Best Restaurants in SLO

San Luis Obispo restaurants serve up a meal to satisfy every flavor preference along Highway 1. Whether you’re craving American comfort classics, Italian, Mexican, barbecue, plant-based dishes or sushi, SLO restaurants are ready to tickle your tastebuds with a diverse array of bistros, cafes and dining rooms ranging from family friendly to farm-to-table. Ready to taste why this region has become a bonafide culinary destination? Simply check out these locally-loved top restaurant picks, all tried-and-true favorites. Plus, you can savor San Luis Obispo restaurants while avoiding downtown crowds when you grab breakfast, lunch or an early lunch or dinner (to-go options also available). Whether you’re fueling up before your next Highway 1 adventure or just winding down from the day’s activities, we can confidently say you’ll come hungry and leave happy.

Table of Contents

Explore San Luis Obispo

Best Italian Restaurants

Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica

Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica is a celebrated downtown San Luis Obispo Italian food restaurant serving up farm-fresh entrees and wood-fired pizzas paired with an extensive wine list. Located in the historic 1876 Sinsheimer Bros. Building—one of the oldest landmarks in downtown San Luis Obispo—you’ll enjoy a casual yet upscale ambiance with indoor and outdoor seating options. Owned by farm-to-fork early adopter Guisseppe “Joe” DiFronzo, Giuseppe’s focuses on seasonal, regional produce paired with fresh steaks and seafood, handmade pasta and from-scratch desserts. How local is local? Heirloom tomatoes, figs, olives, squash and more are commonly procured from DiFronzo’s own San Luis Obispo farm, while wine comes direct from nearby DiFronzo Vineyards. Even the lamb is local–sourced from the DiFronzo’s alma mater, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. What began as a student project nearly three decades ago has expanded into a time-honored tradition blending Italian flavors with Central Coast bounty.

Serving fresh Italian food in downtown SLO

La Locanda

Fresh, authentic Northern Italian cuisine is the star of the show at La Locanda in downtown San Luis Obispo. Taste the true terroir of the region, one bite at a time: Meals are handcrafted from scratch daily with ingredients sourced from local farmer’s markets. Handmade pasta, including lasagna, tagliatelle, and ravioli are specialties well worth the effort in the kitchen, especially when served alongside local herbs and produce. Veal, beef tenderloin, rack of lamb, chicken and fresh fish—followed by a host of fine desserts—round out the mouthwatering menu. Ready for a perfect pairing? Sample a bevy of local and Italian wines (or bring your own, with corkage fee). Featuring an ultra-cozy dining room with open kitchen and a small back patio, you’ll savor an intimate experience and the waiter’s full attention; yet, due to these space limitations, reservations are highly recommended. Translated from Italian, “La Locanda,” simply means “the Inn,” an intimate establishment for patrons to dine, drink and stay awhile. At this local gem, that’s exactly what you’ll enjoy. Benvenuto, and welcome to your table.

Best Creekside Dining

Novo Restaurant and Lounge

Blending an eclectic, globally-inspired menu with award-winning wines and craft cocktails, Novo Restaurant and Lounge is a favorite downtown San Luis Obispo farm-to-table restaurant nestled along San Luis Obispo Creek. Opened in 2003 in the old Cigar Factory building by Robin Covey (the culinary visionary who brought us Robin’s in Cambria), Novo mixes world fusion dishes with wholesome ingredients sourced from local farmer’s markets. Famous for its creekside setting, the outdoor patio is particularly romantic in the glow of twinkle lights and moonlight. Wrap your taste buds around an expansive and worldly menu: Lunch could mean a harissa lamb sandwich, black bean burger or fresh avocado-shrimp spring rolls, while dinner brings spicy pork carnitas sopes, a variety of Thai curries, Korean short ribs or succulent duck served over forbidden black rice. Ready for a morning mouthful? Sunday brunch at Novo is legendary, combining fresh fruit mimosas with decadent sweet and savory offerings. With global fare and creekside ambiance, it’s no wonder why Novo has been named “Best Restaurant” by SLO New Times, countless years running.

