If you’d like to commandeer some thick-cut, full-flavored, crunchy potato chips, then set a course for Chipwrecked in Pismo Beach. Launched just a couple of months ago by Sarah and Dan Paddack and their 10-year-old daughter, Larkin, this tiny place on Pomeroy already has a big following.
As Larkin aptly explained, the family had “always wanted to open a restaurant,” and when they discovered the Pismo location, they decided to set sail with the idea. Although the dining area’s only got a handful of tables, the kitchen allows for ample prep and cooking space, so “it’s really the perfect place and just the right size for us to start with,” she said.
Originally the idea was to just do sandwiches, but “my grandma came up with the idea (of chips), and we all started playing around with it and having lots of fun,” said Larkin. The result of all that effort is a flotilla of flavors, both in the chips themselves and in the “tugboats” — 10 dipping sauce options that include ranch, spicy chipotle and creamy peanut butter.
The chip creations are all christened with names that reflect their flavor profiles. Choose from the salty USS Constitution or the smoky Santa Maria chips (served with a salsa tugboat, of course), the La Belle with truffle and parmesan or the Capricia with fresh basil and parmesan, the Mary Rose with lavender salt and goat cheese or the bold Conquistador with chili salt, cilantro, jalapeños and cotija cheese.
Even the sweet side of things is represented by the USS Intrepid potato chips topped with bacon and chocolate, the Francisco de Orellana plantain chips with cinnamon and drizzled maple syrup, and the Victoria potato chips with “cinnamon, spice and everything nice, including a sweet cheesecake dip.”
While chips have obviously emerged as the flagship fare, Chipwrecked also runs a raft of sandwiches and salads up the mast, all of which have a side of chips “docked on the side.” Go for a Port Marseille egg salad sandwich with arugula and truffle oil (with La Belle chips), a Port San Luis tri-tip sandwich with Swiss cheese and salsa (with Santa Maria chips), or an Astoria tuna salad with mixed greens, avocado and tomato (with Capricia chips).
In crafting the Chipwrecked menu items, almost everything is made from scratch, right down to all the dipping sauces, spice mixes and the chips themselves. Hand-sliced from Kennebec potatoes, the chips are then brined and dried before being fried to order in high-quality canola oil. (The Paddacks made a conscious decision not to use peanut oil due to food allergy concerns.)
Everybody in the family is all aboard when it comes to charting new flavors, and the goal is to offer new specials on a monthly basis. For example, November prompted a fresh roasted turkey sandwich with cornbread stuffing and housemade cranberry sauce on San Luis Sourdough.
For the special November chip-of-the-month, the Paddacks came up with the Mayflower — pumpkin pie flavored potato chips with a pumpkin tugboat. Appropriately called “Pumpkin Pie in a Potato Chip,” these would have been enthusiastically welcomed at any holiday table.
Uncommon creations like that work surprisingly well within the Chipwrecked concept largely because of the ingredient itself, noted Sarah. “Potatoes are really just a blank palette for your imagination.”