Restaurant News & Reviews

Fine-dining Mexican restaurant to fill this high-profile spot in downtown SLO

A new fine-dining Mexican restaurant that blends old and new world flavors is coming to the downtown San Luis Obispo space that was previously home to Thomas Hill Organics.

Mestiza Bar y Cocina, which will be located above Williams Sonoma at 858 Monterey St., is co-owned by chef Ricardo Ortega and restaurant group Custom House.

Custom House shares a parent company with Compass Health and owns seven other restaurants on the Central Coast, including Ventana Grill in Pismo Beach, and Old Custom House and Mr. Rick’s in Avila Beach.

According to Compass Health CEO Darren Smith, the menu will have traditional Mexican flavors with fresh ingredients and a modern spin, in line with the name of the restaurant. Mestiza will also have a full bar with “strong Mezcal influence” and craft cocktails.

“The blending of the way the food has been created — blending of old world, new world — (the name Mestiza) seemed to fit,” Smith said. “The true definition of ‘mestiza’ is blending of culture, and that really worked with kind of where we were going.”

With the old world in mind, Smith said the tortillas served will be stone-ground on site.

Smith and Ortega said the menu is a work in progress, but prices are expected to range from $12 to $40 a plate.

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Mestiza Bar y Cocina is a new fine-dining Mexican restaurant opening in San Luis Obispo with a “strong Mezcal influence” full-liquor bar. Cassandra Garibay

“Historically, the way people view Mexican food it is very specific to your standard burritos, tacos,” Smith said. “We’re trying to create more of a dining experience with that cuisine.”

Custom House took over the space four months ago and has yet to set an opening date. However, Smith said Mestiza will likely open in early summer after the walkway between the restaurant and Palm Street, near Hotel SLO, is no longer under construction.

Although Smith said he hopes to serve hotel guests, he said the main draw was to take part in the revitalization of Chinatown and Monterey Street.

“We were hoping to participate in a transformation of the restaurant corridor that would be formed here with Giuseppe’s and the steakhouse (at Hotel SLO), our location and whatever location decides to go in next door to Giuseppe’s,” Smith said.

The interior of the 3,800-square-foot restaurant is decorated with old and new elements found in Mexico City and will feature a new patio area, Smith said.

Smith said Custom House has hired about half of the staff needed for the new restaurant, but they are still seeking professional servers.

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