is gone from SLO WINE & BEER CO–“creative differences” -OR- “family emergency” (you choose)–and a few new faces walking around inside. But the buzz here seems to be the food-truck which has taken up somewhat permanently out front. WICKED GARDEN even has a ‘SLO Wine & Beer’ label on it, so perhaps it is proprietary. Several people have told me it’s amazing. You’ll have to take their word for it–or try it yourself–because it’s never gonna happen for me. If I want to eat off a paper-plate from a truck and sit on the sidewalk, I’ll go to fucking farmers market. Yeah no. Up in Paso, Troy is out at VIN 13 and some new kid with a seemingly fair grasp of all things wine and hospitality is installed. Troy put together a RIDICULOUS list for this beautiful place, but watch (STOP ME IF YOU’VE EVER HEARD THIS BEFORE, PART DEUX) for it to… um… *simplify*.
Up in Adelaida District, straight-up Santorini SIRENA VINEYARD RESORT makes moves toward the restaurant business in yet another gaudy WTF event promising a one-stop *experience* in pseudo wine-country. This is not the wine country I know or anyone I associate with knows. ‘Wine for Idiots’ with more money than sense. Up the road a spell, JUSTIN is still on everyone’s lips (hopefully no touching them though, owwwww), and I want to point something out many are overlooking: This is NOT a group of little girls getting together and hiring Jeffery Stulberg for a class-action and settlement check. THE FEDERAL GOVERMENT IS SUING THE WONDERFUL CORPORATION. Key difference: counsel budget.
Anyone been to CEILO or HEMMINGWAY’S yet? Gotta check these guys out. Everyone says Cielo is hard to get into, but I feel they are only talking about the rooftop bar. It would make sense though… talk about towns with no restaurants haha. Atascadero has ONE RESTAURANT.
Meandering on out to the coast, BABYDUDES opened yesterday with a full patio and a curt menu with nary a theme. Will be interesting to see how this plays out and if any theme becomes apparent. No website, no geo-tag, only an IG kinda all over the place in terms of food. I do hope to see this beautiful corner spot transpire into something edible. Around the corner, the Anderson/Kitty’s conversion continues and across the street, BBQ’s a-comin soon through the pass into Legends. Don’t get up! Further up Morro Bay Boulevard, PANDA PANDA is a dining experience I wouldn’t recommend to my worst enemy. Down on the Embarcadero, third-floor framing is nearing completion on the Leage family legacy-slash-hotel-slash-boutique-slash-playground-slash-2 restaurants with a shared kitchen. You read that right. HARBORWALK PLAZA is well under-way and Niko and Troy think they can make this concept work and I’m just here with the popcorn. Headed down into the mud, the Avocado & Margarita Festival returns this year with new owners and will be in the park at the boat-ramp. And there’s a VIP tent: It’s the CHABLIS, moored on the dock! How cool is that? Also returning (thank Dog) is the glam pre-party for all the poeple who wouldn’t be caught DEAD at the actual festival. Chef Spencer, Lannon Rust and company are throwing a thing at The Boatyard. Check out the schedule for next weekend. Prolly sold out. OK so I went and checked the schedule for you and no mention of party or dinner or anything so either cancelled or #marketingfail or maybe it’s secret! oops
Across the mud, Jennifer Dorn has aquired the MarriageBreaker after its fresh remodel and non-opening, including plans for removing it from famous *dive-bar* staus with garden dining from a kitchen being installed upstairs. PINKIES OUT!!! I didn’t even know it was 2-story. Oh and FINALLY, DORN’S is re-configuring the reception area of the MOTHER restaurant and promises a bar with more than 4 seats. Imagine that.
So you know my *3-RESTAURANT* rule for destination towns? Of course you do and lot of you think it rather stupid. Well, it’s my rule and I’m sticking to it, because proven true dozens of times. Santa Margarita has teeter-tottered on this cusp for YEARS, and I took a little cruise up there last weekend to find rumors true ROSALINA, THE PORCH EATERY, and (of course) THE RANGE all serving DINNER. Not-so-sleepy anymore. Up in magpie-country, the ever-expanding NOMADA HOTEL GROUP‘s latest acquisition: POZO SALOON is only being used one Sunday a month for a regular chef pop-up and music series for 100 diners at $100/pop. So don’t drive up there expecting lunch–like I did.
WETZEL’S PRETZELS opened downtown SLO. Geez, I can’t wait. Meanwhile, the last vestiges of Corvid: THE STUPID PARKLETS continue to shrink, with several recent removals: NOVO and Frog & Peach the most prominent. The city just doesn’t know WHAT to do with these new parking spaces, I mean: you CAN’T just ADD PARKING SPACES DOWNTOWN THAT WOULD BE HORRIBLE so has taken to painting them this odd grey color ridiculously similar to *Loading Zone White* so I don’t know if they just got a bad match on the color or are trying to make it look like fresh concrete. Remember: per the design corridor: our sidewalks are RED cement/tile combination because that’s waht Junipero Serra specified. When are KULT’s and PARK’s going away? When is BLACK SHEEP’s and EUREKA!’s??? I know a guy.
Just in time for these new parking spaces on Higuera, THE CARRISA is rolling out BRUNCH starting Sunday 9/11 and you should SEEEEEEEE the menu. Chef Andrew has installed Will Torres’ sous-chef from Farmhouse Corner Market at the helm and co-written a 10-4 food & drink list positively mond-boggling. This is NOT eggs-bennie, breakfast burritos and bottomless mimosas, boys & girls. Oh yeah: and FULL, complete bar, DUH! Their plan is to just soft-roll it out with the doors opening on Sunday without fanfare and let it ride for a few weekends word-of-mouth. I’ve kept my mouth shut for several weeks but noticed somebody added it slyly in a simple line under an announcement for CHRISTMAS AT THE CARRISA so I figure it’s open-season for all 7 of you who read Resty Gossip. Try not to mob the place opening day. Farther down Hig, there’s an arcade opening in the old Aaron Bros promising “Beer & Wine”. Try not to spill it on the Frogger or Centipede.
Across town, TASTE CRAFT KITCHEN signs and furniture up and installed and final touches on the patio. Look for THAT soon. Down in Pismo, PACIFIC PLANT COMPANY opened by OSH with ALL HOUSEPLANTS. And not your average Miner’s/Home Depot/Lowe’s dracena’s, ZZ’s and Bostons either. And I heard the sea lions sunk Charlie Puffer’s sailboat in Avila??? This concludes the NON-FOOD portion of the news… I mean other than Diablo staying open and the SWAT team using flash grenades Thursday night to get some butt-hurt duner out of his house and BELLA LUNA’S patriarch crashing and dying in his Soviet fighter-plane. No, there will not be a regular Police Blotter feature on these pages. Oh, but speaking of Charlie: PUFFER’S IS NOT CLOSED. OK? Puffer’s continues on with shows and music, bites and of course plenty of wine. Just full dinner service is off-the-table for now.
Now go play outside or something.