It seems–despite a complete lack of ANY publicity whatsoever–Restaurant Month is indeed happening in January in SLOco. Right now! I had no idea. I thought it had been replaced with this ridiculous, bad-for-business, revolvingly-funded 25% gift-card program. But I saw a flyer at the visitor center and it had probably 30 spots on it, all offering the typical 3-4 prix-fixe items for 30 bucks. Wonder how come it got buried. Oh, and if you DO decide to go cash in your $100 in receipts, be prepared to lose 30 minutes of your life. Also: any food-retail other than outright grocery is fair game. Cupcakes, muffins, macaroons, pies, bread. Wonder how, like, a sandwich from the deli at Albertson’s would work? Also: FAST FOOD is now legal tender! This is something I felt short-sighted in the initial launch itemizing “Local restaurants only”. Might wanna look up how franchises work. You’ve got 10 days left to participate. Details HERE … [edit 1.23.22 This program was cancelled yesterday]
Oki Kohi basically added all the popular items from their closed Momo Grill location across the street to their dim-sum chalkboard. You can now get stew and curry and Korean ribs and numerous noodle options–fried and soup. I could literally eat at this resty EVERY DAY. Those cold sesame noodles and shu mai are a couple of the greatest dishes in town. I need to go in there for actual morning items one of these days. They have a nice machine and the pastries look amazing. Also don’t forget there is a fair Asian market inside. Nothing on the scale of SLO Oriental or DEBU or Cherry Blossom, but numerous staples and curiosities.
Speaking of AZN, covid-staple bao seems to be permanently on the daily menu at Mee Heng Low and they are easily the best in town. Oki Kohi a distant second (weirdly assembled fillings with odd flavors; too much bread) and Bing’s a long-lost third. Paul’s buns are absolute HEAVEN. Now where’s the other out-the-door corvid item: ROAST DUCK???
Chef Antonio has moved his lockdown home take-out conversation to the empty kitchen at Park 1039 in SLO, doing inexpensive dinners for two seatings Friday and Saturday evenings. Also it appears curb-side dinners on Sunday, perhaps more. Get the details here … I went a few weeks ago. Oddly-plated, inconsistent food under ridiculously-loud music, all smacking of extremely hand-made Italian fare interspersed with the now de rigeuer cringy back-patting course-by-course sermon by someone barely shaving-age addressing a line-up of captives he assumes have never been out of the country. Park’s amazing wine-list is off-limits, corkage is $40, wine-pairing is also 40 which includes 5 wines–all white, none of which are Italian–and you can’t purchase a bottle of one of them. So knock yourself out. Does any of this sound strangely familiar? Six Test Kitchen anyone? Maybe there’s something in the water in Arroyo Grande. On a positive note: these dinners are VERY inexpensive as *chef pop-up’s* go. Also be warned: the serving staff are hired hands for strictly that purpose so asking them questions about the food or wine is futile. One response came up enough times after I visited I feel it necessary to address: “This is a nice use of a spot that would otherwise be sitting empty” is The. Worst. Ever. rationalilzation for a bad dining in the history of the planet.
More SLO: I went to Wetzel’s Pretzels. How a national chain gets away with serving food of this caliber is beyond me. I wouldn’t feed that shit to my worst fucking enemy. It literally wasn’t even cooked! Mo’s BBQ in SLO closed. Guess they’re still open in Pismo next to Brad’s. Not horrible food. There is worse alleged “BBQ” in town. The #1 spot on ShareSLO’s recent Top 4 and the cover of New Times’ ‘Menus’ is WAAAAAAY worser. [PSA: TRI-TIP ISN’T BARBECUE] I ate there once in my “bbq” explorations. No brisket. End of conversation. Nick the Greek opened to great fanfare on Tuesday. If you don’t follow my IG stories you will never understand #stuccogate and I’m not explaining it.
OBLIGATORY ATMOSPHERIC RIVER CONTENT: Wee Shack in Morro Bay is the only restaurant EYE am aware of still-closed by our little out-pouring from the sky last Monday. They were right down at the bottom of DEAD CENTER for the whole thing and water-line is at about 3 feet on their walls. That’s a decent diner. I rather like it. They had just started back to being open for dinner too.
Speaking of Morro Bay, you know StaXXX gets all the visibility out there as far as wine-bars with food goes, but I’ve been lingering a bit down the street at the re-vitalized Savory Palette. Odd name perhaps–and not much visibility from the street–but it’s still basically all the locational charm of The Wine Seller (puns seem to be MANDATORY at this address), but now with WAY better wine selection, good beer and rather amazing food. The flatbreads are really well-thought-out and tasty but the CHARCUTERIE BOARDS!!!! Here’s the deal: You know how most places have a cheese plate and a meat plate and *maybe* a vague combo? Savory Palette has basically an interactive menu in this section starting with 1… 2… 3… cheeses or this meat… that meat… or all these meats… culminating in the GRAND SHAZAM of the “4X4”. Just get that. Just take my word on it. Make your life easy and just say, “Bring me the 4X4”
Started in on a little Clam Chowder blitz. Never had it before. Dutchmans, Rose’s Landing, Blue Sky Bistro, Dorn’s, and Galley so far. Am I gonna write a Chowda List??? I JUST MIGHT! Gotta fill up my roster with a bunch more first–including some of the alleged “best” or gourmet versions, though it seems EVERY place I visit is either “world famous” or “award winning” so I guess there’s a lot of reviewers out there going up and down the street handing out medals. It’s basically potato soup with varying amounts of celery, vague meat and Old Bay with paprika on top. I mean–what’s the big deal. Also I suspect large numbers of them start with a can.
