You can catch a healthy wave of flavor at Surfside Deli in Grover Beach.
Since buying the business in August 2016, owners Michael and Hannah Avila have been putting their from-scratch spin on sandwiches, salads and freshly squeezed juices.
Their casual eatery rides out a mellow, coastal vibe despite its location near the busy corner of West Grand and South Oak Park avenues. Surfboards covered with chalkboard paint serve as menu boards, and several surf-related photos add to the ambiance.
Indoor seating is available at a handful of tables. Outside, grab a table or bar stool in a relaxed space that’s been carved out of the spacious parking lot. It’s got shade during the day and a fire pit for chilly evenings; the beginnings of a garden kitchen have been planted in barrels around the perimeter.
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Married and parents of three children, the Avilas bring considerable culinary chops to the table. Michael was formerly the executive chef at Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort in Avila Beach, and now works in the butcher department at California Fresh Market in Pismo Beach. Hannah was the pastry chef at The Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach, where she was known as the “Muffin Goddess” for her baking prowess.
The couple decided to change things up when their third child was on the way. They wanted more time with family, and owning their own business has made it possible to bring their children to work.
“It’s nice being family-run,” Hannah Avila said. “Our kids are growing up here, so our customers are their friends, too.”
A priority to family and healthy food also informed the couple’s approach to revamping the deli menu.
“We’re using as many organic, local products as possible,” Avila explained. Most of those come from the Wednesday and Saturday farmers markets in Arroyo Grande.
Though most of the market fresh fruits and veggies land on the made-to-order sandwiches and salads, some go into the freshly squeezed juices. Choices range from straightforward carrot and orange to the aptly named Kitchen Sink, which contains apple, beet, carrot, cucumber, garlic, lemon and parsley.
For a beverage with a bit of a kick, grab a pint of beer on draft or a glass of wine, or try the bloody marys and margaritas made with Han Spirits soju.
In sourcing deli meats, Surfside shuns nitrate-laden, heavily processed products.
“We’re roasting most of our own meats in-house, slicing them — and the cheeses — in-house, and even curing our own pastrami,” Avila said.
Though you can customize your sandwich, Surfside offers a dozen specialty choices. Those include the Pork Belly Bahn Mi with house-brined pork and fresh, pickled kimchee, the half-pound Kook burger with house-ground tri-tip, or the Close Out piled with nitrate-free ham and turkey, house-roasted beef and two cheeses on a Dutch crunch roll from Edna’s Bakery in San Luis Obispo.
To steer away from meat, go for the poached albacore tuna salad sandwich or the veggie with cabbage, carrot, sprouts, tomato, avocado and sunflower seeds. Salads such as a spinach cranberry walnut with blue cheese and a mixed green salad are available as well; both come with housemade dressings and the option of adding protein.
Not surprisingly, given the Avilas’ dedication to their children, Surfside Deli is a decidedly family-friendly spot. There’s a Lil Groms menu that includes a fruit salad and juice box, and a regular family game night that is posted on Facebook.
“We put board games out and a lot of families come in,” Avila said. “This is a place where kids can just be kids.”
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at email@example.com.
191 S. Oak Park Ave., No. 1, Grover Beach
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (winter); 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (summer)
The scene: A casual, family-owned, -operated and -friendly neighborhood deli. Seating indoors or outside, and there’s ample parking.
The cuisine: House-roasted meats and fresh produce throughout the menu of sandwiches, salads and juices. Beer, wine and soju cocktails available.
Expect to spend: Sandwiches $10 to $11, includes a deli salad; salads $8 or $11.50 with protein; juices $6 to $7.