Restaurant News & Reviews

The best brunch in SLO County

Fried chicken and sourdough waffles are a favorite menu item at The Spoon Trade in Grover Beach.
Fried chicken and sourdough waffles are a favorite menu item at The Spoon Trade in Grover Beach. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Breakfast, they say, is the most important meal of the day. It's also the most awesome.

After seeking suggestions from The Tribune's Facebook followers, our hungry staffers went in search of the best brunch in San Luis Obispo County. We tirelessly devoured plate after plate of crispy bacon, fluffy pancakes and eggs-cellent omelets, all washed down with sweet mimosas and spicy bloody marys.

Here are a few of our favorite discoveries, from beermosas to all-you-can eat buffets. (Readers' recommendations included Big Sky Cafe in San Luis Obispo, The Grill at Hunter Ranch in Paso Robles, Lunada Garden Bistro in Cayucos, Tanner Jack's in Arroyo Grande and Zorro's Cafe & Cantina in Pismo Beach.)

Did we miss your favorite spot? Let us know in the comments.

IMG_2700.jpg
The Cajun Breakfast features red beans, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce, served with grits and a buttermilk biscuit, at Bon Temps Creole Cafe in San Luis Obispo. Nick Wilson nwilson@thetribunenews.com



Bon Temps Creole Cafe

$7.50 to $10.95

Not only is the Southern cooking at this SLO gem filling and scrumptious, but you'll also get a great kick out of the "Eat More Gator" stickers and the lindy-hopping pig at the cash register. The Mardi Gras-themed art includes an Elvis portrait and jazz musicians galore.

Bon Temps Creole Cafe offers a wide range of authentic dishes, with ingredients such as Creole red beans, Cajun hot link sausage and smoky bacon simmered in marchand de vin (wine reduction) sauce. You can also venture into the less familiar territory of alligator, frog legs and fried catfish.

I had the Cajun breakfast, a meatless dish of red beans, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce, served with grits and a buttermilk biscuit on a frying pan. Spices made the flavorful jumble of beans, eggs and fried green tomatoes come alive.

A warning: Bon Temps gets crowded on weekends, and seating first come first serve, so show up early for good times in "San Luisiana." — Nick Wilson

1819 Osos St., San Luis Obispo | 805-544-2100 | www.bontempscreolecafe.com

IMG_2946.jpg
The Chorizo Supreme scramble at Joe's Other Place in Templeton comes with beans, hash browns, tortillas and ranchero sauce. Joe Tarica jtarica@thetribunenews.com

Joe's Place, Joe's Other Place, Joe's One-Niner Diner

$7.20 to $16.95

As the name suggests, Joe's Other Place in Templeton is an offshoot of another restaurant, Joe's Place in Paso Robles. (There's also a location at the Paso Robles Municipal Airport, Joe's One-Niner Diner.) According to the menu, both eateries were inspired by the proprietor's "secret desire to own a greasy spoon eatery with a long counter, a surly fry cook and a sharp-tongued waitress."

The Templeton location is bright and welcoming, the kind of place nearby residents would stroll down to for a bite on a lazy weekend morning.

The menu features a wide variety of breakfast favorites, from the popular Joe's World Famous Biscuits & Sausage Gravy (first come, first served) to omelets, scrambles and several meat-and-eggs dishes.

House specialties called Joe's Favorites hail from south of the border, including a chorizo scramble, a chile verde omelet and the tasty Chilaquiles Supreme, which takes the Mexican standby and adds tri-tip. Whatever you choose, you'll be more than satisfied and ready to start the day. — Joe Tarica

305 Spring St., Paso Robles; 730 S. Main St. Templeton; 4900 Wing Way, Paso Robles | 805-238-5637, 805-434-5637, 805-238-3447

Kitchenette chilaquiles.jpg
At Kitchenette in Templeton, chilaquiles come with housemade soy chorizo, black beans, feta cheese, avocado and a fried egg. Sarah Linn slinn@thetribunenews.com

Kitchenette

International flavors rule at this low-key yet refined eatery on Templeton's picturesque main drag.

The mouthwatering breakfast menu includes beer-brased corn beef hash, pork posole verde and mushroom and Parmesan polenta served with bacon, spinach and a poached egg.