Novo Restaurant
The flavorful food of Novo Restaurant and Lounge

Luna Red

This charming creekside restaurant boasts a large open patio with a view of historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. Embracing tapas and share-friendly dining, Luna Red specializes in serving a wide variety of globally-inspired dishes. Choose lunch and dinner menus that offer sumptuous paella, authentic street tacos, salads, and soups like Luna Red’s famous ceviches. Seafood is a particular specialty here, with a market fish main dish option every day, plus gambas al ajillo scampi (a version of shrimp scampi) and salmon tacos. Another specialty is shareable snacks and cocktails for happy hour, served Monday through Thursday from 3 to 6pm. On Taco & Tiki Tuesdays, Luna Red crafts fresh-market tacos featuring flavors like birria beef and chimichurri chicken, plus a menu of specially-priced tiki cocktails like the Mai Tai and Bird of Paradise. Served outdoors on the picturesque Luna Red patio, these specialties are sure to satisfy any traveler’s hunger for authentic flavor and San Luis Obispo’s unique culture.

Best Breakfast

Bon Temps Creole Cafe

Walk into this Railroad Square-area restaurant and you just might think you’d been transported to Louisiana, where Creole country favorites sizzle on the griddle. Bon Temps first opened in 1995, and has since fed hungry San Luis Obispans and visitors a menu unlike any other in town. Satisfy your craving for breakfast with options like creamy grits, buttermilk biscuits, pain perdu (like French toast) and fried green tomato benedict. Bon Temps also serves bottomless chicory coffee, roasted and prepared in the style of New Orleans’ famous Cafe du Monde. Stay for lunch and you’ll find classic Po’ Boy sandwiches, a muffuletta sandwich, Shrimp Creole and Pasta Jambalaya. Enjoy zydeco and Dixieland on the airwaves, sit in the cozy butter-yellow dining room or out on the leafy patio, and taste the best Creole-style food San Luis Obispo has to offer.

SLO Provisions

Everyone loves this high-end delicatessen-style eatery on the north end of downtown at Monterey and Johnson Streets (often called “The MoJo”). The backbone of SLO Provisions’s style is market-fresh produce and a touch of Southern charm from owners Steve Bland and Dwyne Willis. Try SLO Provisions for breakfast, and you’ll find classic dishes like Quiche Lorraine and two types of breakfast burrito, as well as outside-the-box treats like Cereal Milk French Toast. Everything here is prepared just a little extra luxe, featuring housemade ingredients like chorizo or maple-rum frosting dip, Spanish sofrito sauce, and preserved lemon vinaigrette. Take your breakfast to go, or stay and enjoy the comfortable dining room, with glassed-in views of locals and visitors walking by outside. The restaurant also serves lunch with sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as full special takeaway dinners like fried chicken and rotisserie chicken.

Best Crepes

Le Ciel Crepes Cafe

Located near the intersection of Orcutt Street and Broad Street, Le Ciel Crepes Cafe adds a touch of Paris to the south end of San Luis Obispo. The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a variety of crepes to enjoy, plus bagels, salads, and sandwiches. Each crepe is named after places in San Luis Obispo County, like the Whale Rock crepe, a sweet treat with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. The Bishop Peak crepe features herb baked chicken breast, portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic, caramelized onions and mozzarella cheese. Savory crepes come with a side of green salad or soup of the day, and sweet crepes come with an extra-indulgent scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Still hungry? Entree salads and creative deli-style sandwiches are also on the menu, plus a nice assortment of local wine and beer. Sit indoors (with a view of the owners’ sizeable vintage salt and shaker collection!) or sit at bistro tables outdoors.

Cafe Crepes de SLO

Add a little “ooh la la” to your day with a visit to this charming crepes cafe right in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. This is a comfortable, casual, and colorful spot with upholstered chairs and bistro tables to relax in with a delicious sweet or savory crepe. The restaurant also offers toasted paninis, fresh salads, ice cream, and specialty drinks like boba and espresso. Visitors love the variety of flavors they can find here, from the traditional to the inventive. In the mood for a classic? Try the Strawberry Crepe with a cream cheese drizzle and a dusting of powdered sugar. How about the Florentine Crepe, made with eggs the way you like them and blanketed in a rich Florentine sauce? For non-traditional flavors, we recommend the S’mores Crepe, made with chocolate chips and marshmallow, topped with a chocolate drizzle and cookie crumbs. Come by for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, any day of the week, for a true French bistro-style experience

