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Santa Maria restaurants

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We're planning a family get together of nine people next month. We're looking for a nice place to have dinner in Santa Maria. A couple of the people are not too adventurous. A "California" restaurant that offers a variety of choices would be good. Italian would be fine. I've heard that Santa Maria is known for barbecue, which also would be OK if the restaurant is nice. Be good if we could find an upscale restaurant but it doesn't have to be fancy. Am I looking for too much in Santa Maria?

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  1. The best restaurant would be Chef Ricks in Orcutt. Small place, pricey but the menu has plenty for everyone.
    If you're looking for a BBQ place I would try the Hitching Post in Casmalia (well renowned) not cheap but goof food (steaks/chicken/Fish). Casmalia is right next to S.M.

    In Santa Maria,there's a lot of chain restaurants (Marie Callenders,Dennys, etc.) if no one is feeling adventurous. Many Mexican restaurants also, some good, some just OK.

    Outside of that its slim pickings...

    1 Reply
    1. re: kaki3152

      If you decide on the Hitching Post in Casmalia be sure to call ahead for hours first. If you're looking for a nice place to eat in a nice area then keep driving. This area is a dump-literally. The town continually has hazard waste and contamination issues. SM has many other nearby restaurants located in the Five Cities area. Try Pismo Beach --not a far drive at all.

    2. "Am I looking for too much in Santa Maria?"

      Yes, probably.
      The recco for Chef Rick's is probably your best bet- the non adventurous in your group could surely find a chicken or salad dish to suit their needs. And it is a "nice" restaurant.

      For Santa Maria bbq you could go to the already mentioned Hitching Post, though it's not in Santa Maria proper. Neither are the next two, but they're close enough: Jocko's, in Nipomo, or Far Western Tavern, in Guadalupe.
      Be forewarned that none of the last three are upscale, by any stretch of the imagination - think Elk's Lodge circa 1965 and you'll know what you're in for. But the steaks are really good.

      There's also a place in Orcutt called the Wine Cottage Bistro, that would probably fit your requirements of "upscale," "nice," and "California," though I haven't eaten there personally.
      The chef there now was formerly at the Wine Cask Los Olivos - it might be worth a try.

      1. this place has been on my chowdar for a couple of years, yet I haven't managed to make it in!

        3rd Coast Cafe
        Town Center Mall West
        Santa Maria, Ca


        It caught my eye again, as a local newspaper wine column item. A winemaker's dinner is coming up this month featuring McKeon-Phillips winery.


        1. The only choice in the Santa Maria area would be the Wine Cottage Bistro in Old Orcutt. Not only is it charming but the food and service is the best in the area. If you are looking for something special it is the place to go.

          1. We just discovered 3rd Coast Cafe, which now shares the top of our list with Chef Rick's. Our entrees were the chateaubriand and the crab cakes. Having swapped generous samples of each others' entrees, we found them both to be superb in taste and quality, and aesthetically pleasing in presentation. A tad pricey, but who cares. The service was excellent -- attentive, but not overbearing.

            1. You can never go wrong with Chef Rick, but we were feeling adventurous last night and, after discovering that Tuesday's offerings at Wine Cottage Bistro included a wine makers tasting menu, we headed for Old Town Orcutt. (check their website for upcoming events).

              LadyPB ordered the cream of mushroom soup and the duck breast with juniper berry and pomegranite sauce in a jus reduction (???, sorry, neglected to take notes since I was focussed on my prix fixe). The duck was an excellent rendition (we shared dishes) and the mushroom soup quite good.

              The dinner featuring the wines of Ranch Sisquoc was excellent:

              1st - Manchego cheese, serrano ham, winter melon salad of baby red gems with a balsamic dressing, paired with the 2005 Merlot. Great salad, the saltiness of the ham offset sweet melon and acidity of the balsamic. I initially was skeptical about the pairing with the Merlot, but it was soft and mellow with fruit tones that went quite well.

              2nd - Grilled glat iron steak over parsnip puree with a cabernet demi glace. topped with a thick silver dollar size round of garlic herb butter, nice fresh carrots and green beans on the side. Paired with the 05 Syrah. Wonderful flavor in the steak, nice even rare throughout, thought the Syrah was a perfect match.

              Dessert - Flourless chocolate cake s'mores, with house vanilla ice cream, Chantilly cream, on top of a chocolate dipped home made graham cracker with a semi melted marshmallow on top. Paired with the 05 Cabernet Sauvignon. It was preordained that my lovely wife would be responsible for the lion's share of this course so I requested the wine pairing prior to finishing the steak to compare with the Syrah, it was fine, but the Syrah was better. The little cab I had left did a super job of measuring up to the chocorama.

              Now I just have to make it to 3rd Coast in Santa Maria, it appears there are three very hound worthy spots in the area.