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2010 BEST

of SLO • 

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VILLAS at Introducing The Villas at Laurel Creek, a startling selection of newly-designed townhomes in a picturesque setting combining the charm of San Luis Obispo with the convenience of living just a few miles from downtown. These dynamic new homes feature the comfort and character that make SLO such a special place to live.

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953 Orcutt Road San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

 • BEST of SLO 2010

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2010 BEST

of SLO • 

Hidden treasures surround us. T

Dining Out 6

he best way to find them, of course, is with a guide. This guide. Avoid pitfalls and snares while searching

Af ter Hours 30

for quality local restaurants, businesses, and services. New Times’ annual Best Of special publication, assembled with input from readers across San Luis

A rt s Scene 44

Obispo County, presents the jewels and gems of the Central Coast. Read the directions, follow the paths, and reap your rewards. Fuel your search with Dining Out [6], light your torch and go out After Hours [30], let the Arts Scene [44] dazzle you, drop some coins with Burnin’ Money [52],

Burnin’ Money 5 2

explore About Town [60], muscle up and Get Out [70] when you need to, and be sure to keep a Community Watch [76] on what’s going on around you.

6 0 n w o T t u o b A

If you encounter Dana Lossing, a dancer with Civic Ballet, in your travels, be sure to thank her. She’s the intrepid adventurer scouring caves and scaling rock walls throughout this issue. Also, thank anyone you see who helped to make this Best Of come together—and you’re in-

Get Out 70

cluded in that category. Without you, the untold wealth of San Luis Obispo County would go untouched. Bon voyage!

—Ryan Miller, editor PUBLISHERS

Bob Rucker Alex Zuniga


Ryan Miller 1010 Marsh St. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 (805) 546-8208 New Times © 2010

 • BEST of SLO 2010


Charles Neale Gerencser

76 h tc a W y it n Co m m u


Anna Byrd Topher Cajas Colleen Garcia Rhonda O'Dell Katy Gray Anica Julien Laura Reese Rene Rodriguez Tracey Joyner Scuri Georgia Shore Jamie Zlotky


Christy Serpa Brendan Rowe Dora Mountain Hannah Finder Jason Cope

EDITORIAL DESIGN Heather Walter Jeff Cannon Alex Zuniga



Ed Connolly Matt Fountain Kathy Marcks Hardesty Christy Heron Kathy Johnston Robert A. McDonald Ryan Miller Colin Rigley

Ashley Schwellenbach Glen Starkey Catherine Shen Ariel Waterman

san luis obispo’s

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Best Atascadero Restaurant

Best Avila Beach Restaurant


The Custom House

6000 San Anselmo Road, Atascadero


To all of our customers for voting us one of your favorite bike shops! ALWAYS #1 IN SOUTH COUNTY

The sign with the big yellow arrow rests 15 miles north of SLO and promises “Quality You Can Taste Since 1948” along with the friendliest darn staff you ever gave your money to. Fast food never tasted so good. My “protein style double-double” and Diet Coke is less than $5, and the healthful fries are only a buck thirty-five. Carl Van Fleet, vice president of planning and development, gave me the scoop: “We are working on a location in Arroyo Grande right now. The ‘secret menu’ was never anything we set out to do. Making a burger exactly the way a customer orders it is very important to us.” Grab your pocket menu/location guide and hit the road.

—Christy Heron

runner up:

Fig Good Food Best Arroyo Grande Restaurant

Gina’s Italian Restaurant 138 East Branch St., Arroyo Grande

Thank You!SLO COUNTY FOR VOTING US “Best Morro Bay Restaurant”

Cruise the jungle of Arroyo Grande and you’ll find Gina’s, serving up the best Italian ciao in town! The home-made chicken, shrimp, or goat cheese ravioli, minestrone soup, and enormous calzones popular, as are the desserts—especially the crème brulee! Smooth red pepper potato soup is delicious, as is the creamy pesto sauce, or muscle up some mussel linguini, loaded with shellfish. Their pizza crust is thin enough to read a treasure map through and the pleasant atmosphere, friendly staff, and goodly selection of local wines make Gina’s the treasure to seek. Mangia bene! (But never on a Sunday, when they are closed.)

—Ariel Waterman

runner up:

Klondike Pizza Reservations 772-0677 · Open Daily at 5pm

699 Embarcadero, Morro Bay · Upstairs at Marina Square

 • BEST of SLO 2010

404 Front Street, Avila Beach

Locals go ape over the Custom House in Avila Beach, and you’ll go bananas, too, when you dine in this former U.S. Customs Building. The place has atmosphere to boot! There’s a new outdoor dining patio with heaters for chilly weather and a fire pit and tiki torches at night, plus a soothing view of the ocean. The menu features their superb clam chowder, mahi mahi fish and chips, and great burgers. The king of feasts for dinner is wild king salmon, and you’ll get into the custom of mornings at the Custom House, with their new five-buck breakfasts (Mondays through Thursdays), and a $5 senior menu.


runner up:

Olde Port Inn Best Cambria Restaurant


4095 Burton Dr., Cambria “We’re really happy to have won this award again. We work so hard at doing a good job with our international menu,” owner Shanny Covey enthused. “We buy our produce at local markets and bring in natural, sustainably raised meats. It gives us a good menu that appeals to vegetarians, too.” This May she’s celebrating her 25th year of providing Cambrians and visitors consistently good dining. That’s why it’s no surprise Robin’s continues to rate among the best restaurants. Covey survives the tough economic times by keeping her menu contemporary and by constantly improving their cuisine. There’s another key to her phenomenal success: “I want our service to be warm and gracious for everyone.”

 —Kathy Marcks Hardesty runner up: Moonstone

Beach Bar and Grill

Dining Out


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We’re growing and are proud to announce the opening of

0 201 , 5 Y1 MA G NIN OPE


of SLO • 

10 • BEST of SLO 2010




Chino’s took top honors for its salsa, made by hand and just waiting for a crispy chip. DINING OUT from page


Best Cayucos Restaurant

Hoppe’s Garden Bistro and Wine Bar 78 North Ocean Ave., Cayucos

Again and again, readers vote Hoppe’s Bistro as the Best Cayucos Restaurant. Why? Simple: Chef and owner Wilhelm Hoppe, 2007’s winner of “Iron Chef America,� blends together fine ingredients and fresh organics to create a menu as varied as it is impressive. And for such good quality, it’s surprisingly affordable; most salad and lunch items, while filling, can be had for less than $10. Find fine cheeses, fresh seafood, organic meats, filet mignon, abalone direct from our own local Abalone Farm, and more than 200 available wines! And the location? Right by the beach. Enjoy! —Matt Fountain

runner up: Cass


Best Grover Beach Restaurant

AJ Spurs

1760 El Camino Real, Grover Beach Got a savage appetite for meat? Well, the hunt is over. AJ Spurs will feast the beast with juicy top sirloin, filet mignon, rib-eye, T-bone, spareribs, prime rib, and even chicken and

seafood. Dinners include a kettle of AJ’s vaquero soup, served with salsa and beans cooked in tequila, plus a salad, spuds, garlic bread, and dessert (ice cream, a root beer float, or a grown-up cordial). The Old West atmosphere, with stuffed big and small game decorating the wide open rooms, is enhanced by a band playing country songs. You’ll feel rugged and happily sated when you put on the spurs. —AW

runner up:

Mongo’s Saloon Best Los Osos Restaurant

Noi’s Little Thai Takeout


1288 2nd St., Los Osos Sometimes big things come in small packages. At least that’s what my parents told me at Christmas, and it’s now the line I use on a regular basis. But at least it’s true when talking about Noi’s Little Thai Takeout in Los Osos. While owners Noi and Ron Miner consider their shop a small take-out joint, readers qualified them as the best restaurant. Though the establishment is just a tiny kitchen and two indoor tables, the food is restaurant quality. The eatery boasts three noodle dishes (including a savory pad Thai), six rice dishes (including spicy pad prik king), and a curry of the day—all made from scratch. Oh yeah: $1 egg rolls, baby! —MF

runner up: Sylvester’s DINING OUT

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Breakfast Served ALL Day!

Pastries & Breads Baked FRESH Daily!