 Best Sushi

Goshi Japanese Restaurant

Authentic Japanese cuisine shines with simple majesty at Goshi Japanese Restaurant, home of fresh sushi, nigiri, sashimi, specialty rolls, tempura, rice bowls and sake. Located in downtown San Luis Obispo’s iconic Creamery Building, you’ll find only the highest quality salmon, tuna, scallops, freshwater eel, octopus, crab and more combined with a warm and inviting atmosphere. Consistently voted “Best Japanese Food” in the area, this is your go-to local stop for sushi night. Feeling extra hungry? With an expansive menu featuring everything from crispy fried chicken and broiled fish to pork belly and hot dumplings, you’ll find the right combination of raw and sizzling.

Yanagi Sushi & Grill

In the mood for a colorful and flavorful meal in a fun atmosphere? Yanagi Sushi and Grill specializes in fresh sushi and other favorite dishes with a diverse and extensive menu. Choose from classic items like albacore, blue fin and salmon sushi, unagi and tuna rolls, katsu noodle bowls, chicken teriyaki and miso soup. Alternatively, go with the chef’s special items with globally-souced ingredients and inventive flavor combinations. Check out the Truffle Seared Salmon Roll made with spicy tuna, avocado, cucumber, ponzu and Italian truffle oil. Or indulge in a local (and locally-inspired) favorite, the Cal Poly Roll, which includes spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, cucumber and a mustard dressing. Planning a family reunion, graduation party or some other special gathering? Yanagi offers sushi party trays available either for pickup or delivery. But if you can dine in the restaurant, make a point of doing so for the upbeat atmosphere and even a robot server, BellaBot, who delivers your order—and can even sing you Happy Birthday!

Best Pizza

Flour House Pizza

At Flour House Pizza Bar and Pastaria in downtown San Luis Obispo, wood-fired pizza is made the traditional Napoletana way: Quick-fired chewy crust, San Marzano tomatoes and fresh mozzarella di Bufala Campana. Fired in a 905-degree oven for only 60 to 90 seconds, these fragrant, tender and slightly-charred pies are then drizzled with olive oil and premium toppings—something patrons can smell the moment they step through the door. To achieve this heritage pizza perfection, a Stefano Ferrara wood-burning pizza oven is employed (Flour House owns the only one of its kind located between Los Angeles and San Francisco). Large group to feed? “Meter Monday” features meter or half-meter-long pizzas crafted to feed the specific preference of large groups of four-to-eight. While unique to San Luis Obispo, this is a popular tradition in Italy, connecting family and friends around a shared table. Aside from serving up stellar slices—Flour Houses’ pizza was ranked #35 in the USA on Italy’s 2021 “50 Top Pizza” list—the restaurant also offers house-made pasta, antipasti, aperitivi, local and Italian wine, beer, cocktails and indulgent desserts. With both indoor and patio dining and no reservations required, you can cheers to a marvelous meal that quells your craving for this authentic Naples treat. That said, Flour House is known to fill up fast for dinner, so pizza-seekers should hurry to grab a table as soon as the craving hits.

Flour House
Come and enjoy the authentic wood-fired pizza

 Bear and the Wren

With its cozy, contemporary vibe and beautiful wood-fired dishes, Bear and the Wren is a terrific spot for those who seek an upscale but unfussy eatery. Located in the historic Creamery building on the south end of downtown, Bear and the Wren specializes in two types of pizza: thin-crust Neapolitan-style pies and thick-crust Detroit-style ones. These pizza styles vary widely, with Neopolitan crusts fired in the wood-burning oven and Detroit crusts in a deep dish (which makes those oh-so-delicious crispy cheese edges possible). Try a classic Margherita with marinara, mozzarella and basil, or go for something a little outside-the-box like the Bee Stang, a combination of red sauce and mozzarella plus spicy calabrese salami and hot honey. Start your meal with a wood-fired appetizer or fresh salad, and order local, domestic and imported beer and wine. Bear and the Wren also specializers in “spritzers,” wine cocktails that are big on flavor, easy on the alcohol.