One of my favorites is Kitchenette's hearty spin on chilaquiles. Creamy avocado, salty feta cheese and a lacy-edged fried egg top crispy tortilla strips, black beans and housemade soy chorizo that's surprisingly meaty-tasting. A simple slaw of cabbage, radish and jalapeños helps balance the richness of the dish.

I also love the Asian-inspired brown rice hash, a gorgeous, green-flecked bowl drizzled with housemade hot sauce and topped with feta cheese, kimchi pickles and a fried egg. It's a beautiful way to start the morning. — Sarah Linn

105 S. Main St., Templeton | 805-400-1006, kitchenettetempleton.com

Libertine biscuits and gravy
Biscuits and gravy are served with eggs, bacon and hash browns at Libertine Brewing Co. in San Luis Obispo. Kayla Missman kmissman@thetribunenews.com

Libertine Brewing Co.

$12, $10 drinks

Want to grab brunch at Libertine? You'd better get there quick, because this Sunday treat has quickly exploded into one of the most popular spots in San Luis Obispo.

A live DJ mixes classics as you dine on delicious, decadent breakfast specialties, from grilled cheese topped with a fried egg to a croissantwich or waffle with fresh strawberries.

I opted for Southern Tots, which is probably the best/worst thing you can order: tater tots piled with spicy sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese, gravy and pico de gallo. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

In addition to entrees with very generous portions, Libertine offers bottomless mimosas or "beermosas" (orange juice mixed with your choice of sour beer).

But what keeps me coming back is the ambiance: The wait staff is kind (and very patient), the restaurant is open and sunny, and everyone there seems to be having an excellent time. — Kayla Missman

Cliffs brunch
Sunday brunch offerings include meat, fish and jumbo shrimp at Marisol at The Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach. Matt Fountain mfountain@thetribunenews.com

Marisol at The Cliffs Resort

$19 to $39, free for childen 4 and under

Marisol is not just the place to be seen while enjoying a seaside concert or staying at the renowned Cliffs Resort.

The restaurant's Sunday brunch menu is a high-end lineup of meat, seafood and, of course, endless mimosas. This must be how the other half lives!

In addition to indoor seating, the restaurant has an outdoor patio area where paragliders sail by overhead and the cool, coastal breeze tempers the midday sun.

Marisol’s brunch menu is a bit on the pricey side, but what you get for your money makes it well worth it. There are all the staples: made-to-order omelets, eggs and Belgian waffles, plus salads, breakfast sausage, bacon, steamed vegetables and roasted red potatoes and gravy.

But then there’s the seafood: lobster mac and cheese, poached prawns, house-smoked salmon, rock shrimp ceviche and the incredible ahi tuna poke. Meat-lovers will find their plates runneth over with fried chicken, pork tenderloin and prime rib with shallots and horseradish cream.

There's even a build-your-own taco bar, with Korean beef, carnitas, Thai peanut shrimp and fresh housemade salsas and escabeche.

This place can fill up quick, especially when the weather’s fine. Make reservations to ensure a seat. — Matt Fountain

2757 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach | 805-773-2511 | cliffsresort.com/eat-drink/marisol-restaurant

Mint and Craft toast 2.jpg
The SLO Market toastie at Mint + Craft Cafe and Mercantile features roasted veggies, goat feta cheese, sweet potato spread, za'atar spice and an egg on whole-grain bread. Sarah Daly

Mint + Craft Cafe and Mercantile

$4 to $14

Located down the block from Mission San Luis Obispo, this cute little cafe has great grub, an espresso bar and an outdoor patio that's perfect for people watching.

In addition to more traditional options such as a fried egg sandwich, a granola bowl and a Nordic plate with house-cured salmon, creme fraiche and tomato-caper relish, Mint + Craft offers several tempting "toasties." I went with the SLO Market, a Middle Eastern-inspired option with farmers market-fresh flavors.

Served on a hearty slice of whole-grain bread, it features roasted veggies — in this case, cauliflower, carrots, red bell peppers and sugar snap peas — and an egg crowned with a tangle of microgreens. Salty crumbles of goat feta cheese and zesty za'atar spice balance the sweetness of the brilliantly orange sweet potato spread.