2010 BEST

of SLO • 11

DINING OUT from page


Best Morro Bay Restaurant


1760 El Camino Real, Grover Beach (805) 489-7770

Windows on the Water 699 Embarcadero, Morro Bay

You’ve stumbled upon the jewel of the Embarcadero! Though the name speaks for itself in terms of the spectacular view, it doesn’t address the outstanding seafood, the first-rate steaks, the rich atmosphere, or the top-notch service. “In a word: classy,” said dining room manager Ashley Davis. “It’s like Frank Sinatra. But it’s also got that casual side about it, too.” Check out staples like the sand bass, the seared ahi, or the thick black peppered New York steak; or seasonal favorites like rose abalone farmed right out of Cayucos. How about 65-cent Blue Points on the half shell? Make it in for Oyster Tuesdays and wash ’em down with a fine cocktail or glass of local wine at the stocked bar. —MF

Best Nipomo Restaurant

Jocko’s Steakhouse

Best Breakfast served all day

Try Our Lunch!

Burgers · Salads · Sandwiches

Best Breakfast

Best Hangover Food

Open 7 Days a Week 6am–3pm 964 Higuera st. · DOWntOWn sLO · 541.0227

12 • BEST of SLO 2010


891 Price St., Pismo Beach As owner Giuseppe “Joe” DiFronzo says, it’s all about tradition. Coming from a long line of restaurateurs from his family’s native Italy, DiFronzo enjoys continuing a long tradition of creating the finest in rustic Italian country cuisine, and offering at a reasonable price. Well, New Times readers have a little tradition of their own: consistently voting Giuseppe’s the Best Pismo Restaurant, year after year. And it’s not hard to see why. DiFronzo brings in fine local organics and fresh seafood, and makes everything from scratch, from the handmade pastas to the wine. It’s a Central Coast take on a true classic. “That’s the key and strength of our business, that mixture of the new and old,” DiFronzo said. “We try to keep things simple but well done and true to the heritage of Italian culture.” Delizioso! —MF

runner up: Rosa’s

Best Oceano Restaurant

runner up:

Taco Temple

6–Time Winner

Best Pismo Beach Restaurant

125 N. Thompson Ave., Nipomo

Jocko’s has been part of the Nipomo landscape since 1886, when Ralph “Jocko” Knotts first opened his saloon. The family-owned and -operated steakhouse has been a local favorite ever since, taking meat and potatoes to the next level. Enjoy a cold brew at the bar while watching your steak sizzle right next to you over the open barbecue pit. And go ahead: Rip into those ribs like no one’s watching. “We’re not fancy here,” said owner Sandy Knotts. “We go for the big portions and the down-home atmosphere. It’s a real unique place.” See what she means during their nightly dinner specials: roasted pork, chicken-fried steak, and corned beef and cabbage. Or kick the day off with their massive breakfast menu. Get there early; this place fills up quick! —MF

runner up:

Adelina’s Bistro

Old Juan’s Cantina

649 Pier Ave., Oceano Off-road it on over to Old Juan’s Cantina and enjoy some of the finest Mexican fare this side of the border. For more than 30 years, Old Juan’s has been an Oceano staple, serving up family recipes that go back generations. The lively atmosphere is ideal for kicking back and catching up over an ice-cold cerveza and a basket of fresh, crispy, homemade tortilla chips with the signature Old Juan’s chili verde salsa. Not only does the colorful cantina setting make for a great place for family gatherings and parties, but the food, man! The food! Find fresh fajitas, sizzling carnitas, beef or chicken tostadas, and savory fish tacos! Desserts include fried ice cream and a nacho sundae. And the specialty margaritas? Dios mio!


runner up:

Mama’s Meatball DINING OUT

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11 consecutive years!


6 consecutive years!

BEST DRINK WITH A VIEW 4 consecutive years! 2757 Shell Beach Road Shell Beach 773.2511





Happy Hour


Thank you for voting us Best Place for a Wedding Reception.

2010 BEST

of SLO • 13

Thanks SLO for voting one of the best restaurants PHOTO BY




Come celebrate with us.

Mention this ad and receive a FREE dessert with any entree. 1645 TRILOGY PARKWAY, NIPOMO (805)343.7530

���������� ��������� ���������� All of us at In-N-Out Burger want to thank you, our customers. Thank you for honoring us with your business. Thank you for thinking so highly of us. And thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Readers voted Chow in downtown SLO as the Best New Restaurant of 2009. Enjoy Southeast Asian f lavors with modern twists. DINING OUT from page


Best Paso Robles Restaurant


1401 Park St., Paso Robles Spend a day in wine country savoring local sights and sips, then follow it with the readers’ vote for best meal in Paso. Artisan has been pleasing Paso palates for just more than three years, serving up a unique blend of French, Italian, and modern American cuisine. Owner Mike Kobayashi, and his brother and executive chef Chris, are committed to offering fine local organics produced from sustainable farming practices, as well as meat and fish ethically farmed or wild caught. Check out some of these dishes from the seasonal menu: smoked gouda and porter fondue, house-made duck liver pâté with castelvetrano olives, and Dixon lamb chops. And remember: It is Paso. Artisan supports the local wine industry with a most extensive menu boasting only Californian wines, more than 80 percent of which come from our own backyard. —MF

runner up: Basil

Best SLO Restaurant


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©2010 In-N-Out Burger®

14 • BEST of SLO 2010

726 Higuera, San Luis Obispo When this restaurant re-opened in 2006, following an extensive retrofitting, locals embraced it like Indiana Jones reuniting with his lost love, Marion. Always popular for

its cool al fresco dining, we fill its patio and dining room to nosh on shareable plates of wine-friendly foods. It’s the kind of place where you can impress someone on a first date, take your mom out for a great lunch, or conduct business while enjoying crispy calamari with housemade tartar and sweet chile sauce or antipasto Novo featuring imported Italian delicacies. “Sometimes I feel like Novo is a San Luis Obispo owned restaurant. I didn’t look for it, it came to me,” owner Robin Covey recalled. “There’s something about this location that belongs to SLO, and I’m its caretaker.” —KMH

runner up:

Big Sky Café

Best Santa Margarita Restaurant

The Range

22317 El Camino Real, Santa Margarita You may not want to stand by your man after he samples some of this place’s infamous dragon’s breath, a blend of goat cheese, garlic, and plenty of other spicy, pungent, tasty ingredients that tingle on taste buds. If you’re bringing a date here, expect to impress—but maybe not get a kiss after dessert. Or forgo the tempting appetizer (though why would you?) and dive straight into something more substantial. Perhaps some tender elk? Or a well-crafted salad? The place isn’t huge, but that’s part of its funky Western charm. It


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Best Health Food Store

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salad bar • soups & sandwiches • hot entrées fresh baked goodies • smoothies • juice bar 896 Foothill Blvd. • San Luis Obispo Corner of Foothill & Santa Rosa Mon.-Fri. 8-9, Sat. 8-8, Sun. 9-8

16 • BEST of SLO 2010

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DINING OUT from page


feels just like the sort of joint to hit before a late Merle Haggard concert, or after an afternoon crooning along with dusty vinyl from that box labeled “country” in the garage. Bring an appetite, but not your credit card. Yeah, it’s that retro. —Ryan Miller

runner up: The

Porch Cafe

Best Shell Beach Restaurant

Zorro’s Café and Cantina

927 Shell Beach Road, Shell Beach You always have a joint in your neighborhood that fully justifies you living there. Zorro’s is that place for Shell Beach. Locals and visitors alike lounge on the patio with a mimosa, or on weeknights for $2 tacos and Coronas. Chow down on authentic Mexican fare: machaca with eggs with delectable mounds of beef or chicken (my research meal for this vignette), gargantuan hangover-y nachos, juicy burgers, homemade hot sauce, hearty sandwiches, salads, breakfast all day, and even homemade stick-to-yourribs clam chowder, all freshly made and doled out generously in a true family atmosphere—and priced at $10 or less. Owner/matriarch Cindy Foresee will even wrap a blanket around you if you’re chilly. It’s open daily at 7:30 a.m. —CH

runner up:

Marisol at the Clif fs Best Templeton Restaurant

McPhee’s Grill

416 S. Main, Templeton This Templeton favorite combines a comfortable atmosphere with lots of elbow room, a service-minded staff, and an ever-evolving menu to create a dining experience as rustic and aesthetically pleasing as the Templeton landscape. Owner and chef Ian McPhee serves up award-winning food, including roasted butternut squash ravioli, filet mignon with Cabernetolive sauce and bleu-cheese butter, and chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and basil. McPhee’s secret sauces and elegant presentations are geared to impress. The restuarant also offers nightly specials, which in the past have included favorites like the kung fu duck, grilled swordfish tostada, and the

