Marston's and The Shack boast a winning combination

Big TVs, brews and food make these two SLO sports bars fine spots to catch the game

Special to The TribuneNovember 21, 2012 

  • The Shack

    763 East Foothill Blvd., San Luis Obispo | 546-8623 | www.sloshack.com

    Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. football Sundays.

    The scene: Its proximity to Cal Poly makes it a go-to choice for students, and the television sports packages make it a favorite among fans.

    The cuisine: There are still peanuts on every table, plus a lineup of burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and 24 beers on tap. During football Sundays, a limited breakfast menu is also served.

    Marston’s

    673 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo | 544-3668

    Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily; 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. football Sundays; also open special hours for international sports events such as World Cup soccer, etc.

    The scene: A welcoming, neighborhood sports bar with special weekly evenings such as Beirut, Taco Tuesdays, and DJ nights.

    The cuisine: The menu pitches to sports fans, with many ingredients and dishes made in-house; full bar and 10 draft beer taps.

    Expect to spend: Most items easily under $10.

It’s gridiron time, so cheer your teams on at these two sports-centric spots that are scoring with house-made game plans in their kitchens.

The Shack

Logan Johnson was looking to change up his playbook, and change it he did, closing the door on a network administrator job in the Central Valley and coming to the Central Coast.

“I wanted a good place for the kids to grow up, and I wanted to be my own boss,” he said. His shot at that position came about with The Shack, a San Luis Obispo sports bar he took over in March 2012.

The Foothill Boulevard location has been a longtime local hangout for fans of all sports, but it was showing its age in terms of technology. Johnson — an avid football fan — immediately brought it up to speed, upgrading it with six new and bigger flat-screen televisions.

Beyond The Shack’s signature peanuts on every table, quick bites cover everything from fries to wings, poppers to sliders, fish tacos to fish and chips. Salads such as a Caesar or tri-tip are available, as are sandwiches like BLTs and a grilled turkey club with bacon, Ortega chile and Jack cheese.

However, it’s the burgers that dominate the lineup. Your choice of half-pound beef burgers ranges from the Case with bacon and cheddar cheese, to Kilen’s Smokin’ with onion rings and barbecue sauce, to Chuck’s Chili with Monterey Jack and Cheddar. Five chicken options include the Island with grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce or the Cayucos Pete with mushrooms, bacon and Monterey Jack.

“We’re also making our sauces and dressings, trying to use as many local ingredients as we can,” said Johnson. “We’re trying to narrow the menu a bit so that everything we offer is the best possible quality we can put out.”

Johnson also beefed up the roster of draft beers, in part to “help educate people about craft beers.” The two dozen taps focus on microbrews, mainly from California and the West Coast, and rotate on a fairly regular basis. Recent choices included Hangar 24 Alt Bier, Figueroa Mountain Painted Cave Ale, and Heretic Evil Twin.

Marston’s

Jeff Marston was a longtime veteran of the downtown San Luis Obispo restaurant and bar scene when he decided to shift away from serving patrons and launch a supply company for the industry. However, when the chance arrived to take over an existing spot on Higuera Street, the Cal Poly baseball alum stepped up to the plate.

Marston’s opened in September 2010 after a bit of interior work to “make it a little more comfortable and inviting.” The restaurant still sports floor-to-ceiling doors that are open whenever weather permits, and its five flat-screen televisions and a big screen assure that your game will be showing on one of them.

Marston also switched up the menu so that “it was still sports bar-ish, but more handcrafted. We’re roasting our own turkeys, and doing things like making homemade tri-tip chili.”

Manager Josh Cantrell added that even the taquitos and jalapeño poppers are made in-house, as are the spice mixes for the ribs and the bacon Bloody Marys.

Menu options include everything from wraps to wings, jalapeño burgers to buffalo chicken salads, Frito boats to mac ‘n’ cheese. For breakfast, choose from burritos, sandwiches, and skillets, and on football Sunday mornings you can also order bottomless mimosas, or opt for a pint from one of the 10 taps.

The restaurant uses local bakeries Farb’s and Edna’s for its breads, and Cantrell noted that “we use local whenever possible, especially from Cal Poly (agriculture programs) — we really want to support the San Luis Obispo economy.”

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at ktbudge@sbcglobal.net.

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