Whether you’re looking for a place to watch sports, have a family dinner or enjoy a cold one, Shell Beach Brewhouse has something on tap for everyone.
The spacious eatery opened in October 2013 on Shell Beach Road after several months of remodeling the longtime location of Old Vienna Restaurant. Large windows give the dining room a light, open feeling, while reclaimed wood and stone touches add a rustic, outdoor feel.
The adjoining bar is set just far enough away from the dining area to function as a separate room with its own vibe. You can belly on up or sit out on the dog-friendly patio in front facing the street.
You can order signature cocktails or choose from a good list of local wines, but the Brewhouse earns its moniker with a lineup of 30 beer taps. Several are rotated out on a regular basis, but All feature craft drafts from the likes of Boulevard Brewing Company of Kansas City, Mo., Karl Strauss Brewing Company of San Diego and Dogfish Head Brewery of Milton, Del.
There are eight flat-screen televisions throughout the restaurant and bar, plus one on the patio. The Brewhouse subscribes to all the major league broadcast packages, but this isn’t a typical sports bar.
Except for big games, only the televisions in the bar have the sound turned on. Patrons in the dining room can still keep an eye on the action while enjoying their conversations.
Shell Beach Brewhouse is one of nine local restaurants and bars under the ASH Management umbrella. They include Mason Bar and Grill and Rooster Creek Tavern in Arroyo Grande, and Bull’s Tavern, Creeky Tiki, Frog & Peach Pub, Mother’s Tavern, McCarthy’s Irish Pub and The Library in San Luis Obispo.
While additional partners are involved in the overall business and the other ASH properties, day-to-day operations at Shell Beach Brewhouse are spearheaded by three partners — general manager Eric DeMatteo, assistant manager Crystal Jewell and executive chef Jason Gable.
In creating the Brewhouse menu, the trio fused some classic brewpub concepts with a beach town sensibility and Gable’s Philadelphia roots.
Some of the pub-inspired dishes include a Sunset Sirloin beef dip on an Edna’s Bakery baguette, a Mary’s free-range grilled chicken sandwich and crispy chicken wings with your choice of six housemade sauces. Sauce options range from classic Buffalo to garlic balsamic to spicy Caribbean jerk.
Hearty half-pound burgers are also a mainstay of the menu. Among the possibilities are the Brewhouse Standard with bacon and aged cheddar, the Hombre with roasted Anaheim chilies and Oaxacan cheese and the Rocky Mountain Lamb with feta cheese and Kalamata olive aioli.
Celebrate the surf and sun with ceviche made with sustainably-raised Costa Rican rock shrimp or a Bistro salad with local greens and a housemade gorgonzola brut rosé vinaigrette. Or you can go for a la carte street tacos and have your pick of Korean beef, pork carnitas, ancho-dusted carne asada, grilled ahi or grilled chicken.
Gable brings the East Coast to the table with such dishes as an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich served with onions and Cheez Whiz on a hoagie roll shipped in from famed Philadelphia bakery Amoroso’s.
He also pits Manhattan against New England by serving a tomato-based Five Boroughs Red Clam Chowder. It’s not a style most people are familiar with, Jewell noted, adding that once they try it, they usually become fans.
Though much of the Brewhouse menu was a hit right out of the gate, “We still review it every three months or so,” Jewell said.
She said the restaurant recently added “some healthier options — more salad options like the beet salad with goat cheese and local strawberries.”
“We try to buy local whenever possible,” she said, “and we definitely listen to locals when thinking about our menu changes.”
Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shell Beach Brewhouse
1527 Shell Beach Road, Shell Beach
295-6328 or shellbeachbrewhouse.com
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; happy hour 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays; bar open until midnight Friday and Saturday.
The scene: A lively but family-friendly neighborhood restaurant featuring 30 taps, local wines and a full bar.
The cuisine: Inspired gastropub fare features appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and salads with upscale touches.
Expect to spend: All items under $15, except a few larger $16 to $18 entrées.