Goobers by the Beach is an unlikely name for a restaurant, but for owners Jeff and Barbara Wynn, it was the perfect fit.
Their seaside restaurant offers free “goobers” (also known as peanuts), served either boiled or plain, to all dining customers. The boiled variety is only appreciated by some, admits Barbara, who compares the Southern snack to beans.
The restaurant opened quietly last year next to O’Reilly’s bar in downtown Grover Beach. The space sat empty for some time but now the Wynns are slowly building a local clientele that has gradually discovered the new eatery.
With a variety of comfort food dishes along with healthy salads and wraps, Goobers will likely have something for everyone.
The sea-themed décor is simple but inviting with its faux fishing nets strewn across walls, and dark mahogany tables and booths filling the open space. We were there at lunchtime and ravenously skimmed the menu’s list of burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips, wraps, salads and specials.
The Dude burger ($8) was stacked tall with its 1/3-pound patty, sliced cheddar cheese, strips of bacon and crispy onion rings ladled with savory barbecue sauce and smashed into a grilled bun. Piled so high, it was a little difficult to eat but was delicious. Crinkle-cut fries came on the side.
Other tempting burgers included a beef patty packed with blue cheese and a firestarter burger drenched in hot sauce.
The Hot Mama Melt ($7) packed smoked turkey, Ortega chilies, pepper Jack cheese and avocado onto a grilled French roll. Served hot and oozing with cheese, it’s a savory sandwich filled with flavor. The pepper Jack seemed mild, lacking the spice it promised, but otherwise the Hot Mama is a good bet. Meat lovers can order it with tri-tip for the same price.
The pastrami sandwich ($8) could have impressed any New Yorker. The peppery cured beef was thick cut and juicy, although greasier than I expected with strips of fat clinging to the meat. Served on a grilled roll with mustard and pepper Jack cheese, the sandwich came with crisp, thick-cut onion rings and a buttermilk dipping sauce, making it a tasty—albeit heavy—meal.
On a lighter note, the restaurant offers a variety of wraps that are filled with lean deli meats and cream cheese. The turkey wrap ($7), a soft flour tortilla filled with turkey, cheese and lettuce, was sliced into 15 pieces and sprinkled with paprika. It looked like a plate of sushi rolls as it was brought to the table. Simple and light, it was a satisfying lunch.
When it came to service, our food was a little slow arriving, but our server was friendly and attentive, regularly refilling our huge iced teas and sodas.
As for the boiled goobers, the owners told us half their customers like them and half don’t. This proved true at our table of four.
With sandwiches as big as those here, however, goobers are definitely optional.