Drive on past Pismo Beach on Hwy 101 and you have missed the highlight of seafood eating, a clam chowder bowl. You can get clam chowder from many restaurants in the area but SPLASH seems to have it down pat. The bread bowl is delicious and the chowder thick and tasty. Ther Many people may be lined up to order but the line moves fast. Sitting at stool bar area or at tables can be difficult if busy, but there are benches outside on the beach plaza. The interesting part of this clam chowder mecca is that Pismo Clams are hard to find as they were almost picked clean from the waters in the Pismo area, so the town that has Clam statues and rents clamming forks and wants you in town has their top clam chowder clams, come from outside the area. Far outside the area. Well, the chowder still tastes great, so maybe the ones they use are related to the Famous Pismo Clam. Can't miss SPLASH as it has cartoon figures on the side of the building, with clams, of course.
Favorite Dish: I guess if you have read so far, you know that the Clam Chowder Bowl is my favorite dish at SPLASH. Made with sourdough bread and carved out to hold a bowl of clam chowder. They also have pretty good hamburgers and hot dogs for the meat eaters.197
Steamers of Pismo is located on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Pismo Beach. The view is stunning and the food is equally as gratifying. This is a fine dining restaurant that has excellent seafood dishes for you to enjoy. Reservations are recommended but the wait is not that long without one and Steamers has a wonderful nautical themed bar to soothe the soul. In case you haven't heard of Steamers when passing through or stopping in Pismo Beach, rest assured it is food prepared with the upmost care. They are a part of the F McLintock's family of restaurants. If you have driven Hwy 101 from Pismo Beach to San Luis Obispo you would have seen the big sign of a cowboy on the mountain side of the road in Shell Beach, right next door to Pismo Beach. They are always crowded and if you are a meat and potatoes kind of person, F McLintock's Saloon and Dining House is your spot for dinner. Seafood and here we are at Steamers. The best.
The waitstaff was pleasant and ready to please. Our waiter, Jeremy, was very informative on the house specials and gave his own opinion as to what he considered an excellent choice. I listened and went along with the house special for the night and must admit it was excellent. Of course, looking out at the spectacular view of the ocean, made everything seem satisfying. This was the second time my wife and I visited Steamers of Pismo and again we were impressed with the service and the food.
Favorite Dish: Seafood restaurants and oysters go together like a perfect opening to a musical. Something light and airy, not too filling but leaves you wanting more. Oysters on the half shell is my seafood musical and Steamers had delicious Washington State oysters for the night, plump and tasty. My wife and I both had a half dozen oysters, each. What a great start combining the oysters with the perfect martini for the occasion, a lemon drop. Cheers.
My swordfish main course was something I have not tried at a seafood restaurant in a long time, my overly fear of mercury being the only reason, as I find swordfish to be a seafood steak, firm and tender. Throwing caution to the wind, I enjoyed the swordfish that was served on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes and spinach leaves. I guess I'll have to check out that mercury report again, I might be overly cautious. My wife repeated her entree she enjoyed here before, saying that it was fantastic and was glad we stopped here again. She claimed the tempura shrimp salad for herself and was delighted with her choice.
I could not resist the smell of this delicious BBQ smokehouse, while walking by. We knew by the crowd...and the surfing pigs....that this place would provide a great dinner!
Favorite Dish: Pulled pork sandwich, your choice of BBQ sauces...and a cold beer!
It's kind of a fast food joint where everything is almost everything is fried or unhealthy. It's cheap and fast. There's only one thing to come here for, and that's the New England clam chowder.
Favorite Dish: Yes, it's great clam chowder. Creamy and hearty. You must get the seafood topping. And nibble on the bread while eating it. The only gripe I have about the soup is that it doesn't actually have that much clam in it! But nevertheless, it hit the spot.
Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana is a wonderful, good quality Italian restaurant that serves lunch and dinners. They specialize in southern Italian food, especially from the Baresi seaside village. You will find wood fired pizzas and home made breads, pastas, seafood, chicken, steaks, and salads, as well as a full bar. The atmosphere is a pleasant, rustic Italian. We had a very good meal here. We began with the Insalata Di Spinach salad, which on the suggestion of the waiter we split, as these salads are quite large, and I am a somewhat small eater. This salad contained baby spinach, pancette roasted tomatoes, red onions, pine nuts, and sheep’s mild cheese. It was excellent. My husband had Pistachio Encrusted Chicken Breasts, and I had Capellini Capesante E Camberoni, which was shrimp and scallops in vodka, pancette, garlic, and a cream sauce. We each had a glass of Pinot Wine. I wanted to try one of their delicious sounding desserts, but we were both too full to indulge. A few of their dessert choices were biscotti, cannoli, lemon bars, cheesecakes, double chocolate tort, tiramisu, crème brulee, carrot cake, and a few others. Hmmmmm it would have been a difficult choice, Tiramisu or creame brulee, two of more favorites, or maybe the cannoli. Maybe next time I can squeeze one down. This is an a-la-cart restaurant, so expect to spend extra for your salad or soup. Our meal of a split salad, two main dishes, and two glasses of wine came to $58.99 without the 20% tip that we left for our excellent waiter.
