The Foodie’s Guide: Best Restaurants in San Luis Obispo
Get ready for farm-fresh produce and sizzling flavors! If you’re looking for the best restaurants in San Luis Obispo, you’ve come to the right place. SLO has a ton of rich culinary attractions and a longstanding tradition of using fresh ingredients and care to perfect dishes. So take a deep dive into the city’s gastro scene with this Foodie’s Guide and uncover the best of SLO’s restaurants, casual cafes, and hole-in-the-wall gems for a food experience you’ll remember long after the last morsel has been enjoyed.
Discover the Best Restaurants in SLO for Farm-Fresh Cuisine
With its cool, moist air and sunny days, the Central Coast creates the perfect environment for wine grapes, fruit, veggies, and dairy. SLO is surrounded by farms that grow every manner of produce, and many restaurants incorporate these ingredients into their dishes. In fact, head chefs from some of the best restaurants are known to frequent the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market on Thursdays in search of the finest produce to star in their seasonal menu or weekly specials.
Although many foodies come to SLO to try the famous Pink Champagne Cake at Madonna Inn, if you want to sample creative, delectable dishes that have flown under the radar, we’ve curated a list of our favorite spots in SLO for farm-to-table California food. Here are the best restaurants in SLO serving farm-fresh cuisine.
Novo Restaurant and Lounge
Address: 726 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo, the Novo Restaurant and Lounge is an upscale option that serves California fusion and international flavors, all made with locally-grown produce and meats. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, Novo is known for exotic and artful dishes, an award-winning wine list filled with local pours and gorgeous ambiance with an outdoor creekside patio set. While specials change with the seasons, a few must-try dishes include the Chow Novo, California Halibut, Lobster Bisque, Lavender Lamb Chops, and Negranti Sheep’s Milk Ice Cream (fresh from the local Negranti Creamery).
Big Sky Cafe
Address: 1121 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Featured in the New York Times and Gourmet Magazine, the Big Sky Cafe is one of the best places to eat in SLO to experience the flavors of the Central Coast region. This farm-to-table restaurant features seasonally-inspired cuisine crafted with local ingredients. Big Sky also offers a delightful selection of vegetarian options such as the polenta fries served with fresh thyme and verde sauce or the vegetarian pozole bowl with pumpkin seeds and queso fresco. You don’t want to miss their weekend breakfast featuring big mugs of local coffee and their popular mini cornbread.
Address: 1119 Garden St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Located in the Hotel Cerro off of charming Garden Street, Brasserie SLO specializes in modern coastal cuisine made with locally-sourced ingredients. Here, you can savor Morro Bay Oysters, enjoy a juicy Santa Carota grass-fed beef burger, or sample other coastal foods such as wild-foraged mushrooms, seaweeds, or fresh fish. While you never know what will be featured on the seasonal menu, each carefully-crafted dish celebrates the flavors of SLO.
Casual Cafes: Places to Eat in SLO on the Go
If you’re looking for places to eat in SLO with a more low-key environment, or if you’re craving on-the-go food that’s simple yet delicious, there are plenty of small eateries within SLO to satisfy your appetite. Here are some of the best restaurants in SLO known for tasty to-go dishes, healthy items, and in some cases, huge portions.
Address: 1491 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Serving breakfast and lunch, Splash Cafe is famous for its award-winning bowl of clam chowder – a must-try if you are in SLO. Splash Cafe also has an artisan bakery and the staff bakes fresh, sourdough bread bowls daily to serve with the clam chowder. This casual eatery has been in business for over thirty years and is a favorite among tourists and locals alike.
Address: 1133 Garden St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
For healthy food on-the-go, head over to Seeds Smoothie and Juice Bar. While this little charmer offers an array of invigorating juices and smoothies, they’re also known for their acai berry bowls, paninis, and toasts. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch and each plate is made with super fresh ingredients to charge you for the day..
High Street Deli
Address: 350 High St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Established in 1927, the High Street Deli is a historic landmark that was once the main grocery market for local railroad workers and their families. High Street is renowned as SLO’s original sandwich joint and serves seriously delicious deli sandwiches piled high with fresh sliced meat and cheeses. We suggest trying whatever special is on the board. It’s sure to please. They also have a ton of merchandise and offer half-off deals for the last half hour they are open, known as the 4:20 Special.
More SLO Cafes
With it’s warm weather and abundance of outdoor eateries, there are plenty of other places you can visit for fresh, on-the-go food in SLO. Don’t miss a lunch at SLO Provisions where people line up to order rustic baked goods and mouth watering rotisserie. Or, grab your breakfast or lunch to-go at the Mint and Craft and enjoy artisanal sandwiches and bowls made with local ingredients.
Comfort Food in San Luis Obispo
As a university town, San Luis Obispo has developed a culture for brews and pub food. There are plenty of dives where you can grab quick, greasy eats, but some spots stand out for their fantastic comfort food. Check out these establishments for delicious, classic American fare, some of which originated in the area, like the Santa Maria tri-tip.
Address: 11001 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Located in downtown SLO on Higuera St, which is famous for its tree-lined street and great for shopping and strolling, Firestone Grill serves some of the best bbq in California. There are tons of options including full racks of ribs and shredded pork, but the piece de resistance is the classic Santa Maria tri-tip – a CA staple that originated in the area. Bold, savoury, and with a touch of heat, the Santa Maria tri-tip sandwiches at Firestone Grill are a must-try.
Address: 1575 Calle Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
Craving Mexican food but looking for something deliciously different? Look no further than the Taco Temple, SLO’s mexican food darling that serves heaping dishes made with California Coast ingredients. Try the seared sea scallop tacos, dive into a bowl of steaming mussels, or devour a plate of halibut tacos. You simply can’t go wrong at the Taco Temple (and you won’t go hungry either with the incredible portions).
Address: 1000 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
If you’ve been to SLO before, you’ve probably been to Woodstock’s Pizza. Known for its amazing slices and secret sauce, Woodstock’s Pizza serves hand-tossed pies served with California-style toppings. The restaurant decor features long, family-style tables, so there is plenty of room to dine with friends or make new ones. Opt for a specialty pizza and order the Kickin Carnitas, Sriracha-cha, or Garlic bird – all California faves. It’s a local favorite thanks to its extended dining hours for late-night bites.
Explore More SLO Restaurants
Once you’ve filled your belly at these foodie-friendly restaurants, don’t throw in the towel just yet! Explore more places to eat in SLO or pull up a stool and lean into a craft cocktail or locally-brewed beer in our San Luis Obispo bars. And bring us along on your tour de cuisine! Hashtag #ShareSLO or #SLOready in your social posts to have your culinary adventure featured.