There’s a new hidden gem in downtown Paso Robles that’s worth seeking out.
First, find your way down the alley bounded by Park, Pine and 13th streets. Then look for the art deco-style “Jeffry’s” sign with a flickering wine glass on top.
Congratulations! You’ve found Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ.
The unassuming archway entrance opens to an inviting courtyard punctuated by a long oval concrete fire pit. Grab a cozy seat there or at one of several tables outside.
Umbrellas and heaters are on hand to temper any weather extremes.
Table or bar seating is available inside the restaurant, which can be separated from the courtyard by glass-paned garage doors. Most days, those doors are rolled up to take full advantage of the al fresco experience.
“It’s great seeing people’s faces when they walk into the courtyard. There’s definitely a wow factor,” said chef Jeffry Wiesinger, who officially opened the restaurant in October with his wife, Kathleen.
The couple wasn’t planning on starting a restaurant, but they agreed to hear what property owner Robert Gilson had in mind for the alley’s empty parking lot.
It all came together when Gilson installed the fire pit and the rollup doors, Jeffry Wiesinger said. “That was it. Kathleen and I knew we could create a place where we and our friends would want to hang out – a real locals’ spot.”
A Central Coast resident since 2007, Jeffry Wiesinger brings considerable culinary experience to the table.
His career began at the prestigious Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, where he received both an associate degree in culinary arts and a bachelor’s degree in food service management. Since then, he has been chef de cuisine for a ski resort, culinary consultant for the World Series and a restaurant executive chef.
Wiesinger is also the owner and chef of his own catering company, which he launched 11 years ago.
In developing the menu for Jeffry’s, Wiesinger turned to barbecue because “it’s such an iconic American cuisine, and you can often find a lot of those smoky flavors in wine, so it pairs well.”
Wiesinger noted that his barbecue methods are inspired more by Southern traditions rather than the oak-grilled Santa Maria-style. He uses wood smokers and housemade dry rubs on the meats, then takes a “low and slow” cooking approach.
Any sauces are put on afterwards or served on the side.
With smoked meats as a menu base, Wiesinger uses his classical training to put his own twist on things. An example of this approach is the towering presentation of the smoked pork bahn mi sandwich. It looks like a burger, but strongly delivers on all the expected Vietnamese flavors and textures.
Other popular items at Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ are the Cobb salad with smoked chicken, the Sunday paella specials and the smoked tri-tip sandwich.
That tri-tip also finds its way into the creamy Paso Mac & Cheese Steak. It’s a dish that may forever change your standard of how macaroni and cheese should be, especially now that’s it’s made with fresh pasta from Etta Pastificio in Paso Robles.
Everything possible at Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ is prepared from scratch, including the cured bacon for the BLT sandwich, the corn tortilla chips for the Brickyard Nachos and the jalapeno-citrus aioli for the housemade just-thick-enough potato chips.
“We’re constantly looking for the best possible product,” Wiesinger said. “We want to be able to offer chef-driven, quality food in a casual atmosphere – in an approachable, community place.”
Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ
819 12th Street, Suite B, Paso Robles
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday, 3 to 6 p.m. happy hour
(Holiday hours: Dec. 24 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., closed Dec 25, Dec. 31 11 a.m. to midnight with limited menu 9 to 11:45 p.m., closed Jan. 1)
The scene: Casual, comfortable courtyard dining with a few seats available inside as well. Friendly, leashed dogs welcome outside.
The cuisine: Smoked meats are the basis for the from-scratch, comfort-food-inspired cuisine. Predominantly local beers and wines on tap, plus several bottled options.
Expect to spend: Most items $6 to $16.