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Oct 23, 2011 05:24 PM

Anything new on the Central Coast for breakfast and lunch?

I am talking about Cambria down to around Santa Maria and inland to SLO, Atascadero, Temlpeton and Paso. We will be staying in Cayucos and have not been down in about 4 years.

Is McPhee's still around and good in Templeton? Any place for coffee? We once had a great breakfast at a NOLA type Cajun place in SLO. We generally go for breakfast and lunch and have dinner and local wine at our house. Thanks.

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  1. Beach House Bistro, not new 'cept to us, in Morro Bay, dinner only I believe, but they do have a Sunday brunch.

    Red Luna tapas style place in downtown SLO, again, don't know about lunch, only been for dinner.

    [ETA] the NOLA type place would be the Bon Temps Creole Cafe just before the onramp from Hwy 1 onto southbound 101.

    Beach House Bistro
    2770 Main St, Morro Bay, CA 93442

    1. Madonna Inn Copper Cafe and Bakery, south of SLO - getting a bit of new attention for its old fashion, funky charms.

      Madonna Inn
      100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

      1. Will you be here on the weekend?

        Though SLO's Neon Carrot is now only open for Fri night 'happy hour' meals, their small plates are pretty inventive and well executed. It's a noisy place when full, but lots going on if you like that vibe. Fri from 4:30 to 8:30. They aslo have a table with breakfast treats at SLO Sat am Farmer's Market. Last week was heavenly beignets and panna cotta.

        Mon-Fri, Fiero Cafe (behind FEDEX, on Fiero Lane out by the SLO airport) serves wonderful house baked sweets and savories from 7- 4 . Serving Star coffee from Santa Barbara; a quiet little spot where you get a vista of the east hills and an occasional takeoff from the airport.

        Kreuzberg CA --coffee house, book lounge, has moved to a larger location with more exposure downtown SLO on Higuera St near Broad, around the corner from Big Sky (another breakfast lunch favorite). Daily specials look enticing as well.

        Up by the train depot, Sally Loo's is a nice calm place for morning coffee and light breakfast. Across the street are two relatively new asian/fusian places--OK but not outstanding.

        Cafe Roma on the depot circle is a longtime local's favorite for tradtional Italian, as is Buono Tavola, downtown next to the Fremont Theater. BT also has a restaurant in Paso. And the owner has just launched a line of cured salamis which are very good. He usually has a sales/samples table at the Saturday morning 8-11 Farmer's Mkt near Embassy Suites off Madonna Rd (this is the FM for serious local food fans, not the downtown Thurs nite "street fair" which is as much about entertainment as it is food). Cambria has a wonderful Fri afternoon Farmer's Market as well.

        In Cambria, an East Village favorite of mine is French Corner Bakery, with well-executed pastries and decent coffee. Their lunchtime torta sandwiches are wonderfully flavorful, made on house baked bolillos. Robin's restaurant on Burton also has a take-out salad and dessert selection for picnicing. And Fermentaions wine bar has a good selection of local wines, also on Burton. On weekends, Boni's Tacos from the tin village sets up a taco trailer at the corner of Main and Burton. Good snacks!

        For an old-fashioned cookie fix, follow the signs to Red Moose Cookie Co. in the tin village across the creek from downtown East Village. 5" cookies in packs of 6 in many inventive and assertively flavored combinations.

        Cayucos has the Brown Butter Cookie Company at the north end of Ocean Ave; they have recently gotten national press. For my taste, they are underwhelming and overpriced.

        If you are investigating the back-Morro Bay area and Montana de Oro State Park, Lotus Thai serves up delicious fresh meals in a tiny (mostly takeout ) spot on 9th street near Los Osos Valley Rd. Mike and Nu are great hosts and will get your food out quickly.

        Have a good visit, the seasons are changing and fall is in the air. Much to be discovered.

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

        Cafe Roma
        1020 Railroad Ave, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

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

        6 Replies
        1. re: toodie jane

          To be specific, I would advise to avoid the cinnamon bun, apple turnover, croissants, and muffins at French Corner Bakery. I can't remember which bread we bought or I'd recommend avoiding it too. Did not try a bolillo or torta.

