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Apr 4, 2007 11:42 AM

Paso Robles - Villa Creek, Vinoteca, other recs?

We are headed up to Paso Robles this weekend and looking for a fun dinner on Friday night. We want to go somewhere where we can order a bunch of appetizers and drink some good wine without being rushed. Has anyone eaten at the bar at Villa Creek, I noticed they have a nice bar menu with good appetizers. Sunset Magazine also recommended Vinoteca Wine Bar but I found nothing posted here about it, anyone been?

Or can you recommend any other good, nice restaurants were we can relax and enjoy good appetizers with good wine?

Also, here are some wineries we want to hit, any other recs? Is Tablas Creek a good place to picnic for lunch?

Linne Calodo
Tablas Creek
Wild Coyote

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Though there are several good restaurants now in Paso, Villa Creek still gets my vote as best. Chris Cherry is a great host, the food is excellent, and the atmosphere is warm, inviting, and wine friendly. The bar is good sized, and has several tables as well...a good bar to hang and eat some apps. Chris is also making wine now, and it's worth ordering.

    To the list of wineries, I'd add Wild Horse in Templeton, and Garretson Wine Co. in Paso. You'd have to call Garretson as I don't think they have a tasting room yet, but they're always ready to welcome guests if they're around. Great Syrah and other Rhone varietals there, plus they share space with Saxum, one of my favorite (though expensive) Cal Syrahs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rotie77

      Garretson had a tasting room when I visited in November, the same tasting room they've had for a couple of years. Saxum wasn't there when I visited. They're next door to the Hug tasting room.
      Did Garretson move recently?
      Also, Paris is supposedly relocating and I guess they haven't reopened yet.

    2. Ditto on Villa Creek in Paso (and by all means, try some of Cris Cherry's wine - wonderful!). If you are willing to consider others "in the area", I'd recommend Koberl At Blue in San Luis Obispo (owner/chef is Eric Koberl whose resume includes exec chef for Trump in Atlantic City). They have great live music too. Also, if you are heading over the coast - I'd recommend Black Cat Bistro - sit up at the wine bar & have great apps and wine. If you're into something with great seafood but not as upscale, try The Sea Chest in Cambria. Take a seat at the Oyster Bar and be entertained all evening. Caution - they don't take reservations, open at 5:30pm to a line that fills the first seating on the weekends. However, they have a waiting area with crib boards, cards and checkers (plus a limited but decent wine list of local producers - start with a bottle of Alban Viognier).

      For wine stops - my area favorites are Linne Calodo and Tablas Creek - if you are out towards Tablas Creek, you should give Halter Ranch a try too. I'd recommend Denner Vineyards if they had any reds for tasting, but they are sold out of their Syrah and Ditchdigger (will probably have the new bottlings available in May). Some fun surprises might be to try Four Vines which has a tasting room right next to Cider Creek on HWY 46W and Vineyard. Zin Alley is right there too and only produces one wine - but it is a blockbuster. Also, could be by appointment only, but Brian Benson Cellars (next to Dark Star on HWY 46W) would be a kick - Brian Benson (son of Norm Benson, Dark Star) is a one man band, producing some reallllly great wine. If you go out to HWY 46E to try Garretson's tasting room (which is actually in a warehouse facing HYW 46E), suggest you also try Hug Cellars.

      As long as you'll be running along Vineyard - do yourself a treat and stop at the Pasolivo Olive orchard to do some olive oil tasting (they are on Vineyard about half way between Peachy Canyon Road and Adeladia Road).

      4 Replies
      1. re: cambriahound

        Wow...thank you so much for all the great info. How long does it take to go from Paso to Cambria? We thought it would be to long of a drive for dinner, is that not the case? Thanks!