Best Indian Cuisine


Shalimar Restaurant in San Luis Obispo boasts an authentic South Asian menu featuring Indian and Pakistani food simmered with bold and enticing spices. Specializing in tender, flavorful and slightly smokey tandoori meats cooked in a cylindrical clay oven or “tandoor,” you can savor lamb, salmon, or chicken cooked in this mouthwatering method. Located on the south side of town heading toward Edna Valley, Shalimar is a fabulous local choice for a casual, family-style meal that usually produces more than a few boxes of leftovers. Do what the locals do and order a feast of rice, garlic naan bread, samosas, lamb curry, chicken tikka masala or spicy curry and pass them around in Shalamar’s inviting dining room or outdoor patio area. Plus, with an array of great vegetarian and vegan options available, everyone can dig in and enjoy. Named after the Shalimar Gardens, a Persian garden built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahaan, this time-honored eatery celebrates the pinnacle of “Indian cuisine with Pakistani flavor.”

Jewel of India

Looking for lunch or dinner that’s vibrant and colorful, along with a bit of spice? Jewel of India Restaurant features authentic Indian cuisine in a comfortable environment, just minutes from downtown San Luis Obispo on Broad Street. Jewel of India serves lunch and dinner daily with options for buffet, combination, and a la carte meals. Part of what makes this eatery so special is the hand-ground pure Indian spices that Chef Gurdeep Singh blends for his dishes. The result is rich, flavorful dishes that reflect the deep, centuries-old culture of Indian cuisine. The restaurant’s menu naturally accommodates a variety of diets, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. All dishes are cooked with sunflower seed oil, and meats are raised naturally without hormones. Choose from chaat, tandoori, samosas, dals, curries, masala, biryani and naan dishes, plus domestic and imported beer and wine. (And if you’re a fan of tropical fruit, do not miss the Mango Lassi!)

Best Tacos

La Esquina Taqueria

La Esquina Taqueria is a top shelf Mexican food restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo combining fresh seafood and craft margaritas. Located on the north side of the historic Creamery Building complex, dine inside or out on the restaurant’s popular heated patio. Created by the owners of Ciopinot Seafood Grill, this vibrant culinary destination serves up all the spicy Mexican flavors you crave elevated by the fresh catch of the day, Dungeness crab or jumbo Mexican white prawns, to name a few seafood delights. Whether you choose to order Baja fish tacos or tender pork chile verde simmered for hours, you’ll experience a uniquely SLO twist on Mexican fare. Ready for a cocktail to complement that order of chips and guacamole? Home to one of the largest selections of tequila and mezcal on the Central Coast, savor incredible margaritas served with fresh-squeezed lime juice.

Taqueria El Guero

Got a hankering for Mexican food? Taqueria El Guero is an excellent option—especially if you want to enjoy the sites and energy of downtown San Luis Obispo. Located on Chorro Street near the Higuera Street intersection, this taqueria offers traditional Mexican dishes in a fun and colorful setting. In fact, the eatery is so beloved by locals, it won 1st place for the best taco at the Viva La Cerveza Festival in 2022. Look for an array of homestyle dishes, from tacos made with sizzling carne asada to satisfying carnitas burritos. Sit at one of the many bistro tables available in this spacious, comfortable spot, or take your food to go. Taqueria El Guero is open daily for lunch and dinner (and late), so those birria tacos, that Mexican torta, or burrito al pastor are always well within reach! Be sure to ask for their fantastic house-made tortilla chips and add a cup of spicy pickled vegetables to your plate for the full taqueria experience.

Best Organic Menu


Farm-to-table Peruvian food takes center stage at Mistura in downtown San Luis Obispo. Located in the historic Creamery Complex next to sister restaurant Mama’s Meatball, Mistura is all about blending sumptuous flavors and cultures—in fact, the name itself means “to mix or blend.” Ready to explore the rainforest the local way? Dig into Peruvian black squid ink hominy tamales topped with wild shrimp, organic potatoes drizzled with creamy huancaina sauce, aji amarillo and queso fresco or savor chicken empanadas stuffed with egg, pecans and Botija olives. Utilizing native Andean ingredients paired with locally sourced and free range meats, sustainable seafood and fresh organic produce, Mistura is able to bring fabulous far-flung flavors to the Central Coast.

