13 Best Restaurants in San Luis Obispo, CA

San Luis Obispo is a desirable Central California city that has been transformed into a popular hub for tourists over the past few centuries. Often abbreviated as SLO, it is located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The city’s name is Spanish for “Saint Louis the Bishop” and was founded by the Spanish in 1772, so the area possesses historical architecture and has a background that slightly predates the founding of America.

Primarily known for energetic outdoor activities – jogs, hikes, and mountain climbing to name a few – San Luis Obispo has accomplished the difficult task of keeping up with the demands of being a hot tourist destination for all kinds of personalities and cultures.

When it comes to culinary needs, SLO restaurants are able to maintain the positive reputation of the city. This list is made up of some of the highest-rated restaurants in San Luis Obispo.

These restaurants were chosen based off of price, location, the style of cuisine, and the alcoholic beverages whenever applicable. Here are the 15 best restaurants in San Luis Obispo, CA.

1. Firestone Grill

$$ | (805) 783-1001 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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We start the list with Firestone Grill, the place to go in the area for barbecue with a twist. The tri-tip Cobb salad is a pleasant take on a standard Cobb salad – much meatier with more flavor!

There is an impressive list of frosty draft beers, red wine, white wine, and sweet cocktails. Whether you are in the mood for a rack of ribs, shredded pork, a light lunch or dinner or just a few drinks, this restaurant has something for you to enjoy.

 

 

2. NoVo

$$ | (805) 543-3986 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Start your day with brunch, Mediterranean-style, at NoVo. The eggs benedict that you used to know to get a facelift – the portabello benedict and the capocollo benedict are some beloved and unique brunch meals.

Or if you have a bigger appetite in the late mornings, try the ribeye steak and eggs. For something spicy, try the Thai red curry with prawns. Guests enjoy the outstanding service, the well-stocked cocktail bar, and the unwavering quality of each dish.

 

 

3. Buona Tavola

$$ | (805) 545-8000 | WEBSITE

Best Restaurant in San Luis Obispo, CA

When the menu is mainly in Italian, you know that the meals are going to be authentic Italian! The polpettine di anatra e tacchino (dumplings with turkey, duck, and onion) is cooked in a sweet and flavorful marmalade.

Some of the most popular dishes (chosen by guests!) include the teneroni portobello and the agnolotti di scampi allo zafferano. The wine selection includes a plethora of white and red wine imported from Italy.

 

 

4. Luna Red

$$ | (805) 540-5243 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Housed in a Spanish-style building reminiscent of the early days of San Luis Obispo, Luna Red serves Spanish fare that is otherworldly.

Sample the tortilla soup or New Zealand lamb lollipops, and savor the taste of authentic street tacos with house-made salsa. Sip a cocktail with a quirky name or choose brews and wine from the beverage menu. No matter what you order, the food and the service will be impeccable.

 

 

5. Petra Mediterranean Pizza & Grill

$ | (805) 439-1999 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Petra is changing the way you look at pizza! From the Greek feta to the chicken and garlic pizza to the colorful tri-tip pizza, this selection goes far beyond the standard toppings. Aside from pizzas, there are mouth-watering gyros full of marinated beef and lamb.

Guests love the simple yet elegant aspects of this Mediterranean eating experience, specifically the chicken shawarma pizza. Combined with genuine customer service, Petra’s is the restaurant to visit (and then return to) again and again!

 

 

6. Goshi Japanese Restaurant

$$ | (805) 543-8942 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Stop by Goshi for lunchtime and take advantage of the specials! Chirashi is a wonderful dish that consists of shredded eggs with sashimi, shiitake, and kanpyo.

Sample the tempura and sashimi dishes with your choice of yellowtail, salmon, and albacore. Choose a hot or cold sake and you’ve got a satisfying Japanese meal. Guests rave about the attentive service and cuisine. Many call Goshi the best sushi restaurant on the Central Coast.

 

 

7. Thai Palace

$$ | (805) 594-1744 | WEBSITE

Best Restaurants in San Luis Obispo, CA

For over 20 years, Thai Palace has been serving the San Luis Obispo area authentic Thai fare. The Crying Tiger is a particular favorite: the beef is thoroughly marinated and comes with rice chili tamarind sauce.

The combination of the grilled salmon marinated in coconut juice and wrapped in banana leaves is unlike anything else, with a potent mixture of sweetness and flavor. The chef has created his own menu section of favorites, which includes moo ping and khua kling. Patrons love the drunken noodles dish, and the service is spectacular.

 

 

8. High Street Market & Deli

$ | (805) 541-4738 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Who doesn’t enjoy a sandwich (or a “sando”) made with fresh meats, fresh veggies, and delicious spreads? High Street Market & Deli, you can order such sandos as the Tropical Vacation (made with turkey smoked to perfection) or the Beef Dip Doobie Style (roast beef with au jus).

Even with multiple sandos from which to choose, this restaurant allows you the option to build your own sandwich. Guests love the options, the hospitality, and the daily specials.

 

 

9. Splash Cafe

$ | (805) 544-7567 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Splash Cafe is all about food and fun! The first menu item that stuck out to me was the chowder fries – curly fries smothered in clam chowder. If you’re planning on bringing a large group, order one of the Splash Family Platters, which can feed anywhere from 4 to 10 people!

From the deli, you can try the killer cod wrap or grilled salmon salad. Guests love the clam chowder, often served in a bread bowl, and the delectable pastries.

 

 

10. SLO Provisions

$$ | (805) 439-4298 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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With a name that is a fun play-on-words and a reference to the area, SLO Provisions is a quiet local restaurant that is all about the daily specials – dinner, sandwich, soup, and pie specials, to be exact!

If you are stopping by on the weekend, make sure to sample the crispy fried chicken. Whenever you are looking for a relaxing dining experience with hospitality and style, go to SLO!

 

 

11. Mistura Restaurant

$$ | (805) 439-3292 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Mistura brings the taste of Peruvian cuisine to Central California with dishes like the rupa rupa (plantains covered in queso fresco) and the aptly-titled Corazon (beef heart, corn, and rocoto peppers).

The wine and beer menu is substantial, listing Corona, Modelo, and every white and red wine you can think of! Customers rave about the hospitable service, the inventive dishes, and the beautiful decor.

 

 

12. Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House

$$$ | (805) 543-3000 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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What would a list of California restaurants be without a reference to the Gold Rush? Located inside of the Madonna Inn, Alex Madonna’s is a steakhouse like no other.

The swordfish steak is a sweeter steak, while the rib eye is marbled and a bit saltier. The wine menu lists such chardonnays, viogniers, and Pinot Grigio. Guests love receiving the “star treatment” at this fine-dining establishment.

 

 

13. Koberl at Blue

$$$ | (805) 783-1135 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Koberl at Blue is all about setting the mood for a great meal. The Blue Plate Specials are the pride of Koberl. Sauteed veal liver, grilled ahi, and the herb-crusted rack of lamb are all highly recommended.

Some popular dishes include the tortilla soup and the New York strip steak, and the cocktails and wine will add a fancy flare to your experience. Koberl knows how to take care of their customers and how to cook the perfect steak.

 

 

Summary

Over the past several decades, San Luis Obispo has successfully kept up with culinary trends, which is an advantage that is evident from the massive amount of tourists who visit the city every year.

SLO has steakhouses, authentic sushi, Peruvian fare, Mediterranean pizzas, locally-inspired cuisine, and much more to keep tourists and locals alike satisfied day after day, year after year.

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