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Central Coast trip report (long)

Kev | Sep 28, 200403:10 PM

This is a weekend trip report up the coast from Los Angeles, going as far north as San Simeon. The route was primarily the 101 North or PCH. It is an edited version from a report I made to some friends, with changes to protect the guilty and to make it a _bit_ more readable.

1st lunch - La Super Rica in Santa Barbara. Supposed to be one of Julia Child's favorite restaurants in Santa Barbara. I got an Alambre De Filete, which was tri tip with onions and peppers with corn tortillas. Unlike most of the other choices at La Super Rica, this one is quite big. They had a tortilla lady, but I thought that the tortillas needed to be cooked a little longer as they tasted a bit raw. SC had guacamole with more tortillas. FZ had vegetarian tamale and FC had a seafood tamale, I believe. FC felt the cream sauce with potatoes and other bits was like clam chowder. He didn't like it.

2nd lunch - Brophy Brothers in Santa Barbara. Feeling a bit full already FC, FZ, and I had a half dozen oysters EACH. It was served on a plate of slush water. I even got some spilled on me. The oysters all had a bit of shell shrapnel on it. Gross. SC had a ceviche, that we were convinced that they had cooked the fish prior to adding the chile lime mixture on it. The wait in the upstairs room was an hour. We were able to grab a table downstairs where it is self seating. I don’t think the wait justifies the quality.

We get to wine country and we go straight to LaFond winery. There were a couple of whites, two pinot noirs, and two syrahs. We figure the estate vineyard bottles of reds were better than the appellation (Santa Rita Hills) bottles.

Appetizer - Next wine tasting room was also the restaurant of the same name, Hitching Post in Buellton. The restaurant owner of the steakhouse also has his own winery. We try about three pinots here too. The winner of the three Pinot Noirs was the Highliner. And what best to go with wine, but steak! We split a top sirloin steak. It comes with a (bay) shrimp cocktail, and a salad. We get the 17 oz steak and it has the most crispy and delicious fries. IIRC, they are cooked in beef fat. The steak is good, but I must admit that I was a bit disappointed. With the reputation of the steaks in the area, and the restaurant itself, I thought the steak would be better. It was good, but not wonderful. It was seasoned with a signature garlic rub.

Dinner - The winner of the weekend, we go to Jocko's in Nipomo. It is another Santa Maria Style steakhouse in a one horse town. We have 7:00pm reservations, and they are lined out the door. I am told a tour bus had rented out half the restaurant. Even though we arrive at 6:40, we get seated at 7:20 (we probably didn't get our entrees until 8pm or so). First things are a plate a pickled stuff and various crackers. There were olives, pickles (2 kinds), pepperccini, celery, and carrots on ice. All the meals come with a simple salad. The guys said the single beet in the salad was surprisingly good, which I had neglected to try. A bit of waiting we get our food. FZ and SC get the small Spencer steak (ribeye), FC and I get the large Spencer. There is an option to get an extra large order for $10 more. It was described as a huge "block of meat". The ones we got were none too shabby either. Although smaller, FZ and SC's steak is a thicker cut. The flavor was amazing. I could detect the oak that the steaks were broiled over. The steaks were incredibly juicy and beefy. I tried a slice of SC's small Spencer. Although thicker, I thought mine was more flavorful. Maybe the seasoning, maybe the cut, who knows. FZ concurred. The guys get limp fries, SC gets a baked potato. Imagine if we had Hitching Post fries with Jocko's steaks – that would have been a deadly combination. We also get the Santa Maria traditional accoutrements of poquito beans, salsa, and buttered French bread. Funny thing, everyone barely touched the sides while eating their steaks. It would have taken up valuable real estate. The guys all finish their steaks. SC boxes up her leftovers (we also box up the fries and some bread hoping the motel has a fridge). The meals also come with coffee and ice creams. FC and FZ get spumoni, which FC is amazed to actually find pistachios and dried fruit. I get vanilla and SC gets cookies and cream. We are stuffed.

Break - we stop for coffee in Cambria. Called Coffee Den. I thought it was overroasted.

Lunch - Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach. We split a quart of clam chowder, toasted bread, a thing of fish and chips, and steamer clams. The clam chowder was amazing. Super thick, full of clams, and not too salty like a lot of chowders. The fish is good, the fries are gross. The steamer clams actually have a sundried tomato, garlic, thyme (olive?) oil sauce on it. The place is lined out the door, usually I steer clear of places like this. A small touristy city, with one or two restaurants lined up like that? Usually these places have overhyped reputations. I think Splash Café is an exception, as their clam chowder IS very good. Next time, I should try Brad’s next door.

Afterwards, we do some more wine tasting. We go to Los Olivos. It's a tiny town too. Probably even more compact than Nipomo. But along the main drag, you couldn't swing a dead ferret without hitting a wine tasting room. We step into one where FC and SC try some of the local stuff and dessert wines. After Los Olivos we drive to Solvang. But this point (6pm), it's a ghost town.

Dinner - we go to Pascucci in Santa Barbara. It's an Italian restaurant. There was a 30 minute wait, but immediately sit at the bar for dinner. I get a Mediterranean salad, FZ gets a Caesar salad, SC gets a roma tomato pasta, and roasted garlic on bread. FC also got a pasta, with smoked salmon. The felt it was too salty. I’m satisfied with my salad. It was reasonably light after all the pigging out we did all weekend.

I think that covers all the food. We had a great time. I think it goes without saying, we're definitely going to Jocko's again. In my book it's on the top 3 list (up there with Prime and Delmontico Steakhouse, both in Las Vegas). And easily clenches best steakhouse in California of the place I've been - and I’ve been to places in LA like Nick & Stef’s, Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, Pacific Dining Car, Taylor’s, etc.

La Super-Rica Taqueria
622 N Milpas St
Santa Barbara, CA 93103-3032
(805) 963-4940

Brophy Bros. Clam Bar & Restaurant
119 Harbor Way
Santa Barbara, CA 93109-2358
(805) 966-4418

LaFond Winery
6855 Santa Rosa road,

THE HITCHING POST II (wine tasting in their bar)
406 E. Highway 246
Buellton, California

125 N. Thompson Ave.
Nipomo, CA

Coffee Den Coffee Den
761 Main Street
Cambria, CA 93428-2825

Splash Cafe
197 Pomeroy
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
(805) 773-4653

729 State Street
Santa Barbara
(805) 963-8123


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