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Mar 29, 2008 11:31 AM

Paso Robles - Good food at a moderate price?

I'm headed to Paso Robles next week with a group of my girlfriends. There are 7 of us total, and we're looking for a moderately priced "local" restaurant with good food. We'd rather not spend more than $20 on entrees, we're doing some serious wine tasting the next day and want to keep our first meal a bit on the cheap.

We're open to almost anything, but would like a fun, informal atmosphere where we can eat some good food and catch up.


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  1. Good Ol' Burgers is sort of a Paso Robles institution, I guess.
    Pretty good burgers.
    It's in a small strip mall near the Black Oak Motel just west of Highway 101, near where California 46 ends when it meets up with 101.

    1. Bubba's Big Bad BBQ is pretty good, it's on the west side of 101 at HWY 46 East.

      1. It might be worth the drive to head to Cambria for Robin's and a stroll around town. I also like Hoppe's in Cayucos, which is on the upper end of your price range, but a great restaurant.

        I don't know if you have specific wineries in mind for tasting, but a quick search of the CA board will yield lots of good recommendations.

        1. There are several in that price range downtown. park anywhere around city park and you can walk to Berry Hill Bistro- sit down, comfort food, burgers, steamed clams, etc. full bar, Odyssey- counter service, homemade soups, unique sandwiches, beer and wine, Crooked Kilt- sit down, shepherd's pie, burgers, seared ahi spring rolls, full bar, dancing after 9 live music or d.j., My current fave: the patio upstairs at Downtown Brew, great burgers, appetizers, salads, full bar + special micro brews done by Firestone Brewery. Noise level of the aforementioned from quietest to loudest: Odyssey, Berryhill, Kilt (before 9 pm), Downtown (patio, inside can can much louder).

          4 Replies
          1. re: paso_gurl_100

            Hey PG, first mention I've seen of Berry Hill Bistro, Odyssey, and Crooked Kilt (have a friend that wears one, won't go there, metaphorically that is....) have you been holding out on your fellow hounds ; >P

            Could you elaborate a little more on BHB and CK? The burgers and steamed clams at the former got my attention as did the shepherd's pie (and burgers) and the rather strange offering of ahi spring rolls at CK. Needless to say, I'm intrigued. I think I remember Odyssey (NE corner of the square?), it ended up being our default choice on a couple of occasions (several years back) when most of the venues there were closed during the lunch hour. TIA

            1. re: PolarBear

              Hi PB, I'm surprised BHB and CK haven't been mentioned more. CK has been several different establishments- years ago it was a "cop bar" called Busi's. The next memorable tenant was Matthew Riley's (of Matthew's restaurant) Busi's on the Park. Then, a prominent local family bought it and kept the Busi's name, but turned it into a spaghetti house. That didn't end up being very popular with locals. Finally, the guys that own Schooner's in Cayucos bought it and opened a "Irish-Scottish inspired" pub. I am sure you know the place I am talking about. Anyway, they have kept the original 19th century bar, serve about 8-10 brews on tap, plus a full bar. The food is pretty darn good. The calamari appetizer is awesome, you can get great oysters too- on the half or Rockefeller. I recommend the latter with no cheese. For some reason they like to put cheese on everything. The shepherd's pie is really shepherd's pie, meaning made with lamb, not beef (which would be cottage pie). Although they do the same thing, load it up with cheese. So, again, try the SP with no cheese unless you're into that. Now, the mac and cheese is fine just as it is and enough to feed an army! The ahi spring rolls are an appetizer, rare ahi and a ginger relish wrapped in an eggroll and fried, served with the sweet chile dipping sauce you get in Viet Namese restaurants, very good. After 9, the place gets wild! During the week, they have Celtic or some other acoustic music and on the weekends, it's a hoot.

              Berryhill is a locally owned, much smaller restaurant right on the park, next door to CK. It's a pretty small place but they manage to have a full bar and Jody makes KILLER margaritas. I prefer to sit on the patio (very small) if the weather is nice. In the summer, get there early on Friday and you can watch the live music in the park. They have a great wine list featuring local wines, of course. You MUST also try the frites- homemade french fries, such a change of pace from the usual frozen crap everyone wants to serve these days. And she makes her own dipping sauces, like aioli and chipotle ketchup. On Tuesday nights forever, she has offered a pot of steamed clams with bread for like $10 bucks. On the regular menu, any of the fish dishes are good, salads are great, I have had burgers and sandwiches, my fave being of course, the seared ahi. Although she also has one with brie in it that is really good. Neither of these places would be considered upscale but they are not chains either. Jody, the owner of BHB is there day and night and I think that says alot about the place, she really puts her heart into it. Both places serve lunch, btw. Maybe we should do a Paso lunch chowdown!

              1. re: PolarBear

                Odessey Cafe is on Pine St (east side of the park) one-half block north of the park. A door or two down from Bistro Laurent. They serve cold salads, soups and cold and hot sandwiches. You order at the counter and the food is brought to your table.

                It's been a while for me, so can't comment on the current menu items, but the quality was good (not excellent) and the pricing good to fair (no servers). The breads used for sandwiches were from a local artisan bakery, and the sandwich fillings ample and salads fresh.

                Though I can't put my finger on why, I always wanted to like Odessey more than I actually have. Maybe it was the flavors which I wanted to be more pronounced. Dunno. It was always a handy working-day, on-the-road, can't-dawdle sort of lunch. Place was always full at lunch.

                1. re: toodie jane

                  I visit Odyssey less and less since all the competition has come to town, to be perfectly honest. But I LOVE their pasta pesto salad. It's a side dish, not an entree. When they first opened they had a wonderful grilled vegetable panini that came with your choice of one side, it was my very favorite, but they took the panini maker out because one of the employees "almost burned the place down". The owners were a married couple, I believe they are now divorced, (but still business partners) and they were the former managers of the tasting room at Castoro. I know what you mean about 'wanting to like' the place, especially with all the opitions we have now, but whenever we have out -of-f town guests, we like to take them there for a Saturday lunch because even if it gets crowded, it stays quiet somehow. For the past 2-3 years they have started serving special dinners on Friday and Saturday nights such as osso bucco with polenta, flat iron steak with garlic mash, etc, always under $20 bucks. For the OP I thought Odyessy might meet their needs because the price is right and the ambience makes it a good place to sit down and catch up.

            2. Try Level 4 restaurant & lounge you can get great food and enjoy live music after dinner. I think thay have band Thur. thru Sat. The food is to die for you will probably pay a little more than $20 for entrees but its well worth the extra few bucks. The nightlife after dinner is were you will have a blast. They play Jazz or Blues with a great dance floor.