HOME > Chowhound > California >


The best restaurants in SLO?

I will be there next Thursday (I know about the BBQ at the farmer's market), what are some of the better restaurants in town?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The Park Restaurant near the train station is consistently great. Big Sky is moderately priced and is kind of a SLO institution with fresh, local ingredients and a small but nice local wine list.

    1. It is unfortunate, but Thursday nights are poor nights to eat at Downtown locations.
      Exceptions would be Calago on Marsh, and possibly in the patio at Buona Tavola.
      Everywhere is crowded and service suffers IMO.

      1. I second Buona Tavola, best restaurant in SLO downtown area.
        1037 Monterey St
        San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
        (805) 545-8000

        I really liked Pete’s Southside Café but not sure if they are still around it’s been a while. The tortilla soup is addictive. Bruce, have any idea of the fate of Pete’s?
        1815 Osos St
        San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
        (805) 549-8133

        I enjoy the Apple Farm for breakfast, potato pancakes and fresh muffins...yum.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SFmiss

          Pete sold Southside many years ago. He's back in Avila Beach where he started, this time on the Harford Pier(at the end of Avila Beach Rd.).

          Great mariscos and beer with patio-only dining on a historic working pier.

          Pete's Pierside CAfe
          Harford Pier
          Avila Beach

          1. re: toodie jane

            A couple of weeks ago we went to the Avila Friday evening farmers market. Various restuarants have booths out there. Pete's Pierside was serving what they called fish tacos. It was pieces of rockfish sauteed in abundant onions and white wine. Layered on a couple of corn tortillas with shredded threads of interesting white cheese, guacalmole, and fresh salsa. For $5 it was an outstanding meal and huge. If it is any indication of how good the restaurant is, I'll be excited to try it.

        2. for a different spin on b'fast, try Bon Temps Creole Cafe on Olive street. Take Santa Rosa from downtown north to just over the freeway. Left on Olive st. Interesting omelettes and egg dishes, biscuits, beans, etc. Chicory in the coffee.

          1. Chow Novo on Palm Street (same owner as Novo on So. Higuera which has been closed for retrofit).

            1. Best of SLO in my Mind is-
              Firestone Grill------>Hambugers/Grill (sports bar)
              1001 Higuera St # A
              San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
              (805) 783-1001
              Mo's BBQ -------> Best restaurant BBQ in Town
              970 Higuera St,
              San Luis Obispo, CA
              (805) 543-8808
              Upper Crust --------> Pizza/ Cali Italian
              11560 Los Osos Valley Rd # 190,
              San Luis Obispo, CA
              (805) 542-0400
              Chilie Peppers-------> Mexican
              2121 Broad St,
              San Luis Obispo, CA
              (805) 541-9154
              Go to this one it is much better than the one on foothill.
              Super Nacho's are great. Ask for the to put in the oven NOT the microwave.
              Gus's Grocery------>Sandwich
              638 Osos St,
              San Luis Obispo, CA
              (805) 543-8684
              Jamba Juice------>Not just any one THE FIRST ONE EVER
              17 Chorro St # C,
              San Luis Obispo, CA
              (805) 549-0637
              Splash Cafe------> Clam Chowder
              1491 Monterey St,
              San Luis Obispo, CA
              (805) 544-7567
              Thai-Riffic---->Thai food (silly name, but it is great!)
              208 Higuera St.,
              San Luis Obispo 93401
              Toshi's Restaurant ---->All you can Eat-Sushi
              1065 Olive St,
              San Luis Obispo, CA
              (805) 546-8857
              Not the best sushi in SLO. But I LOVE all you can eat, and very creative rolls.

              There are some seconds also that I like very much. I will save those for a later time. Check those out and try to tell me I am wrong. I dare you. = )

              8 Replies
              1. re: DAdoff

                Pretty good list of restaurants above. I've eaten at most of those places before and have a few comments to add:

                Firestone Grill - great tri tip sandwiches, my favorite thing to order there.