          French Corner Bakery
          2214 Main St, Cambria, CA 93428

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            After going 0 for 4, think I would cut and run elsewhere. ; >P

            1. re: PolarBear

              That would be zero for *5*. We try to order widely to hedge our bets, and we bought everything in one fell swoop so we wouldn't need to go back the next day. Not a good strategy in this case. But maybe the bolillo is the ticket here.

            2. re: Melanie Wong

              Sorry you had dissapointing pastries. I find ordering breakfast pastries a real crap shoot no matter where*; guess I naturally avoid them. My favorites at FCB are the butter cookies, tarts, tres leches cake, cheescake etc.
              I had a torta there recently and the bolillo used was very good. In fact the whole torta was very good overall.

              * a real exception to this rule of mine is Tracy, of Stewart & Clark Fine Foods in SLO near the airport on Fiero Lane. Tracy's muffins are light, barely sweetened, and always "just right", never over-the-top. Her cakes and cheesecakes are similar, lightly flavored, not sweet nor too dense, and the flavored toppings are subtlely made from fresh fruit and nuts.

              I have yet to make it in for Waffle Wednesday, or French Toast Friday, but they are on my bucket list. The fritattas are deep, light and flavorful. Chock full of local veggies, too.

              1. re: toodie jane

                Fiero Cafe retail operation is closed but they sell their pastries and goodies through Higher Groundz coffee shops in SLO, one on Broad St in the Crossroads and one on Los Osos Valley Rd near Big Navy.

          2. Anyone tried a place in Santa Maria called Skip Gibson's barbecue? We were underwhelmed by both Mo's in Pismo and the Arroyo Grande meat Company and are looking for something else for a pit stop on our way up the coast. Considering Skips or Oak Pit near Oceano.

            Oak Pit
            820 Ventura Ave, Oak View, CA 93022

            3 Replies
            1. re: HaroldandMaude

              But... but... but .... did you have the Philthy Phil ribs at Mo's.

              (I always feel I am in an alternate universe when I recommend Mo's and we intentionally go out of our way to make another trip just to have another round of his Philthy Phil ribs. )

              Agree, I tried Mo's pulled pork sandwich once and there was nothing remarkable about it ...... but his Philty Phil ribs and sides I think are, as they say in Michelin guides, .... "worth a journey". And I shall confine my future recommendations only to Mo's Philthy Phil's to not lose total culinary credibility here. We always take home a jug of the sauce too. Such rustics we are! But we also are the one's who just spent the night at the Madonna Inn. But also know Julienne is tops and have lived in Europe in the good old days long enough to have developed a palate by osmosis.

              Does it count I was happy to spend $200 a person for lunch at the Basel Bruderholz restaurant and spent one whole week traveling to other one-star Swiss restaurants by train - and yes with all that, we will travel by donkey, bus or balloon to keep going back to Mo's.

              Madonna Inn
              100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405

              1. re: HaroldandMaude

                The little Oak Pit BBQ, just as you're turning into Oceano on route 1, is excellent. The actual address is Mesa View Drive in Arroyo Grande.


                1. re: jackattack

                  Update: The website is still up and the phone still rings...but several reports state that Oak Pit BBQ in Arroyo/Oceano has closed for business.

              2. We visit Cambria a lot, have never gone to Linn's, just assuming it was a Marie Callendar-type coffee shop. Last visit we walked 2 miles into the village, and Linn's was the only place open for the big breakfast we were craving, and to our surprise it was delicious! Corned beef has is made in-house and was superb. We'll go back.

                9 Replies
                1. re: judybird

                  Linn's also has a cute well-managed cafe just around the corner on Bridge St (uphill) next to Linn's Gourmet Goods (food and kitchen items). Very dependable sandwiches salads and soups, light pastries, coffee, etc. Of course, heavenly slices of pie!

                  1. re: judybird

                    I went there for dinner with my boyfriend a few weeks ago. I had a chicken pot pie and he ordered the fried chicken. Everything we had was pretty mediocre to bad. The vegetables and mashed potatoes (same sides on both dishes) had obviously been reheated or sitting under a heating lamp for a long time before it was brought out to us. I didn't like how the chicken pot pie was not an individual baked to order pie. It was just a slice out of a larger pie--again, reheated. A little salty and and somehow tasteless at the same time. We ended with a lackluster cheesecake with whipped cream. Really? Whipped cream on a cheesecake? It didn't work. It just tasted weird. I can't speak to the pies since I was too scared to order it after dinner. My boyfriend insisted on the cheesecake.

