Where to Eat in San Luis Obispo: The Best Restaurants and Bars

April 14, 2018 Sheron Bogner

Halfway between San Francisco and L.A., San Luis Obispo can be a relaxing getaway or a buzz of activity. For serenity, pack a lunch and head to one of dozens of wineries or take a drive to the beach for a leisurely swim. For a dose of history, visit the heart of the city at the beautiful Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Kids will love the Children’s Museum or Skate Park. Be sure to stroll along the creek downtown, where there are breweries, wine bars, restaurants and shopping for all tastes.
Things to do in San Luis Obispo

1. High Street Market & Deli

350 High St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-5153 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Wheelchair Accessible American, Delicatessen, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Brunch, Breakfast +1 805-541-4738
Excellent
75%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 193 reviews

High Street Market & Deli

Reviewed By Gaminglaw - Folsom, California

Just up High Street from Higuera Street sits the High Street Market & Deli tucked in a residential area of SLO.

The sandwich combinations are excellent and the order form allows for easy customization and ensures a perfect order every time.

The key foundation to a great deli sandwich is great bread and fresh ingredients and High Street nails it in all categories.

Even the simple BLT is a step above expectations with tons of bacon and thick sliced tomatoes.

Draft and bottle beer is available along with a host of other trending beverages on tap.

We will return!

2. Goshi

570 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3849 Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Serves Alcohol Japanese, Sushi, Asian, Gluten Free Options Dinner, Lunch +1 805-543-8942
Excellent
77%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 163 reviews

Goshi

Reviewed By sqw - los angeles

Have enjoyed eating here a few times before when in town.
Will try another place next time. Must say, sushi and food are excellent. In past, service also very good. Today, although a lot of staff, one woman was waiting tables for the whole restaurant. Taking food/drink orders, delivering food and bills. She was running around like her head was cut off and it was very disturbing for having a calm meal. She wanted to take our drink order before our bottoms even hit the seats. We were not ready, and she asked another 5 times for drinks. Finally we ordered sake, waited 45 minutes, finally told her to forget it-since she never brought it. Usually at a restaurant a couple eats a meal together. Here I was served 20 minutes before my husband. Food was piling up on the counter but only this one lady was delivering it, so it sat, and we could not eat together. Others were filling water and tea, clearing plates and following this woman around, but not serving food. The whole experience this night was very annoying. There is a new menu since the last time we were here. Maybe there is a new owner also. I don't know, but it sure wasn't what we experienced in the past.

3. Ciopinot

1051 Nipomo St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3802 Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Seafood, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Dinner, Late Night +1 805-547-1111
Excellent
74%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 378 reviews

Ciopinot

Reviewed By FoodieMonica - Atlanta, Georgia

We were visiting SLO for our annual wine county trip and we had friends with us, one of whom was celebrating her 50th birthday. We chose to celebrate her birthday with dinner at Ciopinot and it did not disappoint. Our server Shawn was lovely, knowledgeable and gave us just the right amount of attention.

We started with oysters on the half-shell and champagne and I'm proud to say I put my big girl panties on and tried the oysters. This was the third time for me, tasting raw oysters and by far, this was the best one. Briny, and very creamy, I didn't mind it at all.

The clam chowder appetizer (a white soup, but dairy-free) was probably the best I've ever eaten. It has bacon in it, and it's thickened with roux rather than cream. SO good!! They serve the cioppino stock as an appetizer which my husband got and he loved it.

For my entree, I had mussels in house made (very thick, red) cioppino stock covered with cheese. I don't typically eat cheese on seafood, but I really enjoyed this dish. It was kind of like mussels parmesan, if there is such a thing.

Hubby got the flat iron steak and it was SO tender and delicious! My friends got steak and lobster and raved about how great it was. It looked amazing.

For dessert, we chose the blueberry cobbler with vanilla bean ice cream (which came complimentary with a candle) and it was outrageously decadent and delicious! The blueberries were so full of flavor! One of the best "comfort food" style desserts I've had.