Ben Franklin’s probably gets the LEAST pub of any deli in this town that LOVES its deli’s. I’ll go so far as to say in 20 years of talking about food, I think I’ve heard “worst deli” associated with this spot more than any other. I will add one caveat to my disagreement: I have not had any *normal* meat/cheese Italian-ish sorta hoagie/sub sandwiches from here yet, so my opinion could change. But for now, I’m loving this place and here’s your PRO TIP: Go in and use the custom form and check either “tuna salad” or “egg salad” as your protein. Sliced sourdough or wheat–I don’t care–and throw some cucumbers and onions and sprouts on that puppy. Dude! I mean, SLO Delicious still wins the pinkies-out tuna sandwich sweepstakes in town but oh boy are Ben’s amazing. Furthermore, Ben Franklin’s mathematically can NOT be the worst deli in town because Gus’s is.
Speaking of sandwiches: go to Dorn’s and get the Sardine Sandwich. Don’t ask why, just do it. Don’t argue, don’t complain, don’t tell me you hate anchovies and it sounds disgusting. Just be quiet and go do it. In all my years of posting food on Instagram I have NEVER had such a huge amount of OMG I WENT AND TRIED IT THAT IS NAILS dm’s packing my in-box. Sardine sandwich. Dorn’s.
Del Monte Cafe wins this year’s award for worst French Fries on the planet. Step right up to claim yer shiny ribbon. Also got my standard BLT-untoasted which was one of the poorest versions I’ve ever put in my mouth. How do you ruin a BLT???!? Go to Del Monte–they’ll show you how. Had to go back to Blue Sky just to wash the taste out of my mouth. Say what you want about Blue Sky: that bro right there makes just a stupidly delicious BLT. Speaking of Roger Sharp, a friends & neighbors *soft* went off this past week at KRABBY’S CAJUN LOBSTER BOIL or whatever the fuck he’s calling the former Port House. Also it appears Federico’s had a soft. Also it appears the place on top of Central Coast Lift with the best dining view on the bay is going Mexican too. Because that’s what we need.
You wanna talk about bad brew-pub food? I do. I mean–I don’t WANT to, but it’s kinda my job. Couple of notes in this category Paso Robles Brewing Company and Antigua Brewing Company in SLO. The former mediocre at best–the latter just plain bad. Paso Brew had a pulled pork sandwich with bacon and no cheese they were calling a Cubano. It came with potato salad they should probably swap out with one of the tubs in the refer-section at Safeway for a vast improvement. Beer comes straight from the barrels instead of being kegged? I’m not a beer expert but it just seems there could be some consistency issues there, especially with how busy this place seems to NOT be.
And Antigua? Well, where do I start. First of all do not ask the waitress anything about the food. Also, do not be tempted by the house-specialty: home-made potato chips. I have not seen crimes of this magnitude committed against the potato since In-N-Out, 5 Guys, Burger Village and now Del Monte Cafe. These chips are literally inedible. Burnt, horrible, dirty oil, everything possible. We walked away from two full plates of them. The pretzel bun my brat came in had been steamed for several days and I could nearly not break it in half with my fingers. Just forget trying to eat it. The sausage itself was a nice pale German veal/chicken dealio, and the menu reads, “Genuine brat served on pretzel bun with Creole mustard.” That’s it. In reality, it comes slathered with a generous squeeze-bottle artwork of Heinz Ketchup, French’s Mustard, and generic sweet pickle relish. Now, I like all three of these things on a HOT DOG. But here? Nope. So, for the second time in as many weeks, I had to rush across town to wipe the absurdity of this “food” from my mind. And where else would you go? Beda’s Biergarten DUH.
Apparently, Panda Express didn’t care for Panda Panda’s opening in Morro Bay, so it is now Bamboo Bamboo. Hear hear. The ONLY resty in the history of the planet for City Hall across the street to request they kindly NOT bring any more free food over from. At the other end of the spectrum, I have a reminder about Luna Llena on Main Street: At my last writing, I claimed their El Lechon sandwich one of the absolute best things I’d ever eaten. Unfortunately for them and a bunch of you, the day I published that coincided perfectly with them closing the next day for a week of maintenance. I had a ton of people rush out there to glimpse this heavenly torta only to find a sign on the door. I’m sorry! Really bad timing, so I want to remind those of you who lost momentum on this and haven’t returned to GO GET IT!
Tune in next week when I write my Top 5 Hot Chicken Spots to dip in clam chowder and remember a smashburger is not a cheeseburger.