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SF Chowhound going to SLO/Cambria/Paso Robles/Cayucos help - did some research?

Going to be going to Hearst Castle evening tour & have about 2.5 days in the area, driving down from the SF Bay Area. I have some ideas on what I want to try, any suggestions? Mainly lunch/dinner, cheap eats, want to eat local food there, no Asian food.

Firestone Grill
101 Higuera St, SLO
tri-tip sandwich, get extra bbq sauce
steak cobb salad
slab of beef ribs

High Street Market & Deli
350 High St, SLO
go at 4:20pm get sandwich for $4.20

Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards
1947 See Canyon Rd, SLO
apple infused wine
Rose granache
Red Delicious (1/2 red win & 1/2 apple juice)
find New Times Newspaper or Wine County Guide for coupon on tasting
peacocks, pics behind barrels?

Apple Farm, SLO
apple cider & ice cream samples

Apple Farm Outlet (50% off all their products)?

Thurs night Farmers Market, SLO - any things/produce/honey/jams I shouldn't miss? Parking where to not pay, far is ok (up to a mile I guess.)

F. McClintock's - any recs?

Spikes (beers from around the world)

Linnaea's Cafe, 1110 Garden St, SLO - coffee

Big Sky Cafe, 1121 Broad St, SLO. Jalapeno cornbread (free), chipotle sandwich

Paso Robles - any wineries I shouldn't miss. Hubby might drink, I'm the driver.

Brown Butter Cookie Company in Cayucos, 250 N. Ocean Ave, Cayucos. They have website too.

Firestone Grill
1001 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Big Sky Cafe
1121 Broad St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Apple Farm
2015 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

1110 Garden St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

High Street Cafe
1873 N High St, Lakeport, CA 95453

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  1. No parking charges after 6 pm at Farmers Market anywhere in town. Great pork ribs at Firestone.

    1. We like the greater variety of choices at Gopher Glen for apples in See Canyon- lovely drive out there.

      I liked sitting at the bar at McLintocks in Pismo for their "steak pieces" and potato skillet appetizers because the portions are large and good enough for two, much cheaper than their over-sized dinners, very tasty and you don't have to wait plus the bar is huge open rectangle and great for people watching while enjoying one of their draft beers.

      Mo's BBQ on the main street going out to the wharf in Pismo is our own all time favorite for their Philthy Phil ribs (only) - we go back as often as we can, particularly when making apple runs up to See Canyon.

      The Neon Carrot also on Higuera Road in SLO gets good reviews here. Lizzaran in Gllroy for tapas is worth a detour off Highway 101 too. Good road bites.

      Neon Carrot
      3536 S Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

      1. I am wholly unimpressed with Apple Farm. Their cider tasted very weak and watered down to me, their baked goods are often dried out and bland, and their food (typical home cookin' style comfort food) is as bland as their baked goods and seems geared towards a senior taste palate. I'd give it a pass, to be perfectly honest.

        Apple Farm
        18501 Greenwood Rd, Philo, CA 95466

        1. I am curious if you did your trip research on Chowhound because these are not the typical choices that come up here. I don't find Yelp to be all that discerning, and only occasionally helpful if one can weed past all the "awesomes" and "amazings" to find some real foodie talk hidden within Yelp reviews.

          1. Firestone Grill: Good spot for cheap eats--good tri-tip and pulled pork sandwiches--it gets very crowded (lots of college students) but the line moves pretty quickly
            High Street Deli---good sandwiches---off the beaten path in a mostly residential area
            Kelsey Sea Canyon Vineyards--I'm not a big fan of their wines but it's a pleasant spot and the folks are nice
            Apple Farm--Also not a favorite of mine but if you just want to look around and sample some cider and ice cream it's okay
            SLO Farmers Market-A treat---all sorts of food vendors, entertainment---more like a street fair than a traditional farmers' market--street parking after 6 is free
            McClintock's---their booth at the farmers' market is super popular. The restaurant itself if just fair imo
            Spikes---never been there--
            Linnaea's --rather charming Bohemian coffee house
            Big Sky-lots of food choices--pleasant spot--
            Paso Robles---search for several threads that give lots of details
            Brown Butter Cookie Company--good cookies but rather pricey---I think they give samples away to the shop

            Firestone Grill
            1001 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

            1110 Garden St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

            High Street Cafe
            1873 N High St, Lakeport, CA 95453

            3 Replies
            1. re: sgbslo

              Speaking of brown butter cookies. Cook's Illustrated magazine had a recipe and browning the butter for an otherwise normal sugar cookie was the tantalizing key to its haunting flavor. Couldn't eat just one. But browning the butter to the right degree between caramel and burned was the sticking point to its success. Trial and error on this one.

