Restaurant News & Reviews

At Nipomo’s Burton House and Grill, it’s the tiny details that really matter

New Zealand rack of lamb is served with caramelized onion marmalade, asparagus and baby organic carrots at The Burton House and Grill in Nipomo.
New Zealand rack of lamb is served with caramelized onion marmalade, asparagus and baby organic carrots at The Burton House and Grill in Nipomo.

In just a few months, The Burton House and Grill has quietly established itself as a destination for fine dining served with down-to-earth charm.

Situated at the corner of South Burton and West Dana streets in Nipomo, the space was previously home to the Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant. After undergoing an extensive renovation, it opened as The Burton House in November.

The welcoming eatery is a joint venture among three partners from the San Diego area: Tony Clayton, managing director of business services; Armida Garcia, executive chef and managing director of culinary services; and Bill Guilfoyle, operations manager.

Though this is the first time Clayton and Guilfoyle have owned a restaurant — they’re veterans of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, respectively — Garcia has 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry. She started as a cook, and quickly worked her way up to sous chef and executive chef positions before having her own Mexican restaurant and catering business.

The trio’s commitment to a certain tradition of dining experience is evident the minute you walk through the door. A Sinatra-themed soundtrack sets the mood, as does the appearance of the room. Every table is set with a white linen tablecloth, salad plate, folded napkin, a selection of silverware that includes a salad fork, and not one but three glasses — for water, white wine and red wine.

“We want to go to great lengths with all the small details to make the customer feel welcome,” Guilfoyle said.

Another noticeable aspect of The Burton House is the lack of a bar.

“We didn’t want to focus our restaurant around a bar,” Clayton explained. “We have beer and wine available, but that’s not the center of the experience. We want that to be the ambiance, the service and the food.”

The Burton House team collaborated on the menu concept — a combination of classic steakhouse and international flavors. From there, “It’s really centered on Chef Armida and her creations,” Clayton said.

Dinner showcases steaks such as a New York strip, filet mignon and prime rib. All are available with a choice of housemade sauces: whiskey peppercorn, chimichurri, béarnaise or cabernet reduction.

Other popular entrées include a New Zealand rack of lamb; shrimp, scallop and mushroom risotto, and short ribs that have been patiently braised for about five hours.

Two side dishes are included with most dinner entrées, and you can order appetizers that range from from-scratch soups to a grilled Caesar salad to a roasted cauliflower salad with avocado, kale, candied walnuts and a housemade lemon Dijon vinaigrette dressing.

You’ll want to save room for one of pastry chef Yshia Rosas’ housemade desserts, especially the New York cheesecake with fresh fruit sauce or the salted caramel pot de crème.

The Burton House also offers lunch during the week, except on Thursdays. Among the favorites on that more casual menu is the Burton Burger; it’s made from house-ground New York strip steak and filet mignon and served with hand-cut french fries.

Recently, the restaurant began offering two new seatings: a champagne brunch buffet starting at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and an early bird buffet Thursday through Sunday from 3 to 5 p.m. Another special event being rolled out is a Sunday jazz night with discounts on select beer and wine.

Depending on the meal, The Burton House provides discounts to patrons of various ages, so ask your server which are in play when you visit. As a nod to Clayton’s and Guilfoyle’s service, active and former members of the military receive savings on their meals as well.

“(The discounts) are something we want to do for our customers,” Clayton said. “We’ve gotten a lot of support from them. It’s a signal that the Nipomo area is really growing.”

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

The Burton House and Grill

151 W. Dana Street, Nipomo (at the corner of South Burton Street)

805-574-4140 or

Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; buffet 3 to 5 p.m. and dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Thursday; lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., buffet 3 to 5 p.m. and dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Friday; champagne brunch 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., buffet 3 to 5 p.m. and dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The scene: An unstuffy, welcoming spot for fine dining.

The cuisine: Classic steaks, seafood and pastas for dinner, while lunch offers a more casual menu. Early bird and champagne brunch buffets available as well.

Expect to spend: Dinner entrées $15 to $40, most include sides; lunch $11 to 18, includes a side; early bird buffet $20; champagne brunch buffet $25. Ask about discounts for children, seniors and military.