It might be "just toast," but it's filling enough for a mid-day meal.

I finished breakfast by browsing for gifts in Mint + Craft's mini marketplace. From gourmet treats to tea towels and ceramic spoon rests, there are plenty of options for the foodie crowd. — Sarah Linn

848 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo | 805-632-9191 or www.mintandcraft.com

Sally Loo's waffle 1.jpg
The Sally's Waffle is topped with maple syrup and fresh fruit at Sally Loo's Wholesome Cafe in San Luis Obispo. Sarah Linn slinn@thetribunenews.com

Sally Loo's Wholesome Cafe

$4.50 to $18

Everything about this airy, light-filled cafe — from the engraved marble front step and worn wood floors to the rotating collection of locally crafted art decorating the mint-green walls — says "hip neighborhood hangout."

The same inviting vibe carries over to the food. Healthy, wholesome and Instagram-ready, the menu ranges from avocado toast and granola-topped acai bowls to flaky croissants stuffed with scrambled eggs, bacon and rosemary.

But the most photogenic option might be the signature Sally's Waffle, a big circle of hearty, whole-wheat goodness topped with fresh fruit, dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with warm maple syrup. (Add a dollop of peanut butter or hazelnut spread if you're feeling indulgent.) Served with one of Sally Loo's custom coffee drinks, it's great for a light breakfast or even an afternoon snack. — Sarah Linn

1804 Los Osos St., San Luis Obispo | 805-545-5895, www.sallylooswholesomecafe.com

Chicken and waffles, Spoon Trade.jpg
Honey-and-rosemary-coated fried chicken is served with asourdough waffle and a side of kimchi at The Spoon Trade in Grover Beach. Kaytlyn Leslie kleslie@thetribunenews.com

The Spoon Trade

$4 to $25

Ask anyone in Grover Beach for a local restaurant recommendation, and chances are they'll tell you "Spoon Trade." The eatery has exploded in popularity since it opened in 2015, thanks to its ecclectic menu of comfort foods and California favorites.

The brunch menu definitely has something for everybody.

If you want a real indulgence (and believe me, you do), get the fried chicken and waffles combination. The honey-and-rosemary-coated fried chicken is served with their so(urdough waffle and a side of kimchi for a kick.

I swear, I've never tasted anything so good, especially when paired with the crispy-sweet waffle. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

The Spoon Trade's crispy potatoes and bacon steak were also popular with my group — especially my brunch-spoiled dog. (Yes, the place is dog-friendly too, with an outdoor patio.)

Drink offerings include mimosas with fresh squeezed strawberry juice, a fun fizzing peach refreshment and a French press coffee.

So trade in your usual brunch spot for The Spoon Trade. You won't be disappointed. — Kaytlyn Leslie

Ventana Grill brunch edited.jpg
Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach serves up an all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet with bottomless mimosas, mountains of food and an unbeatable ocean view. Sarah Linn slinn@thetribunenews.com

Ventana Grill

$11.95 to $41.95, free for children 4 and under

Whether you want to wow mom, impress a date or simply indulge, you can't go wrong with Ventana Grill's all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch buffet. Featuring bottomless mimosas, mountains of food and an unbeatable ocean view that landed the eatery on Food & Wine magazine's list of the most scenic restaurants in the United States, it's definitely worth the splurge.

On a recent visit, the sounds of keening seagulls and crashing waves competed with an acoustic guitarist strumming golden oldies.

I filled my plate with everything from baked Brie, spinach quiche and spicy fruit gazpacho to cinnamon rolls and churro French toast with fresh strawberries and vanilla whipped cream. My husband tucked into the sizable seafood selection — which includes smoked salmon, snow crab legs and a kiddie pool's worth of peel-and-eat jumbo shrimp — and took advantage of the meat carving station, too.

But our favorite brunch offering was the build-your-own omelet bar, where a server expertly folded freshly sauteed veggies and shredded cheese into eggs with a flip. As I bit into an impromptu breakfast taco — yes, she also makes warm, soft flour and corn tortillas — I couldn't help letting out a happy little sigh. — Sarah Linn

2575 Price St., Pismo Beach | 805-773-0000 or ventanagrill.com

Related stories from San Luis Obispo Tribune

  Comments