Must-see restaurants in Central Coast

  • E
    Top Choice

    Chef Brian Collins, who once cooked at Alice Waters' revered Chez Panisse, has returned to his roots in SLO County. Out of this heart-warming restaurant's…

  • L
    Top Choice
    La Cosecha Bar & Restaurant

    The Honduran heritage of chef and owner Santos MacDonal shines through at this cosmopolitan bar and bistro translating from Spanish into 'the harvest.'…

  • P
    Top Choice
    Penny Ice Creamery

    With a cult following, this artisan ice-cream shop crafts zany flavors such as bourbon-candied ginger, lemon-verbena–blueberry and ricotta apricot all…

  • M
    Top Choice
    Montrio Bistro

    With 'clouds' hanging from the ceiling and tube sculptures wriggling towards them, it's apparent that much thought has gone into the design of this dining…

  • C
    Top Choice
    Cultura Comida y Bebida

    In a brick-lined courtyard, this vivaciously elegant restaurant pairs art and candlelight with food inspired by Oaxacan flavors and an entire library's…

  • D
    Top Choice
    Downtown SLO Farmers' Market

    The county’s biggest and best weekly farmers market turns downtown SLO’s Higuera St into a giant street party, with smokin’ barbecues, overflowing fruit…

  • S
    Top Choice
    Santa Cruz Farmers Market

    Organic produce, baked goods and arts-and-crafts and food booths all give you an authentic taste of the local vibe. Shorter fall and winter hours.

  • S
    Top Choice

    A perennial local foodie fave, this chic and cosmopolitan lair harnesses mostly native products and turns them into triumphs of flavor pairings: Manila…

  • N

    Nepenthe comes from a Greek word meaning ‘isle of no sorrow,’ and indeed, it’s hard to feel blue while sitting by the firepit on this aerial terrace. Just…

  • G
    Guiseppe's Cucina Rustica

    Visit garlic-perfumed Guiseppe's for a leisurely lunch of toothsome salads, pizza and antipasti starring produce harvested on the owner's farm. Out the…

  • O
    Oyster Loft

    Delve into the appetizers menu – including crab cakes or orange-glazed octopus – or kick off with tuna tataki or fresh oysters from the crudo raw bar…

  • P

    Fresh, sustainable seafood is artfully presented in any number of inventive ways, and a seasonally inspired menu also carries slow-cooked meats and…

  • Z
    Zab Zab

    Our pick of Lighthouse Avenue's lineup of low-key global eateries, Zab Zab channels the robust flavors of northeast Thailand. The bijou cottage is perfect…

  • D
    Deetjen's Restaurant

    At a quaint yesteryear lodge, the candlelit, knickknack-filled dining room has a dependably delicious menu of meat-centric culinary Americana, from bacon…

  • B
    Big Sur River Inn

    Woodsy restaurant with a deck, overlooking a creek teeming with throaty frogs. The food is standard American – burgers, steak, sandwiches, roast chicken…

  • T
    The Hatch Rotisserie & Bar

    Wood-fired treats in this heritage location combining shimmering chandeliers and rustic bricks include grilled octopus, rotisserie chicken and creamy bone…

  • R
    Ruddell's Smokehouse

    ‘Smoker Jim’ puts fresh-off-the-boat salmon, albacore tuna, ahi tuna and shrimp through the smoker before loading them into toasted tacos and french roll…

  • C
    Corkscrew Cafe

    Just possibly Carmel Valley's coziest eatery, the Corkscrew Cafe combines a rustic wine-country vibe and a Mediterranean-influenced menu – think wood…

  • A
    Akira Santa Cruz

    Complemented by sake, craft brews and a buzzy surf-town ambience, Akira's menu harnesses briny-fresh tuna, salmon, eel and shellfish for a huge variety of…

  • C
    Cracked Crab

    Fresh seafood and regional wines are staples at this supercasual family-owned grill. When the famous Big Bucket – a messy bonanza of crab, clams, shrimp…