Restaurant News & Reviews

Pub grub at Pappy McGregor's in San Luis Obispo

Despite the Irish theme, The Kilt offers a range of eclectic menu items, like these sushi-grade ahi eggrolls. More photos »
Despite the Irish theme, The Kilt offers a range of eclectic menu items, like these sushi-grade ahi eggrolls. More photos » jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Now you can hit The Kilt on either side of The Grade.

Proprietors Troy Larkin and Donovan Schmit opened what was then called The Crooked Kilt in Paso Robles on St. Patrick’s Day in 2006.

Located in the venerable Busi’s building on the park, the Irish-themed restaurant immediately established a lively bar scene — including a good lineup of draft beers — but it also served food a bit beyond typical pub fare.

Patrons quickly took to calling the restaurant just “The Kilt,” and in May of this year, Larkin and Schmit officially took that name and expanded the concept to San Luis Obispo.

They opened in another spot that would lend itself to that old Irish feel: the building that previously housed 1865 Restaurant on Monterey Street.

Working with the possibilities and challenges of the restaurant’s unique interior, the restaurant — whose name was later changed to Pappy McGregor's — now sports a second bar, heaters and a cover on the front patio, and both table and lounge-type seating. There are also televisions throughout, so it’s a good spot to watch the big game, especially if you score a place on one of the comfy couches.

Before opening the San Luis Obispo location, Larkin and Schmit decided to sell their two other restaurants in Cayucos (Café Della Via and Schooner’s Wharf) “because we wanted to simplify our lives. We were running an Italian restaurant, a seafood restaurant and an Irish pub. Now everybody’s on the same page.”

Being on the same page is arguably easier for the two pubs than for other establishments because the executive chefs are brothers: Chris and Martin Beckett. Both have worked with Larkin and Schmit for several years, and they’ve all made the effort “to make these two restaurants reflect the same experience.”

Pappy McGregor's appetizer menu has its share of basic bar food such as wings, onion rings and potato skins, but many of the other offerings are a cut above.

For example, you can nosh on oysters-on-the-half shell or Oysters Rockefeller, prime rib nachos or prime rib bites with Guinness au jus and blue cheese horseradish dressing. There are crispy sushi-grade ahi egg rolls and decadent “Irish Nachos” consisting of thick house-made potato chips served with a dipping sauce of spicy melted cheese.

Generous salads such as buffalo chicken and a turkey Cobb are also available, as are several burgers made from Hearst Ranch beef. Choices run the gamut from a Frisco Burger on sourdough, to a Blarney Stone with bacon and barbecue sauce, to a Black and Blue with Cajun spices and blue cheese.

Pappy McGregor’s menu sports panini and other sandwiches as well, such as a quarter-pound all-beef hot dog, a turkey club or “The Ma’ Beckett” — a grilled Monterey Jack and American cheese sandwich on sourdough that’s served with tomato soup.

Pappy McGregor's does tilt toward some more traditional Irish fare with its presentations of corned beef sandwiches, pub mac ’n’ cheese, and beer-battered fish and chips (the chips here are garlic fries, however).

Larkin also noted that seasonal specials might consist of other Irish-inspired dishes like shepherd’s pie, especially as wintry temperatures approach.

More new ideas on the horizon include Tuesday oyster nights and a late night menu of select small bites and appetizers.

Of the move to San Luis Obispo, Schmit called it “an easy decision to come down here, and we’re getting a good mix of diverse clientele. We’d talked about coming to SLO for years, so it’s exciting for us as restaurateurs to have been able to do it.”

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