For a town with ideal soil and climate for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, San Luis Obispo does not have many wine bars downtown. It’s almost like they don’t think of themselves as a genuine wine village. Now, the Luis Wine Bar on Higera has an abundant and tasteful selection of local wines as well as flights that showcase the flavors of Edna Valley. The management also do a great job of incorporating wines from their neighbor to the north, Paso Robles, and south, Santa Barbara.
If you think wine bars don’t have good food offerings, remember that they aim to pair their products best so you’re going to get really high quality cheese and olive options yet no full kitchen for a burger and fries. But Luis gathers high quality cheese, nuts, bread, and cured meats from local providers. So, they serve a mouthwatering assortment of dishes that pair well with wine flights of many varieties.
With free wifi and floor to ceiling accordion style windows that bring the outdoors in, Luis is quite possibly the best place to spend a warm afternoon or happy hour while still responding to a few last minute emails.
This loaded mac and cheese sounded yummy on the menu and tasted pretty good. But can you say “Hamburger Helper”?
Before you try this at home, make sure you have a salty smoky cheese. And, as much as we all love those green jalapeno ringlets, the more vibrant the color, the more vibrant the dish. If you can use a red pepper, always go red. Even my 5 year old niece knows that!
Had to head down to Santa Barbara and was trying to make the drive back north in the same day but that would have been 13 hours on the road so I decided to stay the night in San Luis Obispo (Central Coast). I usually love the steaks at Madonna Inn’s restaurant but the rooms are too loud. So, I was delighted to find the Granada Hotel & Bistro quoted me about the same price for a recently remodeled lavishly decorated room right in downtown SLO.
While the accommodations were a score and I saved a bit of cash, I spent about a hundred bucks on myself in their bistro downstairs because the wine and food was so delicious. Their Cumin and Coriander Rubbed Coulotte Steak had a celery root puree, chili roasted cauliflower and chimichurri nora pepper puree that was not shy on the spice. While the combination of flavors was outstanding, I was wishing I’d ordered a Riesling or jammy zin to handle the spice in this dish. I know I should have known by the description that it was spicy. But so many chefs are simply shy on the spices to appeal to a wide audience. Kudos to the chef at Granada for embracing authentic spice and local flavors!
The Folkway Bien Nacido Vineyard from Santa Maria on the menu was a soft loving Merlot. I’m still thinking about its deliciously elegant portfolio of flavors with a real juicy dark cherry that is the hallmark of a good Merlot. But pair this with lighter fare than I did.
Finally, don’t get suckered into paying an extra $5 hotel fee for them to staff their front desk. We all have to suck up fees that it takes to run our businesses!
I know I’ve mentioned this before but had to post a photo for those who haven’t been yet or just don’t believe me. My travels take me all over this state but the Madonna Inn is always a great stopping point for a delicious steak dinner. The location could not be easier right off the 101 and next to a gas station. And the prime rib consistently hits that spot with deep rich jus and creamy sauce with just enough kick to get your blood going and clear your sinuses.
While you’re there, try a Merlot from a producer named Vintage Cowboy out of Santa Margarita. It has the haunting cherry smoky flavor you crave if you have a sense of adventure. But the body and structure will make you think you need to discover Santa Margarita. If you’re tired of dealing with friends who want to know what’s so great about the Central Coast, this will make them say “oh, ya, that memorable Merlot.”
Sorry, but had to post a warning. The steak is so good at Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House that you may get spoiled. After you’ve had their prime rib, you may start ordering prime rib elsewhere. But you may want to ask for your money back.
Yep, it’s an alley spattered with chewed gum, the kind of art you could only find in a college town. Some have even spelled out a favorite credo using a unique color of choice or gum hue.
This is just the kind of fabulousness you see in SLO.
Could be my female intuition but I’m guessing I’m walking into a guy bar with burgers, pizza, and beer.