Writing up this best restaurants in SLO post has me drooling—it might be impossible not to salivate a bit after you check out these pics!
Whenever I feel the need to get away and reset my batteries, a dose of that central coast SLO pace always does the trick. I just love visiting San Luis Obispo—the restaurants in SLO are to die for with its wide range of cuisine choices, it’s one of my favorite things to do there!
This small college town—home to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and near Pismo Beach and the beautiful Paso Robles—is a mecca of rich farmland. The SLO community prides itself on supporting local farmers which is why you’ll find some of the best, locally-sourced eateries in California.
For such a small town, there are lots of places to choose from. But don’t worry, I’ve put together my list of the 15 best restaurants in SLO to help get you started.
Best SLO Restaurants with Outdoor Seating
Amazing food, awesome cocktails, top-notch service, and the most quaint creek-side outdoor patio seating in town—Novo Restaurant & Lounge located in downtown San Luis Obispo has it all.
You’ll fall in love with the cozy ambiance as much as you will with their signature dishes. The eclectic menu incorporates the best of global cuisine with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
Ahi nachos, Korean short ribs, Singapore chicken satay, calamari, and fresh salads are just some of the delicacies you’ll find on their menu.
Whether you go for brunch, lunch, a late lunch, or dinner, you’re sure to find something you’ll love!
For some super tasty Mediterranean food with a spacious outdoor patio, Petra is your perfect spot. Want your four-legged friend to join you? No problem. The patio is pet-friendly too!
Their unique pizza varieties—from the Tri-Tip to the Greek Feta pizza—are delicious. Their gyro plates and kebabs are pretty amazing too.
Petra has one of the best happy hours in town, and once you see the patio, you can easily see how you can spend a few hours out there enjoying their tasty food and craft beer selections. Cheers to that!
3. Luna Red
Another San Luis Obispo downtown favorite—renowned for its outdoor patio and killer happy hour—is Luna Red.
You can’t go wrong with the specials on their homemade sangria, select beer, house white and red wine, and Mexican delicacies. Their Taco Tuesday is especially popular among the locals.
For a real treat, try their paella that features its award-winning feature—a layer of caramelized, crispy rice on the bottom of the pan. It’s the best!
4. Cafe Roma
If you’re craving Italian food, Cafe Roma is where it’s at. Their homemade pasta, traditional Italian recipes, fine wines, welcoming service, and scenic covered patio have been treating customers to the authentic Tuscan dining experience since 1980.
Cafe Roma offers an extensive dinner menu and seasonal menu that includes ingredients sourced from local farmers, ranchers, and wineries. They change out their wine list monthly, so you know you’re getting the best the area has to offer!
Best SLO Restaurants for Fine Dining
Brasserie SLO is the chic restaurant at Hotel Cerro. They serve French cuisine and delicious cocktails (check out that violet gin drink above!). Their dishes use ingredients sourced from the Central Coast, along with produce from their own Edible Gardens.
The restaurant has a cool vibe inside, but the patio is also a really nice option. We came here for a delicious dinner, but they also serve breakfast and lunch.
For the best local salmon and seafood dishes, you’ll want to check out Ciopinot. It’s a bit of a splurge, but you’ll get some awesome ahi tuna, scallops, and other fish specialties. They also offer steak, chicken, and seafood pasta options.
There’s an extensive drink list that includes wine from local wineries and from around the world, draft beers, spirits, and specialty cocktails like Templeton Mule and Oyster Martini.
Located in downtown, SLO’s historic J.P. Andrews Building, Koberl at Blue is a beautiful bistro that offers the ideal blend of fine dining with a laidback, welcoming atmosphere.
Their chefs use only the freshest ingredients from local farmers, and the food presentation is so beautiful, it’s almost too pretty to eat. Definitely the type of dishes you want to take a picture of before digging in!
Koberl’s entree menu features delectable seafood, meat, and pasta options like coriander seared sea scallops and shrimp, linguini with sautéed veal, and signature beef from local Snake River Farms. All of their menu items are created to pair perfectly with an exquisite glass of wine.
Definitely don’t skip dessert! Their chocolate lava cake—which takes 25 minutes to prepare—is heavenly.
Best SLO Restaurants for Casual Dining
We didn’t get a chance to eat here, but several people recommended Mistura to me so I’ll definitely be trying it during my next SLO trip! Mistura is a Peruvian restaurant with lively dishes and unexpected flavor combinations.
What started as a market and deli that locals went to buy milk and chewing tobacco back in 1927, High Street Market & Deli is now SLO’s most popular sandwich joint.
Their sandwiches are huge and piled high with so much yummy stuff! Hot pastrami, the classic B.L.T., Italian sub, and beef dip Doobie style are just some of the amazing sandos you’ll find on their menus. There are always daily specials, fresh salads, and tasty sides to choose from too.
Sliders, anyone? Taste Craft Eatery is a cool family-owned eatery that opened up shop in SLO’s renovated Brickworks Building with a second location in nearby Paso Robles.
They’re best known for the wide variety of unique slider combinations that range from beef to fish to vegetarian options. However, their mac n’ cheese options are impressive too—offering your choice of cheese (cheddar, feta, jack, pepper jack, smoked gouda, and more) plus a topping (bacon, jalapeño, caramelized onion, just to name a few).
