Restaurant News & Reviews

Eater names 38 ‘essential’ CA restaurants — and this Arroyo Grande spot is one of them

Ember in Arroyo Grande was named one of 38 essential California restaurants by the dining website Eater.
Ember in Arroyo Grande was named one of 38 essential California restaurants by the dining website Eater.

If you’re looking for somewhere to eat on the Central Coast, the dining website Eater has one suggestion: Ember in Arroyo Grande.

The restaurant was included in the food review publication’s 38 Essential California Restaurants list this month — and it was the only Central Coast restaurant to make the cut.

“A Central Coast restaurant that should top the food lover’s travel agenda, quintessentially Californian in its warmth and celebration of the state’s bounty,” reads the author’s description of Ember. “That it’s secreted away in a sleepy coastal town is all part of the charm.”

The article also commends the restaurant’s “woodsy coziness” and “comforting, big-hearted cooking.”

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Ember opened in Arroyo Grande in 2014 and has since become a hot spot for locals for its seasonal, farm-to-table approach. Chef Brian Collins, who returned to his hometown to open the restaurant after working at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, said his goal was to “have a good neighborhood restaurant.”

Jocko’s Steakhouse in Nipmo also got an Eater shoutout in the publication’s guide to eating in California — specifically about Santa Maria style barbecue — though it was not included in the 38 Essential Restaurants list.

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This isn’t the first time a Central Coast restaurant has gained wider recognition: Oyster Loft in Pismo Beach was named one of the top 100 most romantic restaurants in America this past Valentine’s Day, while Food & Wine magazine named three restaurants from Pismo Beach — Ventana Grill, Sea Venture and again, Oyster Loft — as three of the most scenic restaurants in the United States.

To see what other restaurants made the “essential” list, check out the full Eater article at

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Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928; @kaytyleslie