The colorful cuisine of Mistura


This excellent smoothie, acai bowl and salad spot is extremely popular with nearby Cal Poly students, which is unsurprising given its health-focused hip vibe and brunch culture. All dishes at Seeds are made with organic produce and ingredients, plus many are vegan and refined sugar-free. Choose from toasts like “Toast 6,” which features 9-grain bread, prosciutto, avocado, burrata, honey, and a balsamic glaze. Shareable flatbreads like “Flatbread 5” combine savory flavors like chipotle aioli, chicken, heirloom cherry tomatoes, arugula, avocado and mozzarella. The restaurant also offers creative and nutritious smoothies and acai, pitaya and spirulina bowls. Interested in healthful salads? Seeds puts several kinds of well-rounded greens dishes on the menu, from those with brown rice, sweet potato and chipotle aioli dressing, to avocado, cucumber, watermelon radishes and tahini lemon vinaigrette. For specials on mimosas, wine and flatbreads, come for weekday happy hour, with extended hours for Thursdays, when the famous Downtown Farmers Market takes over Higuera Street, just outside Seeds’ front door.

Best Fine Dining

Koberl at Blue Restaurant & Bar

Koberl at Blue Restaurant & Bar provides an upscale culinary experience located in downtown San Luis Obispo. Opened in 2005 in the historic J.P. Andrews Building, you’ll find a full bar and extensive wine list to pair alongside chef-crafted dishes at this brick-walled bistro. Famous for serving up sophisticated new American cuisine, expect incredible steaks, fish entrees, pan roasted chicken breast, pork chops and rack of lamb all cooked to perfection. When paired with seasonal market veggies and succulent sauces, these premium meats shine with elevated brilliance. Plus, Koberl at Blue is also home to an impressive vegetarian menu encompassing vibrant salads, hearty pasta dishes and more. Whether you stop in for a craft cocktail or a multi-course dinner paired with the perfect local wine, you’re sure to experience a touch of understated SLO elegance.

Nates on Marsh

This swanky Michelin-recognized eatery is as one-of-a-kind as it gets. Somehow, Nate’s on Marsh manages to be both Ralph Lauren-polo-club-esque and cowboy-rustic. Occupying a stunning Victoria historic home on Marsh Street, Nate’s is all about the vibe: fun, flamboyant, and classy. On the menu, expect many recreated Italian-American classics like Pappardelle Ragu, Rigatoni Bolognese, and Salmon Piccata. Don’t miss the famous fan favorite, the Polpette, a single large meatball made from beef, pork and veal, draped in pomodoro sauce with a lemon-basil pesto and fresh burrata. Wines come primarily from local sources like Edna Valley, Santa Barbara County, Paso Robles and Monterey, plus a handful of excellent Italian producers. (The restaurant even has its own label, Spaghetti Cowboy, a collaboration between husband-and-wife team Vailia From and Russell From of Desparada Wines and Herman Story Wines, respectively.) Enjoy the signature cocktail list and, if you can, nab a spot at the ultra-hip brass bar. Nate’s on Marsh is open for lunch and dinner, as well as weekend brunch. If you’re lucky, you might even meet Nate himself, floating from table to table to greet his guests.

Best Steak

Ox + Anchor

Steak lovers: do not miss out on this Michelin-mentioned steakhouse in downtown San Luis Obispo, adjacent to Hotel SLO on Palm Street. (And vegetarians/vegans: be warned. This probably isn’t the restaurant for you.) The atmosphere at Ox + Anchor may be modern and crisp, but its roots are all old-school steakhouse a la Lawry’s in Beverly Hills. Expect expertly-cooked top sirloin, ribeyes, Kobe flat irons, filet mignon and other cuts from Chef Ryan Fancher and his team, plus a complimentary sauce of your choice, including bearnaise, red wine bordelaise, chimichurri or house-made steak sauce. On the side, order modern spins on the loaded baked potato, creamed spinach, and macaroni and cheese. Appetizers stay similarly classic, with oysters on the half shell, prawn cocktail, and goat cheese croquettes. Pair your meal with a glass of local wine or beer, or opt for one of Ox + Anchor’s signature cocktails. Diners can also choose the chef’s menu: a multi-course exploration of the menu, accompanied by sommelier-selected wines. Whatever you do, don’t neglect dessert: the cult favorite here is the Baked Alaska, a booze-soaked concoction of walnut cake, strawberry ice cream and Italian meringue, set aflame on the table.

