Good Restaurants in Pismo?
Me and my SO will be staying in Pismo soon (at the Pismo LightHouse Suites) for a few days well deserved rest.
So I was wondering if anyone knows any good restaurants in the area? It can be seafood, italian, mexican, indian, anything. Thanks in advance.
I was born and raised in Arroyo Grande- just 5 minutes from Pismo. Lived there until just a few years ago...so I have about 30 years of eating "experience" in the area.
As far as best places to eat....I'm shocked that a few of my family's all time favorites are not listed at all.
For best pizza- Klondike's Cafe in the AG Village- has by far the best pizza I ever had in the area. VERY casual- with peanut shells all over the floor. Old time arcade machines to play- to keep kids busy...pretty loud- so small children are fine to bring in...and TONS of choices for pizzas- including red OR a very good white sauce- which is a garlic/olive oil sauce. My favorite!
For best burgers- I agree that Village Grill is a GREAT place. Their burgers and shakes are super yummy. And if you like ranch with your fries- they have GREAT ranch.
As far as Italian- Rosa's- in Pismo- right off the freeway exit- is WAY better than Guiseppe's....as far as I'm concerned...and less expensive. You can also wear jeans in there...and feel totally at home....OR if it's a special occasion, dressing up is good too. also a good place to bring children....since it's noisy enough...but not so much so that you can't hear yourselves think. My all time favorite dish here is the Con Quattro Formaggio pasta. It is a HUGE amount of tortellini- filled with 4 cheeses and then topped with a wonderful alfredo sauce. I always know that I will only eat half of the order...so I save the rest for later. If you can get seating on their outdoor patio- it is especially nice, with their outdoor heaters....even if it's somewhat foggy....which it generally is...As far as cost- that pasta dish I recommended is right around the $13 range....and WELL worth it.
As far as sushi- I have been VERY disappointed the last few times we've visited. We ate at Yanagi's last time in town- the one on top of the hill, at the Grover/Pismo boundary- and I thought it was absolutely nothing special AT ALL......AND it was REALLY expensive. We only ordered 7 long rolls and 1 person ordered a tempura dinner, and the total was over $200- without tip. UGH. Also VERY noisy- so hard to hear ANYONE talking....
As far as best clam chowder...I have literally had clam chowder at almost EVERY restaurant on the Central Coast....and my family is still VERY patial to Splash Cafe by the pier in Pismo. If you love CREAMY and THICK clam chowder- THIS is the place. It's VERY inexpensive, and ALWAYS crowded. We love the clam chowder so much, that we even have it overnighted to Nevada- when we get desperate enough....REALLY. The ONLY downside of the place is that because it is ALWAYS so crowded, you sometimes may have a wait for a table....and have to "stake it out" while the people are still eating. :-) If you like a thinner and more herb based clam chowder- this is NOT your place....
As far as best breakfast- Big Sky Cafe in downtown San Luis Obispo is by far our favorite. It is definitely worth the 15 minute drive from Pismo, and they serve many organic and vegetarian dishes. One of our favorites is their homemade Coffee Cake and herbal iced tea. SO yummy. EVERY dish we've ever had here is AMAZING. Also VERY kid friendly- with a great kids menu. They also offer an amazing lunch- with their BLT sandwich being my personal favorite. Also VERY reasonably priced. ESPECIALLY for what you get.
As far as best bagel/coffee place- I definitely second that Broadway Bagel on Grand Ave in Arroyo Grande is bar far the best. All of their spreads are homemade...and my very favorite choice is their chunky garden vegetable- with their cheddar broccoli bagel. YUMMY!!!! VERY reasonably priced, and MUCH better than Starbuck's.
Best brunch in my opinion is at Seacliff's in Pismo- just to the left of The Cliff's Hotel. ALL brunches in Pismo are pretty expensive, but if you're going to spend the money- THIS is where you want to do it. The staff is very attentive, the choices are plentiful, and of course the view is amazing. When making reservations- if you do so- you can also request a window/sea cliff view.
