Firestone Grill: burgers and tritip and fries, oh my!
Everyone goes to Firestones: college students, visitors, locals, parents and their kids. If you're visiting with kids, this is one restaurant they are certain to like. They offer stuff like burgers, seasoned fries (get a basket and share with others), tri-tip sandwiches, chicken fingers, hot dogs, pork sandwiches, salads, 1/2 chicken meals, onion rings, etc. The food is very juicy, not dry. I can't stand dry burgers.
When you walk in, the menu is located on the big wall to your right. You can't miss it. The place is very casual. And if there's a sports game on, there's a good chance that it will be very crowded. Take advantage of the day if it's nice and eat outside in the front. If the weather is blah, then be like all of us and wait like a hawk around other diners but not too obviously until they vacate a table. Snag it before anyone else does.
You have two choices when you order food. Either pay for your food at the cashier that's on your left when you enter the building and then wait to pick it up at the area to the right of the grill when they call your number, or else find a table in the bar area in the back right where the TV screens are--you seat yourself--and a server will eventually come over to take your order. I think there's a big menu on a wall over in that area, too, but I'm not positive. Service can be rather slow if the place is full. Order a beer to kill time. Beers can be quite cheap, especially if it's happy hour, but I can't remember what time that is.
Favorite Dish: Whenever I go, it's a toss-up between an ABC Burger (which has avocado, bacon, and I think jack cheese) and a tri-tip sandwich. (I actually ordered both recently when I was about to leave on a road trip!) I always order a basket of fries, or rather, get someone else with me to order a basket of fries and then mooch off of them! Make sure to ask the guy who gives you your food for ranch for the fries, and ask for extra barbecue sauce for your tri-tip sandwich. I like to take a few bites without the extra sauce, just to enjoy the meaty taste, and then I pour the sauce on and enjoy the rest of it like that.
Mission Grill: fancy american, casual dress
I’ve only eaten at this place once, for a friend’s birthday a few years ago. The menu changes seasonally. On that visit, I ordered a Jerk-Seasoned Ahi dish. In my opinion, the seasoning completely overwhelmed the fish. I wasn’t very satisfied. My friends, however, ordered other seafood dishes, other pastas and salads and they enjoyed their meals. I wouldn’t mind trying this restaurant again in the future. I would call their overall theme for food “Fancy American.” Including wine, price per person can be as little as $30-35.
They renovated the restaurant a year or so ago and the place is very classy but you still don’t have to dress up. It's casual. There is a patio out in the back that faces Mission de Tolosa and it is also an okay place to people-watch. There are heat lamps, but I’d still recommend bringing a sweater just in case the wind picks up.
Trivia: If you watch the next season of VH1’s Surreal Life (the one with Sherman Hemsley and Alexis Arquette among others), you might see Mission Grill in one episode because the cast came here for dinner and later poured drinks for bar patrons. (No, I was not there that night.)
Taco Roco: late-night Mexican
I go to this place mainly for a post-bars meal, after someone else in my group of friends says that they are craving it. On weekend nights, it is one of the few places still open after 2am. I think it closes at about 3am on those nights. The crowd at that time is a wide assortment of drunken patrons coming from different bars. Seating is limited so if the place is crowded (or if one of my friends is super drunk and needs to get home now!), we get our food to go.
My friends who come from San Diego and live in SLO now like this place best out of all the Mexican food joints here, and their gauge for “real Mexican food” is better than mine since they grew up closer to the Mexican -U.S.border.
There are two other Taco Roco locations in SLO (3230 Broad and 11560 Los Osos Valley Road) but the one at 281 Santa Rosa is the only one open so late.
Favorite Dish: I almost always get a carne asada burrito with cheese and ask for extra extra extra guacamole. I'm not sure if that's on the menu that you see on the wall right when you walk in. If I do order from the menu, I get the Downtown with chicken as the meat.
Bon Temps Creole Cafe: "laissez les bon temps rouler!"