                For mexican I like Tacos De Mexico. Haven't been there in quite a while but their street tacos were excellent.

                As far as I know Cisco's is owned by the same people as Gus' Grocery and the menu is more or less the same. Cisco's has better ambience though due to its location right by the creek. My favorite there is the chefs salad.

                I have to say that I never really cared that much for the chowder at Splash Cafe. IMO, it's too starchy and thick and doesn't have a lot of flavor. Maybe that's how some people like it, but I prefer my clam chowder to be thinner.

                My favorite Japanese restaurant in SLO is Sakura, although it is rather westernized but I wouldn't expect to find any authentic Japanese food on the central coast. Their Sukiyaki is pretty good.

                1. re: mliew

                  Sakura is now longer in operation.
                  Try Yanagi on Marsh near Johnson.

                  1. re: Bruce in SLO

                    I agree with this one. But in the interest of chow full disclosure I guess I'll *have to try* Tsurugi the next time I'm there.

                  2. re: mliew

                    The best Sushi in SLO has to be Tsurugi, in the Creamery. It is really busy, and it is pretty americanized, but reasonably priced, and high quality. If you put yourself in the hands of the chefs, and let them know that you like the good stuff, they can bring it; have had amazing Uni, Matzutaki mushroom sushi, rare seared kobe beef, fresh Channel Islands red rock crab sushi... Uni especially has potential for greatness on the Central Coast, as much of the urchin which ultimately goes to Japan and to the top places in the country is harvested just off the coast from here, in the Channel Islands area. Unfortunately, sushi in SLO seems to be regarded as an informal cuisine, and the restaurants seem to have adapted away from the traditional to appease the demographic here, rather than celebrating fish for what it can be unadorned. You'll see a lot of 'sexy rolls' and 'specal sauces' at a lot of places here.

                    Tsurugi Japanese Restaurant
                    570 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

                    1. re: NRC

                      have you tried Atari Ya in Santa Maria?

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        Not yet, can you post an address, and any comments you have about it? I don't get to Santa Maria too often, but it is good to know of some extra special places!

                        1. re: NRC

                          sorry I missed your post--here is a link: http://atari-ya.net/

                          Yes, AY has rolls with the ubiquitous sauces, because that's what non-Japanese are used to in sushi bars. But the fish is always very fresh, you can get a wide array of nigiri sushi, and chef Yuki-san is always ready to help with your selections. Host/owner Keiko Hongo is very attentive and her staff have all been with her for many many years. Local area Japanese families have made Atari Ya a family tradition. We've been eating there weekly for about 15 years, and see the same families returning, even now there are several Japanese resturants to choose from. That says a lot to me.

                          From 101, take the Stowell exit and proceed west to Broadway. Turn left (south) and proceed 2 blocks to Battles. Turn right, and enter the 2nd driveway, proceeding down the center row of parking till you see Atari Ya on your left.

                          Though older, the Stowell center is home to many other ethnic markets and shops worth visiting for supplies. Asia Market is right next door to Atari Ya, and a Mexican ice cream shop is across the way. There is also a Filipino market and a Mexican meat market and deli, plus several dry goods stores.

                  3. re: DAdoff


                    The best chowder IMO is by the Jetty. Splash is good but The Jetty makes Splash taste generic in comparison. Used to be in Avila but didn't re-open. They still are in Santa Maria and Lompoc though.

                    Also - for nachos, Cabo San Luis is pretty darn good!

                  4. I'm just a visitor but I have had very good dinners at both Park and Koberl at Blue

                    1. dinner at Park tonight; very good crab cakes; my daughter ordered their Ahi entree and it may well have been the best cooked Ahi I've ever tasted. The seared crust was amazing and the cooked texture of the fish was, without doubt, the best I've had. Bruno Paillard by the glass to start was nice to see and drink, CORE rhone blanc was very good.