Restaurant News & Reviews

Business booming for Taco Temple in Morro Bay — and its 2nd location will open soon

Taco Temple is coming to SLO

Taco Temple is opening in San Luis Obispo, California, in the former Margie's Diner located off of Los Osos Valley Road near Highway 101, the Mexican restaurant's second location. The business currently operates in Morro Bay.
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Taco Temple is opening in San Luis Obispo, California, in the former Margie's Diner located off of Los Osos Valley Road near Highway 101, the Mexican restaurant's second location. The business currently operates in Morro Bay.

A popular California fusion restaurant in Morro Bay, which has existed in SLO County for more than 20 years, will soon open in San Luis Obispo where Margie’s Diner formerly operated.

A second location of Taco Temple is envisioned to open around May 1 at 1575 Calle Joaquin, though no set date has been determined, General Manager Patrick Lynch said.

Lynch said the existing Morro Bay restaurant currently serves about 1,000 customers per day — emphasizing seafood and tacos, burritos, tostadas packed with fresh veggies, along with its meats — at its location at 2680 Main St. in the Spencer’s shopping center.

The new SLO restaurant is an opportunity for growth, which could also include other eatery locations in the future, though no specific community has been identified, Lynch said.

The new Taco Temple is still awaiting an inspection and finishing touches on its roughly 5,700-square-foot building with 62 parking spaces.

“We don’t plan to change the menu from the Morro Bay business because we have such a following there and it has been a very, very successful model,” Lynch said.

The new restaurant, located next to the Hampton Inn & Suites, is visible from Highway 101 at the south end of SLO.

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Taco Temple, is opening a second location in San Luis Obispo in the former Margie’s Diner location. This location will be in addition to its Morro Bay restaurant. Photo by Joe Johnston 04-17-19 Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The building was purchased on Sept. 20, 2018, by the ownership group of Gretchen Ross and her husband Michael Foster, Jim Leage and Deborah and Jack Franklin, according to an Oct. 25 Tribune story.

The new restaurant will provide more space with about 120 seats, according to the current plan, compared to 85 seats in the Morro Bay location.

“We have passed four inspections and have one more still to go before opening,” Lynch said.

Menu items include sweet potato enchiladas, scallop burritos, calamari tacos, an ahi poke appetizer and the killer Alaskan cod burrito. Price for meal items range from about $8 to $28, Lynch said. Portions are known to be sizable, he said.

Popular dessert items include carrot cake and flan, as well as a variety of baked options. The restaurant’s pastry chef is Nicole Davis.

The head chef of the restaurant is Peter Irwin, a 36-year food industry professional, who has worked at multiple local restaurants including Guiseppe’s Italian Restaurant, Big Sky Cafe and The Dutchman in Morro Bay.

Lynch said that customers — including some who travel from the San Joaquin Valley and Santa Barbara for regular meals — order a significant percentage of meals from the restaurant’s daily special options.

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General manager Patrick Lynch sits in Taco Temple’s second location, which will open soon in San Luis Obispo in the former Margie’s Diner building. This location will be in addition to its Morro Bay restaurant. Joe Johnston jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Features of the building — decorated in the restaurant’s familiar green, white, red and yellow colors (adopted from the logo) — include a separate take-out wing of the space to make the in-and-out traffic more efficient.

The owners have spent the past six months planning and implementing changes such as code-compliant restrooms (including a unisex facility and a diaper-change area), as well as accessibility for handicapped customers business-wide.

“The number of parking spaces we have will be great for customers,” Lynch said. “One of the common complaints we hear is the difficulty of parking in downtown SLO. There won’t be that problem here.”

Taco Temple was established in Cayucos in the late 1990s, later moving to bigger quarters in Morro Bay, changing ownerships.

“My great love is the food of California in general and Mexican food in particular,” Irwin said on the restaurant’s website. “I am humbled at the opportunity to be a part of the Taco Temple experience and will do all that I can to be dutiful in continuing all the excellent work that has preceded me.”

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Nick Wilson covers the city of San Luis Obispo and has been a reporter at The Tribune in San Luis Obispo since 2004. He also writes regularly about K-12 education, Cal Poly, Morro Bay and Los Osos. He is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and UC Berkeley and is originally from Ojai.
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