Gold Rush Steakhouse at Madonna Inn

The legacy of founder Alex Madonna is strong here in this traditional West Coast-style steakhouse. Madonna was a larger-than-life man of many professions, including entrepreneur, real estate developer, and rancher-cowboy. His wife Phyllis Madonna gave the Madonna Inn its signature and much-loved flamboyance, including flocked wallpaper, floral carpet, and leather-upholstered banquettes and booths—all, famously, in bright pink. At the Gold Rush Steakhouse, these touches blend with cowboy culture to create a style all its own. Choose from appetizers like locally made linguica sausage, prime rib salad, and “Pick & Shovel Turkey Sliders,” a Gold Rush Steakhouse specialty. Entrees run the gamut from swordfish and halibut steaks to bacon-wrapped filet mignon, prime rib and lamb chops. All are served with soup or salad, plus vegetables, baked potato or rice pilaf, and dinner rolls or focaccia bread. Try a glass of Madonna Inn Wine to go with your lunch or dinner, or a cocktail made in the Silver Bar Cocktail Lounge. And absolutely do not skip out on the option to end your meal with a slice of the world-famous Madonna Inn layer cake.

Gold Rush Steakhouse
A steakhouse dinner at Madonna Inn

Best BBQ

Firestone Grill’s Tri-Tip Sandwich

A Central Coast classic since 1995, Firestone Grill’s famous beef tri-tip is tender, well-seasoned and oh-so-satisfying when enjoyed with house-made barbecue sauce on a toasted, buttered roll. Popular with college students and longtime locals alike, this budget and family-friendly hangout is always busting around lunchtime. Join the crowd and dig in like a true local.

Old San Luis BBQ

Fans of Santa Maria Style BBQ will find a happy home at this local staple eatery on Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo. (Not hanging out downtown? Old San Luis BBQ also has a location in the Marigold Center on the southern end of town on Broad Street.) Order from a vast menu of favorite West Coast BBQ favorites like the hand-trimmed Tri-Tip Sandwich, seasoned to perfection and grilled over the traditional red oak coals. Tri-tip is also available as sliders or as a “Pit Plate,” served with garlic bread and sides like french fries, corn pie, Santa Maria Pinquito Beans, or jalapeno-flecked Apple-Cucumber Coleslaw. Not into tri-tip? Old San Luis BBQ also serves decadent pulled pork, chicken, and locally-made linquica sandwiches and sliders. The restaurant is also known for its substantial entree salads, as well as sweet treats like the Salted Caramel Brownie and Chocolate-Bacon Milkshake (!). While BBQ is the main event, craft beer and wine come in at a close second here, with dozens of taps operating daily with customer cards that work on a by-the-ounce system. Choose just one glass or taste through multiple producers, depending on what you want.

Best Mediterranean

Petra Mediterranean Pizza & Grill

Named as one of USA Today’s “Top 25 Pizza Joins in America,” Petra Mediterranean Pizza & Grill is known for serving up fresh, Mediterranean flavors with a comfort food twist. Grab a crowd-pleasing Greek pizza topped with feta, gyro meat and olives or dig into a sizzling shawarma plate served with either tri-tip or chicken and paired with a side of pita bread, hummus, tabbouleh or tzatziki.

Petra Mediterranean Pizza & Grill


Open daily for lunch and dinner, this downtown San Luis Obispo Mediterranean-centered eatery has a casual, stylish vibe. Choose from a classic selection of menu items, from spanakopita and shish kebabs to gyros, shawarma, baba ganoush and falafel. All dishes are available a la carte, and many are available as part of generously-portioned Mediterranean plate combinations, served with house-made hummus, warm pita bread, and spiced veggies. These are also available as build-your-own bowls on a base of lettuce, rice or fries. Craving something green? Go for the Greek Salad, made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives and fresh, savory feta cheese. Order at the counter and sink into one of the tucked-away booths, surrounded by dark tile. Or if you’re on the go, pick up a Gyro Sandwich, Falafel Sandwich or Beef or Chicken Shwarma Sandwiches. (These are terrific for a walk or picnic in Mission Plaza, just half a block up Chorro Street.) And for dessert? Don’t pass up the authentic Baklava, made authentically with nuts and honey wrapped in crispy phyllo dough.