D in in g O u t

macadamia-crusted mahi mahi. Bon appetite! —MF

runner up: AJ


Best Restaurant, Period


726 Higuera, San Luis Obispo The best restaurant in SLO County, period? Wow! That’s not so easy to win anymore, now that there are so many excellent restaurants ranging from North County to the Pacific’s edge to down south. Nevertheless, Novo handily swept up five of the best ratings in this year’s tough competition among restaurants. Among its highlights: reasonable prices and a relaxed ambiance. Owner Robin Covey unpretentiously admitted: “I think something can’t be the best, period. But then it hit me: Novo is user-friendly and accessible for all. It’s open all day, has indoor and outdoor dining, an international menu, ambiance, and great service—it can be something for everyone.” —KMH

runner up: Ciopinot

Best New Restaurant of 2009


1009 Monterey, San Luis Obispo It earned best new eatery in SLO with good reason: We love the traditional Southeast Asian foods at Chow. But owner Robin Covey, never one to rest on his laurels, can’t quit tweaking the menu. The $8 lunch specials, like Dong Po (pork belly) or Korean short ribs, both served with rice and stir-fried vegetables, provide a satisfying meal. Now he’s added special sandwiches sure to create a following among worldly travelers. “You wouldn’t normally think of a burger in an Asian restaurant,” Covey explained, “but we’re offering a Korean hamburger with housemade kimchi and choice of house fries or mixed green salad. We’ve also added beer-battered fish with house fries and Asian slaw.” —KMH



runner up: Ciopinot

Best Kid-Friendly Restaurant

Klondike Pizza

104 Bridge St., Arroyo Grande Jungle rats will love tossing peanut shells on the floor in a fun Alaskan saloon atmosphere while waiting for their food—and they might, because Klondike gets busy! But the grub is worth the wait: outstanding burgers, sandwiches, salads,

DINING OUT continued




1121 B R OA D S T R E E T | D OW N TOW N S LO (805) 545-5401 | 2010 BEST

of SLO • 17

DINING OUT from page


and pizza. The dough is hand-rolled to order, and layered with red or garlic sauce. Heed the call of the wild and try the Klondike—bell peppers, onions, and Alaskan reindeer sausage (run, run, Rudolph!)—or get rugged with a Roadkill Pizza, featuring reindeer and Italian sausages, pepperoni, salami, and Canadian bacon. Bring the tribe to Tuesday Night Chowdown for all-you-can-eat pizza, salad, and garlic bread. Sing along to all your old favorites and let your little monkeys burn off carbs with the “Hokey Pokey” and “Chicken Dance” every first and third Saturday. Check out their fun and funny website at —AW

runner up: McDonald’s


Best Breakfast

Big Sky Café

1121 Broad, San Luis Obispo Awakened each morning by a deep growl? Is it your stomach? Feed that beast at Big Sky Café. Jump start your heart with their superb coffee, then tuck in to the Devil’s Mess (scrambled eggs, onions, mushrooms, spinach, Andouille sausage, and chilies). Yell like Tarzan over a pesto chicken sausage scramble with roasted peppers, spinach, and Asiago cheese. Get moving with blue and red corn tortillas, black bean chili, eggs, queso fresco, and salsa. There are pancakes or eggs with applewood smoked bacon for the less adventur-

ous. On weekends, try the red flannel turkey hash with basil-parmesan glazed eggs, potatoes, beets, and caramelized onions. Aaah-AH-aaaah! —AW

runner up: Louisa’s



Readers agree that Gina’s is the place to eat in Arroyo Grande. Enjoy ravioli, calzones, linguine, soups, and other Italian fare.

Best Vegetarian Fare

Big Sky Café

1121 Broad, San Luis Obispo Searching for good vegetarian fare? Don’t monkey around, just head for the Big Sky. This gem of an eatery has more than just carrots! Breakfasts include a roasted Portobello mushroom and pesto omelet and a Mediterranean scramble to start your day facing life’s jungle. Veggies aren’t for wimps here! Lunch and dinner feature hearty dishes of New Mexican pozole, a spicy, stew of hominy, tomatoes, and peppers, and the black bean chili speaks for itself! Order a tangine of vegetables with lemon couscous, or roasted, braised, sautéed, or steamed local or organic vegetables. Or indulge your inner Italian with roasted eggplant and three-cheese lasagna, washed down with a glass of local wine. —AW

runner up: Natural


Best Seafood


1051 Nipomo, San Luis Obispo “I hate to toot our own horn, but I really do think we do it best,” said owner Leonard Cohen. “One thing we really understand here is good seafood.” Having grown up on his father’s fishing boat, Cohen indeed lives and breathes seafood, bringing in fresh goods daily to downtown SLO. Popular favorites include the signature Dungeness crab cakes, the wild halibut, wild sea bass, and, of course, the cioppino made from scratch. Ciopinot also offers a wide variety of oysters on the half shell, between five to six different types a night. And who can forget the fully stocked bar with some of the best selection of pinot wines around? A hefty menu and elegant presentation make Ciopinot a winning combo. —MF

runner up: Olde

Port Inn

Best Mexican Food

Old Juan’s Cantina 649 Pier Ave., Oceano

It’s no wonder Old Juan’s is voted Best Mexican Food year after year. The Verdin family has kept true to their family recipes since the place opened more than 30 years ago. Known for large portions, fresh homemade chips and salsa, and a family-friendly atmosphere, Old Juan’s long ago won a place in the hearts of locals and weekend warriors alike. From

DINING OUT continued

18 • Best of SLO 2010



t u O g Dinin


Thanks Slo County For Voting Us #1 Best Dessert & One of the Best Bakeries






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Best Seafood

Best New Company 2009

Thanks to the thousand of great customers who voted us The


We would like to thank our major Seafood Purverion, Central Coast Seafood, for our great Seafood.


1051 Nipomo Street San Luis Obispo 547-1111 2010 BEST

of SLOâ&#x20AC;&#x2030;â&#x20AC;˘ 19

DINING OUT from page

Bar RestaCuenratrnatl C&oast Since 1975

Serving the

Thanks for voting the Graduate Best Place to Dance!


their extensive Sunday Rancheros breakfast menu, to the tortilla soups and salads, to the more classic Mexican fare like the fajitas, enchiladas, and the big, honking burritos, Old Juan’s has you covered, amigo. Ride on! Oh, did I mention the margaritas?


runner up: Chino’s

Best Chinese Food

Open 7 days a week • American Style Grill Sports on 11 TVs • Large Groups Welcome Youth Sports Parties • Arcade Games to view our menu or upcoming events: or

990 Industrial Way,SLO • 541-0969

Mandarin Gourmet

1316 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo Bringing the tastes of the Far East to the Central Coast is all in a day’s work for owners Eric and Elaine Truong of the Mandarin Gourmet. After being at the current location for more than 18 years, the Truongs know most of their customers by their first names. “We may be a little family restaurant, but I think we serve the most authentic Chinese food in the area,” Elaine Truong said. Readers agree, Elaine. At Mandarin, they know no two tastes are exactly alike. That’s why their menu includes far more than 100 items, and they pledge to custom-make any dish the way you like it. They’ve got favorites like chow mein and orange chicken, as well as some deeper dishes. Mandarin also boasts an excellent Asian beer menu and promises free delivery within SLO city limits! —MF

runner up:

Golden China Best Japanese Food

Yanagi Sushi

runner up:


Best Thai Food

Thai Palace 1015 Court St., San Luis Obispo

For more than 11 years, Thai Palace has delivered the goods in downtown SLO. “Thanks to the people in town who voted and thanks to our loyal customers,” said owner Teerapan Teeratarkul. “We try to be consistent and appreciate the recognition.” Those familiar with Thai cuisine will get their share of favorites like the duck pad thai soup, the pineapple fried rice, and the spicy noodles. New to Thai? Teeratarkul suggests something a little lighter but still flavorful, like the yellow curry or the tasty vegetarian spring rolls as a starter. Wash it all down with a Singha, meet the awesome staff, and you’ll be back for more. —MF

runner up: Thai

1203 Marsh, San Luis Obispo 1221 Park, Paso Robles 555 James Way, Pismo Beach This is not your watered-down, corporate Benihana. This place has all the goods: authentic Japanese appetizers, crisp salads, massive entrées, an über friendly atmosphere, and, of course, terrific fresh sushi—all at a decent price. And you don’t have to be a sushi fiend to get a kick out of Yanagi, either. The dinner combos have some of the crunchiest tempura and finest (cooked) meat and fish around, including the short

