At the Wineman GrillHaus, you can bite into a bit of Americana, taste some of the best wurst around and sip on some serious suds.
As its name suggests, the restaurant is located below the Wineman Hotel in downtown San Luis Obispo. There are a few tables outside where you can watch all the activity on Higuera Street, tables just inside the door where the people watching is almost as good, stools at the bar and a light and spacious atrium-like space in the back.
In developing his distinctive approach to “burgers, bratwurst, beer,” GrillHaus owner Jason Luke decided to explore German and American fare from a California perspective.
A Cal Poly grad who got his first taste of the food industry while working in campus dining facilities, Luke also gained experience at several other local spots (including another restaurant, which he owned) before opening at the Wineman in August.
“A lot of Americans have German heritage,” he said, so the idea was “to merge some familiar things with some things that were different and fun.” The resulting menu offers traditional touchstones from both cuisines, along with some creative dollops here and there. Sometimes such an eclectic approach can lose its way, but it seems to be working here at the GrillHaus.
Among the German-inspired items are those listed under “Traditionelle Teller.” All are served with German potato salad, sauerkraut and Brussels sprouts.
Here you’ll find kartoffellpuffer (potato pancake with applesauce and sour cream), schweinsteak (grilled pork filets) and schnitzel (breaded and fried pork loin). Purists might quibble that the latter is typically made with veal and that the schweinsteak isn’t usually bacon-wrapped and seared with an agave mustard sauce, but that’s the GrillHaus spin.
Several bratwurst are also available, either on a mustard sampler plate or served in a hoagie roll with a side of potato salad.
More familiar versions include the Classic, the Pastrami-Bacon, and the Sauerkraut, or you can try the Pineapple-Bacon with curry ketchup, the Philadelphia with Swiss cheese and grilled peppers and onions or even the Tex-Mex with cheddar, pico de gallo, corn and black beans. Definitely some “different and fun” ways to eat wurst.
As for the burgers, they’re hand-formed and served on an Asiago cheese bun with potato salad. Options include the Batti with ranch dressing and feta cheese, the Bruer with grilled mushroom and Muenster cheese, and the G Burger with roasted garlic dill mustard, pastrami and sauerkraut.
Other sandwich choices range from the Zipse chicken with grilled bell pepper on an Asiago roll to the spicy turkey and bacon with Swiss cheese on marbled rye.
Salads such as a chicken Caesar and sesame chicken are available as well, and you can also order fun “Appetithappen” (appetizers) including tot poppers, flash-fried Brussels sprouts tossed with cinnamon and sugar or the Reuben rolls — all the elements of a Reuben sandwich in an egg roll with “hausmade” Thousand Island dipping sauce.
The GrillHaus beer selection consists of several bottled beers, plus 10 rotating taps, half of which showcase German beers. Recently, the selection included imports Erdinger Dunkel, Einstök white ale and Köstritzer Schwarzbier alongside local favorites BarrelHouse IPA and Firestone Double Barrel Ale.
“German beers are very different from most American beers,” Luke explained. “There’s not just an explosion of hops; they’re a little more balanced and reserved and don’t compete with your food. Although, even with American beers, we’re always going to pick something to go with the food.”
851 Higuera St. (at the Wineman Hotel) | San Luis Obispo | 305-2953 | winemangrillhaus.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
The scene: A casual eatery where you’ll be greeted by servers wearing traditional German attire.
The cuisine: A good selection of German and American tastes, especially “burgers, bratwurst, beer”; wine is also available.
Expect to spend: Burgers, bratwurst, sandwiches and salads $10-13; entrées $13-17; draft beers $5-7.