Ciopinot isn't one of those places with cutting edge California cuisine and impossibly hipster-ized "craft" cocktails. It feels like a throwback to a more glamorous era and I don't mind that a bit.

4. Novo

726 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3513 Takeout, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, International, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night SGD 26 - SGD 39 +1 805-543-3986
Excellent
61%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Novo

Set against a rich eclectic backdrop, Novo's international flavors are the leading ingredients in an exotic dining experience. Located downtown San Luis Obispo in a historic turn of the century building with spectacular creekside dining. Multi award winning restaurant for food, service and ambiance. Extensive global and local wine and beer selection. Novo easily accommodates large parties either on one of the patios in in their lower level "cellar room". A favorite with both locals and tourists, Novo is a truly a San Luis Obispo experience.

Reviewed By nooooowaaaay - Santa Cruz, CA

Tucked away next to a river, this terraced restaurant offers fantastic outdoor dining. On a sunny day, you can enjoy dining al fresco underneath a giant Live Oak tree, sit in open sunder eat indoors if you choose Offering a fresh, California-stye menu, this dining spot is quintessential college-town experience. Hipsters rejoice!

5. Buona Tavola

1037 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3206 Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol Italian, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options Lunch, Dinner, Late Night SGD 28 - SGD 39 +1 805-545-8000
Excellent
67%
Good
21%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
3%
Terrible
3%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 305 reviews

Buona Tavola

Reviewed By Paul2208 - Colorado Springs, Colorado

Both the risotto and the seafood pasta dish my wife had were outstanding. Staff were very friendly and accommodating. We were seated in the 'garden'--technically outdoors but with walls and a cover, so it was almost like being indoors.

They feature quite a few local wines (some from wineries we had visited during the day)--a little expensive, but remarkably low markups compared to prices at the wineries.

The proprietor seemed to be quite hands-on--bustling about making sure that everything was satisfactory to everyone, but without being overly obtrusive.

All in all, a delightful experience.

6. Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica

849 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3224 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Delivery Italian, Pizza, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night SGD 41 +1 805-541-9922
Excellent
60%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 400 reviews

Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica

Welcome to Palazzo Giuseppe’s, downtown San Luis Obispo! Our Italian regional specialties are indicative to the Pugliese region in Italy, particularly Bari, a seaport on the Adriatic Sea from which most of our recipes originate. We hope you will enjoy and appreciate our great loyalty to the distinctive dishes, all of which we prepare with genuine and natural ingredients and methods. Our bread is baked from scratch every day in a wood-burning oven imported from Italy. Each loaf is made by hand, allowed to rise four times and slow-cooked to achieve the truly rustic appearance and taste you would find in a Baresi seaside village. DiFronzo is dedicated to producing & growing as many heirloom, organic vegetables, & fruits from his family farm as possible. Gelato, pizzas, & specialties including his estate grown Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, & Syrah. All of this takes time but to us it is an art and a labor of love. We are truly committed to bringing you "cucina genuina."

Reviewed By CACoastTraveler - San Luis Obispo, CA

A wait of only 25 min for the 2 of us on a Friday evening - not so bad. Our first visit to Giuseppe's since they moved in early 2017 (the new location is much tighter than the old). The food was as well done as we remember - not spectacular but good. But the restaurant seating (booths against a long wall - tables next to a partition) is not isolated from the bar / service areas and the din was extreme. A good meal for me usually includes good food (it was) and conversation (impossible). By raising your voice, you could place an order or give your partners warnings if needed, but conversation was out of the question. Great location, if not layout, though.

