Taco Temple is open in SLO. See its first few minutes in business.
The long-awaited San Luis Obispo opening of Taco Temple in the old Margie’s Diner location finally has arrived.
The popular California fusion eatery, established in Morro Bay more than two decades ago, opened its doors about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at 1575 Calle Joaquin.
San Luis Obispo resident Susan Polk waited outside with a friend for several minutes just to get in.
“My favorite is the fish tostada,” Polk said. “I’ve eaten at the Morro Bay location many times. People like Taco Temple because the fish is so fresh.”
Alfred Leal of Atascadero said he works in SLO and saw the new signage for Taco Temple from the Highway 101 freeway a couple of weeks ago. The business is situated between the Rose Garden Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites.
“I used to eat at Taco Temple in Morro Bay with my boss, but it’s a bit of a drive out there, so I’m happy there’s a new location close to my work,” Leal said. “I just drove by to see if it was open today, and I’m happy to see that it is.”
General Manager Patrick Lynch said that the business intentionally didn’t advertise the opening to allow its staff to adjust, bracing for a flood of customers once the word got out.
The restaurant serves about 1,000 customers per day in Morro Bay (at 2680 Main St. in the Spencer’s shopping center), Lynch said, specializing in fresh seafood tacos, burritos and tostadas.
“We didn’t want the rush to be too overwhelming,” Lynch said. “We just wanted to make sure the staff could handle the crunch.”
Taco Temple Head Chef Peter Irwin said that the menu, which ranges from about $8 to $28, will remain much the same as in Morro Bay. Popular dessert items include carrot cake and flan.
“So many people stopped by as we were renovating, asking about when we’ll open,” Irwin said. “There has been a ton of buzz, and we can’t thank the community enough.”
Local workers and visitors of nearby hotels such as Courtyard Inn were among the first to patronize the venue Wednesday — now open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“I live in Orange County and work at MindBody, and so I’m here in SLO every other week,” said Alex Soria, who was staying at the Courtyard. “I saw there’s a new restaurant here. I thought I might as well go.”
City of SLO building inspector Paula Frojae also included a Taco Temple lunch in her workday, deciding to stick around for a chicken burrito after some final inspections of the newly remodeled building.
“It’s so busy at the Morro Bay one, I rarely go,” said Frojae, seated at a booth seat near the front door about noon, with the restaurant about a third filled. “But I wanted to stay today.”
Taco Temple is jointly owned by Gretchen Ross, her husband Michael Foster, Jim Leage and Deborah and Jack Franklin.
The new SLO location has been renovated with the business’ traditional red, white, green and white colors, its large sign facing Highway 101.
Server Tonya Austin said she heard about the planned opening of SLO Taco Temple in October and has eaten regularly at the Morro Bay restaurant for the past few months to study the menu.
“I’d enjoyed eating at Taco Temple previously,” Austin said. “But I wanted to really know the menu really well because I love the place so much and was hoping to work here.”
The new SLO restaurant is an opportunity for growth, which could also include other new locations in the future, though no specific community has been identified, Lynch said.
Though the restaurant has a Mexican theme, it incorporates a California fresh food tradition and packs its dishes with large portions, according to restaurant officials.
Menu items include sweet potato enchiladas, scallop burritos, calamari tacos, an ahi poke appetizer and the killer Alaskan cod burrito.