Restaurant News & Reviews

Best of 2016: Where to eat, drink and shop for gourmet food in SLO County

Beer-braised corned beef hash is topped with a fried egg at Kitchenette in Templeton.
Beer-braised corned beef hash is topped with a fried egg at Kitchenette in Templeton.

It’s been a flavorful year on the Central Coast! Here’s a look back at some of the highlights of 2016.

In the mood for Asian fare, but can’t decide on Chinese, Japanese or Thai? Seek out the tucked-away locations of Oki Momo Asian Grill in San Luis Obispo and Tao Asian Fusion in Pismo Beach. Both eateries offer a range of dishes drawing from all those cuisines.

Up your beverage game with mixers from Yes Cocktail Company in Cayucos, originally called Yes Artisan Beverages. Described on its website as “Inspired by the classics, handcrafted for the modern bar,” the company usually has about eight flavors available, including Moscow Mule and Sriracha Margarita.

You’ll find those mixers and other gourmet ingredients on the shelves at SLO Provisions in San Luis Obispo. Be sure to check out their spit-roasted chickens, daily specials and freshly made salads and sides. All are available for dine-in or easy take-away to enjoy at home.

With year-round farmers markets, home chefs will want to take advantage of San Luis Obispo County’s locally grown produce. Sample the bounty from Red Barn Farms in San Luis Obispo and Peacock Farms in Arroyo Grande. Both participate in several markets throughout the week.

For locally caught seafood, reel in some filets from Central Coast Catch or subscribe to its weekly community-supported fisheries program.

Central Coast Catch also sells canned tuna that’s been hook-and-line caught by Wayne Moody of the F/V Capriccio out of Morro Bay. Moody and his wife, Diane, stock the tuna at select retail outlets as well, such as SLO Natural Foods Co-op in San Luis Obispo.

Home cooks aren’t the only ones utilizing local produce and protein. Among the restaurants working with San Luis Obispo County farms and ranches is Ocean Grill in Avila Beach, and its location offers the added perk of a great ocean view from every table.

Morro Bay black cod with a miso glaze is served at Ocean Grill in Avila Beach with quinoa, a Thai cucumber tomato salad, strawberries and Thai vinaigrette. Joe Johnston -

The team behind Artisan in Paso Robles brought the same farm-to-table approach to Kitchenette, a fast-casual breakfast and lunch spot in Templeton. Sweet and savory baked goods are available for take-away or dine-in; enjoy such dishes as a slow-roasted lamb dip sandwich with housemade pimiento goat cheese.

Farm-to-table cuisine is also celebrated at The Spoon Trade in Grover Beach. Tuck into classic favorites or upscale dishes, and definitely try some of the freshly baked sourdough bread.

At Flavor Factory in Morro Bay, Adam and Dawn Pollard put from-scratch delicious into high gear. Hand-formed grass-fed burgers are made with freshly ground meat that’s free from antibiotics and hormones. Rounding out the menu are gourmet sandwiches, daily soup specials, a salad bar and the famous Dawnelle’s Desserts.

Another way to satisfy your sweet tooth is with creative treats from Lickety Split Bakery in Grover Beach and The Chocolate Stache in Paso Robles. The bakery is already known for its cupcakes, but has added croissants, cookies and custom cakes to the lineup.

The Chocolate Stache creates inventive flavors such as raspberry chipotle, and does custom chocolate pairings for local wineries and special events.

See below for a list of the highlighted restaurants. And here’s to happy eating in 2017!

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at

Best of 2016

Oki Momo Asian Grill

2256 Broad St., Suite 120, San Luis Obispo

805-439-4198 or

Tao Asian Fusion

220 Hinds Ave., Pismo Beach

805-295-6668 or

Yes Cocktail Company

SLO Provisions

1255 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo

805-439-4298 or

Red Barn Farms

Peacock Farms

2018 Los Berros Road, Arroyo Grande

805-474-5600, 805-431-0226 or

Central Coast Catch

F/V Capriccio

Ocean Grill

268 Front Street, Avila Beach

805-595-4050 or


105 S. Main St., Templeton

805-400-1006 or

The Spoon Trade

295 West Grand Ave., Grover Beach

805-904-6773 or

Flavor Factory

410 Quintana Road, Morro Bay

805-772-4040 or

Lickety Split Bakery

1544 West Grand Ave, Grover Beach

805-481-3255 or

The Chocolate Stache