Best Sandwich

High Street Deli Sandwiches

High Street Deli is the tried-and-true local pick for filling sandwiches served sunrise to sunset in San Luis Obispo. Known for crave-worthy flavor combinations piled high with premium carved meats, fresh veggies, quality cheeses and house-made sauces, High Street Deli also features a selection of sides and craft beer. Whether you grab a breakfast sandwich served on a french roll or a popular “Dutch Punch Sando” (laden with tender smoked turkey, extra bacon, jalapeno Havarti, red onion, tomato and house chipotle mayo on Ductch Crunch bread), you’ll likely have enough leftover to enjoy tomorrow.

High Street Deli Sandwich
High Street Deli is a SLO staple for sandwiches

Lincoln Market and Deli

If you’re looking to hang out just a little outside downtown, a walk to Lincoln Deli in San Luis Obispo’s Anholm neighborhood is a must-do. One of the area’s strongest contenders for Best Sandwich, Lincoln Market and Deli has been in operation since 1941. With its cheery striped awnings, giant mural advising passersby to “Eat Good Times,” and pinball arcade at the back of the room, the restaurant manages to delight and satisfy people of all ages and stages. Choose from a long list of signature sandwiches, many of which are named after intensely local spots. These include crowd favorite Tassajara Delight, made with turkey, bacon, pepperjack and honey-jalapeno sauce on sourdough (and named after a nearby street) and the Mission Meatball (also named after a nearby street). For early birds or late risers, the breakfast burritos and avocado toast have a strong following, as do the selection of tater tot-centered items. Pair your meal with one of the two craft beers on tap, beer and wine by the bottle, cider, kombucha, or craft soda. As you wait for your order, peruse the thoughtfully-curated market and boutique for health-forward snacks, ingredients and bodycare goods. Then sit down to the long family table inside or the bistro tables on the patio outside and enjoy one of the locals’ favorites food and drink in town.

Best Desserts

Madonna Inn Desserts

An iconic San Luis Obispo road-stop since the 1950s, Madonna Inn is synonymous with delectable desserts—and the color pink! Churning out their classic, world famous pink champagne cake in keeping with what can only be described as rabid demand, the hotel’s Copper Cafe fills up quickly with folks looking for sweets to enjoy onsite or to-go. Sample this photo-worthy treat topped with curls of hot pink white chocolate and you’ll soon understand why all the fuss. Of course, you can also take home fresh-baked pies, cookies and pastries, too.


Inventive and outside-the-box donuts are the name of the game at this community hub, a favorite of local college students, families, and all-around donut aficionados. Best of all? It’s open 24/7, every day of the year. Indulge your craving at any hour with a selection of over 100 types of donuts—yes, 100. These include tried-and-true varieties like crullers, fritters, old fashioneds, and buttermilk bars. But the magic of SLODoCo is its off-the-wall varieties like the “Circus Animal,” a raised donut layered with icing, Mother’s circus animal cookies, rainbow sprinkles….and another drizzle of icing. Go basic, or try the Chai Cream Cheese bar, Maple-Bacon bar (a local legend), or Chocolate Dobash (Hawaiian chiffon cake) filled donut. For those with alternative diets like vegan and gluten free, SLODoCo’s got you with a wide selection of donuts—and not just boring ones. The shop provides ample seating and an assortment of board games to play with as you enjoy your sugar rush. Also watch for nighttime live music and poetry readings. SLODoCo has two locations to serve you, on Broad Street and on South Higuera Street.

Best Appetizers

Taste Slo

The vibe is warm, casual and contemporary at this beloved restaurant south of downtown San Luis Obispo on the corner of Broad and Caudill Streets. The menu is unique for its emphasis on tasting lots of different flavors, whether as shareables for a group or as individual plates. Start by ordering from a selection of appetizers like the Burrata Board made with honey, strawberries, apricot jam and toasted baguette. Or go for something meatier like the Chicken Wings, available with buffalo sauce or housemade BBQ sauce. TasteSLO prides itself on a separate appetizer list devoted just to brussels sprouts prepared in a number of styles, from French (with chevre and bacon) to Italian (with parmesan and lemon Caesar dressing). For those who want a substantial entree salad, the menu includes a dozen beautiful options. But the main event at TasteSLO is the format for build-your-own plates. Choose two, three or four sides like sliders, mac and cheese, salads, soups and fries to create the lunch or dinner of your dreams. TasteSLO also offers a wide selection of wine, beer and cocktails to pair with your plate.

