Chow hat tip to Toodie Jane for the San Luis Obispo Railroad Plaza recommendation of the DEL MONTE CAFE who knows how to deliver the quick SB-SLO day train trip turnaround lunch for those taking the 10:20 out of Santa Barbara and hoping to return on the 1:55pm leaving San Luis Obispo.
Just mention you are here on one of these quick stop turnarounds and they hustle your meal and bill right away and tell you to stick to the cold sandwiches for the fastest service, but include their delicious BLT among their cold sandwich choices ..with hot fries.
DH had the chicken salad sandwich which was plump, moist and tasty and sadly I ordered only the half BLT on their haunting sweetish whole wheat bread and wished too late I had order the whole thing. For those that have more time to spend at the DelMonte Cafe, it looked like their chicken fried steak with biscuits and gravy was the popular choice. Extremely pleasant service here. Thank you Toodie. Another central coast winner.
The Del Monte Cafe was also vintage railway with wooden booths and counter stools in the 1901 restored building that now includes a very pleasant outdoor covered patio where you can view the quiet charms of SLO"s Railroad Plaza complex of other shops and restaurants. High recommendations were also offered for the MEZE deli in the RR complex building itself., but we did not have time to see for ourselves.
We got the full 55 minute stop when the wonderful restored 1950's first class lounge car Central Coast Flyer railway car hauled on the tail end of the regular Amtrak Surfliner pulled into SLO and then did its turnaround trip back to SB. This charter trip also included onboard snacks included in the full RT ticket price ($66 each) and they were very nice: bagels and cream cheese, fresh veggies and dip, crackers and cheese and on the return a nice sheet cake dessert, accompanied by a very good acoustic guitar singer for background music and train songs.
Hot and cold beverages were also complimentary in this charter package - great, but super-heated fresh brewed coffee so watch out for that. Other snacks and drinks also available for slight charges including packets of Aplets and Cotlets because the vintage train onboard "conductor" found these advertised in an old Southern Pacific ad and thought they added to the overall historic ambiance of this beautiful old railway lounge car.
Others on the train brought their own picnic spreads with wine and enjoyed them right in the lounge car at the tables for four that were interspersed between the cozy lounge chair seatings. Caution: some times the trains are late coming into SLO so having some back-up food with you might be necessary in case there is no time to have lunch in SLO, though the snacks included in the ticket price would be adequate for an in-house light lunch.
A totally delightful day and the scenery along the way was drop-dead gorgeous as well passing remote ocean side ranch properties and the vast Vandenburg military base all of which are off limits for drivers going up Highway 101. For more information about the next Central Coast Flyer vintage rail car trips to SLO and back from SB - so you can "do lunch" in SLO visit this link: https://www.goletadepot.org/catalog/i... Ours was the "Overland Trail" car and these trips also offer longer stops if you get off earlier in Grovers Beach where you will be guided to the downtown shopping and restaurant area there. Then the Central Coast Flyer picks you back on on its way back to SB a few hours later.
They also run a vintage Vista Dome car and do food-themed trips for wine and cheese in these vintage cars, which also brought in passengers from LA to SB for the same sort of turn-around day trips for wining and dining lunch stops in SB. And then picked up this group after our final departure in SB at the end of our SLO trip.
Seeing this central coast countryside from the train put the remote FAR WESTERN TAVERN in Gaudalupe and the HITCHING POST restaurant in Casmalia into an entirely new perspective as former old railway towns that could support these dining establishments as well as the room rentals, often by the hour, that they provided in these outposts as well. It was a great day.