2012 was a feast for the senses

Special to The TribuneDecember 26, 2012 

A look back at the year’s tastes, flavors and traditions brings back many fond culinary memories. It’s impossible to mention them all, but it was once again a time to make new friends, keep the old, and revel in international flavors.

Possibilities for pints of craft microbrews increased with the opening of Molly Pitcher’s in Atascadero, Libertine Pub in Morro Bay, and both Cambria Beer Co. and Cambria Ale House. If varietals and vintages are more your style, pop a cork and have a nosh at Alegria Wine & Ware in San Luis Obispo or Haven Wine Bistro in Atascadero. Gather Wine Bar in the Village of Arroyo Grande and Stax in Morro Bay also offer tasty small plates in addition to their wine lists.

Two food trucks — Kunfusion and Haute Skillet — recently hit the local scene with fun, bold flavors, and Chipwrecked in Pismo Beach charted a new course by making gourmet, thick-cut potato chips the captain of the menu.

For upscale, yet comfortable dining, it’s hard to beat the understated elegance of the seasonal menus at either Adelina’s Bistro in Nipomo or Estrella in Paso Robles. Adelina’s focuses on California cuisine created with classic techniques, while Estrella puts a “Latin Riviera” spin on its dishes.

Don’t want anything fancy? Just want good food at a good price at a place that’s been doing it for years? Slide into a booth at neighborhood diners such as Wilson’s Café in Paso Robles, the Budget Café in San Luis Obispo, and The Girls in Arroyo Grande.

Welcoming atmospheres are also part of the charm of Rosie’s, Roost, and 10th Street Grill. The first gets much of its ambiance from its cozy location in a circa-1913 house in Nipomo, and its dinner-only menu showcases good old-fashioned comfort food. Roost in Templeton serves housemade breakfasts and lunches from a very talented group, including a full-time baker. At the cozy 10th Street Grill in Los Osos, enjoy steaks and seafood among a largely local clientele.

Of course, it’s always fun to explore ethnic cuisines and traditional tastes, especially serving spot-on sandwiches on the right kind of bread. Sandy’s Deli in Cambria makes its own rolls for its Mexican tortas, and Lotus Asia’s Best in San Luis Obispo uses a third-generation baguette recipe for its Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches.

Your taste buds can visit other fun global bites such as the savory Cornish pasties (meat pies) at SLO Co. Pasty across from the Mission (you can also get drafts of Guinness, Boddington’s and Smithwick’s), or the “Japanese fusion” at Raku in San Luis Obispo, or regional barbecue such as brisket and ribs from G Brothers Smokehouse in San Luis Obispo.

Whatever your culinary curiosities, there’s a menu somewhere in San Luis Obispo County to satisfy them. If you need some encouragement to discover some new favorites or revisit some old ones, remember that SLO County Restaurant Month is just around the corner.

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

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