Top 10 Restaurants in San Luis Obispo

October 15, 2020

A getaway to San Luis Obispo can never be complete without a taste of its tantalizing culinary variety. Being in one of the country’s largest agricultural regions, restaurants in the county have access to fresh local food and ideal ingredients for tasty, unique meals. Professional chefs channel their immense passion and creativity into ultimate dining experiences. Here are the ten best restaurants in San Luis Obispo, recommended by the people who know SLO best, the friendly staff at Sands Inn & Suites, a AAA Three-Diamond hotel. San Luis Obispo visitors return to our hotel again and again to enjoy our comfortable accommodations, friendly atmosphere, and idyllic location within walking distance of California Polytechnic University and downtown San Luis Obispo.

1. Luna Red

Luna Red is a popular dining spot located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo. The restaurant will first charm you with its eye-catching outdoor patio and artistic, cozy setting before enchanting you with unique menus featuring global flavors. Popular delicacies include the award-winning paella, bacon-wrapped dates, and tortilla soup. You also get to enjoy an award-winning wine list coupled with soothing music as you view the beautiful historical Mission de Tolosa and the San Luis Creek.

2. Ember Restaurant

Don’t let the barn-like appearance of Ember Restaurant fool you. This restaurant is one of the best places to order tasty meals, such as ahi tuna credo, wood-fired steaks, sausage pizzas, avocado salad, and many seasonal delicacies. They also serve impressive cocktails to quench your thirst. The restaurant is made of reclaimed wood and brings out the natural atmosphere, making it ideal for a pleasant dining experience.

3. Madonna Inn

At Madonna Inn, the culinary experience isn’t the only exciting thing. The inn features elegant pink and gold décor, cozy leather seats, and well-crafted wood carvings. Hand-painted murals further bring out the charming atmosphere. The restaurant is home to award-winning steak and is sometimes referred to as the Steak House. Top-of-the-menu delicacies include barbecued steak, inventive vegetable meals, fresh seafood, and organic chicken. You also get to enjoy their impressive wine list as you dance to soothing music.

4. Granada Bistro

Granada Bistro combines modernity with history, featuring a glimpse of the region’s Spanish colonial past. The walls are all exposed brick to bring out the historical atmosphere. It also has an eye-catching outdoor patio fitted with fire pits for the best dining experience. The seats are cushioned and made of leather to guarantee comfort. Top meals featured on the menu include brioche buns, bacon burgers, carrot risotto, fava beans, and English peas. The restaurant is also home to classic cocktails for a fantastic experience.

5. Novo Restaurant & Lounge

Located on the banks of San Luis Obispo Creek, the award-winning Novo boasts elegance, uniqueness, and unmatched comfort. It has a warm dining space plus an additional outdoor balcony where twinkling lights create an intimate ambience. The restaurant serves seasonal delicacies with an Asian touch. There are also cocktails and an impressive wine list to enrich your dining experience.

6. Buona Tavola

This restaurant is located conveniently at Fremont Theatre. Its beautiful large garden and the enchanting patio’s twinkling lights make it an ideal spot for dinner, especially for couples. The intimate atmosphere is further reinforced with excellent meals. The menu includes beef and veal, inventive salads, pasta, and other creative meals. You can also choose from among several varieties of cocktail and wines.

7. Ciopinot

If you’re a seafood lover, this is the ideal place for you. Ciopinot is a family-run restaurant that specializes in seafood meals. It’s a top destination spot for oysters, wagyu steaks served with salads, and various fish. It also features an extensive wine list of white and red Pinots to complement the seafood dishes. Ciopinot is only open for dinner.

8. 1865 Craft House & Kitchen

This local favorite combines modern American cuisine with classic mom-and-pop charm in a fun, relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. From traditional burgers to truffled mushroom flatbreads, locals and travelers alike will find something for every taste at 1865 Craft House & Kitchen. If you’re looking to slake your thirst after a day of exploring SLO, you won’t be disappointed by the wide selection of local craft beers and specialty cocktails. 

9. Splash Cafe

This cheerful, bright cafe and bakery is a local favorite known for fresh seafood and mouth-watering baked goods. Splash Cafe is one of the few restaurants in San Luis Obispo that has its own truly artisan bakery. You’ll have a hard time choosing from among this eatery’s freshly baked handmade breads, desserts, and pastries. The signature menu offerings include a huge selection of salads, specialty sandwiches, and pizzas. Grab a bowl of the Splash Cafe’s famous award-winning clam chowder (made from scratch every day) and enjoy the casual ambience as you admire the gorgeous original murals depicting the “clam people” showing all the fun things to do in SLO.

10. Woodstock’s Pizza

The delicious pizzas served by the friendly folks at this pizzeria have won a number of awards, including Cal Poly’s Favorite Pizza since 2005. Using only the freshest, most flavorful ingredients, Woodstock’s creates a stellar experience for every customer, from the first bite to the last. You’ll revel in the festive, fun-filled atmosphere as you savor the scrumptious appetizers, fresh salads, and, of course, the amazing pizza. Try the Mustang, a Cal Poly fave with linguica, pepperoni, white onions, bell peppers, and juicy pineapple. Pair your pizza with a choice from the rotating selection of craft brews. 

No matter what kind of cuisine you prefer, you’re sure to find a restaurant that suits your tastes perfectly in San Luis Obispo. If you’re planning to stay in the city and want the perfect destination for a family vacation or a relaxing getaway, reserve a room at Sands Inn & Suites. At our hotel, SLO visitors will find all the amenities they need for a comfortable stay. To reserve your room or learn more about our amenities, which include microwaves, refrigerators, flat-screen TVs with digital cable, and complimentary high-speed WiFi, call us today at (800) 441-4657.

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