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Good Eats in Santa Maria?

c
Clinton May 14, 2011 10:33 AM

Been going to Santa Maria at least once a month and trying the same old places over and over. Places like Jocko's, Ichiban Japanese, Silver Spur, Crab Cove, Zoe's Hawaiian, Stinky's, Coco's, etc. Need to branch out and find some good Mexican restaurants where the food is different. Tried the one in Nipomo which was OK (I forgot the name?) but it was more commercially tasting food. Was tempted to try out the new delicatessen in Vallarta Market but was not gutsy yet to do it. The other Mexican deli entrees on Main and Blosser (I think it's called Toro?) looked interesting but all we tried was the chicharones and pig stomach (I think the lady called it puche?) so far. Not looking for things Andrew Zimerin might eat but something out of the ordinary...but tasty. Good menudo, lengua burritos, chicharones, etc.? Any other good ethnic places?

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Ichiban Japanese Restaurant
2011 S Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454

  1. toodie jane May 17, 2011 10:19 PM

    Have not found any decent authentic Mexican sit-down restaurants in SM. All use orange cheese and canned sauces. I find Vallarta deli OK, but have not tried much beyond a quick taco before lunch. A madhouse at the dinner hour!

    Try the tiny deli counter at La Mia market, just behind 7-11 on North Broadway, for very good traditional Mexican meats. Uncomfy high stools at a counter, but good cheap food. Kitty corner from El Toro is Carniceria Su Mesa. Pretty good food for take out only. Also, on Broadway near Smart & Final between Battles and Betteravia, a newish market with some good deli items. Again, take-out.

    Also, if you're up for it at lunch, Tichita's truck which parks M-F 11 to 2-ish on East Betteravia just past the new coolers--about 3/4 mile east of 101. Excellent bisteck ranchero, lengua, posole, tortas, tacos, and smiles from Rosa. I heard today from a CHP officer eating there today that there's another good lunch truck on West Betteravia out past Blosser. These two trucks cater to young field workers looking for cooking like their Moms at home--it is!

    For a change in Japanese food, try Atari Ya in the Stowell Center, back row, just off Battles. Very good and consistant. Tell them Sue-san sent you. Great sushi and traditional menu items.

    In Nipomo, there is a BBQ (true smoked) place at the junction of the frontage road and 166@101. Good ribs, pulled pork, burgers, etc.: Rancho Nipomo. We just got a new seafood place, nothing exceptional, but satisfying, at the CVS center on Tefft, at Mary St. Everything is fresh. There is also a very decent deli at the small Mexican market in "downtown" Nipomo on Thompson, next to Duane's automotive shop. Most of the traditional meats. Good sized portions. They make their own chicharrones.

    and I think the lady said 'buche'--cheeks, ears, and lips--mighty tasty.

    12 Replies
    1. re: toodie jane
      c
      Clinton May 17, 2011 11:52 PM

      Thanks Toodie Jane. I was kinda concerned that SM had no good eats with no responses? Always looking for new places to try other than just our old usuals. Forgot to mention another one of our favorites called the Jetty for seafood. Best clam chowder in the SM and SLO area. Their all-you-can-eat crab legs on Tuesdays are great. Are you familiar with that one lone catering truck near the Santa Maria Raceway close to the Broadway exit which never seems to have any customers? Been there for years. Just wondering how good it was since it's always there? Tried Papa Napoli's once for sandwiches which to us seemed sub par and overpriced. Someone recommended it. They don't serve fries which was a bummer. Still looking for any good Chinese places in SM. Still debating on trying China Wall but we always seem to go to Grover Beach to the Golden Gong by habit. Itching to try Jim's pastrami off Broadway one day. Any useful feedback? Thanks.

      1. re: Clinton
        m
        mliew May 18, 2011 12:10 AM

        Depends on your definition of good chinese, Pretty hard to find any decent Chinese on the central coast that would come close to what you would find in LA or San Francisco. The best place I've found (albeit very Americanized) is Mei's in Shell Beach. They do pretty decent Chow Fun and BBQ Pork with Snow Peas.

