Walking into Huckleberry’s in Pismo Beach is a little like entering a restaurant that could be found in Frontierland at Disneyland.
Faux fishing nets hang loosely from the ceiling, wood paneling covers the walls and vintage-looking signs hang under a large fake willowing tree.
Most tables are booths topped with a roll of paper towels and tin buckets filled with tasty condiments such as Cajun hot sauce, barbecue sauce and creole sauce.
But unlike the mediocre cuisine found at amusement parks, the dishes at Huckleberry’s are fairly priced and delicious.
A home in Pismo
Huckleberry’s opened a couple of months ago in the former Perko’s Cafe building. The restaurant, which is locally owned but part of a Fresno-based chain, specializes in California fare with some Southern influence. Burgers and sandwiches are served with sides such as Cajunized fries, jambalaya and classic cole slaw.
House specialties include grilled catfish, Southern-style fish and chips, and their spicy chicken gumbo.
I recently visited the cozy restaurant with a few co-workers for lunch.
A lunch to remember
The Bayou wedge salad ($7.95) is an ample wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce drenched in creamy blue cheese dressing, crisped bits of bacon and tangled red onion rings. The pungent dressing is as good as any I’ve had at a premier steakhouse, making the salad refreshing and satisfying on a warm day.
The chicken gumbo ($4.50) is packed with spicy flavor from the Andouille sausage, rice and other Cajun seasoning. A cup of the flavorful Southern staple goes a long way and is recommended.
The jambalaya is less impressive, although still tasty. It’s served as a side dish ($2.50) and is a peppery rich rice dish packed with Cajun seasoning and chunks of sausage.
A big burger
The Bayou Burger ($8.50) is a classic indulgence topping a 1/2-pound beef patty with blue cheese, crispy onion rings, jalapeños and barbecue sauce.
Its size makes it difficult to eat — but any complaints stop there. It’s a serious burger, which we tried with the Cajunized fries. Although we expected the thick-cut wedge fries to be sprinkled with Cajun seasoning, we found “Cajunized” at Huckleberry’s means smothered in chili and cheese.
The Texas Arkansas Steak Sandwich ($9) packs sliced tri-tip, sautéed onions, mushrooms, peppers and melted cheese between a toasted French roll. The enormous serving can leave plenty for leftovers and the bucket of condiments allow diners to customize their sandwich or any dish.
Starting the day
Breakfast is just as good as lunch — just with more choices.
The stuffed french toast packs cream cheese between egg-battered french toast slices smothered in strawberry sauce. Although sweet enough that I may prefer it as a dessert, it is delicious. Paired with scrambled eggs, bacon and home-fried potatoes, it’s a perfect sweet-and-savory start to the day.
Other enticing options are the bayou breakfast burrito and various Southern egg scrambles that are served with fresh biscuits.
A sweet ending
If there’s room for dessert, the mud pie ($5) is the perfect shared sweet ending. A half-dozen mini nut-brownies are topped with vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. This classic dessert is a standout with the rich chocolate in the brownies making the perfect complement to the slow-melting ice cream.
Although I’m not a huge fan of chain restaurants, Huckleberry’s food tastes fresh and is fairly authentic Louisiana-style cuisine that I’ll likely find myself returning for again.
Reach Dawn White at 781-7946.