It’s hard to believe 2013 is almost over, but it’s always fun to look back at some of the year’s many food finds — whether restaurants or local food products. Some of the latter might even make great holidays gifts if you still have shopping to do.
Though it changed owners last year, it looks like Hoppe’s Garden Bistro will continue to be a dining destination. The Cayucos restaurant was taken over by Brendan and Amanda Fritzsche — the owners of Schooners Wharf just across the street, who also live nearby and wanted to maintain the Hoppe’s legacy.
The new Fish Bonez in Morro Bay offers diners a different menu than the typical chowder and fish and chips. Here you’re more likely to see dishes such as a ribeye with peppercorn sauce, lobster mac ’n’ cheese, or steak Marsala.
The upstairs dining room has a great view of the Rock, and the spacious patio is dog-friendly.
(Also on the Embarcadero in Morro Bay, the Libertine Pub added even more taps to its craft brew lineup, bringing the total to 48. It also opened an upstairs game room with pool tables, darts and board games.)
If you see a classic 1971 24-foot Tradewind Airstream trailer parked at a winery or brewhouse in the North County, chances are it’s Fundaro’s Foodstream.
The from-scratch menu on this food truck changes frequently, but some of the most popular are the “Miso Porky” with smoked pulled pork and miso-lemon kale slaw and the “Green poutine,” a Canadian/Southwestern creation of hand-cut fries topped with Hatch chile gravy, Cotija cheese, onions and cilantro.
The Central Coast has also developed an impressive artisan food scene in recent years. The smorgasbord of products ranges from Alcea Rosea goat cheese (which will be available again in the spring) to Alle-Pia salumi, from Fandango’s extra virgin olive oil to Bella Pops’ fruit popsicles, from the craft spirits of Re:Find Distillery to locally roasted coffee from Joebella Café and Roasting Works.
Many other local products are available at the newly opened General Store in Paso Robles, which also has its own line of artisanal products such as olive oils, culinary salts and preserves made by several Central Coast producers. (Crushed Grape in San Luis Obispo carries a good lineup of local labels as well.)
You can even bring a bit of the Central Coast to your own holiday menus. For example, recent years have seen a marked increase in the availability of locally raised meats, which can be found at places such as J&R Meats in Templeton and Paso Robles or almost any of the area’s farmers markets (where you can also shop for holiday gifts, be they edible or otherwise).
For seasoning and spicing up your dishes, one local option might be Spice of Life in Paso Robles, which carries a wide variety of common and hard-to-find spices, plus a selection of handcrafted spice blends and tasty teas to warm up your tastebuds.