Pair any of their menu items with one of the many craft beers they have on tap or your choice of wine.
For a taste of southern Italy’s best, you’ll want to check out downtown San Luis Obispo’s beloved Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica. Everything they make is authentic—from the ingredients sourced from their own family farm to the fresh bread, they bake daily in their Italy-imported wood-burning oven!
They’re open for lunch and dinner and make some amazing wood-fired pizzas and housemade pasta dishes.
Giiueseppe’s antipasto options include classics like fried calamari, bruschetta, and scampi-style wild prawns. The drink menu includes wine, beer, and signature cocktails like the Italian Negroni and Giuseppe’s Mai Tai.
Located in downtown SLO, Eureka! claims the title as the best local whiskey bar and having the best craft beer selection in town.
They serve up some exceptional all-American food like wings, signature fries, huge burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and fresh salads.
They’re well-known for their weekly events like their daily “hoppy” hour, Half-Off Wine Tuesdays, Steal the Glass Wednesdays, and $6 bloody Mary’s and mimosas on the weekends.
Best SLO Restaurants for Brunch
13. Park 1039
Park 1039 is an absolute must when you’re in SLO! While we had an incredible brunch here, this could also be a lunch or evening apertif + bites spot. Their wine list is expertly curated, and everything on their food menu was to die for.
Whether you’re looking for something local or global, it’s the perfect spot to try a glass of special wines, chosen by their sommeliers. They also have a beautiful market with cheeses, charcuterie, chocolates, and more, making it a great option to pick up a little gift.
Everything is intentionally sourced from all over the world—not just the amazing ingredients and wine, but also their ceramics, uniforms, and glassware.
14. Big Sky Cafe
Locals flock to Big Sky Cafe for many reasons—their healthy food offerings, their fresh farm-sourced ingredients, and their fantastic breakfast menu.
Their egg dishes are particularly popular, like the Devil’s Mess and the Black Bean Huevos Rancheros. All egg breakfast options come with your choice of bread, corn tortillas, or ginger coffee cake, but the Killer Cornbread is a must!
So much goodness is packed into this hip local spot, it’s no wonder that Sally Loo’s Whole Cafe draws such big Sunday brunch crowds.
There are so many tasty items on the menus that it’s really hard to pick, not to mention making a choice among all of their amazing beverage choices. It’s the dream place if you’re a coffee-lover, because you’ll find everything from cappuccinos to a pour-over to…wait for it…cacti coffee. Who knew, right?
All of their ingredients are local and fresh, so whether you go for Sally’s wheat and flax-batter waffle or Al’s avocado toast, you’ll be getting nothing but the good stuff.
16. Louisa’s Place
If you’re more of a home-style cooking, traditional diner type of bruncher, then head over to Louisa’s Place on Higuera Street. They’re only open until 3:00 p.m., so brunch dishes are their specialty.
Locals and Col Poly students love Louisa’s for its generous portions and huge homemade buttermilk biscuits. Here you’ll find a traditional menu that includes a wide selection of four-egg omelets, breakfast favorites like eggs Benedict, huevos rancheros plus classics like pancakes, waffles, and French toast.
17. Linnaea’s Cafe
For the perfect little spot to sit in a gorgeous courtyard garden, sip on an organic latte and savor some freshly homemade rosemary shortbread with sea salt, be sure to visit Linnaea’s Cafe, one of those charming San Luis Obispo restaurants that you must experience for yourself.
Their welcoming atmosphere, cozy ambiance, free Wi-Fi, and carefully crafted coffee drinks make it especially popular among students and locals.
Linnaea’s is also known for hosting regular events that include live music, poetry readings, jazz and folk music jams.
SLO Restaurants: Honorable Mention
The Madonna Inn, with its kitschy-themed rooms, is a landmark among SLO hotels. It’s also home to Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House, which is totally opulent and over the top.
I’m really not sure what to do with this restaurant. It’s SO cool, I mean just look at the decor. There’s nothing like it, and it’s an Instagrammer’s dream.
But the food is…questionable. As is the service.
My advice? Hit up the Copper Cafe for breakfast, and be sure to ask to be seated in the back room. The first room you walk into is nothing special and we were really confused about where the over-the-top pink room was.
Don’t expect anything amazing in terms of the food—just enjoy the space and snap away all the fun photos!
So there you have it, friends! My list of the 15 best restaurants in SLO. As you can see, there are so many good spots to choose from so it’s hard to narrow it down.
But the good news is, no matter what you’re in the mood for or where you go, you’re sure to taste some amazingly fresh, delicious food at some charming local eateries.
Feel free to use this guide even if you’re going on a day trip from Santa Barbara or Morro Bay—it’s always a good idea to eat some delicious food in SLO county. Bon Appetit!
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San Luis Obispo is known for its many delicious restaurants like:
– Novo Restaurant & Lounge
– Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House
– Koberl at Blue
Yes, San Luis Obispo is definitely worth visiting! There’s so many fun activities to do and explore. Their restaurant scene is also amazing!
It is recommended to spend at least 3 days in SLO to really explore what this coastal town has to offer.