San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay

Has anything opened in the last year or two that’s worth checking out?

I’m going to be spending a few days in the area and was disappointed to hear the pastie shop closed. A pilgrimage to Taco Temple is in order, and Old San Luis BBQ is on the agenda. To balance those out, any recommendations for healthy, but not upscale?

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  • A friend pointed us to Ariana’a Mexican Market & Deli, a year old Morro Bay restaurant / store with handmade tortillas, offal, and Mexican dishes less common in the area.

  • Prior to hearing about Ariana’s, Tacos de Mexico in Morro Bay had been described as the most authentic Mexican in the area. My intention to order tacos got overridden when I noticed everyone in the packed house eating burritos. I should have stuck to my intention— our two burritos had a shoddy construction, and the sour cream was an awful coagulated substance. Chicken filling was shredded and nicely seasoned. Vegetarian filling was not remarkable.

  • Kravabowl in Morro Bay has good breakfast sundaes, er, I mean, Açai and dragonfruit bowls. Ripe fruit, good quality honey, even-sized granola, and less than seven dollars for the small.

  • Fromagerie Sophie in SLO : A good cheese shop and the perfect spot to prep for a picnic.

  • Taco Temple in Morro Bay : The specials that won me over in 2012 haven’t reappeared on subsequent visits, and the ownership change in 2015 makes me skeptical they’ll reappear. Still, a solid place to go after a hike – – giant portions and tons of side vegetables. Sweet potato enchiladas were delicious. The sweet potato batonnets gave the enchiladas structure, and their flavor worked great with the pepitas and green salsa. Halibut tacos came with a mango salsa-- nothing revolutionary, but well prepared.

  • Old San Luis BBQ Co : tri-tip was tender and the smokiness didn’t detract from the beefiness. Much better than Firestone. Although the buns are good, there’s too much bun relative to the amount of beef, so I’d recommend getting a plate instead of a sandwich. The coleslaw was underseasoned.

I’m going to be returning to the Central Coast in a few weeks to meet up with relatives. Anything else worth checking out on that or future visits? I may take them to Thomas Hill Organics in Paso Robles and Cass House in Cayucos.

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  • The formerly prix fixe Cass House Restaurant now does shared plates, and the combination of locally sourced ingredients, kitchen skills, and the wood oven make Cass House Grill destination dining in the Central Coast. My favorite item was the simplest— a green salad lightly dressed with a lemon vinaigrette. Its untarnished leaves exuded freshness, and cherry tomatoes were potent but not too acidic. Also excellent were grilled artichokes with a charred lemon, beef bruschetta with tomatoes and corn, oak-grilled prawns with paprika oil, cauliflower empanadas, and roasted beets paired with chunks of sour peach and an avocado puree. Most tables had the focaccia, which was good and served with rosemary olive oil and coarse salt. Desserts were fantastic-- a fresh from the oven canelé and a meyer lemon tart with meringue. Dinner was about $40/person including tax/tip (no booze) and a steal compared to Bay Area restaurants with similar approaches. The website lists a lunch menu, a take-out menu, and various baked goods for breakfast.

  • Thomas Hill Organics is expanding to SLO. I’d recommend their Paso Robles restaurant and look forward to the new location. An article about the expansion mentions a place called SLO Provisions. Any reports?

  • Firehouse Grill (SLO) continues to serve dry flavorless tri-tip. On the plus-side, the tri-tip sandwich has the ideal meat to bun ratio, and I liked the bun—it’s palatable if you douse it in their molasses-heavy BBQ sauce. I liked the flavor of the pulled pork more so than its pasty consistency. The toasted pine nuts on a salad were so blackened I thought they were watermelon seeds, and wish they were after tasting them. Fries are McDonald’s style, so a safe bet.

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Maybe it is too far away for you, but when we are in that area the absolutely number one choice is Jocko’s in Nipomo, less than half an hour south on 101. Spencer Steak is superb. Amazing roaring oak wood fire grill, classic Santa Maria “BBQ”.

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Do they serve steaks at lunchtime? I’m going SF–>Santa Barbara–>SF this weekend. They don’t seem to have a website.

Call them, they usually take reservations, which are usually very necessary. I have to assume they do steaks whenever they are open.
They are open at 8AM… so call, try to get a reservation and ask about menu. Let us know.

See google map entry for popularity versus hour. Seems not quite as bad at midday, but weekends are worse.

(805) 929-3686

According to Yelp, they did open a branch Nov 2016 called Thomas Hill Organic Kitchen, but it quickly closed by year end 2017.

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Bump. Anything new in SLO?

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold