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Central Coast 'Hounds: How about this plan?

geekyfoodie Mar 4, 2008 03:02 PM

Hello, 'Hounds from the Central Coast! I'll be spending a long weekend with two very dear friends and have put together a chow-based itinerary. Could y'all let me know what you think? Please feel free to suggest changes or additions.

We'll be staying at a house in Cayucos from Thursday, 3/13 to Sunday, 3/16. I visit a few times a year, but this is one of the few times that I'm there without Mr. Geeky, my family, or his family. It'll be the three of us on a crazy romp, so we'll have zero obligations.

Here's the plan... I have some questions, which I'll label with asterisks

Thursday 3/13:
Cinnamon buns from Cayucos Chevron (breakfast)
Hoppe's (lunch)
SLO Farmer's Market (dinner)

Friday 3/14:
Carlock's for French-style donuts and other goodies (breakfast... thank you, Toodie Jane!)
Robin's (lunch)
Dinner at home ***Any good fish vendors I should visit?

Saturday 3/15:
Buona Tavola ***Is there a difference between the SLO and Paso locations? I'm thinking of visiting the Paso branch because it's closer to wineries

Dinner- ***I haven't seen a lot of Morro Bay or Los Osos restos in the threads... any thoughts?

Sunday 3/16:
***Sunday Brunch? Any places that aren't too expensive with good mimosas?

Wineries (I'm thinking of staggering our visits over the weekend):
Red Soles
Tablas Creek

Thank you! I will definitely write a post about the trip, so expect a report on your suggestions.

  1. dockhl Apr 6, 2008 07:23 PM

    Sounds like you had a great time. I was disappointed, though. I thought this thread was going to suggest a Central Coast 'Hound meetup. Is that something you guys do? I'd be up for it.....

    1. geekyfoodie Mar 17, 2008 12:57 PM

      It was a fabulous weekend. I decided to start a separate thread with my report, so here it is:


      Thank you again!

      1. geekyfoodie Mar 8, 2008 10:20 AM

        Thanks again to all for your suggestions! I'm really excited about my trip and will definitely report back.

        I just realized that I gave myself away as a wine-tasting newbie (I've been, but not often) by fretting about sobriety. :) I hate spitting, but I'd forgotten that it's usually a part of it. The last time I went tasting in the Central Coast, there wasn't any spitting involved.

        Is the spittoon (for lack of a better word) usually obvious? Everyone I saw just drank the little sips offered.

        2 Replies
        1. re: geekyfoodie
          littlestevie Mar 8, 2008 01:14 PM

          The spit bucket is more for pouring out the rest of the taste, most places give you more than you need. If you don't like the taste dump the rest. a small sip is all you really need. If you drink all the tastes then by the 3rd wineriey it can be a bit of a blur. I did not realize the PRZF was next weekend as well. So my suggestion of trying the wineries down in the edna valley may work for you.

          1. re: littlestevie
            Wineack Mar 17, 2008 03:07 AM

            Get one of those big red plastic cups and spit in it and then dump in the bucket. If you are sensitive about how you look spitting into the big dump bucket you are a little more discreet using the cup. Since the cups are opaque you can't see the spittle like you would with a clear or translucent cup. I am in the wine business, so I am very used to spitting. It is the only way to go when you are tasting a lot of wine.

        2. b
          Bruce in SLO Mar 8, 2008 06:20 AM

          Please keep in mind that the Paso Robles Zinfandel Festival is that weekend and there will be crowds everywhere at the wineries. Also reservations will be a must at all good choices in Paso Robles and Templeton.
          Just a warning.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bruce in SLO
            geekyfoodie Mar 8, 2008 10:11 AM

            Ouch! I totally missed that. I'm keeping Thursday, 3/13 as our heavy tasting day and Saturday 3/15 was really light anyway. We'll keep an eye on Friday 3/14 and see how everything pans out. Thanks for the heads-up!

          2. l
            littlestevie Mar 7, 2008 11:54 AM

            You may also want to watch your driving. You seem to be doing a lot of jumping around. If you are going to Avila you may want to go to wineries in Edna Valley. Talley, C&C, Tanget come quickly to mind. This time of the year the valley is quite pretty. Also if you are tasting up in Paso you may not want to trek down to the coast for lunch, I will humbly suggest McPhee's in Templeton. If you do want to hit Buona Tavola, I like the SLO one much better than the one in Paso. I just love sitting out in the back patio, and the food always seems a touch better to me.

            1 Reply
            1. re: littlestevie
              geekyfoodie Mar 7, 2008 01:46 PM

              Yeah, the driving is definitely a concern, especially when there's wine tasting involved. No worries about taking any dangerous risks, though. We'll make sure we're safe, but I do want to plan the itinerary so we minimize driving. Off-topic note: Google Maps is a wonderful tool in this case... I've been plotting the locations of all the wineries, sights, and restos so I can have a better idea of where we might want to spend each day.

              McPhee's has been mentioned a few times and I was hoping to connect Buona Tavola with the longest stretch of wine tasting. Maybe we'll do Thursday afternoon/evening roaming in SLO and finish up at BT, instead, and do McPhee's or Artisan when we're out in Paso. Paso_gurl also wrote recently about Native Lounge in SLO, which sounds like a place my friends would be into.


            2. Enorah Mar 6, 2008 11:30 AM

              Hey Geeky have a great trip!

              I loved Robin's when we ate there last year (we had lunch) and I thought the Avila Beach farmer's market was really good for such a tiny beach town. Good organic vendors there.

              The one place I did not love, that many people seem to, is Taco Temple. The portions are huge so the prices are high. I just felt that was wasteful, imho.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Enorah
                geekyfoodie Mar 6, 2008 11:41 AM

                Thanks, Enorah! (P.S. Did you see my note about the vanilla beans at Costco?)

                Yes, I totally felt the same way about Taco Temple. Maybe I missed something or ordered the wrong dish, but Mr. Geeky and I were a little confused about why it's so well-regarded. I haven't tried the desserts, though, so maybe that's worth a return.

                We'll probably pop by Avila Beach to see if the market might have started up early, but if not, then it's something for a future visit. I'll probably be back some time during the summer.

              2. toodie jane Mar 6, 2008 08:44 AM

                Last time (2 months ago?) I stopped to get a treat at the Cayucos Chevron station, they had closed down. Don't know the current status. That was a hidden gem!

                Thursday is FM day at Spencer's in MB, pretty good sized, if you want to avoid the SLO FM zoo. (or maybe not!)

                Lotus Thai takeout in Los Osos (just around the corner from Carlock's on 9th st) is pretty good.

                Bayside Cafe in Morro Bay at the public marina in the state park is a fun place for lunch or weeknd dinner. Good seafood, burgers, salads and homemade desserts. Great location for an aftermeal stroll.

                Morro Bay Mud Fudge has a new location (and owner) just off Main St downtown. Between the hotdog place and the jewlery store. Fancy creamy fudge in some amazing flavors, just like the chichi Voges chocolate.

                Thai Boat in Morro Bay just next to Harbor Hut does respectable Thai. Very casual, tiny-- only 3 small tables.

                An overlooked olive oil spot is Tiber Canyon, just inland off Price canyon Rd from Pismo Beach. You can call for a drop-in app't. Nice folks doing a late-harvest oil.

                Morro Bay Mud Fudge
                Morro Bay CA, Morro Bay, CA

                2 Replies
                1. re: toodie jane
                  geekyfoodie Mar 6, 2008 11:50 AM

                  Mmmm... fudge. Between that and the donuts, this won't be a slimming vacation. You seem to know what I like, TJ!

                  I'll see what the friends want to do in terms of Farmer's Markets, thanks for the tip on Spencer's! Anything close to the house is worth exploring, especially since I have no idea how far they'll want to venture. On a side note, I've plotted all of these suggestions on a Google map, so I have it on hand and we can gauge how far we have to travel.

                  I'll definitely report back on the Chevron station. Hopefully it's a temporary closure! It's not a trip to the Central Coast without those cinnamon buns!

                  Bayside Cafe is good... one of Mr. Geeky's mom's favorites. We're there pretty often and it's in such a lovely location. I'm glad the Thai food up there is good. We've tried a couple of Chinese places and, well, they're kind of bad.

                  1. re: geekyfoodie
                    glazebrookgirl Mar 7, 2008 05:40 PM

                    I look forward to seeing your report regarding the cinnamon rolls, as we will be heading to the area right after you and I'm interested to know if they are still there. Thanks!

                2. p
                  PattyOh Mar 5, 2008 07:07 PM

                  For dinner in Morro Bay, my favorite place is Shawn's On Main. This is very tucked away and easy to miss, but we've never been let down. Shawn has a series of ever changing small and big plates and a very reasonably priced 4 course tasting menu ($35 without wine, or $50 with wine pairing) based on whatever is fresh and in season.
                  See http://shawnsonmain.com

                  Note for Carlock's bakery that the French donuts are only on Thursdays. On Fridays they have a fantastic chocolate and almond croissant - that is a must.