20 • BEST of SLO 2010

rib BBQ, the beef teriyaki, and the salmon teriyaki. Pull up a seat at the sushi bar and meet the talent; it always makes for more than a typical stuffy dining experience. Add a sake bomb into the mix, and you’ve got it made. —MF


Best Italian Food


891 Price St., Pismo Beach 1010 Court St., San Luis Obispo When Cal Poly alum Joe DiFronzo opened the Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana in Pismo Beach in 1988, it was an overnight success. The Palazzo Giuseppe’s in downtown SLO offers the


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same flavor that made the Giuseppe’s name a Pismo favorite, while still offering something new. “We wanted to be a local hangout as well as a place you’d want to visit on special occasions,” DiFronzo said. “I think the handmade pastas are what people really know us for, but, then again, also the meats and the freshest seafood, which is of primary importance in Italy.” Giuseppe’s recipes hearken back to the Pugliese region in Italy, namely Bari, a seaport on the Adriatic Sea. And help support your local agriculture and fisheries: Giuseppe’s offers locally grown vegetables and fresh local seafood. It’s a win-win for all involved. —MF

runner up: Buona


Best Mediterranean Food

Jaffa Café

1212 Higuera, San Luis Obispo Did somebody say falafel? At Jaffa, they’ve been serving Mediterranean eats for seven years, and have been voted best in this category for three years in a row. “Because good food speaks for itself,” manager Adam Romo said when asked what he credits for another win. This place has tried and true favorites, such as gyros; lamb, beef, and chicken kabobs; and massive salads with all the fixings. But the café is also a full market, where customers can find authentic items from India, Lebanon, Turkey, Morocco, Slovakia, and Israel. Plus, take home a side of fresh hummus or baba ganoush. The laid-back atmosphere and Momand-Pop feel of the market make it a place you’ll want to come back. “It feels really good to know about 90 percent of your customers by name. It makes us glad that people recognize the effort that goes into everything we serve,” Romo said. —MF

runner up: Oasis

Best Indian Food


2115 Broad, San Luis Obispo Adventurers have discovered the outstanding buffet at Shalimar that offers “sensible, genuine, tasty, hearty and wholesome food.” Owner/chef Sajjad Khan, formerly a banker, just got started in the restaurant industry. He thinks of his guests as a big extended family and offers “an experience of simplicity and good taste.” Nothing beats Shalimar’s daily lunch and Monday night buffet of deliciously fresh Indian and Pakistani cuisine (all you can eat, lunch for $6.95, dinner for $8.95). The Sunday brunch buffet is $7.95 including a glass of bubbly or mango lassi with fresh,

housemade-yogurt. Once you’ve tried Shalimar, you’ll be back. —KMH

runner up: Taj


Best Pizza


1000 Higuera, San Luis Obispo Like, far-out, man. For 22 years, Woodstock’s has consistently won the Best Pizza category. Woodstock’s opened its SLO location in 1980 after scouring the state for the perfect college community. Since then, locations have opened up in Isla Vista, Davis, San Diego, and Chico, making Woodstock’s the college kid staple. But you don’t have to be a student to dig their creative pizza combinations and their fresh ingredients. Epic salads and dessert specialties abound, and a family-friendly environment seals the deal. And the beer! You got domestic and microbrews on tap, and at a reasonable price. Catch Pint Night from 8 to 11 p.m. on Wednesdays for $1 refills and keep your glass as a souvenir! —MF

runner up: Fatte’s

We appreciate your business.

Thank you for voting us “Best Butcher.”


Best Steak

Jocko’s Steakhouse

125 N. Thompson Ave., Nipomo Jocko’s has been firing up first-rate steaks, ribs, chops, and chicken over its barbecue pit for more than 50 years. It’s a Central Coast favorite off the beaten path—and well worth the journey! Yet be forewarned: The cuts are massive, but juicy, and the meat melts in your mouth. Try the filet or the Spencer. Entrees are served with a green salad (lettuce and a cherry tomato—your choice of dressing), starch (baked potato, fries), homemade baked beans, and a scoop of ice cream for dessert. All the acclaim means Jocko’s fills up quick. Make reservations or get there early! —MF

runner up: F.

Established in 1897, family run AG Meat Co. is a REAL Butcher Shop that does it all! Everything from a steak to a sandwich to making a ham...and so much more! We carry only the finest meats, the top 8% of USDA Choice Black Angus as well as Hearst Ranch local organic meat. Stop by for some meats and sausages for the BBQ or to enjoy a Deli Sandwich & chips.


Best Tri-Tip

Firestone Grill 1001 Higuera, San Luis Obispo

As if the wildly popular burgers, distinctive fries, and humungous salads weren’t enough, Firestone had to go out and create a sandwich so addicting, so utterly divine that the smell pulls you in from blocks away. Hot off the grill, the thick, juicy slices of tri-tip steak deluged in Firestone’s distinctive barbecue sauce have made SLO carnivores froth at the mouth for years. This, too, is a place that fills up quick,

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120 East Branch St · Arroyo Grande · 10-6 Mon-Sat · 489-2693 In the Village. 101 S. Exit Grand Ave, Turn Left. We’re on the right side

22 2010 BEST

of SLO • 21

Dining Out

DINING OUT from page

We’d like to say THANK YOU by offering FREE

(OME$ELIVERY3ERVICE Visit Use Coupon Code: “SLO”

Sushi Grade Seafood Local Wild Seafood Family Owned for 25 years!

1001 Front Street, Morro Bay 805-772-2123 Open Daily 9am-6pm

Mandarin Gourmet


so try and avoid the peak hours so you can enjoy your tri-tip, a fine microbrew, and still hear the game on the T.V. —MF

runner up: F.

Best Burger

Sylvester’s Burgers

1099 Santa Ynez Ave., Los Osos 6455 El Camino Real, Atascadero “Big, Hot, ’n Juicy” is Sylvester’s slogan. They’ll tame the roaring of your stomach with one of the best burgers this side of the Amazon River. This Central Coast favorite uses fresh USDA beef, topped with scrumptious Sylvester’s Sauce and fresh produce. With names like the Old Fashioned, Cajun, Pancho Loco, Desperado, and Texas Flood (smothered in their homemade chili), and even a Buffalo Burger, their beefy creations are mean and ornery hunger fighters. Gobble down a five-pound Big One to qualify for a showdown to win $1,000. Oh, sure, they have Vegi and Garden Burgers for you lily-livered types, but true burger connoisseurs know what they like—and they like Sylvester’s! —AW

runner up:

Firestone Grill

Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ

1005 Monterey, San Luis Obispo 221 Pomeroy, Pismo Beach

Now Serving Pho

(Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup) Dine-in Only


follow us on

Free Delivery 541-4590 · Fax 541-6128

1316 Madonna Road · SLO Laguna Shopping Center @ Corner of Madonna & Los Osos Valley Rd

22 • BEST of SLO 2010

To Show Appreciation For Your Votes

15% Off

Your entire bill. With this ad. Expires 7-31-10.

runner up: Firestone


Best Barbecue

Thank You for Voting Us #1 Best Chinese Food

SLO’s Thursday night Farmer’s Market, where the Mo’s grill can still be found on Higuera every Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. Bib up, dude! —MF

Mo! Mo! Mo! How do you like it? How do you like it? Looks like the readers love it. Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ wins again! The eatery has long been a favorite for its terrific pork ribs, shredded pork, and tri-tip sandwiches—served alongside Grandpa Tom’s beans, coleslaw, potato salad, and Mo’s very own honey wheat and pale ale. They even have chipotle tacos! When late owner Larry Kowalski decided to open shop in 1994, he visited more than 80 barbecue joints in 10 states to find the best recipes and techniques for the Smokehouse. Kowalsky was also one of the founders of

Best Ribs

Mo’s Smokehouse BBQ

1005 Monterey, San Luis Obispo 221 Pomeroy, Pismo Beach Mo’s is famous for its pork ribs, which are slowly smoked over real hickory. According to manager Janet Wright, Mo’s uses custom St. Louis-style pork ribs, which are slightly larger than baby back ribs and are much more tender and meaty. All ribs are smoked, then steamed and basted with Mo’s signature barbecue sauces. The hardest part is deciding which sauce. Do you go with the original, a tried and true sauce neither too smoky nor sweet? Or do you go for more kick with Philthy Phil’s, a vinegar-based sauce with mustard, brown sugar, and spicy notes? Feelin’ sweet? Try Sweet Carolina, a rich, tomatobased sauce with molasses and brown sugar. It’s finger-lickin’ good! Had to say it. —MF

runner up: F.