One other great dinner option is the Gardens in Avila. This is a PERFECT place to go for an anniversary dinner, or some other special occasion. VERY intimate and private. They only have about 10 tables...with a few outdoor tables available- depending on the weather. NOT kid friendly and NOT cheap. But not much more than the Guiseppe offerings....and MUCH more of an experience. The staff is VERY attentive and the dinner options are always wonderful. And I would HIGHLY recommend booking a private hot tub area for you and your significant other to relax in, once your dinner is completed.
As far as another dinner option- Chef Rick's in Orcutt is an AMAZING choice. It is owned and operated by Rick Bayless- a famous chef from the Food Network. It doesn't have amazing ambience, like Rosa's or Guiseppe's.....but the food is WONDERFUL. Truly big city level of dining cuisine, but in a strip mall location...right there in Orcutt- of all places. It's not cheap- but not much more than Guiseppe's....and WAY more worth the $$$$.
Lastly- one place you should ALWAYS visit- if in the area- Avila Bay Barn- right off the freeway in Avila Beach....they have an abundance of fresh produce- grown right there on their own property, amazing homemade pies, danishes, etc....and depending on the season- freshly steamed corn on the cob, popcorn, ice cream, etc. They also have a pretty significant petting zoo for the kids....so there is definitely something for everyone. We ALWAYS stop here while going back to visit...to stock up on berries and apples to eat for snacks while in the area.
I grew up in AG as well. Never been a huge fan Klondike's myself. Maybe it's not my style but it found the crust too thick and the sauce is on the sweet side. I much prefer NY style pizza.
I agree with Rosas, Village Grill though. Both are amongst my favorites in the area.
For japanese you might want to try Izakaya Raku in Grover Beach. Although not quite up to par with japanese you might find in a big city its pretty good for the central coast. Unfortunately they seem to be rather inconsistent. I've been there twice and the first time the food was good, the second time not so much. Might also depend on how busy the place is since its pretty tiny (<10 tables + sushi bar)
Well, the Sturdy Wench and I are back in Pismo for two nights to celebrate our anniversary!
Dinner last night was @ Mamma's Meatball Oceano, my review is on that thread. MM gets an A from us.
Dinner tonight was the Cracked Crab--again. Our friendly and efficient waitress was the indominatable Courtney. For apps we ordered the calamari strips, crab-stuffed poblano, and entrees were the crab melt and the shrimp tacos. (These are off menu, you have to ask for them. Do so.)
Since the SW ordered what she had in my previous review, and they were just as tasty, I'll review the new dishes: Calamari strips and the shrimp tacos.
The calamari strips (10) were meaty, tender, succulent strips deep-fried with a crispy, tasty batter that was not greasy or drippy. They were served with a "Thai dipping sauce" which was merely sweet chili garlic sauce from a bottle. That sauce was disappointing, but the calamari were perfect. I could have eaten three or four more servings of it. The SW asked for for the house cocktail sauce which was stellar--piquant, flavorful, delicious with a savory bite of horseradish and soothing balm of ketchup. Calamari and house cocktail sauce: A+.
The shrimp tacos (12?) were overstuffed with steamed shrimp and shredded lettuce, tomato, and slathered in a creamy, flavored herb sauce. They were served street style, with double tortillas. Even so, they quickly became knife and fork items I was happy to eat. A.
Special note: Both entrees came with fries, and these were fries to write home about. The manager said they were double-blanched, a technique I've known about for a few months and endorse heartily. The fry exterior was crispy and darkly, lovely golden brown, like burnished gold. The interior was piping hot, creamy and fluffy. This is where potatoes hope to go when they're harvested. A++.
Our total for two apps, two entrees and a drink was $58 + tax and tip.
The CC continues to impress us with its unswerving commitment to cleanliness (the owners travel yearly to thee Alaskan crab processing plant to examine it for cleanliness) and one of the most out-going, best-trained staffs I've had the pleasure of serving me.