When you arrive in Pismo Beach, you are at the ocean's edge. Food comes to mind and fish & chips is what is cropping up in your head. Where do you go? Why, to the Pismo Fish & Chip & Seafood Restaurant to devour those succulent moist strips of pure beer battered fish heaven that they have been serving for over 40 years.
The restaurant looks like it should be in the Danish Village of Slovang that is about one hour's drive south, but here it is blue plates on the wall and all. That's okay. Everyone, locals and tourists alike, comes for the fish & chips, not the decor. You can buy the batter to make your own, but there is something about sitting down inside this restaurant and savouring every last bite of the Fish & Chip platter. You can order in sizes, 2 piece, 3 piece, and 4 piece. Two is enough, three makes you feel good, and four pieces, well just ask for a box to take that one home or back to the hotel. You won't go wrong eating at Pismo Fish & Chips.
Favorite Dish: Need I say more. Those golden crisp beer battered fish & chips is all I need.
Why was I surprised that it was good? Because it's so close to the very touristy stretch of beach near the pier, and I generalize that places close to tourist centers, especially in beach cities, tend to be sub-par when it comes to quality of food and value for money. But thankfully there are always exceptions to the rule: This taqueria was really quite good.
In fact, it won our personal "best fish taco" award (the other venues that just happened to be contenders in this very biased "contest" of ours were Hoagies and El Pizmo). The fish tacos here at El Mirador were excellent. Red snapper, the fish is grilled or fried - your choice. I chose fried, and it was excellent, and the tacos, accompanied by a nice cup of horchata, went down a charm on a hot and hungry beach day.
We loved this place and hung out here much of a recent Sunday morning. Even though it was a big tourist weekend in Pismo, this place felt very local in flavor, and the comings and goings of both locals and tourists provided us much great people-watching.
We stopped in for coffee (it's a cafe with a limited food menu), but we were just too comfy to leave. So I got myself a berry smoothie and the "Honeymoon Bagel" ($4-ish), which was toasted and topped with cream cheese, tomato, avocado, red onion and sprouts. Good stuff. Johnny opted for the breakfast special ($7.50) that they serve on weekend mornings. It was a plate loaded with two pancakes (mixed with whatever you like - blueberries, strawberries, choc chips and/or walnuts), a side of scrambled eggs, and two pieces of chicken-apple sausage or two strips of bacon. I stole some bites off his place, and it was all great. The pancakes were seasoned with a dash of cinnamon.
Off the main drag, just a short walk from the pier, this casual little lunch joint has pretty good food for reasonable prices. The two fish tacos plate ($4.50) is very good, with the fish fried Ensenada-style. We tried a cup of New England clam chowder as well. It was tasty, topped with shrimp and crab. This was our first introduction to clam chowder in a town of chowderheads (everyone is obsessed with this stuff!).
We wouldn't know, as we just couldn't bring ourselves to wait in this line. This is apparently THE spot to get the best clam chowder in town -- and every visitor seems to know it.
(Note, though, that we took this photo on a long holiday weekend, so I'm guessing weekdays and regular weekends would be a little more sane.)
It was a very hot day when we stepped into this tiny place, and it was even hotter once inside -- it's a taco joint, but in here, they bake break all morning into the early afternoon for nearby eateries including Giuseppe's. We braved the swelter, though, ordered up a few tacos, then sat at one of just a few tables outside (no inside seating).
Here's the verdict on the tacos: They're authentic and cheap (under $3 each), but part of the "authentic" is that they are small. There's not a whole lot of extras like lettuce and sour cream, etc. The meat in these tacos take center stage. My grilled chicken taco was delicious; the shrimp taco, however, was bland.
This is a good place to pick up tacos on the go, but its location smack dab on Price St (which was trafficky on the holiday weekend we visited anyway) probably isn't the most inspiring atmosphere for "dining in."