                  If you happen to be in the Los Osos/Baywood Park area for a very casual lunch, Noi's Little Thai Takeout is worth the trip. Very small with a few tables in and out, the wait can sometimes be long since they cook one dish at a time. If the weather is good, we'll get our food to-go and eat on the Baywood Pier just down the street.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: PattyOh
                    geekyfoodie Mar 5, 2008 09:08 PM

                    Thursdays-only? Really? I'll have to call them early next week to double check. This thread (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/479298) says Fridays-only, but I'll report back after I call. I can't miss those donuts!

                    I'm very intrigued by Shawn's On Main. I've combed through many of the central coast threads and have yet to hear about it. $50 is an extremely reasonable price for a tasting menu with wine. Since MB is very close to Cayucos, it'll have to be taken under consideration.

                    Casual is good... my friends haven't had a lot of input, since one is hellaciously busy and the other has been under the weather, so I'm open to lots of options. They might want finer dining or they might want to picnic on the beach. More than anything, they're pretty preoccupied with the idea of drinking lots of good wine on the deck of our digs.

                    1. re: geekyfoodie
                      PattyOh Mar 6, 2008 06:45 AM

                      Sorry for my mistake, I stopped by Carlock's this morning for a raspberry tea biscuit with my coffee and they told me the french donuts are on Fridays only. They used to be available on Thursdays, but sometime ago changed to Fridays - I apparently haven't been paying attention since I usually focus of those chocolate croissants!

                      1. re: PattyOh
                        geekyfoodie Mar 6, 2008 07:36 AM

                        Thanks, PattyOh! I appreciate it! Since we'll be there Friday, we'll also have to have a croissant or two or ten. Carlock's is one of my favorite places up there, but my visits are so sporadic that I haven't had a chance to explore it to the fullest extent.

                  2. p
                    pasoguy Mar 5, 2008 03:50 PM

                    I would consider Halter Ranch. It's on the west side near Justin. Nice wines in a beautiful location. For fresh fish I've always gone to Giovanni's. At least once a month for the last 5 years. Always great fresh wild Salmon. Have a fun time and please report back. I'd like to hear how Buona Tavola Paso was for you. The last time I was there we thought the food was just fair and the service was very poor. That was the 4th or 5th time, I think, that I have eaten there and I had always enjoyed it before.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pasoguy
                      geekyfoodie Mar 5, 2008 04:47 PM

                      Thanks! I'm trying to group the vineyards so we're visiting a clustered few a day. I don't want to be driving around too much. Here's my list for the Adelaida Road/W. Vineyard Dr. area:

                      Tablas Creek
                      Le Cuvier
                      Pasolivo for olive oil tasting

                      We'll have to stop by Halter Ranch if time and sobriety allow. It's right in the thick of the others, so I don't see a reason why we shouldn't.

                      With all of the great feedback I've gotten, it'd be a sin not to report back. :) There will be a wordy one, plus more on my blog.

                    2. geekyfoodie Mar 5, 2008 12:59 PM

                      Thanks paso_gurl and littlestevie! I'll put Le Cuvier, Eberle, and Garretson in for consideration. I have heard lots of good things about Eberle. What I haven't done, yet, is map out all of these wineries to make sure we're not traipsing all over town illogically, so I'm sure we'll hit most, if not all, of these wineries.

                      Paso_gurl, Artisan's brunch is a buffet, right? The website doesn't mention it at all, unless I totally missed it. Their a la carte brunch menu sounds fabulous, so if we decide to do brunch, we'll definitely go there. We might use brunch as a jumping off point for home, since we'll be on the 101 anyway.

                      I've been to Taco Temple and Giovanni's and, unfortunately, I wasn't too impressed by either. They're certainly worth visiting again, though, as I could have been there on bad days. We'll explore Avila Beach's farmer's market for fish and dinner fixings for sure.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: geekyfoodie
                        paso_gurl_100 Mar 5, 2008 01:38 PM

                        Well, it's pretty slim pickin's in Morro Bay other than Windows on the Water or Dorn's which are okay, but nothing spectacular. Although- my FAVORITE place on the coast is the Sea Chest in Cambria. I am an oyster lover though, and I know that's not for everyone. They do have a full array of seafood and the view is awesome. Arrive before they open, bring a chair and bottle of wine and you can watch the sunset while wait. I was at the Cambria Pines Lodge a little over a week ago having a drink in the bar and a local guy there said that the lodge restaurant is the best food in Cambria.