              1. re: sgbslo

                the reference to Apple Farm is their OUTLET STORE, with gift shop merch priced at 50% of their hefty retail markup. Not the restaurant which has has never been touted as a Gourmet Palace, but where you can get someof the best buttermilk pancakes and thick bacon in town. Definitely a coffee shop dressed up as a country store. Burgers aren't bad either.

                AF's Cider has always come from Chadmark Farms of Paso Robles, made from a continually changing blend of locally sourced apples. Unfiltered, It has always had a pretty robust flavor, but the flavor component does change during the year depending on varieties available for pressing.

                Sadly, Neon Carrot is not open for dining at this time, except on Fri evenings for "Happy Hour" tapas, which are great for sharing. Inventive food. Family responsibilities have Jeff and 'Sugar Plum' concentrating on their catering business.

                Brown Butter cookies are OK, but not swoon worthy IMHO. Over $1 for a 1 1/4" cookie. Red Moose Cookie Co in Cambria, down along the creek behind the Lumber Yard in the Tin Village, bakes more traditional homestyle cookies. Follow the signs. Inventive flavors in packs of 6 large cookies. ALWAYS free samples. Try Cinnful. yowzah!

                Also if you find yourself in SLO on a weekday, Tracy Fleming's Fiero Cafe pastries (both savory and sweet) are superlative. Her muffins ARE NOT made from cake mix as are all the others available in town, nor are they bogged down with sugar. Try the Chocolate Espresso cookies for an incredible chocolate experience. Quiche to bring tears of joy to your eyes. Located behind FEDEX on Fiero Lane, just off Broad ST south of Tank Farm Rd in the airport area. Open W-F only for B'fast thru 4 pm.

                For FM parking on Thurs, come into town by 5:00 on Highway 1 (Santa Rosa St) and just after crossing over the Freeway, turn right at first signal onto Walnut . Proceed to Chorro, turn left, then first right, and park near Mission School. Walk uphill on Broad to Mission Plaza, cut through the park in front of the Art Museum (near the flagpole) and across the footbridge over San Luis Creek. Follow the brick pathway to your left and through the breezeway near the Birkenstock store to Higuera St, where the market exends to both your right and left. FM Central!

                Apple Farm
                2015 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

                Neon Carrot
                3536 S Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

                1. re: toodie jane

                  Tracy Fleming has closed her cafe but continues to oofer her pastrires through Higher Groundz coffee houses in SLO, one on Broad ST at Orcutt, one in the Costco center on Los Osos Valley Rd. Really superlative offerings.
                  Neon Carrot is closed; they do catering only. Chef Meghan has moved to events chef position at Dolphin Bay in Shell Beach.

              2. What about Shine Cafe in Morro Bay? Sounds kinda interesting for vegan food:

                Shine Cafe
                415 Morro Bay Blvd
                Morro Bay
                M-F 11-5; Sat 9-5; Sun 10-4
                Tempeh taco, etc.

                2 Replies
                1. re: hhc

                  Never been to Shine Cafe, so I can't comment on it. In Morro Bay, my money would be on Giovanni's for great seafood. They're only open til 5 or so, so either lunch or early dinner, but definitely a do not miss.

                  1. re: hhc

                    the 'cafe' is a room behind the tiny well stocked natural foods store, with one table! the food is reportedly good vegan cafe fare, but to call this a cafe is a real stretch.

                  2. In Cambria I recommend Robin's.

                    Ken Volk is my top choice for wine. His winery is in the Santa Barbara wine region, but he has a tasting room on Highway 46 between the 1 and 101, closer to 101. It is located at the Lone Madrone winery.

                    Robin's Restaurant
                    4095 Burton Dr, Cambria, CA 93428

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nocukes

                      Second this suggestion for Robin's. Fantastic food.