I think Giuseppe's in Pismo is terrific for a casual Italian meal. Also, it's fun to have a drink and snacks at the Sea Venture hotel where their rooftop restaurant has a wonderful view of the sunset and good drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
If you are willing to drive 20-30 minutes to San Luis Obispo, there is great food available at the Park Restaurant as well as at Koberl at Blue.
Yesterday we breakfasted at Pizmo Taco on Price St, next to the Cracked Crab. The Sturdy Wench ordered the asada burrito and I ordered three tacos: One each of asada, shrimp and shredded beef.
The quality of the food was outstanding. The shredded beef and asada were tender and flavorful. The tacos were built on a corn tortilla, packed with plenty of meat and topped with chopped tomato, shredded lettuce and with what I believe was crumbled queso anejo.
The shrimp was boiled or steamed, butterflied, and served with a spicy cream sauce, which was actually more subtle than you'd expect. It gave the shrimp's sweetness a nice contrast without overpowering everything.
There were two salsas, rojo (red) and verde (green). Both had a nice roasted vegetable flavor, especially the rojo, but were a bit bland until mixed with some salt and pepper.
The counterman was friendly and accommodating. He told us to return at noon and he would have fresh tamales. We ended up returning at 4:00 to meet friends at the Cracked Crab, but we stopped at Pizmo Taco to pick up a chicken and a pork tamale ($3 ea.) to eat later. The tamales, wrapped in (banana leaves?), held up to refrigeration and later microwave reheating without damage or loss of flavor/texture as far as I could tell. The masa was white, moist and delicious, with that yummy earthy corn taste. Like the tacos, the meat was plentiful and delicious. These were the best tamales I'd ever eaten. The SW, who dislikes tamales, agreed and said she'd gladly eat these again.
Later that night we ordered delivery from Del's. Disappointing in every respect. Over-priced and under-quality. A small (10") 4 ingredient, thin crust pizza was $17. Two sides of pasta were quite small and $6 ea.
The pizza wasn't bad, it was merely adequate. Yes, it was better than Donino's, but that's not sayng much. The crust was properly cooked and the dough had some nice bready taste. Toppings were sparse, however: Ordering pineapple got you about 2 tablespoons' worth for a $1.25 charge.
The spaghetti sauce was horrible. The best thing I can say about it is, it was a nice color and consistency. The flavor was a punishing blow of oregano followed by a tiny, ultra-distant tomato.
The ravioli sauce was markedly better and elevated itself to just below jarred sauce quality.
We won't be back to Del's.
Try the small deli kitty-corner from the cracked crab for pizza. Not cheap, but great crust, cooked all the way through; excellent mild sauce and generous toppings. Owner in the kitchen (though don't know about today.) He also makes good gelato.
Most independent pizza joints in this area run about $20 for a two person (Med) pizza with average amount of toppings)
Dino's in the Pacific Coast Plaza (Scolari's Mkt) along 5 Cities Dr in Pismo does nice pizzas as well.
Have you gone to Doc Bernstein's in Arroyo Grande village for ICE CREAM yet? Try the Doc's Java.
Glad you are having a good visit, and thank you for the wonderful reports. You're setting a great example of chowhound reciprication.
re: toodie jane
You must must MUST try Giant Manhattan Pizza on Oak Park Blvd. It's a NY style slice that, if it were in LA rather than Pismo, would be among the most raved about pizzas in the area, I have no doubt. Heck, it's better than most pizzas in NYC. I live in Orange County, and we haven't got a pizza on that level.
Also, you may want to try a great steakhouse called Jocko's in Nipomo (next city below). It's in a last century western saloon, and the experience is definitely something.
No, the Sow's Ear was not built for hobbits, although you can be forgiven for thinking so. Low ceilings, rustic wood paneling, shelving and ceiling; sturdy wooden chairs and tables, darker colors all give an upholstered cave or a cabin feeling. For quiet, intimate dining with a loved one or special enemy, this is the place!