Best Salad

Firestone Grill 1001 Higuera, San Luis Obispo

We all know that there are salads, and then there are salads. Firestone serves up the latter: the italicized one. Chock full of crispy lettuce and a variety of colorful veggies, this salad is a honker. And no one salad fits all tastes, so the restaurant offers a couple different options. There’s an Asian one with noodles and Mandarin oranges, and another with tri-tip and bacon, for all you folks who crave that stuff while still trying to eat healthy. You know that because it’s Firestone, you won’t leave hungry. In fact, you have now officially been dared to finish an entire Firestone salad. A large one. Don’t wimp out. —MF

runner up: California

Pizza Kitchen DINING OUT

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Congratulations to the Best of 2010 Winners! We’re so Proud of Your Success and Commitment to Excellence. Ciopinot Seafood Grille

Olde Port Inn

Buona Tavola

Best Meal Where Someone Else Buys

Best Seafood

Best Itallian

FirSt PlaCE

Best Co. of 2009

runnEr uP

FirSt PlaCE

Taco Temple

Best Seafood

Best Taco

FirSt PlaCE

Best Restaurant Period runnEr uP

Best New Restaurant of 2009 runnEr uP

Firestone Grill Best Burger runnEr uP

Best Salad

FirSt PlaCE

Best Morro Bay Restaurant

Best Pismo Beach Restaurant FirSt PlaCE

Best Itallian

Windows on the Water

Best Place to Drink Like Frank Sinatra

FirSt PlaCE

Best Morro Bay Restaurant

runnEr uP

Best Drink With a View

Rosa’s Italian Restaurant

FirSt PlaCE runnEr uP

Splash Café

Best Tri Tip

Best Chowder

Best Meal for the Money


runnEr uP

FirSt PlaCE FirSt PlaCE

runnEr uP

FirSt PlaCE

Best Pismo Beach Restaurant runnEr uP

Big Sky Café Best Vegetarian Fare FirSt PlaCE

FirSt PlaCE

Madonna Inn

Best BBQ

Best Dessert

Best Breakfast

Best Outdoor Dining

Best Place for a Wedding Reception

Best SLO Restaurant

Best Place to Break Up

Best Bakery

The Cliffs

The Old Custom House

Best Shell Beach Restaurant

Best Avila Beach Restaurant

runnEr uP runnEr uP runnEr uP

FirSt PlaCE FirSt PlaCE runnEr uP

FirSt PlaCE runnEr uP

Café Roma Best Meal Where Someone Else Buys runnEr uP

FirSt PlaCE

Koberl’s at Blue

FirSt PlaCE

Firestone Walker Brewery

Best Dessert

Best Place for a Wedding Reception

Best Local Beer

runnEr uP

Best Brunch runnEr uP

Best Place to Drink Like Jimmy Buffet

FirSt PlaCE

runnEr uP

Cambria Pines Lodge

Best Happy Hour

Best Weekend Getaway in SLO County

FirSt PlaCE

Best Drink with a View FirSt PlaCE

Novo Restaurant & Bakery Best San Luis Obispo Restaurant FirSt PlaCE

Best Outdoor Dining FirSt PlaCE

Best Wait Staff FirSt PlaCE

Best Restaurant Period FirSt PlaCE

Best Brunch runnEr uP

Meal Where Someone Else Pays runnEr uP

Best Place to go on a 1st date FirSt PlaCE

runnEr uP

Robin’s Restaurant Best Cambria Restaurant FirSt PlaCE

Hoppe’s Garden Bistro Best Cayucos Restaurant FirSt PlaCE

Giovanni’s Fish Market

runnEr uP

Tsurugi Restaurant Best Japanese Restaurant runnEr uP

Blue Best Place to Drink Like Frank Sinatra FirSt PlaCE

Best SLO Bar runnEr uP

McPhee’s Grill Best Templeton Restaurant FirSt PlaCE

Best Fish Market FirSt PlaCE

Best Chowder runnEr uP

Artisan Best Paso Robles Restaurant FirSt PlaCE

THE FRESHEST FISH ON LAND 800-273-4741 · Dedicated to raising awareness about seafood choices and ocean conservation issues among the consumer public. 2010 BEST

of SLO • 23

We would like to thank our loyal customers for voting us

Best Tasting Room

& White Wine on the Central Coast…

DINING OUT from page


Best Taco

Taco Temple

2680 Main, Morro Bay

… in the New Times Best of SLO County Readers Poll Award Winning Wines * Panoramic Views * Gourmet Gift Shop

Open Daily 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (805) 544-5855

2585 Biddle Ranch Road * San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

Thank you to our patrons! Bring in this ad for 2 for 1 tastings.

Taco shops are typically a dime a dozen. But when owners Dawnelle and Adam Pollard opened Taco Temple in Morro Bay, they created something entirely unique, both stylistically and quality-wise. The Temple mixes California fusion and authentic Mexican cuisine, and has earned a place in the hearts—and stomachs—of SLO County locals. Adam prepares the salsa (made from scratch) and the taco meats (tender and juicy) himself. Just try and decide which fillings to choose: the beef, carnitas, chicken, chile verde, fish, or veggie. Dawnelle has you covered for dessert (try the cheesecake). Great quality, healthy dishes and an excellent presentation equals an instant classic! —MF

runner up: W W W. E D N AVA L L E Y V I N E Y A R D .C O M Please enjoy our wines responsibly ©2010 Edna Valley Vineyard, San Luis Obispo, CA

Taco de Mexico Best Burrito

Tio Alberto’s


I]Z7Zhi Best Los Osos/ Baywood Park Restaurant

1131 Broad, San Luis Obispo

Talk about value! Tio Alberto’s packs each burrito with all the fillings they can hold without exploding onto your lap at the first bite. Tio’s will custom make any of their legendary burritos to fit your fancy if you’re one of those picky eaters. It seems like they’ve got every type of burrito under the sky: carne asada, chicken, chili relleno, you name it. The rice, beans, guacamole, and salsa are fresh and tasty, and there’s an added bonus: They’re open late, until 2 or 3 a.m., in case you have the (post-) midnight munchies. Muy, muy bien!


runner up:

LZVgZ]ZgZ[dgndj# How could our little place have such a big customer approval? Come in & try our food for yourself, or ask someone who’s be here...

ºH^bea^X^inWg^c\hbdgZ ]Vee^cZhhi]VcXdbeaZm^in#» "7jYY]V – We Do Catering – Zen Garden Wedding Chapel Available Soon!


24 • BEST of SLO 2010

Chili Peppers Best Sushi

Yanagi Sushi

1203 Marsh, San Luis Obispo 1221 Park St., Paso Robles 555 James Way, Pismo Beach Like sushi? Of course you do. Alright, there may still be a few hold-outs out there. But for the rest of us, great sushi is where

it’s at. And it’s at Yanagi. where the sushi is votes the Best in SLO for a couple reasons: It’s fresh, creative, presented well, and reasonably priced. The best part about sushi is the combinations of different flavors in each bite. Try the interesting house rolls like the Baked Dynamite, the Tarantula, and the Green Salmon. Impress your friends, coworkers, or both at your next event when you order a sushi boat, and you might just discover your own new favorite. —MF

runner up: Goshi

Best Curry


2115 Broad, San Luis Obispo Unlike the typical curries we’re served in most Asian restaurants, you’ll find the Indian and Pakistani versions here complex and exotic. Among Shalimar’s specialties: shrimp with a mild curry sauce; Karahi chicken featuring breast meat, bell peppers, and onion in curry sauce; Karahi lamb with bell pepper, onion, and curry sauce; and palak gosht of spinach and lamb in mild curry sauce. According to owner/chef Sajjad Khan, Shalimar’s Indian and Pakistani dishes are all family recipes. Their website promises their guests this: “At Shalimar we believe in doing things the Shalimar way, which means no compromises when it comes to quality.” Enough said. It tastes as good as it looks. —KMH

runner up: Thai


Best Chowder

Splash Café 197 Pomeroy Ave., Pismo Beach 1491 Monterey, San Luis Obispo

One problem with the Central Coast: So many worthy chowders and so little time. But local favorite Splash Café has been a consistent pleaser since the Pismo Beach location opened in 1989. There’s a reason the line’s always out the door: The chowder here is famous and shipped frozen all over the world. It’s thick, creamy, and crammed full of clams. It’s reasonably priced, too, and you


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-ON 3AT 3UN 


2010 BEST

of SLOâ&#x20AC;&#x2030;â&#x20AC;¢ 25


-EDITERRANEAN Food Three 'YROS in a Row!