        1. re: Clinton
          toodie jane May 18, 2011 07:19 AM

          Santa Maria is pretty much a wasteland for chow. That said, there is a spot in the town center mall run by a big city chef , called The Marketplace. It has good European pastries and sandwiches and hot food for lunches and dinner in an atrium, after selecting and paying at the counter. I've never been dissapointed in whatever I've selected. Also frozen food for takeaway and nice selection of beers and local wines. Nicely priced as well.

          Chinese in Santa Maria/ South SLO Co.? Veryyyyy Americanized. There's been a report here of a very good Chinese restaurant in SLO's Laguna Village on Los Osos Valley Rd @ Madonna. And Chef Paul Kwong's Mee Heng Low on Palm near Chorro in downtown SLO has very good noodle dishes, but not standard stirfry dishes. Also some daily specials--always very popular; they often sell out by 6 or so. 2 booths, a counter and two of those uncomfortable bistro tables. Upstairs dining room is open on Thurs/Fri nights, often with live Jazz.

          1. re: toodie jane
            c
            Clinton May 18, 2011 08:40 AM

            Thanks for the tip on Chinese. You're right about them being Americanized. The only place somewhat acceptable is a place in Grover Beach called Golden Gong. It's still not the best Chinese but for the area, it's OK. Their base flavor is predominant in most of their dishes eg. chow fun, chow mein, stir fry dishes, etc.. but the owners said that they had to adapt to the non-Chinese customers who mostly frequent there. Would have been nice to see them serving Hong Kong style soup noodles and succulent roast duck but business is business. Hard to please everybody and stay in business.

            1. re: toodie jane
              a
              Aircooled Jun 15, 2011 01:31 PM

              Gotta say, that North China on North Broadway in Santa Maria is pretty darn good Chinese food. Certainly blows the others away. The Mongolian Beef is fantastic!

              And yes, I enjoy resurrecting old threads. ;)

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              North China Restaurant
              113 N Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454

              1. re: Aircooled
                c
                Clinton Jun 15, 2011 03:24 PM

                Thanks Aircooled. We've been driving by that landmark for over a thousand times and always wondered how it was? We keep saying maybe one of these days. Santa Maria just doesn't sound like a place for good Chinese food was our thought. Some of our resident friends have tried other places on Broadway and all have given the thumbs down. OK, maybe we'll give it the old college try the next time we're up there? Thanks again for your recommendation.

                1. re: Clinton
                  a
                  Aircooled Jun 15, 2011 05:03 PM

                  Sure. Happy to help. But really, North China is well-worth the trip. Parking is a pain, but if the street is full the small parking lot to the rear is an option. Be sure to set your car alarm.

                  And some trivia: North China was the place of a very short scene in the wine-drama movie Sideways from a few years back.

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                  North China Restaurant
                  113 N Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454

                  1. re: Aircooled
                    c
                    Clinton Jun 15, 2011 07:06 PM

                    Thanks again and especially the warning for the car alarm. Not the best area to be roaming around with all of the homeless characters in the area. That movie Sideways seems to get around a bit. Visited Los Olivos where they talked nothing but the movie Sideways and the old set for Andy of Mayberry. Have yet to see the movie.

            2. re: Clinton
              toodie jane May 18, 2011 07:26 AM

              The truck near 166 and the Speedway is 'El Chino'. Very good lengua and carnitas, nice grill on the tortillas, I can report.

              It is hit hard by local truckdrivers and contractors, but it's a grab n go, and does look lonely sometimes. They've been there for about four years or so I think.

              Never been to Jim's--where exactly is it?

