This Christmas vacation, I had a chance to explore some parts of the Central Coast where I had never been before.
Best meal we had in the Central Coast was at Full of Life Flatbread in Los Alamos. This is a popular place, and we were there on a busy Saturday night. We had two local beers as we waited for a table, and were eventually seated. We shared a house salad, a special squash gnocchi dish, and a large flatbread (half sausage, half mushroom/onion). Flatbread was the highlight for me--the huge wood-burning oven in the middle of the dining room gave the flatbread pizza a nice charred crust. Crispy and chewy at the same time. We asked for two eggs to be fried on the top of the flatbread, and this was great---we were able to dip the crusts in the egg yolk. For dessert, we shared the "The Beast", which is not listed on the menu, but is always available. Gooey fudge brownie, topped with a huge marshmallow which is then toasted in the wood burning oven. Served with ice cream. I had heard about this place from a friend, and we were glad we checked it out.
Our other Central Coast dinner was at Basil Thai in downtown Paso Robles. We were recommended this place by pourer at Calcareous Vineyard, and we were pleasantly surprised (since we were not expecting very good Thai food in Paso Robles). We shared Meaing Kum (spinach leaves with various fillings, like they have at angkor borei in SF), Papaya Salad (surprisingly spicy and generous portion), and red curry with tofu (pretty standard, but definitely not bad). Iced tea was only OK. Very friendly service, and convenient location.
Two noteworthy breakfasts: the first was at Nautical Bean Cafe in San Luis Obispo. Located in a strip mall, this place didn't seem like it would be good, but I was really impressed. Friendly staff, lots of locals enjoying coffee and breakfast. We had bagel egg sandwiches (mine with bacon, DC's with avocado), and coffee. Their specialty coffee is a chestnut flavored one, which I actually liked (note: I usually hate flavored coffee, especially hazelnut). This is not a destination spot, but if you're driving through SLO and looking for quick breakfast, it's worth it. We also had a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin which was pretty good.
Second breakfast: Kay's Orcutt Country Kitchen. Seems like a real institution, and it was very well run on a Sunday morning despite the crowds. Free coffee while you wait to be seated. DC had the corned beef hash and eggs, which wasn't too great. Corned beef was meh. Eggs were good. Served w/ hash browns (fine) and banana muffin (his choice, also fine). I had a dish which was a biscuit topped w/ bacon, fried eggs, and sweet-potato-battered-fried chicken strips, all topped with gravy. In retrospect, I should have asked for gravy on the side, but this was still pretty good. Bacon was especially good for a diner-like place like this. Also served with hash browns. Strawberry lemonade was huge and very nice. Friendly service, and worth a stop if driving through and looking for a filling breakfast.
Bonus stop: Old West Cinnamon Rolls in Pismo Beach. We made a brief stop here. These are pretty standard but pretty tasty cinnamon rolls. You can get cream cheese frosting for them on the side. I had never been to Pismo Beach, so it made for a nice snack along with a walk down the pier.
We only went to two wineries: Calcareous (great view, good wines) and Tobin James (mediocre wines, but free tasting and a fun place...and I actually really like their sweet muscat wine).
Hope this will be helpful for folks traveling through the Central Coast on 101. Sorry for the lack of photos!