Featuring New Orleans-style cuisine, Bon Temps caters to a more Southern taste than most restaurants around here—bbq not included. I’ve pretty much worked my way through the dinner menu and most of it is satisfying. Dishes include Crawfish Etoufée, Alligator Etoufée, Filet Medallions in a Wine Sauce (I think), Gumbo, Blackened Pork Loin, Frogs Legs (which I have not tried), [Cat]Fish and Chips and many more. There is a meatless gumbo, if you are vegetarian or just don't feel like eating meat. If it's not gumbo, it's a vegetarian something. There are also salads and a really good and filling muffaletta sandwich. The sandwich is huge.
There is also a specials board right when you walk in the door. I’d say I’ve had pretty good luck ordering off of it. I remember one special, the Grilled Mahi-Mahi in a Creole Mustard Sauce and Collard Greens. Mmm! So good. I wish they would bring it back.
Every entrée comes with the most fabulous cornbread I have ever had. It arrives in a mini cast-iron pan straight from the oven. And the honey butter that comes with it makes it even better. Mmm, I always want to smother the bread with the butter—it’s so good.
It is also open for breakfast and lunch. I’ve never been for breakfast, but I believe it’s a cheap place to get some steak and eggs. Lunch menu features most of the dinner options.
The atmosphere is very casual. Wait staff is helpful but doesn’t drape all over you either. I think I’ve only seen three waitresses in the years I’ve been going there and they’re all nice… in their own way.
Most people who have come with me to Bon Temps love it. My sister however, when visiting my town once, left rather unsatisfied because she felt that she had just eaten “ten pounds of fried oiliness.” Dieters, beware! I responded by telling her she should have ordered something else instead of fried oysters and catfish and chips! I think it's okay to indulge once in a while anyway!
There is a little souvenir area that sells hot sauces, alligator jerky, and Bon Temps t-Shirts.
Shin's Sushi Bar: casual sushi
Shin’s was opened in 2004 by the same people who own Yamato in Grover Beach. In addition to traditional nigiri and sashimi and cut rolls, Shin’s offers specialty rolls too. My favorites are the Crunch Roll (tempura shrimp, avocado, eel sauce) and the Yellowrin (spicy yellowtail topped with more yellowtail and avocado). It’s not the absolute best or most original sushi in the world, but for the price, Shin’s quality is very good. If one of your companions doesn’t like sushi or fish, let them know there are other Japanese foods (e.g. udon, oyako-don, tonkatsu) on the menu, though most patrons do order sushi.
The atmosphere is very casual and the dining area is often populated with college students and families alike. If it is your birthday, they will play this funky mostly unintelligible birthday song over the sound system, give you a free mochi (with a candle in it) and take a Polaroid of you. Your friends can then write on the photo and the staff will later hang it up on the wall alongside all the other past birthday people.
Nights and weekends sometimes get packed. If it is, just go in and one of the staff will come over and put your name on the list. The longest I’ve ever waited was 30 minutes. Even on busy nights, service is rather fast and, for the most part, friendly. Wait staff is comprised mostly of college students.
You can call in a to-go order, too, and go picnic somewhere else or eat in the comfort of your hotel room.
Favorite Dish: Every time I go, I usually get
- 1 yellowtail cut roll,
- 1 nigiri of some kind (usually eel),
- 1 specialty roll from the menu (such as the Crunch or Yellowrin),
- 1 something from the specials board behind the sushi bar
I think I order a lot compared to other people. What can I say? I am a glutton. I also like to take some home with me for a midnight snack. If I also get sake, I usually end up paying around $30, so I'd say you can get a filling meal here for less than $20.
Giuseppe's Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar: fine italian, maybe. quality drinking, yes.
This place just opened in December, 2005. The owner owns another restaurant (with the same name) in Pismo Beach. Since it has just opened, I don’t know how well it’s doing so far. However, many locals are fans of the original Pismo restaurant and I expect the quality will remain the same at this SLO location. When I have eaten there, I will update this tip with my review.
I do, however, already know that it is a nice place to get a martini. ;)
I have tried some specialty ones (Caramel Apple, Pomegranate, Flatliner) and can assure you that the bartenders know how to pour. The drinks that aren't meant to taste strong don't. Those that are, still taste excellent. The martini glasses aren’t cheap shallow ones either. Service was very friendly, including all the staff who weren't even waiting on us. Expect to pay around $8-10 per martini not including tip.
Big Sky: Beignets: Bad. Otherwise, good.
