Your San Luis Obispo Food + Drink Road Trip

Situated on the coast halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is one of California’s best kept secrets, which is on the verge of not being quite so secret anymore. San Luis Obispo (nicknamed by locals “SLO”) is an old Spanish town which has since become a quintessential college town as it is home to Cal Poly State University.

The combined factors of it’s location between two of the world’s most gastronomically significant metropolises, its Spanish and Mexican history, the farm to table culture, and its exciting college energy make this small town one of the best food and drink scenes on the West Coast. It’s proximity to SoCal and the Bay Area make it a popular weekend road trip destination for tourists and California natives alike. Situated around Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa this charming small town has everything you need for a weekend retreat from the big city. Here is a list of the unmissable food and drink destinations you certainly can’t miss on your inevitable trip to the “Happiest Town in America.”

  1. The Madonna Inn
  • The Madonna Inn is a San Luis Obispo institution. This pink, kitschy, Swiss chalet inspired hotel, cafe, and steakhouse is so iconic you’ve almost certainly already encountered it numerous times on Instagram. Check out the steakhouse for some of the best steak the Central Coast had to offer, or go next door to the Copper Cafe and have a slice of pink champagne cake and sip a coffee before going to check out the waterfall in the mens room (no really, its actually a thing).

2. SLO Brew

  • SLO Brew has been one of the Central Coast’s premiere venues for live performances and great brews. In addition to the great food, drink, and live music SLO Brew also houses a microbrewery on it’s new Higuera St. location.

3. Sidecar

  • This cool speakeasy inspired bar is one of the more urbane bars in town. It’s bartenders are well versed in mixology techniques not commonly seen in small college towns such as SLO. A must try drink is the Central Coast Sour comprised of ford’s gin, lemon, simple syrup, and folkway: the revelator, served up.


  • One of San Luis Obispo’s biggest attractions is its outdoor beauty which is why alfresco dining is so popular in town. Perhaps no place has better better accommodations for taking in the scenery than NOVO. With its wooden deck over the tranquil creek, and shaded by towering oak trees no place in SLO is better suited to spending a Sunday enjoying a boozy brunch. Definitely sip a glass from their extensive wine list, and the for brunch the bacon bloody mary or a bellini (or how about both?)

5. Edna Valley Vineyard

  • No trip to San Luis Obispo is complete without a day of wine tasting. While there are endless numbers of wineries to choose from, perhaps no one compares like Edna Valley Wines. This popular vineyard, located in the scenic Edna Valley less than 10 minutes south of downtown SLO, has ardent fans far and wide. Their newly renovated tasting room boasts a peaceful outdoor patio and stunning scenic views of the coastal landscape, the perfect setting to enjoy their iconic chardonnay.

6. Jocko’s Steakhouse

  • If you’re willing to make a bit of a trek for truly great steak (and really you should be) head 20 minutes south of San Luis Obispo to the quiet farm town of Nipomo and try Jocko’s Steakhouse. While the line out the door may look discouraging the smell wafting from the red oak barbecue outback is sure to make you stay. People come from all over to sample what has been called the best barbecue on the West Coast. While waiting for your table you can sidle up to the bar and hear the small town gossip as cowboys and city folk alike patiently wait to dig into the signature spencer steak and baked potatoes.

Check out the Stir app for even more great local recommendations for your next night out. Find us in the App Store, on Facebook ( o), on Twitter (@getstir), and Instagram (@getstirapp).

Download Stir in the app store today!

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.