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Recommendations for San Simeon area in 2009?

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Hiya -- as chefs seem to come and go I thought I'd start a new, updated thread asking for recommendations in the San Simeon area. We'll be there over Valentine's weekend (ugh), staying in San Simeon but heading north to sea-lion-watch after the requisite Castle-visit. I'd really appreciate any recent thoughts on tasty, but not expensive eating-options: we're a family on a budget (who don't really care for an exclusive diet of burgers and grilled cheese)! Thanks in advance....

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  1. As you may know, San Simeon isn't a dining mecca. Most seem to think Chorlito is OK if you like Mexican. I can't speak from experience though. There are more places in Cambria I could mention from experience. Moonstone Grill, Sow's Ear, Robins and there is a place, next to the Shell station in West Village that has really good BBQ sandwiches, especially the pork. It's mostly a take-out kind of a place, but they have a little seating too.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gail

      You're probably thinking of the Main Street Grill (603 Main St.).

      1. re: alanstotle

        That's it!!! Remember when all they had was a huge outside grill on the street?

        1. re: Gail

          Well, actually, no. But that's because I lived in San Luis Obispo at the time & I ate at Firestone Grill in SLO more often than Main St. Grill in Cambria.

          Now that I'm in Fresno I sometimes eat at the Doghouse Grill & get a trip down memory lane.

    2. Thanks, all. I'm guessing, then, that the dining room in the hotel on the water, the Best Western, is best for breakfast in San Simeon? And it's worth it to drive down the road for dinner to Cambria. We'll have kids and they'll be hungry so I am appreciating the per-selection!

      Anything north of San Simeon on note?

      1. I'll report back that we ended up at "Manta Ray" in San Simeon. Our hotel gave us a coupon and we didn't feel like driving down the road. It was very friendly and comfortable and the food was OK, not great. Too rich, too boring. But good-enough. I had a chicken
        Marsala dish that turned out to be very fettucine-like; thick cream sauce on pasta. It was OK but not very good for the long haul; by the end of it I was very tired of eating so much cream! I really hadn't realized I was ordering this sort of dish at all, but this is probably my fault. dh's dish was also overly creamy and thick. The kids' food was so-so as well, a marinara sauce very heavy on the green onions (as was my dish though at least it was advertised as such) and a cheeseburger made of wafer-thin dried-out looking burger. The bun looked tasty though!

        What I'm writing sounds worse than it was overall. The atmosphere was warm which made up for the tepid food I suppose. I would go there again should I happen to find myself in San Simeon, which is certainly possible. The feel of Cambria was a little too pretentious for us in passing at least earlier in the day, so I was happy enough with this trade-off, given that we were there already. Not worth a drive out of the way to get to, but just fine -- especially with a coupon -- once you're already there.

        3 Replies
        1. re: aliris

          When I look at the menu on line for Manta Ray, the most appealing dishes are simple seafood preparations. Local sand dabs in particular stands out as something that would interest me.

          FInally convinced hubby that he really should visit Hearst Castle once in his life, so will be spending a night in San Simeon while heading up the coast, and I know I won't want to back track to Cambria for dinner, even if it is only a few miles away and preferred by most of the hounds. Therefore, would welcome any other recent reports on Manta Ray. I've seen one or two more positive reports than yours, but nothing particularly recent.

          And did you ever find a good place for breakfast?

          also, what do hounds think of Sebastian's General Store. It gets some rave reviews on other sites, and looks like it might be a good place for takeout for a picnic lunch?

          -----
          Sebastian's General Store-Cafe
          442 Slo San Simeon Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452

          1. re: susancinsf

            You have to stop by the sebastians general store, great big sandwiches, everything is homemade, they use Hearst organic beef for the beef dip, awesome, they treat you like family, authentic general store !

            1. re: centralcoastee

              I've been very remiss in not posting about my time on the coast. We never did make it to Manta Ray. It was across the highway from our hotel, and we were too enamored with being right on the water, and too tired too walk over and half drunk on champagne (that's another story), so we didn't want to drive even across the street. So our dinner in San Simeon was at the hotel restaurant in the Best Western. NOT recommended. I was hoping the sand dabs on special would be a simple prep, but they were breaded, not in a good way, and overly sauced. From the looks at what I saw going to other tables next time I would either be less lazy (and drive to Cambria) or else order a burger.

              OTOH, Sebastian's was great! yes, everything is homemade, and it was delicious. Of course, it has been too long to remember specifics on our sandwhiches, but they were good. There are a few tables indoors, and a few more on their front porch, but if those are all taken (as they were the day we were there), get the sandwiches to go and have a picnic on the small, pretty public beach next door. I suspect that Sebastian's has some of the best food in San Simeon.

              For the truly desperate or those in a hurry, there are lots food stands in the Hearst Castle Visitor Center. Actually, several of those offer sandwiches and the like also made with the Hearst organic beef, and you could probably find something decent there if you were in a hurry.

        2. We visited the area some years ago and went to the Hearst Castle's evening tour (which was magical: hired actors lounge around in evening wear as guests would have done when visiting). But we found that all the area restaurants close VERY early (before 9). Not that we found anything that was worth staying up for . . . .