The new Marston’s 101 in Atascadero shares a name with its sister restaurant in San Luis Obispo, but the two eateries provide patrons very different experiences.
Located next to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites at the south end of Atascadero, Marston’s 101 opened in August 2016. High ceilings and a spacious floorplan give it a tasteful, casual ambiance. Seating is available in the bar, dining room or outside on the east-facing covered patio.
The smaller Marston’s Bar & Grill on Higuera Street has a broad, energetic appeal, but takes advantage of its downtown location to cater to the college and sports fan crowds.
“Atascadero is more of a family town, a little mellower, so that’s what we’re going for here,” Jeff Marston explained. He owns the San Luis Obispo restaurant, and is an owner/operator of the Atascadero eatery along with Josh Cantrell and Tyler Phillips.
“We do have all the sports packages” at Marston’s 101, Cantrell said. “But we keep the sound low so as not to disturb guests in the dining area.”
Fans can settle into the bar area in front of one of the flat-screen televisions and order one of 29 draft beers or ciders.
The menu at Marston’s 101 runs the gamut from upscale pub fare to California cuisine. You can tuck into wings and burgers, plus housemade Pacific clam chowder and red oak wood-fired pizza — or try a surf-and-turf combo featuring a 12-ounce rib eye steak and three jumbo shrimp.
“I always wanted a restaurant with a wood-fired oven,” Marston said. Pizza options include a classic Margherita with heirloom tomatoes and burrata cheese, a Garden Party with pesto and arugula, and the Reuben with hand-sliced corned beef and chipotle Russian dressing.
The oven is also used to fire up a few of the restaurant’s most popular appetizers: cast iron-cooked Brussels sprouts with caramelized onions, housemade meatballs and the Marston’s Spuds – roasted potatoes topped with poblano crema, bacon and Cotija cheese.
For lunch, Marston’s 101 serves a variety of sandwiches, such as the Cubano with housemade pickles and a Southwest chicken wrap. You can order various tacos and salads as well.
At dinner, fish and chips, burgers and pizzas carry over from the lunch menu to join a host of other entrées. Go for grilled shrimp risotto, beef short ribs with cabernet jus or a 10-ounce pork chop with peach bourbon sauce.
Executive chef Taryn Bauer noted that the menus will change seasonally, especially the pasta option. Currently, it’s a summer linguini with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach — but when cooler weather arrives, that will give way to a housemade butternut squash ravioli.
A sous chef at Marston’s 101 when it opened, Bauer stepped into the executive chef position in October 2016. A native of Orange County, her extensive experience includes being a line cook at Knott’s Berry Farm and working in the sprawling kitchens of Disneyland.
Here, Bauer is able to “focus on food that follows the seasons, and we’ll change the menu about every three months,” she said. Much of that tinkering involves sides and daily specials, which often incorporate farmer’s market produce and fresh local seafood.
Bauer added that “everything possible is made from scratch, from dressings, to pizza dough, to burgers that are ground in-house.”
That approach extends to the recently re-started Sunday brunch menu. Sip on a bloody mary or bottomless mimosas as you enjoy from-scratch biscuits and gravy, the waffle of the day or eggs Monterey – a riff on eggs Benedict with housemade crab cakes and oven-roasted tomatoes. (The lunch menu is also available.)
“We’re really happy to be in Atascadero,” Cantrell said. “We’ve listened to the community a lot, and we hope we’re giving them what they’re asking for.”
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at email@example.com.
9006 West Front Road, next to the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Atascadero
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
The scene: A neighborhood restaurant suitable for families, workday lunches and a relaxing Sunday brunch. Patio can be rented for special occasions.
The cuisine: Something for everyone – from salads and sandwiches, to burgers and wood-fired pizzas, to steaks and seafood. Draft and bottled beer, wine and full bar available.
Expect to spend: Most starters about $10, pizzas $12, lunch entrées under $15, dinner entrées about $15 to $30, Sunday brunch $9 to $16.