Restaurant News & Reviews

A tasty 2009: A roundup of favorite local flavors from the past year

Black bean marinated Hearst Ranch skirt steak, purple Thai rice, pan asian slaw, wakame salad
Anthony Reeves, Executive Chef Orchid Restaurant--at the Inn at Morro Bay

David Middlecamp
Black bean marinated Hearst Ranch skirt steak, purple Thai rice, pan asian slaw, wakame salad Anthony Reeves, Executive Chef Orchid Restaurant--at the Inn at Morro Bay David Middlecamp 9-16-09 The Tribune

Looking back at 2009’s Dining Outs brought back some tasty memories. Unfortunately, there isn’t room to recall them all, but here are some favorites.

Morning bites

The sweet-but-not-too-sweet pastries at Colby Jack Café and Bakery in Atascadero are a treat, and they have great sandwiches and salads.

Some of the delightfully eclectic flavor combos at Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café in San Luis Obispo include strawberry black pepper scones.

The Grill at Hunter Ranch Golf Course in Paso Robles puts on a great brunch, and don’t miss anything with Kelly’s signature bacon.

Also in Paso, the farm-to-table approach means ever-changing seasonal menus at Thomas Hill Organics, but popular brunch favorites are the Charter Oak beef and chorizo meatloaf sandwich or a thin-crust pizza from the wood-fired oven.


Leonard and Wendy Cohen’s stylish Ciopinot in SLO features a raw bar with several kinds of oysters, and try the fresh local rock crab claws when they’re available. (Plus, check out the stellar wine list and inventive martinis.)

It’s fun to get lost in the myriad of gourmet delights at DePalo & Sons in Shell Beach, but the fresh handmade mozzarella is a must during tomato season.

The crusty baguettes at Atascadero’s Hush-Harbor Artisan Bakery & Café will remind you of Paris. (Give their lunches a try, too.)

Among the signature dishes at McPhee’s Grill in Avila Beach and Templeton are the generous Kung Fu Baby Back Ribs. (Pair them with a “house wine” crafted by award-winning local winemakers.)

Every week, Splash Café (Pismo Beach and SLO) dishes up countless gallons of its savory New England-style “World Famous Clam Chowder.”

In Arroyo Grande, you can almost make a meal of Tanner Jack’s hearty “Doc’s Hazardous Material Chili” made with ground pork, chunks of tri-tip and top sirloin cap steak.

Main dishes

Located at the foot of the Cayucos Pier, Duckie’s offers classic beachfront versions of fish tacos and fish and chips.

A tiny place with big tastes in Atascadero, Fig Good Food features several daily specials, including rotisserie chickens and other spit-fired meats.

In Morro Bay, the whimsical Frankie & Lola menu includes the “Frankie” — a you-gotta-have-it-once towering cheeseburger with avocado, onion ring and over-medium egg. Or enjoy authentic Italian at Giancarlo’s, where Chef Giancarlo Cucumo and staff fire up crispy flatbreads, fresh pastas, braised osso bucco and seafood inspirations.

At The Inn at Morro Bay’s Orchid, Chef Anthony Reeves sources local farm-fresh fare for dishes such as marinated Hearst Ranch skirt steak with Pan-Asian slaw. And you never know what sort of fresh seafood delight you’ll discover at the Taco Temple, but definitely leave room for Dawn’s decadent desserts.

In San Luis Obispo, the list of Lincoln Deli’s yummy sandwiches includes the “Strand”wich: roast beef, turkey, bacon, cheddar, honey jalapeño sauce and more jalapeños on an onion roll. Meanwhile, the historic Mee Heng Low in Chinatown is sticking to its roots with simply sublime noodle dishes. And at Ribline, the name says it all, but you can also get oak-fired tri-tip and chicken, plus great prices on combos with sides.

The fresh Mexican fare at Me & Z’s in Arroyo Grande even encompasses housemade chips and salsa, plus daily from-scratch soups such as albondigas.

It’s hard to choose among Sylvester’s in Los Osos and Atascadero, “Hot ‘n’ Juicy” burgers — start with the bacon/pineapple/teriyaki topped “Hana.”

Plus …

The Crushed Grape in San Luis Obispo is the to-go place for local food products, and they make a mean “sammich.”

Relax at Laguna Grill to watch the big game and sip on one of the ever-rotating selection of draft beers.

Indulge yourself at SLO’s Tropical Chocolates, where the creations include “Pele’s Fire” — chili and cinnamon in a Hawaiian dark chocolate ganache.