1865 Craft House & Kitchen

Recently refurbished, 1865 Craft House & Kitchen blends a bright, contemporary atmosphere with American classics for happy hour and dinner daily. Located at 1865 Monterey Street (hence the name), the restaurant features plenty of space to enjoy your next intimate meal, time with friends, or family get-together. Pick from a menu that includes fresh favorites like Kung Pao Brussels with roasted cashew and fresno peppers, potato taquitos with guacamole and queso fresco. In the mood for something hearty? Try the Prime Rib Plate, Monterey Hot Chicken Sandwich, or Gnocchi Carbonara. Everything on the menu is prepared fresh and is available to order alongside interesting signature cocktails, local wines, and draft beer from a series of rotating taps. The kids menu will keep little foodies satisfied, and the outdoor firepit seating will warm any gathering.

Best Craft Cocktails


This esteemed bar and restaurant really lead the way for the craft cocktail movement in San Luis Obispo. Located downtown on Broad Street near the SLO Museum of Art, Sidecar has one of the best-positioned, heated balcony patios in town, overlooking San Luis Creek. Enjoy an expertly-curated menu of cocktails, from Prohibition-era classics to modern concoctions. These are like imbibe-able works of art, incorporating house-made syrups, liqueurs, and unexpected elements like essential oils and smoked herbs. Music is a massive influence on both the drinks and the space (like the downstairs speakeasy-like music lounge). In fact, you might find a QR code on the menu leads to a playlist of songs to listen to while you sip any one of the signature cocktails on the drinks list. As for food, the restaurant focuses on contemporary comfort food to pair with your beverage of choice. Choose from the savory Potato Tacos with salsa verde and pickled peppers, to the grilled Caesar Salad, made with charred Romaine lettuce. Menu tip: Other than its killer cocktails, Sidecar is most famous for its Brussels Sprouts appetizer, served with a balsamic sauce, blue cheese crumbles and garlic aioli.

The Nightcap

Attached to the Granada Hotel and Bistro, the Nightcap Cocktail Lounge serves craft cocktails in a posh, speakeasy-esque hideaway that’s off the beaten path of most tourists. The Granada building has a long history of serving visitors, and The Nightcap is no different. The space is warm and intimate, with walls of exposed brick, gleaming marble countertops and a warm oak bar. Choose from a creatively-written menu that sorts drinks by their style, “Bright & Acidic” to “Boozy & Powerful” to “Wild Card.” (And with drinks named “Death Technique” and “Jesus Take The Wheel,” the menu is almost as much fun to read through as it is to taste through.) Going booze-free? The Nightcap has risen to become one of the area’s leading establishments to offer a variety of non-alcoholic drinks. No, we’re not talking about soda water with lime; these are bona fide mocktails, n/a craft wine and n/a craft beer. Try the “Herb Walk,” made with Seedlip Garden 108, Amass Riverine n/a spirit, and Lyres Dry Aperitif. Come for Martini Hour each night from 6-7pm for specials on classic martinis, and order small bites from the restaurant next door. Then tuck back into one of the intimate booths and sip the night away.

More Nightlife

Looking for more ways to spend the evening hours? San Luis Obispo has lots of options for late-night food, drinks, and fun. Whether you’re exploring the flourishing cocktail scene, dancing to a DJ, taking in live music or just taking a midnight walk, you can find a guide to all of it on our “Nightlife in San Luis Obispo” page.

San Luis Obispo Downtown

Discover San Luis Obispo Dining

San Luis Obispo’s dining scene is diverse and delicious. Whether you seek chef-driven menus paired with award-winning wines, a casual breakfast for your family or the casual elegance of a farm-to-table supper, you’ll find it in San Luis Obispo. Thanks to the region’s year-round growing season, our kitchens are also rife with farm-fresh flavor. Avocado, citrus, olive oil, wine, free-range meats, fresh fish and more all all procured from nearby sources, making for a truly inspired culinary experience. Plus, with plenty of eateries serving up everything from Mexican and sushi to burgers and brunch, you’ll never need to choose between your craving and quality. Have a favorite restaurant to add to our list? Contact us and let us know!

The Creamery San Luis Obispo
Dining in beautiful downtown SLO