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Dinner in Paso Robles

I need to book dinner for 3 nights in Paso Robles. Artisan, Bistro Laurent, and Villa Creek look interesting. Is anyone more of a "must do" than the others? Can anyone suggest places that are more informal, bang-for-the-buck with a decent wine list or BYOB? (Does California have BYOB, or is that just a Pennsylvania thing? We have such an arcane liquor system it's needed.)

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Let me add my query to this post since it has been a few years since I was in Paso. What are the best/most interesting places around? One complication for me is that we'll be in the area probably just on a Sunday and Monday. So what is good and open those evenings?

    When it comes to dining, I like to be within walking distance of the park, so that we can do wine tasting and then have more with dinner while not having to worry about driving back to the motel.

    Also what about lunches?

    Any suggestions and advice appreciated.

    1. I've eaten at Artisan, Bistro Laurent and Villa Creek and all three were good. Artisan charges less for corkage, like $10 a bottle, I believe. I think both Artisan and Bistro Laurent limit you to two bottles.
      The one time I ate at Villa Creek it was with a bunch of people in the wine industry and we were specifically invited by the owner, who makes wine, so the corkage rules were out the window.
      There's not much less formal that I can think of that's not a barbecue or hamburger place. Maybe someone's who is local can chime in.

      1. The "must do" of the three that you selected would be Bistro, second choice would be Artisan, though lately I have heard a few disappointments, I have never been disappointed at Artisan myself. Chico's (on the park) is good and their corkage is only $10. I would consider them informal. For super informal, and $5 corkage, go to Park Grill on 15th and Park. You can get anything from a huge pasta dish (enough for 2 to share) to a sirloin steak , all homemade, no ambience but clean, and you can see right into the kitchen. Bistro and Artisan were both $15 corkage last time I checked. If you are not confined to downtown, go to Kelly's at Hunter Ranch golf course. They also have a great Sunday brunch. Mc Fee's in Templeton would be another "must do" if you can get there. Have fun and don't let the hot days fool you, it's been in teh 60's at night, so bring a sweater. :-)

        4 Replies
        1. re: paso_gurl_100

          Do you have more info about Chico's and Park Grill? I can't recall seeing anything about them here and there's little info on the net about them either.

          1. re: Ed Dibble

            If you are familiar with downtown Paso, Chico's is on the park right next door to Lombardi's. It's a small, informal place that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have some limited patio dining out front. For dinner, they usually have great fish specials. Since it's small, and the food is good, it fills up quickly. Park Grill is a "hole in the wall". Totally. The owners have a Touch of Mexico in Templeton, and I think one other restaurant in this area. It is a favorite of locals for the huge portions and low corkage.

          2. re: paso_gurl_100

            BTW it's McPhee's in Templeton.

            Bistro Laurent is good but be away practically everything contains veal stock. I went with a dining companion who ate fish and chicken but no beef/pork. It was very difficult finding anything that did not contain veal stock, even the fish dishes.

            1. re: paso_gurl_100

              I believe Park Grill is now closed. There was a rental sign on the place.

            2. I will be back up in Paso Robles by Wednesday. Artisan, Bistro Laurent and Villa Creek are all winners. Artisan is your choice for lunch. Pasolivo is very nice for breakfast. Buona Tavola is also within walking distance of the park. I have taken bottles of wine to all and the corkage is fair. BTW, most of the restaurants in Paso Robles do a great job of keeping the mark up on wine at a decent level. Normally around 12-15 dollars a bottle.

              1. It has been a while since I've been up to PR, but whenever we were there, we always had an excellent experience at Bistro Laurent, very consistent visit to visit with great pairing courses. I can also second Villa Creek, but I have only been there three times. BYOB is very common, but the etiquette is, of course, don't bring something that they might have on their wine list.

                1. I want to thank everyone so far for the recs and help. I found websites for BL, VC, and Artisan, so I now realize that BL (which I have been to several times in the past and loved) isn't open Sun/Mon.

                  I also have had a couple good meals at Buona Tavola. Are they still on their game?

                  If you had to choose between Artisan and Villa Creek, where would YOU go? Why?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ed Dibble

                    I would go to Artisan. Some dishes are more successful than others but I have had more winners than losers at Artisan. Villa Creek is fine, but I have never been blown away with anything.

                    1. re: Scott M

                      I did go to Artisan and was blown away. With very few exceptions everything I tasted was interesting, tasty, and creative.

                      Thanks all for the help.

                  2. Thanks for the suggestions and explanations. We're looking forward to our visit, and I will report back.

                    1. Paso Robles is a new favorite! We ate Friday evening at Bistro Laurent. We were coming off 5 days in SF and didn't want another big meal, so we split an appetizer and an entree and a bottle of Denner 2007 Syrah. We sat outside and listened to the live music from the park. Perfect! Saturday friends took us to McFee's (?) in Templeton. Wonderful ambiance. Sunday we ate at Artisan - smoked gouda fondue, hearst Ranch steak and the best frites I've had in a long time and a L'Aventure cab 2007 we had picked up that day. Breakfast at the Cowgirl Cafe was too much for us to handle (though the biscuits were great!), so we ate at Amsterdam coffee the other mornings.

                      And need I say the wines are amazing! Intense, complex, relaxed tasting rooms. We'll be back!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: wandasue

                        Has anyone been to Deborah's Room at Justin Vineyards and Winery? It was suggested by our hotel as a top choice, but I don't see it mentioned here.

                        1. re: snyders1

                          I've been there, with my wife and two of our closest friends. Unfortunately, it was 6 years ago so I don't remember the details of the dinner, other than the fact that dinner lived up to our expectations. It is a very small and exclusive dining experience. Exclusive because it's so small. if you can get a table, I would definitely say go for it.

                          1. re: snyders1

                            I was there 1 1/2 years ago when they were part of the Restaurant month in January. 3 courses for $30.....absolute STEAL !!! Fantastic food and atmosphere. I haven't been back for their normal $85 charge but wish I could...............

                            1. re: dockhl

                              what about Thomas Hill Organics? Any good for dinner?

                              1. re: keena

                                I've eaten there once for dinner and LOVED it. (Usually I go there for lunch and hit Artisan at dinner.)