Restaurant News & Reviews

This popular Mexican restaurant is now open in SLO — its fourth Central Coast location

San Luis Obispo has a new Mexican restaurant serving authentic traditional dishes such as carne asada tacos and enchiladas — as well as more exotic dishes such as tongue, cow head and small intestines (chitterlings).

And it has quite the Central Coast following.

After three years of planning and waiting for construction renovations to finish at the Laurel Lane Shopping Plaza, Efren’s Mexican Restaurant opened March 31 in the recently upgraded development at 1285 Laurel Lane to the sounds of boisterous mariachi.

It’s the family-owned business’ third restaurant on the Central Coast, including locations in Oceano and Santa Maria; they run a temporary location Sundays at the Nipomo swap meet, said Santa Alvarez, the restaurant manager and sister of owners Efren and Misael Alvarez.

A steady flow of customers has been coming since the opening of the business, according to Santa Alvarez.

“We’re very happy to open here,” Santa Alvarez said in Spanish. “We have had a lot of customers. We serve authentic Mexican food in the style of Morelio, Mexico. We strive to serve really good food at a cheap price.”

Tacos at the restaurant include steak, chicken, chorizo, carnitas (pork), cabeza (brains), tongue and shrimp. Taco prices range from $1.99 to $2.35 depending on the meat. Taco Tuesdays will mean $1.49 prices for tacos. Other dishes include enchilada combo plates for $11.49, breakfast burritos for $7.50 and tostadas for $5.50.

The new Efren’s Mexican Restaurant in San Luis Obispo. Nick Wilson

Alvarez said that in Mexico, eating tongue, brains and intestines is normal and people find those meats tasty.

“If you haven’t tried them, you will discover they’re really good,” Alvarez said.

The family-run business is operated by 11 Alvarez siblings who each have a hand in day-to-day duties of the restaurants, some of whom performed construction work on the business space.

A variety of Mexican beers, as well as Firestone Walker’s popular 805, will be sold at Efren’s, and a mariachi band is anticipated to play at least once a month on a Sunday, though a set schedule has not yet been determined. No wine or hard alcohol is sold there.

Multiple empty tenant spaces are currently available in the upgraded Laurel Lane shopping center. Lucy’s Coffee Co. currently operates in the space next to Efren’s.