Restaurant News & Reviews

Arroyo Grande’s Old Village Grill serves blissful burgers

The pastrami cheeseburger is one of 15 burger options at Old Village Grill in Arroyo Grande.
The pastrami cheeseburger is one of 15 burger options at Old Village Grill in Arroyo Grande. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Even longtime patrons may be surprised to learn that Old Village Grill in Arroyo Grande has been open since 1994.

Located on East Branch Street in the Village of Arroyo Grande, the restaurant sits quietly in a building fronted by white stucco arches. Several outside tables are the go-to spots when weather permits, but there’s also seating inside.

The distinctive interior of the casual grill is shaped by wooden walls that curve up to the ceiling. Depending on what generation you’re from, the shape brings to mind either the overturned hull of a ship or an upside-down skateboard park.

Place your order up at the counter with the friendly, efficient staff. (Even when it’s busy, you won’t wait long.) Then grab at seat at one of the regular four-person tables, long family-style setups or a window seat overlooking the street. The counter staff will call your number when the order is ready.

You’ll find all manner of customers sitting next to each at Old Village Grill, and owner Kevin Delaney noted that many have been coming since day one.

“We opened on a shoestring budget, and started getting regulars,” Delaney said. “We’ve got construction workers, office workers, local families and also tourists who tell us they make it a point to stop ever time they’re driving through.” he observed.

Delaney’s industry experience includes managing a steakhouse in the Los Angeles Area, and working as a local sales representative for a food service company. While in that sales position, he learned that the East Branch Street space (then a Mexican restaurant) was available, and he took advantage of the opportunity to open Old Village Grill.

In developing the grill’s concept, “I took different ideas from places I’d been, what I liked to eat and what would work here,” Delaney said. He noted that the Village’s restaurant scene has evolved “so that no one really competes head-to-head with each other (with their menus), which is really nice for everyone.”

Though the Old Village Grill’s menu has grown over the years due to customer demand, Delaney developed the grill around the family-friendly list of options that’s still at its core —classic burgers, fries, onion rings and hand-scooped shakes.

The one-third pound, charbroiled burgers are hand-formed with “secret spices” from fresh, never-frozen meat and served on brioche buns delivered daily from Edna’s Bakery in San Luis Obispo. The 15 available options range from a basic burger or cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato and pickles to a Hawaiian with bacon and pineapple and a CABC with cheddar cheese, avocado, bacon and chipotle sauce.

» Related: Our definitive guide to the best burgers in San Luis Obispo County

Burgers can be wrapped in lettuce instead of served on a bun, as can the veggie burger, the turkey cheeseburger and any of the 17 sandwiches. The latter include a spicy Baja chicken sandwich, a pastrami melt and an Ortega chili turkey melt.

Several salads are available as well, such as a chicken Caesar with bacon and tomatoes or a steak salad with blue cheese and dried cranberries. Also, be sure to check out the pair of specials on the “Daily Creations” board; fish ’n’ chips is available on Wednesdays and Fridays.

That fish hasn’t spent several weeks languishing around here in frozen limbo, by the way, nor have any other ingredients.

“There isn’t a huge walk-in freezer back there,” Delaney said. In fact, storage space is limited overall, so his dedicated kitchen staff “has to prep everything every day and make everything to order,” he explained.

Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. It just might be the mother of Old Village Grill’s longevity.

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at ktbudge@sbcglobal.net

Which now-defunct burger joints do longtime San Luis Obispo residents miss the most? Here's a look at 4 of the most-loved, long-gone hamburger restaurants in the city of SLO. Is your favorite former burger joint one of them?

Old Village Grill

101 E. Branch St., Arroyo Grande in the Village of Arroyo Grande

805-489-4915 or www.oldvillagegrill.net

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday through Saturday

The scene: A casual, family-friendly spot that’s popular with locals and tourists

The cuisine: Classic burgers, fries, onion rings and shakes, plus sandwiches, wraps and salads; bottled beer and wine available.

Expect to spend: Almost all entrée items $8 and under, add $4 for a combo with half a basket of fries and regular-sized drink.

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