-EDITERRANEAN#UISINE Market / Deli / BBQ / Falafel / Kabobs / Gyros / Hummos / Salads

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can liven it up with a seafood topping for only a dollar more. “We try to keep it simple and focus on the clams and the cream,” said owner Joanne Currie. “Kind of like what we do with all our items: simplicity and quality.” And the bread? Baked fresh in the San Luis Obispo location’s full bakery, along with other favorites like the jalapeño cheddar and the sunflower loaf, it literally melts in your mouth. —MF

runner up: Giovanni’s

Best Salsa

Chino’s Rock and Tacos

892 Marsh, San Luis Obispo 98 Niblick Road, Paso Robles Nitzan Avisar, Adam Romo, Adnan Saleh, Miri Avisar, Miguel Noriega, Scott Gillson

Open M-F 10:30-8, Sat & Sun 11-8

1212 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo • 805 543-2449

We thank all of our patients for their votes!

The breakout hit of 2010, Chino’s has really made a name for itself since the flagship location opened in SLO in 2006. So much so, in fact, they’ve expanded to Santa Barbara, and a new Paso Robles location just opened. Serving up a blend of Mexican cuisine that Chino’s president Javier Cadena termed “true fast casual,” the restaurant creates a good balance between a sit-down eatery and a quality meal you can get fast. But Chino’s doesn’t sacrifice service; the bright staffers still bring the food right to you. The salsa is indeed awesome: not too thick, not too runny. “We do everything by hand—no cans,” Cadena said. “The way my grandfather did it in the ’60s.” Check out the website for the skinny on Taco Tuesdays and 40 oz. to Freedom Thursdays. Also, aside from using environmentally friendly methods, Chino’s donates 10 percent of proceeds to nonprofit organizations every Monday night. Rock on, guys! —MF

runner up:

Best Brunch

The Cliffs Resort 2757 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach

(805) 473-2200 604 E. Grand Ave. Arroyo Grande Paul S. Wolf, DC Palmer Graduate · Practicing Since 2001

26 • BEST of SLO 2010

runner up: Novo

Best Deli

High Street Deli / Gus’s Grocery (tie) 350 High St., San Luis Obispo (High) 1638 Osos, San Luis Obispo (Gus’s)

The epic battle for which deli best serves SLO County has ended in … drumroll, please …a tie! See for yourself why. These two establishments have been neck and neck for years in the Best Deli and Best Sandwich category, and this year is no different. High Street has that neighborhood hangout feel with a colorful interior, ultra friendly staff, and sandwiches galore. Manager Rachel Zarilla suggests trying the California turkey and the Italian sub, accompanied with some of their side dishes like the potato salad and macaroni (made fresh daily!) or even a Doobie Snack or two. Go nuts! Gus’s, on the other hand, is a casual kind of place where the main events, like the Chicken Strip Sandwich and the Gobbler Turkey, speak for themselves, said owner Ellen Stanton. The shop is comfortable and open, and there’s nothing lacking in terms of service, selection, or quality. And Gus’s offers a large selection of domestic and imported beers bottled and on-tap. Epic!—MF

runner up:

DePalo and Sons Best Ice Cream

Old Juan’s Cantina

Wolf Chiropractic

unlimited seafood buffet: We’re talking oysters, crab, salmon—the good stuff. It’s also chock full of salads, pastries, at least two kinds of freshly cooked meat, and made-to-order omelets and waffles. “In two words: huge and delicious,” Hartman said. Mix in bottomless mimosas and the best view in town, and you’ve got a great reason to get out of bed— even if you wait till noon. —MF

Couldn’t quite make it out for breakfast on Sunday morning? Worry not, deep sleeper! The Cliffs has you covered—and then some. According to restaurant manager Channelle Hartman, guests are served Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. to an

Bali’s Self Serve Frozen Yogurt 949 Higuera, San Luis Obispo 890 Foothill, San Luis Obispo

You say you want some awesome frozen yogurt, but you don’t


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want to do any of the work yourself, huh? Your loss! At Baliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, you may have to get a little down and dirty, but the payoff is worth itâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and then some. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why readers have consistently picked Baliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Self Serve year after year for Best Frozen Yogurt. Here, you get to choose from eight different flavors, creating your own custom combination with more than 70 toppings to choose from. Choices, choices! The corner shop downtown is also a nice place to sit and do a little people-watching, if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re into that. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;MF

runner up:

Yogurt Creations

Best Dessert

Madonna Inn

100 Madonna, San Luis Obispo When it comes to dessert, the Madonna Inn does nothing half-baked. And as if walking into the place isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t already a shot of sweet directly to the veins, visitors can enjoy a savory selection of desserts from the innâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in-house bakery, which serves up delectable cakes, pies, French cream puffs, cinnamon pull-aparts, cookies, and Danish pastries. There are so many desserts to choose from, in fact, even the manager didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know where to begin. The inn also creates wedding and specialty cakes made to order, and at a fair price. The dessert menu is simply too big to begin listing, so check it out online, or just go pink in person. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;MF

runner up:

Koberl at blue Best Sandwich

Gusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Grocery

1638 Osos, San Luis Obispo Just like their ad says, no matter how you slice it, 20 Best Sandwich wins is pretty damn great! Gusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s is a terrific place to spend the lunch break, with signature sandos to go or to scarf on their spacious shaded patio while enjoying one of the many beers they have bottled or on draft. Owner Ellen Stanton suggests the smoked turkey, the pastrami (my favorite!), and the vegetarian topped with avocado. And maybe stick around for a bitâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Happy Hour lasts all afternoon. See you there! â&#x20AC;&#x201D;MF

runner up:

High Street Deli

Best Bakery


2900 Broad, San Luis Obispo Are you a monkey bread fan? Do you go bananas for breakfast pastries washed down with a hot cuppa joe? Need a great cake for a special occasion? Owners Scott and M.J. Lenthoff took over this 15-year-old establishment on Jan. 1 and, counting this accolade, have already won two awards. He kept the original recipes and friendly staff, added new breakfast and lunch specials, and updated the decor. He brews only Peetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coffee and offers fresh, baked donut muffins (filled with fruit and rolled in sugarâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;yowser!), savory filled croissants, terrific sandwiches and homemade soups, and superb artisan breads, including challah upon request. Plus, he delivers! Grab a vine and swing into Utopia Bakery where baking from scratch is not a lost art! â&#x20AC;&#x201D;AW

runner up:

Madonna Inn

Best Outdoor Dining


726 Higuera, San Luis Obispo What does Novo have in al fresco dining that few other restaurants offer? Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s see: perfect weather nearly year round; sunshine and shady trees; the peaceful, trickling creek below; and, as Indy prefers, no snakes! Is it any wonder everybody loves Novoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s patio? But it takes more than a comfortable ambiance to make this patio the peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fave four years running. It takes consistently good international cuisine, wine friendly tapas, a killer beverage and wine list, and a fabulous patio with heated decks on three levels. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the kind of intimate place that would please both Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;KMH

runner up: Firestone

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Best Meal For Your Money

Firestone Grill

1001 Higuera, San Luis Obispo Want to get out for a bite, but your till is a bit tapped? Have no fear: Firestone feels for you. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why they offer their palatepleasing burgers, sandwiches, and massive salads at a price a 12-year old could consider without draining the piggy bank. No ends at all? Set up a lemonade stand for a few hours and you could still afford their poll-winning tri-tip sandwichesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and have enough left over to wash it down with a cold soda or microbrew. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;MF

runner up: Taco


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29 2010 BEST

of SLOâ&#x20AC;&#x2030;â&#x20AC;˘ 27


SLO Crew ton C Temple

Arroyo Grande C

rew Best Grocery Store

3977 S. Higuera Street San Luis Obispo 783-2780


1111 Rossi Road Templeton 434-9562

Best Health Food Store

955 Rancho Parkway Arroyo Grande 474-6114


Visit our Newest Location!

