this past weekend hub and I planned a last minute trip to San Luis Obispo, Calif. it’s pretty much one of my favorite places, and still feels a bit like home after living there during college and a few years after. I had been in the area a lot of a kid (both my parent’s went to Cal Poly + my dad is from Santa Maria), so I have a soft spot in my heart for the central coast.
we made the trek to see my best friend, to visit the Johnson House (see: saying goodbye), and to maybe-kinda-sorta eat our faces off. we had made plans on other things to do too, but sandwiches, beer, and avoiding poison oak were extremely high on the list!
// warning: this is a long post (#sorryimnotsorry) about the area and our eats //
// GETTING OUTSIDE //
the San Luis Obispo County and is an area that we love dearly, there has been jokes that if poison oak didn’t grow at sea level it could be a place we retire, get old and hate the snow. there are a few other pit falls like really really big black widow spiders, but we try not to think about that part. those things aside, there is lot to do! there are lots of little peaks to bag, fun hikes to walk + run + ride, and miles of beaches.
we tried to cram in as much as we could, and kicked-off the weekend with a short (3.2 miles) hike up to Bishops Peak ( recorded on strava ) . the summit has a 365 degree few of the city, and you can almost out to the ocean. we noticed the drought has drastically effected the area and dried up a small lake that is usually seen near a distant neighborhood in the madonna area. the hike was pretty dusty, and we dodged the poison oak, while keeping Bogie on a short leash. it a beautiful hike through the oak trees down low, and then turns into a bunch of switch backs as you go up in elevation. the trail was quite busy, the busiest we had ever experienced, but it didn’t take away from the fact it was great to be back! it took us longer than expected round-trip, but that’s what happens when you go hiking with a wiener with stumpy legs.
after our hike we packed up, and drove out LOVR (los osos valley road) with the windows down to enjoy the breeze, and took the scenic drive through perfumo canyon + see canyon. if you like pretending you are race car driver, speeding down and up twists, turns, tight corners you will like this road. we reached a vista point and stopped for a few, because you can see out to the ocean towards morro bay. it was a great morning and afternoon!
we later met up with some friends, and took a trip down memory lane and toured the Cal Poly campus. walking around we were a little jealous of the state-of-the-art recreation facility. it has two outdoor climb walls, multiple pools, more gym equipment than I have ever seen in one place, lots of basketball courts, pin pong tables, and much more I am sure we didn’t see. there are also lots of new class rooms, and buildings that we wish would have been on the campus a few years ago. the campus is a dream, and I am proud to say that I attended such an awesome university!
the adventures that evening, and on sunday were more mild, but we took a few walks around our old neighbor hood and did some heavy lifting around the old house to help out my parents. it was a great weekened, and check out our eats + drinks below!
// THE FOOD //
san luis obispo is a sandwich town… to us at least! the city has gotten more sophisticated since we moved away with lots of tapas restaurants, new micro breweries, and fancy cocktails, but we were in college when we live there, so sandwiches were our jam! on our trip we had friday evening through monday morning to get our grub on.
we arrived around 8:30 pm on Friday night, and living in Truckee we had to check what time things closed! ummmm yeah, SLO is a college town, everything is open late. we debated on our dinner options, pros vs cons, and what would be best to eat with friends the following night. picked our mark and worked through our must eats as weekend progressed.
- PETRA | mediterranean pizza + grill | 1210 Higuera Street
that’s my pita sandwich (above: upper left) in the fluffiest, bestest, handmade pita bread ever! ohhh and the felafel was crispy, light and sooo good. hubs dreams of the shawarma here, and all the other authentic goodies. lots of beer options on tap!
- BREAKFAST BUZZ | breakfast fare + burritos | 295 Santa Rosa Street
must: buzz burrito, choice of meat + cheese *no substitutions allowed*
on a busy street, and a bit noisy if you sit outside, but super dog friendly. your food comes FAST, however there can be a wait, because it is frequented by college students. this was a weekend staple in college, and still doesn’t disappoint with price, portions, and overall taste.
- HIGH STREET DELI | sandwiches | 350 High Street
must: California Turkey (the long standing go-to) or Dutch Punch (NEW)the BEST sandwich ever! no jokes here… we dream of it. we would eat here if we only had one stop! the wait is long, I a mean very long (get a beer + chips while you wait) so don’t ever have a schedule, but their new side patio and beers on tap has made this spot even better than we remembered. it’s a great vibe, and has lots of vintage decorations littered throughout the indoor space and patio.
