Jocko's (Similar Rant)
Disclaimer: Yeah...I know it should be on the California board, but it doesn't get much traffic.
Went up to Pismo Beach this weekend, and after a couple of mediocre meals last year at recommended restaurants (Giuseppes and Old Port Inn), decided to venture down to Nipomo and try the legendary Jocko's steakhouse.
Well, before I left I decided to give them a call to see if I needed reservations (this was Thursday, BTW). The friendly hostess suggested I make them, and we had a 7:15 reservation for 3.
On Saturday night, we were getting hungry and decided to go early. I called to see if it would be a problem. Hostess said they were very full, but we could come and they would try to seat us earlier.
We arrived at 7:00.
Outside were at least 30 people milling about. We go inside, try and locate the hostess (there's no formal reception area), find here. She tells us they're running 30-40 minutes late. Have a drink at the bar.
The place is a zoo. But, because we're there, and most other places have waits anyway, we decide to soak up the atmosphere and have a drink at the bar. We meet some locals, have so nice conversation, and find out (at 7:45), that the people we're speaking with had 6:15 reservations, and, obviously, still haven't been seated. My wife goes to the hostess, who informs her that it will be 30-45 minutes more.
At this point, my patience runs out. We leave. Apparently, there is always an hour wait - even WITH a reservation. The main draw, judging by comments I overheard, are the portions (HUGE!!!). Everyone seems to be leaving with a doggie bag.
We end up eating a barely edible meal at Marie Callenders (they're know for their pies?!!?!).
Why do people wait in line like this? In LA, the two places that come to mind are Crazy Fish (BH) and Cheescake Factory - two of the worst dining establishments in the city. I was just in Europe, and I don't believe I waited one minute for a table. Reservations were always honored on time. In this country, restaurant reservations mean little at many joints - both cheap and pricey. They seem to be a ruse to get you in and spend at the bar (Jockos).
Just had to get it off my chest.
Actually you're lucky to get out alive. Some of the regulars in the bar get a little lickered up on occasion and it turns into a bust out joint.
Next time you're in the neighborhood, try the Far Western Tavern in Guadelupe. Home of the famous "Bull's Eye Steak." Congenial people, nice atmosphere, great food, and Bedford Thompson Syrah for under $30 on the wine list.
Sorry to hear about the abysmal seating situation, but if my meal there last autumn was any indication, at least the food there is worth (some sort of) wait. My advice - go there at an odd hour, maybe a really late lunch, and get the steak sandwich. Not that you can actually eat it like a sandwich, mind you ... its two big thick pieces of toast completely covered with one hefty Santa Maria-style steak, plus ranch fries and the beans. It stuffed me completely without being as obscenely huge as some of the other dishes.
As for Cheesecake Factory, my best advice is to have dinner somewhere else, then walk in and get your favorite cake slices to go, snicker at the herds waiting for an hour as you walk out with your significant [insignificant?] other to curl up with some cheesecake on the sofa .... :)
I'll 2nd both replies already listed with one caveat. Make sure that whenever you go that they are cooking on the oak pit. At lunches and off-hours they do not, and the steaks, while good, are not what they are cooked on the pit.
As for Far Western Tavern in Guadalupe, it's a bit of a drive to a nothing-kinda town, but once inside, you'll not only have an outstanding meal, but the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable. Highly recommended.
There is always F McClintock's (several locations from Arroyo Grande to Shell Beach to SLO), and for my next trip up there next month, I am looking forward to trying the HItching Post (Buellton and Casmalia)
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