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t r o p p u s r u for all yo #1 Best Salad #1 Best Tri-Tip #1 Best Meal for the Money Best Burger Best BBQ Best Outdoor Dining Best Place to Break-Up

1001 Higuera St. SLO

28 • BEST of SLO 2010



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Best Meal Where Someone Else Pays

Don’t forget a T-shirt


1051 Nipomo, San Luis Obispo Who doesn’t like a free meal? Whether it’s a candle-lit, four-star dining experience, or just charity from a hot dog cart, you’re still ahead of the game! But readers went big for this category and chose SLO’s Best New Company of 2010 as the place they would most love to mooch. Who can blame them? The place is class to a PHOTO BY STE VE E. MILLER tee, and the food and wine selection is as good as it gets on the Central Coast. Pricey? Depends on how you look at it—you get what you pay for (or don’t). When you’re getting first-rate filet mignon for $28 or a signature cioppino—filled with Best Wait Staff fresh jumbo prawns, scallops, calamari, and fresh fish—for $30, you could do much worse. In the humble opinion of 726 Higuera, San Luis Obispo this writer, the oyster appetizers and pinot selection alone are well worth a Some servers have been at Novo since little pinch. —MF 2003, several started in ’04 and ’05, and


runner up: Novo

Best Hangover Food

Franks Famous Hotdogs 950 California Blvd., San Luis Obispo

A couple Sundays ago, New Times visited Franks around 10 a.m., and the place was packed! We weren’t hungover, but we had a breakfast burrito anyway ($5.50!) and found it delicious. We looked around at the customers, and while a few had a slightly bleary-eyed look, most customers were families—many looking church bound—who didn’t look the last bit hungover. Hence, we’re not sure how Franks got the rep for Best Hangover Food, but it’s certainly tasty and inexpensive. Parking was tough to come by, but the service was friendly, and if it had been a bit warmer, sitting out on the patio would have been superb.

—Glen Starkey

runner up: Louisa’s


the majority of wait-staff started when it re-opened after they finished the retrofit in 2006. A happy crew, like a happy family, stays put in a good home, and it shows in their actions and in their friendly greetings. “The fact that they like their job makes them pleasant and relaxed. They’re not trying to turn tables, because most people who dine here at lunch aren’t in a hurry,” owner Robin Covey noted. “It doesn’t hurt that they’ve been here a long time so they know the menu—and they know the wine list, which is extensive—very well.”

runner up: Native

In-n-Out Burger won readers’ hearts as the Best Atascadero Restaurant. Seriously, have you tried an animal-style double-double?

to Giovanni’s, where you’ll find an amazing selection of fresh seafood, caught and delivered daily. “Our biggest edge is that we have our own boats that go out and fish for us and bring it right in the back door so we can sell it to the customer while it’s at its freshest,” said owner Giovanni DeGarimore, whose father opened the market more than 30 years ago. Giovanni’s has a huge inventory of practically any seafood you may desire, and if they don’t, they’ll get it to you—at a price that won’t drain the wallet. They also promise overnight home delivery service!


runner up:

Olde Port Fisheries


Best Fish Market

Best Butcher

Arroyo Grande Meat Company 120 East Branch, Arroyo Grande Local natives know where to hunt for the best meat to roast, barbecue, broil, or panfry. Housed in a 100-plus-year-old butcher shop, Arroyo Grande Meat Company provides top-notch, untrimmed USDA inspected beef, and local grass-fed beef, cut to order. My British husband loves the traditional English bangers, and grandson Mini-Brit relishes their hot dogs and sausages (they make more than 40 varieties right there on the premises). Want to indulge your wild side? Try the wild boar, venison, and buffalo meats. Need something tamer? Go for Sterling pork, Rocky chickens, wild fish, plump scallops, lobster tails, and shrimp. Owners Henry and Julie Gonzalez proudly proclaim, “We take it from the ranch to the pan!” You can’t ask for better!

runner up: New

Giovanni’s Fish Market



1001 Front St., Morro Bay Why go through all the trouble waking up early, spending cold hours on a boat, only to end up with a few fish—if you’re lucky? Then you have to gut and clean them … forget it. Save yourself the time and head

F iFlilll ccanaten t e e n h e r e en h ere

Best of SLO 2010 • 29

30 • BEST of SLO 2010

%PIC3ANDWICH End your quest for the



For 21 Years Now our sandwiches have gone from Simple to Simply Amazing! Gusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sincerely thanks those who have been part of the


/SOS 3,/  

2010 BEST

of SLOâ&#x20AC;&#x2030;â&#x20AC;˘ 31

Best San Luis Obispo Bar

McCarthy’s Irish Pub

600 Marsh, San Luis Obispo There’s no shortage of places to get a drink in San Luis Obispo, but none is as venerated, as well loved, as relentlessly lauded as McCarthy’s. “The regulars, that’s what makes McCarthy’s best,” explained bartender Patrick Kirby. “What we have over other bars is that we’re a real hangout, a place for people to come

32 • BEST of SLO 2010

and talk. People go to some bars to listen to music or watch sports. People come here to have a conversation. Plus we’re classy! Low classy!” Just like a church, it isn’t the building, it’s the people inside that matter. —GS

runner up: Koberl

at Blue

Best North County Bar

Crooked Kilt 1122 Pine, Paso Robles

Nestled inside a downtown square that’s something out of a movie, “The Kilt” is a place where everybody knows your name. You’ll find digital poker and trivia, an outdoor patio, two back-to-back bars serving beer, martinis, elixirs, specialty drinks (a Cruzan jalapeño guava mojito anyone?), and even hard cider. Don’t pass up the scrumptious crab cakes, Hearst ranch burgers, oysters, and Irish nachos (potato chips instead of tortilla). In mid May, Crooked Kilt gets a little sister location in SLO, at the old 1865 location on Monterey. Only four years old,

and owned by Donovan Schmit and Troy Larkin, the Kilt is comforting, and a place I didn’t want to leave. —CH

runner up: Level


Best North Coast Bar

Old Cayucos Tavern

130 North Ocean Ave., Cayucos

Liquor in the front and poker in the back! If you think that’s offensive, it’s not—we’re talking about the Old Cayucos Tavern here, voted best bar on the North Coast. It’s truly one of those establishments you need to see to believe. Wait, strike that—You need to get to the Tavvy at 10 a.m., start off slow with a few Bloody Marys and a little pool or shuffleboard, hang around to meet the patrons, and enjoy any of the 12 brews on tap during Happy Hour at 4 p.m.; and then if you can muster, ante up for some of the best No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker action on the Central Coast in the back card room every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night at 8 p.m. —MF

runner up: Moonstone

Beach Bar and Grill

Best South County Bar

Harry’s Night Club and Beach Bar 690 Cypress, Pismo Beach

Unlike many Central Coast bars, Harry’s doesn’t cater to a particular crowd. This joint is friendly to locals, tourists, weekend warriors, bikers, and students alike. “We’re a contemporary rock bar for people of all ages,” said owner Joan Bailey. “Our goal was to have a place where everyone feels welcome.” Harry’s has been around for more than 30 years, offering live music and dancing nightly, a fine place to play a little pool, seven TVs to view the game—and it’s all just steps away from the pier. But bring cash. And if you’re lucky, you may just meet your future significant other there, like John Madden did. Boom! —MF

runner up: Mongo’s

AFTER HOURS continued page


rs u o H r e t f A


from page


Best Place To Dance

The Graduate 990 Industrial Way, San Luis Obispo

When it comes time to get down, get yourself down to the Graduate, which sports an enormous dance floor—a whopping 1,500 square feet—not to mention the live DJs, video and light shows, great food, and excellent drink specials. The place is a blast on College Hump Night (it’s on Wednesdays, you pervs!). It also has a little something for everybody: swing on Tuesdays, country on Thursdays, and Latin Fridays, when things really sizzle, says owner Bob Kuntz. Even Mom and Pops can bust some moves on Saturdays: Grown and Sexy night.

runner up: Mo/Tav


Best Club to Catch a Band

Downtown Brew

1119 Garden, San Luis Obispo It must be hard to attract big-name talent to a small city like San Luis

Obispo, but Downtown Brew has been doing it almost every night for years. And co-owner Korie Newman gets an average of 750 requests per month. The reasons are obvious: a spacious stage and dance floor that still seems to fill up every night, good microbrews from brewmaster Steve Courier, and terrific beer specials. And this is no one-trick-pony establishment, either, inviting genres as diverse as punk, hip-hop, reggae, folk, metal, jazz, rockabilly—you get the point. You could go to DTB every night for a year and hear something fresh every time. —MF

runner up:

Frog and Peach Best Place to Go on a First Date


726 Higuera, San Luis Obispo “Our patio is so magical in the evening, no matter who you are or how old you are,” said owner Robin Covey. “And the tables are just far


continued page


2010 BEST

of SLO • 33


"! 2






Featuring great local & headliner bands nightly at 9pm, with bands on Saturdays & Sundays at 3pm & 9pm to 2am


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Enjoy bands playing Top 40’s, Contemporary Rock Dance Music Nightly for adults of all ages from 9pm to 2am!

