It has long been recognized as a great watering hole, but those in the know also flock to Black Sheep Bar and Grill for the food.
Established five years ago by Myriam and Michel Olaizola (who also own the nearby Buffalo Pub and Grill), Black Sheep is on Chorro Street in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. It not only has a cozy patio in back, but also a welcoming brick-walled front room that has added ambiance from a fireplace and a custom-designed, handcrafted wooden bar.
Overall, the sense of space is one of “European flair without being over the top,” said Myriam, a native of France; Michel hails from Spain.
“We wanted something we feel is warm and inviting to everyone,” she said, and the Black Sheep clientele does indeed range “from students to rofessionals — it’s really a community place.”
Open 365 days a year, Black Sheep even offers its patrons traditional meals on holidays and caters to the time-pressed lunch crowd with call-ahead and delivery options.
In developing the menu for Black Sheep, the Olaizolas “were looking for comfort food, for pub fare that was a notch above.” As a result, among the choices for finger foods you will find such typical items such as jalapeño poppers, buffalo drumsticks and Killer Nachos, but also oak-barbecued baby back ribs served with Black Sheep’s addictive french fries, thin and crispy with just the right dusting of seasoned salt.
Standout salads and sides include an oak barbecued tri tip salad, a Cajun blackened shrimp and avocado salad, and housemade chicken tortilla soup. Other soups may be offered from time-to-time as specials, but this one proved so popular from the start that it’s a regular menu item available by the cup or bowl.
Black Sheep’s hearty Pub Mac and Cheese — elbow pasta with cheddar and mozzarella — is also a crowd favorite, and is part of a pasta lineup with plain, chicken and shrimp versions of fettuccini alfredo and fusilli pomodore. “South of the Border” dishes include house-made chili, fish tacos and Pescado and Chips (aka that pub classic, fish and chips).
For the meat of the menu, turn to the burger and sandwich options, starting with the signature Black Sheep Guinness Burger. This juicy half-pounder is basted in a Guinness reduction and served with the standard toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion and Thousand Island dressing. You have the choice of several add-ons like cheese and bacon, but why bother?
Other sandwiches range from oak barbecued tri-tip, to a grilled ham and melted mozzarella cheese Fondue sandwich on sourdough, to a Cattaneo’s Portuguese Linguica sandwich with grilled onions and jalapeños. All are available with fries, tortilla soup or a salad.The Cattaneo Brothers’ linguica is just one of several local food products Black Sheep uses, explained Myriam.
For example, avocados are sourced from the farmers market, fresh baked bread is delivered several times a week, and a small microbrew just went onto the tap selection on the patio. Other drafts include Bass, Guinness and Firestone.
“Everything is fresh, and we shop as we would for ourselves,” Myriam said. “We even use organic mint for our mojitos. I will not serve anyone anything I wouldn’t have myself,” a concept that filters down to the quality of liquor used for the bar’s well drinks.
“I believe in a good product made the right way by a wonderful team,” she said.” I don’t ever want anyone to have an excuse not to come back to Black Sheep.”