              1. re: toodie jane
                c
                Clinton May 18, 2011 08:27 AM

                I've always wondered about that lonely truck near the Speedway? Pass by it a thousand times but there's never anyone around. May give it a try now that I know someone's been there and approve.
                Jim's Burgers is on Broadway between Main and Stowell. Pass by there a thousand times but never went in. The only other place we've stopped for pastramis was at Papa Napoli's and that was a huge disappointment. May give Jim's a try just for ha-has one day. Heard the burgers were good. Tried Stink'y's one time and wasn't too impressed. More of a sports bar type of place and the prices were a little steep for lunches. Maybe because we ordered the baby back ribs? People say that the Cowgirl in Nipomo is good for breakfast? Not open for dinner though. Rancho Viejo near to it on Orchard Road was too commercial for us. More for gringos it seems. Saw a lot of locals going there.

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                Jim's Burgers
                729 S Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454

                1. re: Clinton
                  toodie jane Jun 16, 2011 09:38 AM

                  Leslie, who once managed the dining room at much-loved Paco's in Nipomo, manages Cowgirl Cafe. She runs a tight ship. Typical cafe food, I think--not too chowish. B'fast and lunch only. Seniors crowd.

                  Rancho Viejo is not an authentic Mexican restaurant per se, more for the gringos with too much oil and greasy orange cheese. Can't eat that stuff any more!

                  North China used to satisfy, but then seemed to get pretty bland. Maybe it's time for a rematch.

                  There are two old-school 50's drive-ins on Main. East Main (name?) is a couple blocks west of Von's and draws the SM hotrodders every Fri Nite if you like old cars.
                  West Main is Tom's about 5 or 6 blocks west of B'way.

                  I keep hoping Brick's on W Main will sell and someone will actually serve a decent breakfast there.

                  Have you tried any of the paletarias in town? Good fruit popsicles and ice creams. One on North Bway and one in Stowell Ctr across from Goodwill. Pretty yummy.

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                  North China Restaurant
                  113 N Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454

                  Rancho Viejo
                  505 Orchard Rd, Nipomo, CA 93444

              2. re: Clinton
                c
                Clinton Jun 30, 2011 09:15 PM

                Finally got to try out Jim's Burgers next to the Santa Maria Inn on Broadway. Had to get the infamous pastrami combo which came with a large bag of fries and two onion rings plus a large drink for $9 which includes tax. We asked for yellow chili peppers which the lady gave in a waxed paper bag. The pastrami was pretty good and worth going back again. Next time maybe we'll try the double cheese burger combo which was a lot cheaper.

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                Jim's Burgers
                729 S Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454

                Santa Maria Inn
                801 S Broadway Ste 5, Santa Maria, CA 93454

            3. t
              toyota4x4 Jun 18, 2011 11:03 AM

              Best food not best atmosphere from a santa marian:

              BBQ: hitching post, far western, swiss chalet, shaws, the office, aj spurs, anyone's backyard (every real santa marian owns their own bbq pit and has a stack of oak wood on the side of their house) I sure miss the broadway fundraisers that lined broadway everyweekend, thanks city council and health department

              Italian: drive to Pismo beach, if I had choose unfortunately it's olive garden, gotta go to orcutt Uliveto, or Adammo winery
              Japanese: best food hands down Ichiban, best atmosphere yanagi, best sushi chef atari ya, want good japanese food go where all the old santa marian japanese families eat japanese food, saw them at ichiban
              Chinese: North china or ming dynasty, ming has a buffet but you have to order from the menu, order an authentic meal you need several dishes and it's good for large parties where you can share
              Mexican: Go where the mexican's go for dinner, you mentioned El Toro, try blosser road or west main really not americanized, guadalupe has three good mexican restaurants if you want to drive
              Pulled pork sandwich: Rancho Nipomo (go to HWy 166 across the bridge and turn left). Burger: Tom's, Falafel, Orcutt or Santa Maria Burger. Chain: Go to costco and there are about 10 chain restaurants within a half mile.