On our way to Rosa's on a Saturday night, we passed Pismo's other popular Italian restaurant, Giuseppe's. I don't know anything about the food at Giuseppe's, but the place was certainly a scene with people packed inside and out. It looked like fun, but accordians and lines to get in were not the quite what we were feeling like that evening.
Rosa's was a perfect alternative for us. It's a big place (with indoor and patio seating) and popular, too, but there was lots of room for everyone and no rushing about around us or anything. Staff were attentive enough, though service wasn't extra special or memorable - and that was just fine with us.
We started with the fried artichokes ($9.45). They were fried tempura-style, and were really good. I might have preferred just a slightly lighter batter, but I have no right to complain because I happily gobbled up every last bit of crispy tidbit on my side of the plate! Johnny and I split an arugla salad ($6.45), which *was* light with the pleasantly slightly bitter arugula leaves topped with pine nuts, grilled portobella mushroom and goat cheese. For a main, I went with one of the night's specials, a spinach manicotti ($13.95), which really hit the spot, topped with a full-bodied marinara. Johnny was mostly happy with his choice, too: the pizza pesto ($11.95). But it was packed with ingredients (chicken, pesto, mushrooms, tomatoes, parmesan, etc.) and he would've preferred something a little simpler (you know, a more elegant simplicity Italiano-style).
Giovanni’s Fish Market and Restaurant is the place to go if you take a drive to my Off the Beaten Path suggestion for Morro Bay. This family run restaurant has been in business for over 25 years, and is a favorite of the locals, so expect to stand in line to reach the window where you will order, then wait for your number to be called. Once you have your food, enjoy your meal on their outdoor wharf patio, where you will have a scenic view of Morro Rock and the harbor. The restaurant specializes in fresh, locally caught fish, crab, shellfish, and smoked fish. They are also well known for their clam chowder, having won the local chowder cook off twice, as well as the judges and people’s choice awards. We had the clam chowder, and a grilled halibut sandwich, and found it quite good. As we were eating we saw a California Sea Lion swimming by, as well as a number of seagulls.
Two Blocks Off the Beach has a dark ceiling, which even in the daylight, gives it a dark atmosphere. Add the candlelight, and it is quite pleasant. The restaurant features some Italian dishes, including Panini sandwiches. What led us to the restaurant, however, were our noses. We could smell the wonderful smoky smell wafting out of the restaurant. We poked our heads in the door, and found out that they were cooking a weekend special, slow roasted, and smoked prime rib. This prime rib is wood smoked with used Cabernet wine casts they get from a California winery. It wasn’t a Saturday night, but they were experimenting with serving it all week because it is so popular, for this reason it was not listed on their menu. This excellent, and unusual prime rib was not the tenderest prime rib I have ever had, but it was reasonably tender, and the slightly smoked flavor made it delightful. I say slightly smoked, as even though they begin roasting this dish in the morning, the smoked flavor did not overpower the flavor of the meat. The dinner came with a tasty serving of garlic potatoes, and a salad. The restaurant offers a sizeable collection of local wines by the bottle or the glass.
Favorite Dish: Our favorite dish was the prime rib, I don’t know if they will keep having it every night, but if they have it when you are there, give it a try. You won’t find this anywhere else, and it might not be listed on their menu, so ask, or let your nose find the way. I have also been told that the Bruschetta is very good, but we did not try it.
The Splash Café is a small, casual, very popular café with a southern California beach feel to it. We went early, and it was so crowded, we barely found a table. Soon after we arrived, people were lining up outside, and standing in the café eyeing diners to see who was about to leave. One weekend we saw a long line stretching down the sidewalk of people waiting to get in. We ate at the Splash Café twice while we were in the area, and enjoyed it both times. Good food at reasonable prices. The first time we had clam chowder, calamari, and curly fires they call chips. The second time we had clam chowder, I had shrimp and chips, and my husband had clam strips. They advertise that they serve more than 15,000 gallons of clam chowder a year. Besides fried fish and seafood, you can also get fish tacos and sandwiches, steamers, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, chili, deli type sandwiches, and salads. The only dessert they offer is Bread Pudding. Although they do not have a full bar, you can get beer and wine.
Favorite Dish: Splash Café is famous for their award wining clam chowder. The café has received requests from Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines for their clam chowder recipe. I have to be honest, however, the first time we went, it was quite average. The second time we went, we decided to give the chowder a second chance, and it was just excellent. We figured maybe we had a scoop off the top the first time, and the clams had settled to the bottom of the pot. I would definitely have the chowder again.