Service was excellent, Marika (sp?) was friendly and attentive. We began with the salmon cheesecake as an appetizer, and then the SW ordered the sea bass with a honey almond crust. It came with a green salad with honey lime vinaigrette, then a brown rice/wild rice pilaf and steamed fresh green veg. I had the lobster pot pie, ditto salad (mine with bleu cheese) rice and veg.
The salmon cheesecake (9) with smoked salmon, gruyere, cream cheeses mixed with fresh herbs and baked in a corn crust and served with a sourdough mini-loaf was wonderful: Creamy, thick, savory but never greasy or mouth-coating. It came with a field greens salad on the side topped with carrot strings and a dark vinaigrette dressing. Both the SW and I loved this and wished there was a stronger salmon taste. A.
The sea bass (21) was perfectly cooked: Firm, sweet, with a firm honey crust on one side. A. The lobster pot pie (22) came in a large china crock (about 12 oz.) with a puff pastry top. The pot pie was delicious, creamy with several large pieces of lobster claw meat! Much more meat than I was expecting. The lobster soup inside had a very strong herbal hit at the beginning--tarragon, I think. (Sorry, still learning my herbs.) That hit didn't damage my enjoyment of the dish but it was unexpected and distracting. One piece of claw meat was overcooked: Dry aand chewy. But all the other meat was juicy and perfect; no harm, no foul.
Excellent food, excellent service, an intimate and inviting ambiance, and reasonable prices--Sow's Ear is definitely worth a visit and we will return to it.
Baed on a rec here we tried to go to Fat Cat's in Avila Beach, but while trying to find it we saw the Avila Beach Grocery & Cafe, so we stopped there instead. I'm glad we did! The cafe is a little order counter set into a small but modern and airy convenience/tourist schlock store. Several umbrellaed metal tables outside and half a dozen or so funky wooden tables inside.
I ordered the Veggie Omelette with bacon & tri-tip (what can I say? I love my veg, love my meat) and the Sturdy Wench had a breakfast burrito with chicken mango sausage. Both meals were huge portions, delicious, saisfying. Egg was nicely cooked, if a bit overdone, but there had to've been at least 6-8 oz of tri-tip! My omelette came with toast and hash browns. With two drinks, our bill was about $24--very reasonable for what we had. The servers were friendly and smiling, outgoing. I would definitely recommend this place and we will return. (We'll give Fat Cat's a try another day.) A+.
...and the hits just keep on comin'
Brunch today was the Sunday champagne brunch at Pelican Point Between the two Best Westerns on Price St.
I forgot to ask the price before we sat down, and there was no mention of it anywhere, so the $33 per person price sandbagged me. WTH? I had it in the back of my mind we'd be paying around $19-25. Nope! Grumblegrumblegrumble...
Anyway, my poor foresight aside, the brunch was pretty. Our waiter, Arturo, was excellent. Smooth, with a ready smile, clearly practiced, easy-going, confident yet never intrusive, he was a waiter's waiter, perfect for this more upscale place. I wish I had a restaurant so I could hire him.
The food was good, beyond most Sunday buffets, although nothing made me want to jump up and run around the room. The presentation was well done, food was displayed attractively, at different heights, lots of color from veg garnishes. The buffet had several salads, french toast, scrambled eggs and cheese, sliced fresh smoked salmon with capers and chopped onion and tomatoes, salmon poached in a saffron sauce, chowder, beef teriyaki, sausage, eggs Benedict, bacon, cold shrimp and crab legs, carved beef tenderloin, a waffle station and an egg station.
The cold king crab legs were cut cleanly along their length--bless the prep guy!--so digging the meat out was eas. The egg benedict was suffering from being held, it really needed to be made a la minute. The Brie en croute was forgettable. The sausage link was good but tasted like every other breakfast sausage with that nasty herbal, medicinal taste. However, the bacon was wonderful! Thick, smoked, nicely seasoned, crispy/chewy, it made me yearn for many more than my one piece, but alas, such was not meant to be. The smoked salmon was nicely chilled and fresh with no fishy aroma. The clm chowder was excellent: Creamy, thick, large chunks of potato, lots of bacon crumbles and clams. I had my three spoonfuls and regrettfully stopped. B+
We didn't feel the need to eat until 5:00 or so, and based on rec's here we tried Giuseppe's on 851 Price St. Service was good: professional, civil, and the waitress visibly warmed up to us as we talked.