- FIRESTONE GRILL | bbq + burgers | 1001 Higuera Street
must: tri-tip sandwich + crack fries aka basket of friedthis is a LOVE of any kid that went to college in SLO. it’s not to pricey, speedy, but always packed. the line can wrap around the end of the building during the school year, and you will most likely be hovering over people to find a spot to sit. I don’t recommend the bar for drinks, if you want a beer while you nosh, sure… but just stick to beer or wine. it can be quite loud inside, but always worth it on every aspect.
* we have always gone here, but I hear there is a new spot called OLD SAN LUIS OBISPO BBQ which we might have to try, because I hear their tri-tip is authentic Santa Maria style and delicious.
- SEASIDE CAFE & BAKERY | coffee + pancakes + good eats | 1327 Shell Beach Road
must: anything they make this was a find of my best-y, and explain as “you have to get the blueberry pancakes and a blueberry white mocca.” I was skeptical at first, because she doesn’t eat eggs or green things and sticks to sweet breakfast foods. we gave it a shot and it was amazing. hubs and I agreed this place is triple-d worthy! I had a veggie + egg breakfast burrito the size of my head, and hubs had a blue cheese + bacon scramble with greens, and hash. my friend ended up getting the strawberry hot cakes… amazing, and her blueberry coffee, which was also amazing. it is a small kitchen, but worth every penny ( a little pricey: $35 for two) and the even the long wait.
- PEPE DELGADOS |dinner| 1601 Monterery Street
must: the beached whale or tamales + great chips and salsa
my parents have been eatting at this place for over 35 years. no joke! the had a few dates here, and it has always been a dinner spot for our family anytime we had a stop over in SLO or they came to visit in college. I don’t think I have ever eaten the same thing, everything is great, but my dad would say the enchiladas are the best. he gets them everytime! don’t for get your beverage, and order a margaritas. they will kick your ass and they are tasty.
- BATCH | ice cream sandwiches | 1108 Broad Street
must: STOP HERE this spot was not around, when I lived in SLO, but I was told by some friends that it was awesome. I usually go a couple blocks down for COWBOY COOKIE, but mixed it up. basically you pick two (they can be different) cookies, an ice cream flavor, and for a little extra a topping! the roll the ice cream in your topping, slap it between the warm cookies and YUM! my choice was chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate, but the winner of the night was the hubs selection of oatmeal cookies with salted caramel ice cream and no toppings. it was delish, and I would order his option if I ever return.
// THE BEER //
every trip we go on there is always a good beer hunt! I did my research for the trip in attempt to surprise hubs with some new and unique salty beverages. the landmark of the area is Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles. if you haven’t heard of it… well I am sorry and you live under a rock. I had been to the brewery years ago (in 2008**), before it had a fancy separate tasting room + another location, and when I was stunned to see six-packs of DBA in Truckee. we would have loved to stop, but it the timing didn’t work out this trip. instead we set our sites on local brews; two new places have popped up since I moved away in 2009. our favorite was BANG THE DRUM for it’s beers + atmosphere and location. it would have been dangerous when we lived in the area, because it is only about a 5 min walk from the Johnson House. see below for my suggestions, and more!
- BANG THE DRUM | 950 Orcutt Road | no food on site, sometimes food trucks
Try: King Mate – English Style IPA | Unique: Draca – a Chipotle Pepper infused Porter
NEW and located on the south-side, but easy to find and near the main bike path. the tasting room is built completely from reclaimed wood with large sliding doors that open up to the large outdoor patio dripped with cafe lighting, vintage wing back chairs and people warmers. it had the best vibe of anywhere we went all weekend!
- CENTRAL COAST BREWERY | 1422 Monterey Street | no food on site
Try: Lucky Day IPA – American IPA | Unique: Chai Ale – Spiced + Light Bodied
established in 1998, but has always been under our radar in college. the smaller brewery sits on one of the main streets through the city, and has a small outdoor patio outside the tasting room. super friendly environment, and tasty options in a low key environment.
- TAP IT | 675 Clarion Court | snacks + bites
Try: Hop Farm Series, 3 on the Tree – Triple IPA
a little out of the way for most, but easy to find if you have been in the area before. huge outdoor patio area with a stage, party games (corn-hole), giant jenga and lots of seating. the vibe was a little nascar meets harley meats vintage dune buggy with succulents. it was an eclectic look, but overall very fun.
** side note: I had the pleasure of working on an amazing little design firm in San Luis Obispo, iii DESIGN, and while I was there got to work on coasters, six-pack designs, and bottle caps for the brewery under the creative director.