9 Places to Dine After a Day of SLO Wining

novodishAbout halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo wine country unfolds along the seafront side of the Santa Lucia mountain range in San Luis Obispo County.

Adjoining American Viticultural Areas are Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande Valley, and the average distance between the wineries and the Pacific Ocean is just five miles. It’s a true maritime climate, and one of California’s coolest for wine grape growing.

Most of the tasting rooms have a laid-back vibe, with stunning scenery against a blue-sky backdrop. And once you’re done tasting wine, a number of exceptional restaurants beckon for a wind-down dinner. Here are nine of our favorites…

  1. Alex Madonna’s Gold Rush Steak House

Renowned for its outstanding menu and spectacular pink and gold décor, this award-winning restaurant features amazing oak pit-barbecued steak, fresh seafood, vegetarian entrees, a superb wine list, decadent desserts and nightly entertainment. Its Silver Bar offers cocktails, wine, beer and appetizers. 805-543-3000.

  1. Big Sky Café

Featured in a Wall Street Journal story on where to eat in San Luis Obispo, this casual and contemporary downtown eatery features fresh market cuisine and 20 local wines by the glass. Organic products, fresh seafood and many vegetarian choices are included on the eclectic international menu. 805-545-5401.

  1. Café Roma

A quintessential Central Coast experience. From its classic Italian dining room to its covered patio and casual bar, you’ll be transported to Italy when you walk through the doors. Its classic seasonal menu is complemented by more than 200 Italian and local wines. 805-541-6800.

  1. Lido Restaurant & Lounge at Dolphin Bay

Enjoy stunning ocean views and farm-to-table cuisine, expertly paired with fine local wines. If you’ve been wine touring all day, two bottles may be brought in and opened with no corkage fee. Locals enjoy the weekday sunset happy hour, as well as the exceptional weekend Champagne brunch. 805-773-8900.

  1. Luna Red

Located at the Mission de Tolosa in the heart of San Luis Obispo, this restaurant serves innovative, globally inspired cuisine sourced from local growers and purveyors. It also offers a wide selection of local and international wines, and features live music on select nights. 805-540-5243.

  1. Novo

Set against a rich, eclectic backdrop, Novo’s international flavors are the leading ingredients in an exotic dining experience. Located in an historic downtown building with spectacular creek-side seating, it’s a favorite with locals and tourists alike. It features an extensive global and local wine list, and has a downstairs “cellar room” for private parties or large groups. 805-543-3986.

  1. Rooster Creek Tavern

Creative appetizers, main-course dishes such as Cane Rum Cured Salmon and wood-fired artisan pizzas are just part of the culinary allure of this restaurant in the village of Arroyo Grande. The wine list is extensive, spotlighting numerous local estates. 805-489-2509.

  1. Splash Café & Artisan Bakery

We can think of three reasons to frequent this charming café: 1. for a bowl of clam chowder as a prelude to a fresh seafood entrée; 2. for an amazing breakfast pastry, baked fresh daily; 3. for a box lunch to accompany a wine country picnic. 805-544-7567.

  1. Windows on the Water

The menu changes with the seasons at this fine-dining restaurant overlooking Morro Bay and Morro Rock. Local sources are used for fresh fish, vegetables, fruit, herbs, livestock and seafood, and the award-winning menu is accompanied by a thoughtfully selected wine list. 805-772-0677.

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