Restaurant News & Reviews

Take the challenge at Klondike Pizza and Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab

The Roadkill at Klondike Pizza, which has locations in Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria, features pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, reindeer sausage and Canadian bacon.
The Roadkill at Klondike Pizza, which has locations in Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria, features pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, reindeer sausage and Canadian bacon. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

If you believe pizza and ice cream are two of the major food groups, then you’re bound to like what’s becoming known as “The Arroyo Grande Challenge” — the all-you-can-eat Tuesday nights at Klondike Pizza and/or Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab.

Most pizza parlors are festive spots, but the Alaskan-themed Klondike Pizza kicks that attitude up more than a notch. Your first clue to that might be its website, which spins several amusing yarns about how owners Mike and Pam Dennis met and ultimately wound up here. When asked what was actually true on the site, Pam quipped, “The menu!”

Well, the Dennises (yes, their real name) did actually live in Alaska, and did open their then-named Klondike Café in 1988. Prompted by friends to check out the Central Coast, the move to Arroyo Grande got the Dennis family out of the snow and also gave them a chance to “put our talents together,” harnessing Mike’s experience in the restaurant business and Pam’s as a graphic artist and corporate advertising director.

Other than the name switch, not much has changed at the restaurant over the years. It’s still filled with Alaska-bilia, there’s toe-tapping music from all eras and genres, every order comes with free peanuts, and you’re welcome to toss the empty shells on the floor.

“We’ve kept everything the same on purpose,” said Pam. “We always wanted this to be a hangout for the locals.”

One of the longtime mainstays at Klondike has been their Tuesday Night Chowdown — all-you-can-eat pizza with salad bar and garlic bread included.

During the course of the evening, about 20 kinds of pizzas are available from Klondike staffers who walk from table to table serving fresh slices of everything from the piled-high Veggie Pizza to the Roadkill topped with pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, Canadian-style bacon and authentic reindeer sausage sourced from a family-owned company in Alaska.

Of course, if you have your heart set on a particular pizza, you’re welcome to order that as well. (If you still doubt there’s a sense of humor here, note that the menu states that musk ox and skunk are seasonal toppings, and walrus blubber is not currently available.)

Other dishes range from a shrimp salad to a Klondike salad with mandarin oranges, a turkey sandwich to a grilled Cajun sausage sandwich, a Hula burger topped with pineapple or a Chicken Cordon Bleu — grilled chicken breast on a French roll with Canadian bacon and Swiss cheese.

All-you-can-eat ice cream, too

Though Klondike’s all-you-can-eat special has been going for years, Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab’s Tuesday night deal was just launched in February.

Manager Aaron Luncford created the concept, which offers in-parlor customers unlimited scoops of five featured flavors ranging from traditional favorites to Doc Burnstein’s original flavors like Birthday Cake, Motor Oil (dark chocolate, Kahlua and fudge), and Merlot Raspberry Truffle.

If you want just a scoop or two, you can choose from dozens of other flavors, including the new Sea Salt Caramel ice cream or the ice cream/sorbet combo of Strawberry Lemonade.

Obviously, the rest of the Doc Burnstein’s menu is available as well, such as sundaes, sundae combos, sodas, shakes, splits, malts, Sprecher’s root beer floats, frozen bananas, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars — well, you get the idea.

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