At Enzo's, just say when

Lots of fare in the New York diner style is the order of the day — and night, and every hour in between — at this 24-hour restaurant in downtown SLO

ktbudge@sbcglobal.netApril 21, 2011 

  • Enzo’s East Coast Eatery

    733 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo | 547-1207 |

    Hours: Open 24 hours

    The scene: A place-your-order-at-the-front spot with about a dozen tables inside and a few outside; given the 24-hour concept, the atmosphere will vary considerably, and the five flat screens and eight draft beers should draw a decent sports crowd.

    The cuisine: Stick-to-your-ribs, 24-hour diner fare with a New York essence and showcasing locally raised, forage-fed beef.

    Expect to spend: Almost all breakfast and lunch items easily under $10; pizza slices are $2 to $3, other pizzas depend on size and toppings but most under $25; oak-fired steaks $18 to $25.

Whether you’re craving pancakes at midnight or a Philly cheesesteak at 8 in the morning, Enzo’s East Coast Eatery in downtown San Luis Obispo will serve it right up.

Owned by New York state transplant Sean Croce and SLO County native Steve Teixeira, the restaurant opened its doors March 4 and they haven’t closed since.

Enzo’s is a 24-hour operation, offering every item on its extensive menu at any time of day. (The much smaller Enzo’s in Pismo has a more limited menu and hours.)

"Everyone has different schedules, so we thought it would be a good thing to provide for the community,” said Croce of the decision to be open around the clock. “In New York, you can get a good meal at all hours, whether you come out of a late movie or work graveyard shifts.”

So far the concept seems to be working, with the expected patrons coming in at mealtimes, followed by the “bar crowds, then all the employees come in when they get off work, then it’s time to start prepping for breakfast and do it all again,” noted Croce.

Though Croce has spent almost 30 years in the restaurant business, including as setup person for the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurants, this is Teixeira’s first experience in the industry. However, he brings a unique contribution to the table. His family has been a part of the Central Coast for five generations; some branched out into ranching, so it’s the Teixeira family’s beef that’s served to customers of Enzo’s.

“These cattle grow up on the same ranch they were born on,” said Teixeira. “They’re forage-fed, free of hormones, and their meat isn’t getting mixed up with any other herds. It’s all fresh, never frozen, and when we’re out, we’re out.” (Other cuts of meat such as steaks may also be available to buy and grill at home, and Enzo’s is the Teixeiras’ only retail beef outlet.)

Given the local cattle connection and the East Coast theme, meat definitely features prominently in the Enzo’s menu.

There are some vegetarian options, such as a Caesar salad and even several vegan pizzas that are becoming increasingly popular. However, this is the place you go for food like a half-pound grass-fed burger, spaghetti with meatballs, fried chicken, a hot dog, or a slice of New York-style pepperoni pizza.

If you’re still hungry, top it off with a freshly baked house-made cookie or a scoop of Thrifty brand ice cream.

The breakfast menu does offer oatmeal, but from there it dives headlong into dishes such as chicken and waffles, French toast, and even a breakfast pizza with ham, eggs and bacon that serves at least four people.

The pancakes are made from scratch, and include maple bacon cakes, sausage pancakes and the indulgent Enzo’s — sausage and bananas grilled into a pancake topped with whipped cream, pecans, powdered sugar and maple syrup.

Be sure to take serious note of that “XXL” listed by those items — the pancakes are so big they’re served on pizza tins.

“We want to offer big portions of comfort food, made with quality ingredients,” said Croce.

Teixeira added, “We buy as much locally as much as possible— obviously the meat, but also veggies, bread and all local wines. That’s really important to us because we live in this community.”

“We also want every guest to leave totally satisfied,” said Croce. “Maybe we can’t always make that happen, but we certainly want the opportunity, so we hope people come and talk to us.”

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