                    1. re: mstinawu

                      When my mom and I were in Cambria last August, we took a ride out to Linn's farm store. Pretty much a waste of time as there's little in the way of fresh produce there. It's essentially another gift shop with preserves and a few baked goods.

                      I bought the mini ollalieberry pie, $5. Asking at the counter I learned that it had been baked the day before, only the large pies shown here were fresh. I bought it anyway. Mistake. It couldn't be resuscitated by reheating. Really goopy, over-cornstarched filling. Also bought a frozen beef pot pie and that was much better. The heavy style of crust works better for a savory pie. Linn's promotes that it uses local beef, don't know if that applies to the frozen goods. Anyway, pretty tasty compared to other frozen foods.

                      1. re: mstinawu

                        Mstina, sorry you had a less than good experience. Was it at the full Linn's or the sandwich shop up the hill? I find in a cafe type restaurant you are going to get food prepared ahead of time. They just don't have the staff or the room to do otherwise. Only at premium restaurants are you going to get cooked-to-order veggies and sides. I stick with things that are always cooked or made to order, like sandwiches for lunch or grilled meats at dinner. If it's a casserole, it's going to be reheated ; perhaps overcooked.

                        When I've eaten at the sandwich shop, it's been good. Well-stuffed sandwiches with fresh veg garnishes, good soups, not salty, and fresh baked goods. Linn's pastry is a lard crust, so can be a bit heavy/greasy, but I like it with fruit pie. Maybe their basic recipe has changed in the year or so since I was there. I always ask for a very light reheat of pie-- 30 seconds max. Since fruit pies cannot be cooked to order, they are going to be reheated., but good to know you need to ask what day they were baked if you're looking for a crispier crust. Since Linn's is not a full-on bakery (though they do make the Olallieberry Creme Cake) most likely they purchase things like cheescake, carrot cakes, etc. I'm surprised the cheesecake automatically came with a whipped topping and not berries--seems more obvious a choice.

                        Linn's Berry Farm store started in the 70's as a way to market their extra berries, but it has never been a full-on truck farm. Renee (ree-nie) made preserves and pies to use up the berries and when demand got high, she developed the frozen line for tourists to take home. When tourist traffic up the narrow road got to be too much for the neighbors, Linn's opened up in the village for meals and their fruit products.

                        Wrapped in newspaper, a frozen large pie will last 4 hours before defrosting. Now I believe most of their berries come from Watsonville, as do Apple Farm's and the Avila Valley Barn's. The preserves are also a way to market fruit to their large mail order clientele. They do cater to visitors wanting to take things with them. As with many like businesses, they seemed to proliferate into the Preserve-Sauce-Mix lines. Good profit there.

                        Best commercial fruit pie I've had on the Central Coast comes from Sant Ynez Valley, both at El Rancho Market in SY and from Jiminez Farms (Marcie's Pies) in SYV. Their fruit pies are chockablock with fruit.


                        They sell the minipies at the SLO downtown Thurs FM.

                        1. re: toodie jane

                          We went to the restaurant on Main Street.

                          1. re: toodie jane

                            Yep, Marcie's pies are absolutely the best.I've always gotten them at FMs in the area - Avila, Lompoc but once made a special trip to Los olivOs grocery to get one - hopefully still available at those spots for this summer.

                            1. re: Bean Counter

                              Better than the Ollalieberry pies from Avila Valley Barn? Mmmmm....we love their Ollalieberry Crisps and Cobblers, too. I think the crisps are $8.95, a steal considering all the berries inside.

                              1. re: HaroldandMaude

                                the best ollallieberry pies generally come down to who has the best berry patch, and adulterates 'em the least -- basic pie pastry is much more difficult to mess up. for central coast pies, the Avila Valley Barn's is a close second to a Santa Cruz bakery. we'd love to try the cobbler or crisp, but don't get down there at the right time of year.

                                1. re: HaroldandMaude

                                  Fair enough haven't had an ollaiaberry pie from Avila Barn but will be sure to do so this summer. I have had other varieties and while good not as good as Marcie's. My summer vacation usually involves a lot of pie but love crisps so I'll try that too.