Kona’s Deli in San Luis Obispo serves up sandwiches and sandwich party platters from an easy-to-reach spot with ample free parking in back. Given those amenities, you’d think a lot more people would know about it.
Located on Foothill Boulevard just west of the busy Santa Rosa Street corner, Kona’s is tucked back into the quiet Foothill Square complex that’s shared with another restaurant and a few shops.
After you order your sandwich, you can enjoy it inside at a couple tables or at any one of several picnic tables lazily sprawled outside on the shady multi-level deck.
Kona’s has been cranking out sandwiches since 1989. Owner Paula Boggs took it over in 2002 and seamlessly kept the pipeline going until March 2010, when a significant fire shuttered the entire complex.
“It took us a year and a half to reopen (in September 2011),” said Boggs. “But some people still don’t know that we have.”
In rebuilding Kona’s, she explained that “we kept it as much the same as we possibly could. There are some slight layout changes — we do have more outdoor seating — but we wanted to keep the same concept, the same fun, beach-type atmosphere.”
The Kona’s concept is basic by design.
The restaurant does sandwiches, period, but you’ll be very glad that’s all it does when it comes time to decide what to order.
There are no fewer than 21 of the classic and specialty sandwiches listed on the menu, plus you can craft your own concoctions from all the usual suspects of sliced-to-order deli meats and cheeses.
Whether you get a six-inch half or a full footlong, the sandwiches are made with freshly baked breads from Edna’s Bakery (white, wheat, and the recently added sourdough and Dutch Crunch), and all come with the typical condiments known as “The Works” (mayo, mustard, lettuce, onion, oil and vinegar) unless you say otherwise. From there, you also have the option of several possible add-ons: jalapeños, pepperoncinis, pickles, more onions, tomato, sauerkraut, avocado, bacon, avocado, carrots — you get the idea.
Most of Kona’s specialty sandwiches are named for various surfing phrases. Try the Rip Curl with roast beef and cheese, the Junkyard Dog with turkey and pesto cream cheese, or the Swell with turkey, cranberry and cream cheese.
If your appetite is ready to catch the big wave, go all out with the Destroyer. One of Kona’s most popular sandwiches, it’s piled high with turkey, ham, pastrami, salami, roast beef, pepperoni, provolone cheese and The Works on your choice of bread.
Given its proximity to both Cuesta and Cal Poly, Kona’s is very popular with the college crowd, but Boggs noted that the clientele is actually quite varied. In addition to students, “we get a lot of families, especially in the summertime when the kids are out of school,” and a lot of working folks on their lunch hour take advantage of call-ahead ordering and the easy parking.
“We really have great customers and great employees,” said Boggs. Add to that the casual atmosphere of Kona’s, and she says that “I just couldn’t imagine a more fun job!”