Instead of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar bread dip, the junior waiter added the oil and vinegar to a small dish of ground Parmesan cheese, creating a slurry. This was novel and delicious. A.
We started with the Funghi Ripieni, mushrooms stuffed with cheese & herbs, with four cheese sauce. These were 4 medium button mushrooms served as described. My only complaint was 4 mushrooms seemed too few for the price. The taste was bland and nothing in the dish stood out, but nothiing was bad. Overall just not a remarkable dish. C.
We ordered the minestrone soup as well. We were expecting the typical tomato-based veg soup you and we have all seen a million times, but something quite different arived. The soup was light brown, a chicken base, and the veg were in larger dice, giving a nice rustic look and taste and mouth-feel. The soup itself was good, if bland, and benefitted from several stiff grinds of the pepper mill and a dash of salt. B.
The Sturdy Wench ordered a special, halibut cheeks over lemon pepper cous-cous and topped with a wilted greems salad. Now this was worth the drive! The fish was sweet, perfectly cooked, with a light crisspy coaating on one side. I loved the cous-cous, which were quite peppery, but she didn't care for them. A-.
I had the braciole with orechiette pasta. The flank steak was fork tender and delicious, full of meaty, savory flavor. The pasta was thick and nicely cooked, and the dark red sauce carried a punch of warm pepper, aromatics and wine. A previous poster said their sauce was akin to jarred Ragu--if so, it's Ragu I would buy by the case. A.
Overall, not a bad place. Certainly better than Olive Garden or any of the zillion faceless trattorias out there. Perhaps not my first choice for Italian food unless nothing better presented itself. Before we leave, I want to try Rosa's, I'll report back if we do.
The Sturdy Wench and I just returned from the Cracked Crab in Pismo, 751 Price Rd. http://www.crackedcrab.com
One word review: Outstanding!
More words: This casual, no reservations, crab-focused eatery is lively, packed with happy diners, outgoing and friendly staff, serving unpretentious seafood, mainly crab. (Currently the oysters are from Washington State.) The focus is on fresh, fresh, fresh ingredients and the payoff is in the amazing taste.
We waited at the bar since we were facing a 30-50 minute lead time for a table. This was also where the servers' order entry computer was located, so we chatted with several servers, all of whom were very outgoing. One waitress in particular, Rhonda, made us feel warmly welcomed and talked with us between order entries and served us our wine and appetizer.
The Sturdy Wench ordered the Crab Melt, I ordered the Crab Enchiladas. (I wanted to keep it light since we'd also ordered 6 oysters on the half shell, the poblano crab appetizer, and two glasses of wine.)
The oysters were plump, seawater fresh, creamy, rich, voluptuous. Stick a diaphanous nightie on them and you'd have the bivalve equivalent of Sophia Loren. They were accompanied by lemon wedges and a small ramekin of homemade cocktail sauce which was nicely piquant and fresh tasting. A+
The poblano crab was a nice sized lump of crab meat stuffed into a steamed then seared poblano pepper, dusted with jack cheese and served with two corn tortillas and chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce. A.
My wife loved the crab melt, saying "The flavors were well integrated, it was perfectly size--not too much or too little. The french bread was nicely chewy. Very satisfying. I would definitely eat it again!" A+.
My seafood enchiladas were delicious. Two medium-sized white corn tortillas stuffed with crab and shrimp. I was a little disappointed there was so little poblano pepper in them. (I ordered the Cholula cream sauce on the side, fresh steamed veg instead of basmati rice, and no cheese.) The enchiladas came witha large mound of fresh, tasty pico de gallo. I had kept the coccktail sauce from the oysters and mixed it into the Cholula cream sauce, and the resulting amalgam was lively on both a pepper taste and horseradish taste with fascinating aromatics. It was excellent on both the enchiladas and the veg. A.
