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Jan 8, 2009 10:42 AM

Eating in the Central Coast

The menus I have looked at for restuarants in this area are filled with Bershire this and diver scallop that. While I'm sure they are good, that is basically the same food we have here in Houston. Is there some resturants say from Santa Barbara to Big Sur that specialize in local food and wine?? Thanks.

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  1. That's a pretty large scale area. Suggest you enter a search for specific communities, like, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Maria, etc. There are many different cuisines served in these areas. You need to be a bit more specific.

    3 Replies
    1. re: araknd

      The food will determine the specific destination, not vice versa. If this site could provide some leads, it would be very helpful. Below are some Houston area sites that may better describe what we are looking for.

      Thanks for your help.

      1. re: plinkster

        There are many restaurants that shop and serve local ingredients.

        For example, a few that come to mind in Santa Barabara is Bouchon, Downey's, Seagrass, and Square One. It would be a large and difficult list to post every restaurant in every town for a 200+ mile stretch that specializes in local ingredients/wines

        1. re: plinkster

          You will most likely have a wider variety of food in Houston than in rural Central California. However, I have always liked the Los Olivos Cafe -- and you can't get more localized than The Hitching Post II in Buellton .

          I'm sure that there will be dissension on this board, but those are two that I like.

      2. Villa Creek in Paso serves a lot of local produce/meats with a good local wine list.

        Villa Creek Restaurant
        1144 Pine St., Paso Robles, CA 93446

        1 Reply
        1. re: dockhl

          I will second Villa Creek. Just about everything they serve has some local ingredient to it. The chef also owns (either in whole or part) Villa Creek Winery.

        2. You really are talking about a huge amount of road to cover with several very distinct local food styles. There's tons of good restaurants in Santa Barbara that serve local ingredients and wine, so search the many threads for that city here for details. That being said, here's my short list of places that I'd say capture local flavors and ingredients well.

          La Super Rica, Santa Barbara (taco stand, not a fancy restaurant. No wine.)
          Brooks, Ventura (a little south of your specified area, but hey, if you're willing to drive all the way to Big Sur for food...)
          Brothers Restaurant/Mattei's Tavern, Los Olivos
          The Hitching Post, Casmalia (better) or Buelton (more convenient)
          Jocko's, Nipomo
          Far Western Tavern, Guadelupe

          1 Reply
          1. re: dgasser

            I too need some help finding a good place, preferably featuring fresh, local, ideally organic/grass-fed, etc., or any local seafood if any is in season. We will be driving 101 from LA to SF and spending the night in the SLO area.

            I tried to find menus for Bon Temps and Koberl at Blue from a list someone posted, but all I could find was Park, which is a bit too "gourmeted up" for our taste, espcially after eating out in LA for four nights.

            Anything fresh and authentic will interest us (and probably determine where we ultimately spend the night).


          2. Here ya go for San Luis Obispo County:


            Many small cafes and restaurants will use some local products; they may not be affiliated with the listing organization. Hearst Ranch beef is used at Sebastian’s General Store & Café and El Chorlito in San Simeon; Inn at Morro Bay and Windows on the Water in Morro Bay; Park Restaurant and Café Roma in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles; and Villa Creek in Paso Robles. Local wines will be everywhere, exquisitely fresh salad greens almost exclusively locally grown, seasonal veggies too, from large growers like Bebe Farms or smaller ones like Rutiz Farms.

            Please post about your experiences in the area.. We'll be looking forward to it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: toodie jane

              thanks for that link, I've never seen it before..........

              1. re: toodie jane

                I spent several hours looking at menus on two different sites and was a bit disheartened by the lack of the words "fresh" and "local" on seafood and produce. I did find Windows and the Hearst Ranch beef; tried to phone but they're closed today and tomorrow.

                I susbscribe to Calvin Trillin's reminder about never eating above the ground floor or any place with a view (!) and I also understand that a lot of non-food-lovers visit the Central Coast year round, to say nothing of the many "starving students."

                I don't honestly know what, if any, seafood might be available this time of year. We (in SFBA) get crab. But even Dungeness crab references didn't emphasize local or fresh and the squid descriptions definitely put me in mind of those imported from China.

                I don't know about, say, clams or sand dabs, but again, one would think if the restaurants offered fresh, they'd want to tout that.

                One place had so many misspellings on the menu, I wouldn't trust its competence.

                Appreciate your efforts to help and don't mean to sound hypercritical (even though I guess I am).