Think the coffee shop at a county golf course would be out of bounds for a good meal? Well, don’t handicap Woodpeckers at Chalk Mountain until you’ve given it a try.
Chalk Mountain Golf Course is located just past Heilmann Park off El Camino Real. Granted, the buildings housing the pro shop and restaurant are pretty basic, but just take a look at everything else around them.
There are green fairways, rolling hills, majestic oaks, soaring hawks and lots of the red-headed acorn woodpeckers that inspired the course’s logo and gave the restaurant its name. If you’re lucky, a few deer might also meander across the 10th fairway and driving range, apparently oblivious to the golf balls landing around them.
Inside the coffee shop, you’ll encounter golfers either grabbing something to go between nines or recapping a just-finished round.
With a couple of televisions typically tuned to the latest sports event, Woodpeckers is a casual place to hang out with a cold draft, glass of local wine, or something from the full bar. Outside, enjoy great views of the surrounding scenery, or watch the ups and downs of all the players practicing and teeing off the back nine.
Chalk Mountain has one of the best hot dogs around. Because the tiny kitchen doesn’t have room for a dedicated dog machine, “we split it and grill it, and also toast the bun on the grill. It ends up with a nice little bit of char like you’d get at a backyard barbecue,” said food and beverage manager Darlene Batrum. “Then you can add whatever self-serve condiments you want — cheese, jalapeños— or get it topped with our housemade chili.”
Batrum came to Chalk Mountain in February 2009 after working at Villa Toscana and as the assistant food and beverage manager at Hunter Ranch Golf Course. The position at the newly remodeled facility was especially appealing because “this was just a blank slate. It was a place where I could determine the menu and décor.”
Though golf course staples like the hot dog and deli sandwiches remain, “I wanted to diversify the menu,” said Batrum. The breakfast menu was especially expanded, and now offers everything from fluffy pancakes, to hearty huevos rancheros (made with that from-scratch chili), to a breakfast sandwich with your choice of meat, cheese and bread.
In addition, Batrum added lunch items such as a Cobb salad, daily housemade soups, and a chicken pesto wrap with sun dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese. You can also order a classic BLT, a slow-roasted French dip sandwich or triple-decker club.
Batrum aims for the food at Woodpeckers to be a slice above what people expect, “so everything possible is made fresh, nothing’s frozen, and we prep throughout the day. We just don’t have the room to store big pre-made quantities of anything.”
Even items that would be far easier to scoop out of an industrial tub are housemade, an approach that patrons seem to be appreciating; Batrum noted that people often balk at seeing the macaroni salad or potato salad on the menu, “but they ask if it’s really homemade, and when I say yes, they’ll order it.”
Overall, response to the new Woodpeckers menu “has been very favorable,” observed Batrum. “People like the diversity and the posted specials, and I’ll take suggestions. We want to serve casual, good, fresh food, and I think a lot of people just don’t remember we’re here. I would love to see more local people come here and enjoy the food and the view. This is a gorgeous spot.”
WOODPECKERS AT CHALK MOUNTAIN GOLF COURSE
10000 El Bordo Road, Atascadero 466-8848 (the pro shop will connect you to the restaurant)
Hours: 7 a.m. to “close,” which is dependent on golfers; grill service until 4 p.m. in the summer, 3 p.m. in the winter, snacks and other non-cooked items available after that.
The scene: A no-frills golf course coffee shop; televisions, draft beer and a full bar make for a good place to rehash your round, watch the latest tournament, or just enjoy the views.
The cuisine: Casual food with everything possible housemade, down to the chili and potato salad.
Expect to spend: Everything easily under $10; Thursday afternoon happy hours offer discounted Bud drafts, complimentary appetizers and a $2 medium bucket of practice balls.