        1. re: CarlieInLA

          From HWY 101 and the HWY46W exit to Cambria is 24 miles. Basically it is a 20-30 minute run (depending on your driving) and does go over a 1,700 ft elevation to get down to sea level. Would recommend light for the views from the top looking over the coast and down to Morro Bay. This a two lane run (but the road is excellent) so if you decide to really enjoy your wine, etc., consider your timing on the return drive. Drive in the dark doesn't bother me but it all depends on your own preferences/comfort level. (If you want a really reasonable (and nice) place to stay over in Cambria, would recommend the Bluebird Inn on Main Street).

          1. re: cambriahound

            Cambriahound, I concur about the drive, and even though I consider Cambria my second home, I still hate that drive after dark...wouldn't do it on a bet! As far as places to stay, if you can catch a deal (it happens if you're vigilant) I love the Pelican especially for the views and the breakfast buffet..what say you? Also if you want a respite from the wine, the apple cider place is really nice and has great apple cider.

            1. re: foodchick45

              Thanks! We are actually already staying at the Adelaide inn, but maybe we will skip over to Cambria on our second day for lunch or something of that sort. I definately don't want to do a 30 minute drive at night after dinner/wine. I guess Villa Creek will be our spot for dinner. No one knows about Vinoteca?

              Also is Tabla a good place to picnic? Thanks :-)

      2. You don't say which direction you're traveling, but just @ 4 mi east of Hwy 101 on 46 is Airport Rd, and @ 1.5 - 2 mi north takes you to Matthew's at the Airport, some nice apps, entrees and pretty good local wine selections. Understand he's opened a place in PR but haven't been able to get there yet. One of our old favorites was Paris (pre and post quake), last time was for an excellent lunch but have always wanted to try their dinners. Seem to recall a second post quake relocation, local hounds should be able to clarify things.

        Lastly, you mention driving in on Friday, personally I wouldn't want to get back in the car and make the 25-30 min trip to Cambria (would probably opt for Hoppe's in Cayucos) for dinner. If this were 10 years ago or more I'd say sure, but PR has come a long way in both cuisine and magic of the grape. Save the trip over the hill on 46W for lunch the next day, or even Sunday if you're heading south on 101 to get home, just take scenic Hwy 1 down through Cayucos and Morro Bay on the way back. Happy chowing, and be sure and report back.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PolarBear

          We are coming from LA and plan to hit mostly the west side wineries on Friday, if time allows maybe Eberle on the east side. We want to stay close to our hotel for dinner, so I am thinking that Cambria on Saturday is probably better on our way home down the 1. Thanks for the ideas, I tried to find Paris but cannot find any info on it, and one website says its closed so don't know if that is an option. I also cannot find a menu for Bistro Laurent so I wasn't sure if the appetizer idea would work there.

          1. re: CarlieInLA

            Hi, Carlie,
            We went to Vinoteca in October; it definitely is a 'small plates' appetizer kind of place. I would say it's a good place to recharge, but I wouldn't make a real meal out of it. It was decent, but not a homerun. I'd say stick with Villa Creek.

            We are going to Paso for 5 days this Monday, & plan to go to Koberl at Blue. Chef Koberl catered the Eberle black tie dinner in December (as a last minute replacement), and the dinner was outstanding. We also plan to try Artisan this trip.

            Linne Calodo has amazing wine. I highly recommend Silver Horse (quickest route is to take Airport Rd. north from the 46, & follow the signs, not the route on the wine map), as well as Turley, and Lone Madrone. If you like sparkling wine (I do), & you take the coast route, be sure to stop at Laetitia outside Arroyo Grande, & do the sparkling tasting.

            We have eaten at Bistro Laurent & Paris (really loved both), but as far as I know, Paris has been closed since the summer. I concur in recommending you taste the olive oil at Pasolivo (or at least buy some if you see it for sale at the wineries). If you do the "far out" wineries, Justin makes a fantastic Isoceles, & "Justification." I would not recommend their restaurant, though.

            Have a great time!

            1. re: LANative

              Laeticia's latest reserve Pinot is also worth a taste.