                        BTW, my sister was at Artisan a few weeks ago and she said they no longer have the brunch buffet. That is such a bummer because they had all kinds of fresh seafood, etc. there. I would still recommend them or Panolivo for brunch. Oh, I forgot about McPhee's they have nice brunch buffet, and I remember it being pretty reasonable. It's in Templeton. Good luck with your planning!

                        1. re: paso_gurl_100
                          Jpaso Mar 5, 2008 02:03 PM

                          FYI... McPhee's no longer does a brunch either. I've found the best brunch on the central coast to be Hoppie's.... really really good.

                          1. re: Jpaso
                            geekyfoodie Mar 5, 2008 04:20 PM

                            Both brunch menus look great. Hoppe's is literally down the hill from our digs, so that's another option for brunch. It's probably going to boil down to energy level, cost, distance, and amount of food (Hoppe's is a 3-course brunch with wine... Artisan is a la carte). My friends love brunch like no other, though, and I know they'll want some options.

                          2. re: paso_gurl_100
                            geekyfoodie Mar 5, 2008 04:14 PM

                            Oooh, the Sea Chest does sound fun. One of my friends isn't overly fond of seafood, but the other one and I are. We'll be walking around Cambria and I've been to Robin's many times, so I'll put it out there to them. Views are always good. :)

                        2. l
                          littlestevie Mar 5, 2008 09:24 AM

                          Giovanni's fish market down on front street in morro bay is a good source for fish. I might also suggest some wineries east of the 101. Eberle and Garretson are nice and not uppity at all.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: littlestevie
                            geekyfoodie Mar 5, 2008 04:37 PM

                            I've been organizing winery info, b/c there are too many to choose on the spot. Of the ones on my list, Chumeia, Eberle, and Garretson are east of the 101.

                            Eberle's tasting is complimentary, open daily 10a-5p
                            Garretson has tastings by appointment.
                            Chumeia is open daily 10a-5p and the weekend I'm there (Mar. 14-16), they're having a Zin festival.

                            We might skip Garretson b/c of the appointment aspect. Are there any other wineries east of 101 that you'd recommend, Littlestevie?

                          2. paso_gurl_100 Mar 5, 2008 08:07 AM

                            Friday is a great plan, the Avila fish (and farmer's) market is from 4-8 on the promenade, you can get some yummy fresh ingredients there. Dinner in Morro Bay, I would recommend Taco Temple on N. Main, up by Spencer's market. The menus at Buona Tavola are the same at both locations. You might want to do the Sunday brunch in Paso as well, at Artisan. $25 bucks and it's excellent! Panolivo serves brunch as well with French champagne mimosas, it's across the street from Artisan, but it's not a buffet. All your wineries are excellent choices (i'm not a big fan of Hunt cellars, but the owners are delightful). I would throw in Le Cuvier if you are doing Tablas Creek and Adelaida. Have a great trip!

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: paso_gurl_100
                              geekyfoodie Mar 5, 2008 02:21 PM

                              Where is the Promenade, exactly? This link says the market starts in April...


                              Could you clarify/confirm, PG? Thank you!

                              Edited to add:

                              Did a little more digging... the promenade is at the intersection of Avila Beach Drive and First Street. The dates from that site look confusing, but I've found other dates that seem the indicate that the market is year round.

                              1. re: geekyfoodie
                                paso_gurl_100 Mar 5, 2008 03:35 PM

                                OMG I didn't THINK about that. I'm so sorry. I thought it would start after daylight savings. It used to run Memorial day to labor day, but it has extended over the years. The promenade is that (newish, only about 5 years old, since they reopened Avila) brick walking area in front of the Custom House, behind the Yacht Club.

                                Well, that narrows your options to Giovanni's fish market, Giovanni owns Central Coast Seafood, so most of the fish you buy in a local supermarket comes from there as well. I make special trips out from Paso to get fish Gio's.

                                1. re: paso_gurl_100
                                  geekyfoodie Mar 5, 2008 04:12 PM

                                  Thank you! I really appreciate all of your replies!

                                  While we're talking about Avila Beach, I noticed a mention of Joe Momma's on CH, so we might head out to AB anyway. We're all coffee fiends and would love some coffee from a Clover brewer.

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