7. Big Sky Cafe

1121 Broad St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3506 Takeout, Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Cafe, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Late Night SGD 26 +1 805-545-5401
Excellent
58%
Good
31%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 840 reviews

Big Sky Cafe

Reviewed By travelgirl93463 - Solvang, California

We had not been to this restaurant in maybe a dozen years but today had the chance to return...we loved it! Great location in the walking part of town...in fact there is a new hotel going in right across the street so this restaurant will definitely benefit. The interior is nicely decorated with clay tiled roofs, art on the walls, and both booths and tables as well as a bar area. The interior was open and filled with natural light. My husband and I were both hungry and had the full size salads -- mine was the chop salad and his the BLT salad. Our server was very pleasant. The salads came in colorful bowls and were well dressed and super flavorful. The menu has lots of choices and is filled with nutritious yet super flavorful choices. We'll definitely be back! This is a good restaurant if you're in the downtown area as it is easily accessible. There is both street parking and parking lots available too. If you're new to town there is a wonderful yoga studio nearby for all you yoga fans! They even have aerial yoga!

8. Firestone Grill

1001 Higuera St Ste A, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3603 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Bar, Barbecue, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Late Night +1 805-783-1001
Excellent
51%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 834 reviews

Firestone Grill

Reviewed By Gino1234567 - San Diego, California

I've been to Firestone a few times and each time it's been great. Yea, it's a little loud and busy and hectic, but the food is awesome and the prices are very reasonable for what you get. All three of us got the tri-tip sandwich this most recent visit and none of us were able to finish it. They put a ton of meat in it and it was only like $11. The fries and rings are good, but beware, the baskets are pretty big. Unless you have a crowd with you you'd probably be better off with just the side of either. We only made it through about half a basket of the fries, and they were good so it was tough to toss the rest. I highly reccomend this place.

9. Splash Cafe and Artisan Bakery

1491 Monterey St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-2925 (Formerly Famous Splash Cafe) Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Parking Available, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Free Wifi, Outdoor Seating American, Cafe, Seafood, Soups, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch SGD 8 - SGD 16 +1 805-544-7759
Excellent
50%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
4%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 467 reviews

Splash Cafe and Artisan Bakery

Splash Cafe ~ Artisan Bakery is located in San Luis Obispo, CA. In 2005, we opened this second location in San Luis Obispo and expanded to include an artisan bakery too! The bakery features artisan breads, pastries & desserts baked fresh daily. Each item from the bakery is carefully created and guaranteed to delight your senses.The café has a larger selection of salads and specialty sandwiches as well as signature ‘sun pizzas’! Come and enjoy!

Reviewed By Zu S - Modesto, California

We've gone here a couple of times, mainly for convenience. The food is just okay. The clam chowder is just okay, Expect a wait. Parking is very tight and can be difficult.

10. Mama's Meatball

570 Higuera St, Suite 130 - 135, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-3849 Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Delivery, Highchairs Available Italian, Pizza, Vegetarian Friendly Lunch, Dinner SGD 13 - SGD 33 +1 805-544-0861
Excellent
62%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
4%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 248 reviews

Mama's Meatball

Mama's Meatball offers authentic, homemade Italian dining & catering, Our chef cultivates and harvest most of the organic produce to be used in our menu from our garden's rich soil. The idea of a garden in the city is fascinating and it allows us to keep in constant contact with nature while providing with a true Farm-to-Table experience. Furthermore, we are committed to preserve the land and its resources by providing agricultural produce, fishery and cattle livestock that adhere to strict sustainability practices. All poultry, fish, beef, and pork are sourced locally and must be, free range, organic, non-hormone treated. Just as Chef Nicola wants to pay respect to the culinary history of Italy, he is solid in his commitment to respect our land and water, with conscious usage of the resources available

Reviewed By Nancy B - Oroville, California, United States

I had overlooked this restaurant in the past because its name evoked a spaghetti with red sauce menu. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the upscale menu. The generous portion of garlic knots that came with each meal were delightful. I had the yellowtail special, and it was yummy. Now I want to go back and try the lamb shank. This is definitely on our keeper list.

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