Restaurant News & Reviews

Tastes of 2010: A year of SLO County restaurants

Carrot cake at the Neon Carrot in San Luis Obispo.
Carrot cake at the Neon Carrot in San Luis Obispo. The Tribune

Looking over the 2010 Dining Outs brought back memories of a lot of great tastes. Unfortunately, not all of them can be revisited, but here are a few favorites.

The Rizzo family introduced fine Italian dining to the Central Coast in 1980, and their iconic Café Roma restaurant in San Luis Obispo’s Railroad District is still going strong. In Morro Bay, the Van Beurden family’s Flying Dutchman restaurant is turning 25, and their Hofbrau der Albatross started serving hand-carved roast beef sandwiches in 1971. Also worth noting for their longevity are the Sea Shanty, which opened in Cayucos in 1983, and Cambria’s Mustache Pete’s, which dates to 1986.

Some relatively new dining spots brought a variety of authentic cuisines to the table as well. Among them are the Italian flair of Il Cortile in Paso Robles, the island-inspired dishes at Kai Lana Sushi and Seafood in Atascadero, the fresh fare at Thai Bounty in Morro Bay, and the spicy Mexican flavors of Boni’s Tacos in Cambria and Paso Robles.

Other tastes that stood out are a varied lot: the melt-in-your-mouth Moroccan beef and potato tagine at Oasis in San Luis Obispo, the grilled hot dog from Woodpecker’s Grill at Chalk Mountain Golf Course in Atascadero, and the muffaletta sandwich at Bon Temps Creole Café in San Luis Obispo that will take your taste buds straight to New Orleans.

It also seemed to be a year of discovering spots for really good French fries, such as those at Black Sheep Bar and Grill in San Luis Obispo, Bottle Liquor in Morro Bay, and even the classic pomme frites at Petit Marcel in Paso Robles.

Of course, Petit Marcel also gets points for both taste and spot-on style, as do San Luis Obispo’s EP Koberl at Blue and Palazzo Giuseppe. Boasting vibes all their own are the fun and funky Pete’s Pierside in Avila Beach, the artsy and eclectic Steynberg Gallery in San Luis Obispo, the page-out-of-history Hoover’s Beef Palace in Templeton, and the cozy Craftsman ambiance of Avila’s Woodstone Marketplace.

Several local spots can also satisfy your sweet tooth, such as Red Moose Cookie Company in Cambria, Cider Creek Bakery in Paso Robles, and House of Bread in San Luis Obispo.

In addition, a couple companies are very well-known outside the area, but may be hidden gems to locals: Cayucos’s Brown Butter Cookie Company and Stewart and Clark Fine Foods, whose handcrafted marshmallows and other goodies are available at Fiero Café in San Luis Obispo.

Kudos are due to two local businesses dedicating themselves to addressing severe food allergies: Doughboy’s Pizza and Trattoria in Grover Beach produces La Pizza Senza Glutenata, a frozen, gluten-free pizza, and Sweet Alexis Bakery in Los Osos is an allergen-free facility that bakes cookies, cupcakes, etc. free of dairy, nuts, eggs, peanuts and lactose.

Also to be lauded is the farm-to-table dedication of chefs Tom Fundaro at Farmstand 46 in Templeton and Maegen Loring at The Neon Carrot in San Luis Obispo, as well as the commitment to human rights and fair trade practiced by Tom and Eve Neuhaus at Sweet Earth Chocolates in San Luis Obispo.

On a different note, this year saw the loss of chef Wilhelm “Bill” Hoppe of Hoppe’s Bistro and Wine Bar in Cayucos. His passionate dedication to fine cuisine and quality local products raised the bar for the Central Coast’s culinary professionals and palates. He is already, and will always be, sorely missed by both friends and colleagues.

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