The only improvement I would suggest would be replacing the bland factory tortillas with homemade tortillas.
We had a wonderful time there and since we're in Pismo for the next four days, we'll be back, now and every time we come to Pismo!
Del's on Shell Beach Road (great pizza's and calzones and the rolls they give you with dinner are to die for - food doesn't come extremely fast so don't go if you are in a hurry... they don't make it until you order) - should be within walking distance of your hotel; to the north. Splash is good for typical chowder - the Jetty in Santa Maria or Lompoc has the best in my opinion. SeaVenture (Pismo) used to have abalone chowder which is delicious is they still serve it. There is a little breakfast place next to Alex's on Shell Beach Road - the names escapes me though.
Are you sticking to Pismo only? Oceano, Avila & Arroyo Grande all have some great places too. There is a Mama's Meatballs open in Oceano now. Yamato (sushi) in Grover Beach is a fun place in a strip mall/plaza, nothing fancy. I agree with toodie jane about the steakhouses... & going to the smaller FMC in AG if you do go. Chacho's (mexican) in Oceano is my favorite. If you go be nice to the ladies working in the tiny kitchen! =)
not Fine Dining, but
Try Philly's on Grand Ave at 4th street in Grover Beach. Philly cheese and bbq ribs & chicken as eat-in casual or take-out. Would not recccomend Alex's in Shell for bbq though it's an area institution. McClintock's Steakhouse in Shell is way too touristy (sorry) and crowded. If you want to try their steaks, go to the smaller dining room in village of Arroyo Grande, on Bridge Street. Their breakfasts are great.
Some of the smaller beach towns to the south of Pismo along Hiway 1- Grover and Oceano, and Guadalupe,--have funky little taquerias and of course the Far Western Tavern (rib-eye)in Guadalupe. Excellent sushi and Japanese food in Santa Maria (20 minutes south) in the Stowell Center at Atari Ya. Good food, very attentive sushi chefs.
Pete's Pierside on the far pier in Avila has great mariscos and outdoor patio for (very) casual dining. I love their fish&chips with red pototao chips!
Have a good time!
re: toodie jane
Update: Philly's is gone.
There is a new Thai place in Grover Beach at Grand and 5th street. Getting some good buzz though I haven't gone yet. Northwest corner.
The Lido at The Inn at Shelter Cove on Shell Beach Rd (next to The Cliffs) is reportedly the best in beach area fine dining now. They do small plates and many special dinners. Chef is Evan Treadwell. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/373511
Good French food and a large wine selection is available in SLO (ess-ell-oh) at Et Viola just off 101 at the Los Osos Valley Rd exit, in the Bear Valley center. Chef Jose Dahan is enlaring his dining room this July. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/business...
Check out Giuseppe's for great italian,
DePalo's deli for take out,
Cracked Crab for seafood,
Del's has very good pizza,
Gardens of Avila at Sycamore Mineral Springs is wonderful for Cal-fusion
and be sure to check out the Cinnamon Rolls in downtown Pismo.
re: Bruce in SLO
Giuseppe's is my current favorite Italian in the county (though Buona Tavola in SLO is up there). Definitely give it a try.
For clam chowder in a bread bowl, hit up Splash Café. I also like Yanagi Sushi (you can see it from the freeway), which has yummy sauces and teppanyaki grilling.
I also like the Village Grill in downtown Arroyo Grande, if you go into town check it out for inexpensive but yummy burgers, chicken and fries.
Lindsay, concur with your rec's. I haven't been, but hubby went with friends to Yanagi's and he said BECAUSE of the teppan tables, the din in the place made coverstion almost impossible; thought the food was good. This was at about 5:45 pm. on a weekday. H-m-m-m. Must try it!
I love Village grill, too for their Ortega sourdough chicken burgers and fries.
Have you tried the Rusty Pig? who knew?
also, any SLO hounds gone to the new Italian rest. on Higuera? Kathy Marks-Hardesty made it sound big-city best in her New Times review.
re: Bruce in SLO