Restaurant News & Reviews

Where to watch football while you eat in SLO County

The Philly cheesesteak sandwich at The Graduate in San Luis Obispo.
The Philly cheesesteak sandwich at The Graduate in San Luis Obispo.

Yes, it’s football season, the time of year for pigskins, picks and playoffs. Here’s a look a three local spots where fans can catch all the matchups while nibbling on game-day fare and sipping some suds.

The Graduate

990 Industrial Way, San Luis Obispo | 541-0969 |

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., opens at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday game days, kitchen closes at 8 p.m.

Expect to spend: Almost all menu items easily under $10, several daily specials also available.

On most nights, The Graduate is a lively dance club showcasing Latin rhythms, “Big Chill” tunes or country music — complete with free line-dance lessons. However, on any given Sunday during football season, “The Grad” becomes a perfect spot to watch the gridiron action.

In addition to the nine flat-screen TVs throughout the expansive interior, five big screens are dropped down on game day. (The Grad also shows UFC bouts.) This is definitely a place to sport your team colors and jerseys, then settle into whatever area is showing your favorite matchups.

With a full bar and 19 drafts such as Stone IPA, Guinness and “PBR” (Pabst Blue Ribbon), The Graduate is already known as a place for potent potables.

In fact, “most people just know us as a nightclub,” said general manager Mark “Blue” Quesnel. “They don’t even know that we have food.”

Quesnel admitted that the most popular menu items are decidedly red meat-centric, such as the half-pound Grad Burgers and the sirloin steak sandwich.

However, the chicken strips and cheese sauce are a beloved local favorite, and on Sunday football mornings you can also order up a breakfast sandwich with ham, eggs, cheese and hash browns.

Pierside Restaurant

175 Pomeroy, Ste. 1, Pismo Beach | 773-4411 |

Hours: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday; kitchen closes at 10 p.m.

Expect to spend: Most game day items about $10, dinners $12 to $19.

For a game with a view, check out the family-friendly Pierside Restaurant.

This aptly named establishment is perched near the foot of the pier in Pismo Beach and offers fans several seating options. Most of the 16 televisions are concentrated in the bar, but several are also scattered throughout the downstairs and upstairs dining areas. (There’s also a dog-friendly patio overlooking the beach and ocean.)

Though Pierside has quietly become a favorite spot to watch Major League Baseball and college and professional football, it wasn’t always thus. When co-owners Troy Alvarez and Paul Blanco took over the restaurant in April 2009, “there was one 20-inch TV in here,” said Alvarez. “We realized that making it sports-oriented was an opportunity for us.”

The two also called an audible on the predominantly fried seafood menu. Though still known for fish and chips, fried calamari and salmon dinners, “we added some good, fun American bar food like wings, nachos and half-pound burgers,” Alvarez said.

Pierside also has a full bar (with spicy Bloody Marys worthy of such a seaside location) and nine draft taps.

West End Bar and Grill

774 Main Street in the West Village, Cambria | 927-5521 |

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., open at 10 a.m. on Sunday game days

Expect to spend: Almost all appetizer and entrée items about $10.

On the North Coast, the best bet for gridiron viewing is the West End Bar and Grill in Cambria. Though there are only four televisions in this cozy neighborhood restaurant, it’s about the only place in the area that carries the full football broadcast package.

West End’s menu covers all the usual game-day fare such as burgers, chili and buffalo chicken bites, plus other options like clam chowder, fish and chips and the West End Beef Dip.

The full bar also sports 16 taps with drafts that include Kona Longboard Lager, Murphy’s Irish Stout and West End IPA.

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