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              Ichiban
              4863 E Butler Ave, Fresno, CA 93727

              Uliveto
              285 S Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454

              3 Replies
              1. re: toyota4x4
                c
                Clinton Jun 18, 2011 12:58 PM

                I recognize a lot of the familiar names but how good is the food? We tried AJ Spurs once which was OK but IMO Jocko's is a cut better. We used to like the Crab Cove but they recently raised their prices and cut out their 1/2 off sushi specials. Love Ichiban since we know the owner and get preferential treatment every time we go. Never tried North China but may give it a try the next time around. Kind of leery about trying the hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints on Main but found El Toro to have the best chicharones and hog bellies around. Costco still has the best hot dogs but could not simply understand the mystique of In-n-Out burger next door...at all!
                Oh BTW, thanks for the info into why we don't see any of those corner BBQ's on holidays anymore in town. I remember back in the 70s and 80s where almost at every intersection was a BBQ pit with tri-tips and hot links for sale. That made the weekend so festive. Thumbs down to the city council and the Board of Health...boo-o-o-o-o!

                1. re: toyota4x4
                  j
                  Jazmine0820 Jun 19, 2011 02:10 PM

                  Italian: Uliveto and Adammo are both amazing restaurants. Definitely try both.

                  Sushi: Yanagi's is a fun place. Great atmosphere, but the sushi isn't amazing. A little over priced for what you get. My favorite is Mikado!! They have a 50% off menu right now with very good rolls and nigiri for a great price!! Sit at the sushi bar for faster service.

                  The Jetty is under new ownership I believe, and is creating a new menu. Might be worth a try.

                  Chef Rick's? I haven't been there in a long time, but I remember it being good.

                  Besides that, drive to Pismo. Many more good restaurants there.

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                  Chef Rick's
                  4869 S Bradley Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93455

                  Uliveto
                  285 S Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454

                  1. re: Jazmine0820
                    c
                    Clinton Jun 19, 2011 09:23 PM

                    Oh no! The Jetty has been bought out? They undoubtedly have the best clam chowder in the SLO area IMO. Beats all others even in Pismo. I'm praying that they keep the Tuesday night all-you-can-eat crab leg special for $19.95 because that was definitely a real bargain. My friend and I can easily down at least three whole crabs (6 half sections) EACH with no problem. I think they lose money every time we walk in? I jokingly hope we didn't make them sell the place?

                2. toodie jane Jun 21, 2011 07:54 AM

                  Has anyone tried the Central City Marketplace? Located downstairs in the SM Mall. Small retail selection of gourmet groceries and picnic foods, local wines, with frozen house-made entrees and pastas. For fresh foods, order from the counter (hot foods, desserts and such) then find a table in the atrium and you are served, or get items to go.

                  Pretty good food, the owner is a highly trained and experienced chef who was contracted to redo the mall restaurants by the mall owner. He decided to open the Market himself. Everything I've had (take-out, eat-in) has been good. The creme brulees are delicious.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: toodie jane
                    j
                    Jazmine0820 Jun 21, 2011 01:42 PM

                    Yes! I have eaten there. VERY good and fresh food.

                    1. re: toodie jane
                      OldJalamaMama Jul 1, 2011 07:34 AM

                      we ate as a group (2 8 yr olds an 2 Moms) there 2 months ago. DELICIOUS! Loved the french press that comes to the table when you order coffee! My salad was small, but perfect. My pal had a gorgeous crispy sandwich and salad, 1/2 of which she took home. The mac and cheese for the kids was homemade- dissapointing my daughter a bit...but I found it delicious- guess it was a smidge too rich for her. The soups were also good- and the sunroom location nice in the rain..The deli/to go cases were set up to intice, and intice they did. I hear brunch is worth the drive! The mall is getting a huge push of new stores- and we welcome it!

                    2. c
                      ChomperQ Apr 4, 2014 02:36 PM

                      You should try El Toro.. very good. Across from that is considered one of the best Mexican Restaurants on the central coast "Lo Mejor DE Jalisco". Heres a list of great eat you have to try. : El Pueblito Restaurant, Cielito Lindo Mexican Grill, Las Comadres (Salvadorean), El Pollo Norteno, Vaqueros (truck) McElhany off N.Broadway, Taqueria La coqueta, Pasion(new in Orcutt) Tapas/fine mex cuisine, Papa Napoli Italian Deli, Magic Dragon, King Falafel,... so many more. Greatest place for food o the Central Coast!

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