Maureen, I'm sorry, but I can't agree with you about the beignets at Big Sky. I ordered them once - never again. Dry, heavy, hard, and flavorless. I rarely waste food once served, but I left these on the plate. Beignets need to be moist and puffy.
That said, I've enjoyed just about everything else I've ever ordered here. I came in by accident the first time, because Tio Alberto's (next door, great stuff) was inexplicably closed on a Saturday afternoon. I lazily parked on the curb in front of Tio Alberto's - big mistake, $30 ticket. Those were the most expensive bad beignets ever. Use the parking lot across the street.
- Budget Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
The Apple Farm Restaurant: How About Them Apples?
The Apple Farm restaurant is one of many great restaurants in SLO. However, this one should not be missed. Take note on the week ends this place is a zoo so get there early.
There is a gift shop and a coffee station set up in the waiting area which helps the wait go by quickly, sometimes too quickly, (those who like to shop will understand what I mean).
The Apple Farm restaurant has a delicious bakery as well.
Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays
Favorite Dish: Apple Farm Salad: A bed of mixed greens with candied nuts, mandrin orange slices and apples with a vinagrette dressing that is simply not to be missed. My husband likes the chicken pot pie.
And for dessert: Apple Dumplings.
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
- Road Trip
Fresh Choice: Similar to Souplantation or Sweet Tomatoes
There's a restaurant in San Luis Obispo called "Fresh Choice". I had never heard of it before. It looked like Souplantation (southern CA) or Sweet Tomatoes (norther CA) restaurant chains. I was hungry so I tried their buffet. Lots of veggies, salads, soups, and pasta. Not a lot of meat though (but it's not vegeratian.) It's slightly more expensive than Souplantation in southern CA.
Copper Café & Pastry Shop: Madonna Inn - You Have to Stop By!
This Restaurant is so overly done and very tacky. But it is well worth a stop.
They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I can't remember what we ate but I do remember that the fare was okay and the dishes were so pretty. All different colors and much like a theme restaurant. Stop by the Bakery for a delicious pastry for the road!
There is a gift shop, “My Favorite Things” Boutique with unique and outrageous items! We spent some time looking at everything and trying on funny glasses and hats..Fun for all ages!
Big Sky: The best!
Big Sky is the local's favorite in San Luis Obispo, offering unique dishes prepared with organic ingredients. Combining the flavors of Southern, Carribean and Californian cuisine, Big Sky always provides something new and delicious.
Favorite Dish: Everything's good. Definitely try the corn bread and the chocolate cake.
- Museum Visits
- Business Travel
Coldstone Creamery: so good ice cream
I thought this was a local thing, until i saw them popping up everywhere in the bay area. they serve plain ice cream that they freshly mix right in front of you your choice of fruits, nuts, toppings, etc.
Favorite Dish: cheesecake w/ raspberry or strawberry mix in in a waffle cone.
Oasis: moroccan food
This place has geat ambience. . . the ceiling is completely draped, lots of tapestries and pillows. There are even belly dancers that perform until 9 o' clock.
Favorite Dish: There was this appetizer sampler that was very good. . .
They have a light dinner section and a dinner special section. . .
They even serve imported moroccan beer.
thai palace: thai food
for such a small town, there is a plethora of restaurants to choose from. but this is the only place i go for thai food. very yummy. but from experience it seems you get more food if you eat there than getting take out. it's a small warm space with a loud water fountain.
Favorite Dish: pad thai
lemongrass and coconut soup
thai iced tea
the eggplant dish
Firestones: Mmm barbecue
first time i saw it i thought it was the tires, but this is a loud lively place with REALLY GOOD FOOD. Supposedly they have good salads, but i always order meat. the basket of fries, a whole lot of fries.
very reasonable prices.
Favorite Dish: tri tip sandwich. . .. very tender, good bbq sauce
pork rib meal. . . if you're really hungry
abc burger. . .burger w/ swiss cheese, avocado, tomato
grilled chicken. . . again, love the bbq sauce
can't not have their seasoned fries
- Save up to 50% on hotels.
- Hotwire.com Hotwire: Get a 4-star hotel for a 2-star price.
- Book now for big savings!
- Hotels.com Outstanding choice of hotels all over the world at fantastic prices.