It’s not fancy frills and fusion food that keep people coming back to Country Touch in Atascadero. It’s the hearty from-scratch fare and the feeling of family.
Seating is available in the cozy main dining area or out on the bright, covered patio, but be prepared for a wait on Sundays, which are always busy. This is the go-to place for many locals, and has been for many years.
“We have a really loyal, longtime clientele, and a lot of their kids are now bringing in their kids,” said owner Michelle Tucker, who bought Country Touch in 1991.
That’s a good long stretch for any family-owned business, let alone a restaurant.
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Many of her staff, and even some of their children, have been with her for many years as well — also an accomplishment in the industry.
The Country Touch menu hasn’t changed much over the years, and there’s really no reason for it to. It’s all straightforward comfort food, and you definitely won’t leave hungry.
The sprawling menu covers all the bases for breakfast and lunch, and you can order almost anything at any time of day — except french fries and onion rings, which aren’t available until the fryer gets fired up at 10 a.m.
Breakfast options range from ham and eggs to a ham-and-cheese omelette, from a breakfast burrito to chicken-fried steak, from country potatoes sautéed with sausage and bell pepper to Southern-style sausage patties and eggs served with biscuits and gravy.
If you have a sweet tooth, go for French toast filled with cream cheese and strawberries, crepes stuffed with apple or Belgian waffles topped with boysenberries and whipped cream.
The lunch choices are equally extensive. The usual suspects include cheeseburgers and patty melts, chef salads, egg salad sandwiches, grilled pork chops and top sirloin steaks. You can also get breaded fish and chips, a roast beef croissant sandwich or a bowl of housemade chili topped with avocado, cheese and sour cream.
Most items are made from scratch in the Country Touch kitchen, including the very popular loaves of whole wheat bread and raisin bread. The daily soups are housemade, as are the tortilla chips, coffee cakes, pies and pretty much all things potato — from the potato salad to the mashed potatoes to the hand-cut home fries.
Tucker adamantly avoids pre-cut and canned ingredients whenever possible, even though she acknowledges it would make things easier.
She would know. When she bought Country Touch, she was a single mom with young kids.
“I was the opening cook for the first 10 years and was in here every morning at 4:30 (a.m.) baking bread,” Tucker recalled.
“I’ve never expected any of my employees to do anything I wouldn’t … or haven’t.”
These days, Tucker is able to step back a bit from the daily operations of the restaurant, thanks in large part to many of those employees. She is quick to point out that “I’m not the Country Touch. I’ve been lucky to surround myself with great employees and customers. That’s what makes all this, and it’s hard to find local places like this.”
8135 El Camino Real, Atascadero | 461-9176 | countrytouchcafe.com
Hours: 6 a.m.-2 p.m. daily.
The scene: A down-to-earth, neighborhood spot that’s a local favorite.
The cuisine: Hearty, from-scratch comfort food for breakfast and lunch.
Expect to spend: Most items easily under $10. Some lunch specials cost a bit more but come with soup or salad, potatoes, a vegetable and a roll.