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34 • BEST of SLO 2010


He may have been born Pat Grow, but he’s since become known as DJ Donk—and readers love him for the way he gets them moving on the dance f loor. AFTER HOURS

from page


enough apart you can have your own conversation.” Covey admits Novo’s casual ambiance makes it more approachable for the younger set out on a first date. You can eat light, order a full meal that would satisfy a stevedore, or share a few appetizers from the international menu over a glass or two of wine; no matter what your choice you won’t bust your budget. For the older set, Novo offers the romantic kind of evening your mate expects on date night. —KMH

runner up: the


Best Place to Break Up

the beach Pacific Ocean coastline The tang of salt spray in the air dulls the bitterest sting in “Look, we have to talk … .” Once again, New Times readers ad-

vised those who need to know: The beach is the best place to take your soon-to-be ex. For those dumped on the sand, the cliché that “there are plenty of fish in the sea” is made abundantly clear—and can even be taken literally at the end of a local pier or two. Interested in an immediate rebound? This county’s shores are always packed with people, from longtime locals drawn to the surf to tourists ripe for a summer fling. —RM

runner up: Firestone

Best Club DJ

DJ Donk

Donk’s in the house! Can I get a “Yay-ah! Yay-ah!” DJ Donk (aka Pat Grow, 22), has been DJing since he was 15. He spins Thursdays at Downtown Brew and Saturdays at Mo/Tav, keeping things moving on the dance floor, playing the dancers like they were an instrument for him to

AFTER HOURS continued




from page


s r u o H r e t f A

command. “I like digging deep and finding songs people don’t expect to hear,” said Donk, who added he likes everything from the ’80s to ’90s, as well as current stuff. So how does he feel about being voted Best Club DJ? “It’s a great feeling, a big step for my career, I feel, great exposure for me. I’m just so happy to be doing what I love.” —GS

runner up:

Malik Miko Thorne Best Local Band

Still Time Liverpool had the Beatles. Los Angeles had the Doors. Belfast had Van Morrison. San Luis Obispo has Still Time. Though this beloved band hasn’t risen to the pantheon of Rock Gods (yet), they still live within our hearts. They’re touring the East Coast now, spreading that magical sound we enjoyed so much when they would sell out Downtown Brew. How could we ever imagine we could have kept them for ourselves? Like a beautiful little butterfly caught in a spring storm, they left us. Hopefully they’ll return free from the vices and hangups rock and roll bands tend to encounter when touring the other side of the country. —RAM

runner up: Toty


Best Place to Drink Like Homer Simpson

Bull’s Tavern

1032 Chorro, San Luis Obispo “Woo hoo!” Bull’s Tavern is the best place to drink like Homer. But it’s not just fat, slovenly, yellow men who top the stools at one of SLO’s favorite dives. As General Manager Cody Hartwell explained, at Bull’s you’ll see everyone from the “homeless guy with begging change” to the “Poly student with Mommy and Daddy’s credit card.” Established in 1935, Bull’s was a former speakeasy near the creek where moonshiners used shove barrels of booze out holes in the walls of the basement. “It’s always been the place for a strong drink at a fair price,” Hartwell said. Following its retrofit—and now a door down from its former location—Bull’s has escaped its former reputation for hygiene-defying bathrooms to solidify itself for what it should be known for: “‘bull sweat’ and loud music.”


runner up: McCarthy’s

Best Place to Drink Like Frank Sinatra



Koberl at Blue


998 Monterey, San Luis Obispo


It sits in the historic J.P. Andrews building, a classy brick-wall-andpolished-wood joint practically tailor made for guests who want to sip a certain cocktail while humming “The Way You Look Tonight.” Your own Rat Pack can assemble for a game in blue’s “urban bar,” and available drinks range from beers to wines (local to Italian and back) and enough martini options to fly you to the moon. Get a taste of New York with the Monterey St. Martini, show your sweet side with the Candy Apple Martini, or go all out with the V.i.P. k, which comes with a Maytag blue cheese-stuffed olive.

runner up: Giuseppe’s


Best Place to Drink like Jimmy Buffet

Mr. Rick’s

404 Front St., Avila Beach Parrot heads rejoice! Steps from the crashing waves, Mr. Rick’s offers pool, big stuffed fish on the walls, and a bar with front row seating to the breathtaking beach and Avila Promenade. With Bob Marley playing on the juke in the background, seven-year veteran barmaid Jennifer Wynn advises patrons to arrive early to beat the crowds at Friday’s Farmers Markets (4 to 8 p.m. through September). Good folks looking for a good time can enjoy live music on weekends and incredible happy hour deals. A no fuss bar menu courtesy of the Custom House restaurant next door offers dishes that would satisfy a pubbie. Come Monday and have a cheeseburger in a “never foggy” paradise. —CH


Live Radio


Broadcast TH

AT 2:45PM

runner up:

The Clif fs Resort Best Happy Hour

The Cliffs Resort

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2757 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach

It’s a social institution on the Central Coast, the place to see and be seen, from 4 to 7 p.m., Monday through Fri-


continued page



2010 BEST

of SLO • 35


from page


day. Enjoy the newly refurbished indoor bar, with its swanky decor and its incredibly intoxicating vistas of the Pacific. There’s also bar seating outside, and of course the coveted patio. But don’t let the swank fool you: Every day of the week you can find an array of drink and food specials: $3 beers and $5 margaritas, house wines, and well drinks. Mondays and Tuesdays there’s the infamous taco bar, and Wednesdays there’s half off seafood and 65 cent oysters Rockefeller. Thursdays you’ll find complimentary pizza and pasta, and all appetizers are half off on Fridays. The experience at the Cliffs bar is like the drinks they serve: perfection.

runner up: Tahoe



bartender Mike “Clem” Clemmensen, who passed away several years ago after a battle with cancer. He didn’t so much “make” a Bloody Mary as “concoct” it. Some joints pour vodka over ice and top it with bottled mix. Not McCarthy’s! Celery salt, black pepper, red wine vinegar, plus a pickled green bean, olives, lime—this sucker will wake you up and erase any semblance of a hangover. “What makes it special? Love!” quipped bartender Patrick Kirby. “It’s a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.” I guess that means they stir it with a Kentucky Fried Chicken drumstick. Mmm.

runner up: Corner



Best Bar Menu

Black Sheep

1117 Chorro, San Luis Obispo

Best Bloody Mary

McCarthy’s Irish Pub

600 Marsh, San Luis Obispo McCarthy’s probably owes its Bloody Mary reputation to deceased

36 • BEST of SLO 2010

Open 365 days a year from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Black Sheep is a true pub institution with true pub fare priced right and exactly where I want to be when I have a serious case of the munchies. Find creamy mac and cheese, juicy burgers, deliciously fresh salads, and south of the border items like chili, fish tacos, and chips and

salsa. And we can’t forget their version of fish and chips: pescado and chips. Standard appetizers will get the mouth watering and the tummy satisfied: calamari, nachos, onion rings, baby back ribs, fries, and mozzarella cheese sticks. There’s also Sunday brunch and a kids’ menu, and pick up or delivery is available with specials featured online.

runner up: Mo/Tav


Best Place to People Watch

Farmers’ Market

Thursday nights on Higuera in San Luis Obispo Though the happening’s physical location doesn’t change—it’s always sprawled along the same stretch of San Luis Obispo’s Higuera—Farmers’ Market provides plenty of opportunities for exploration every Thursday night. The hundreds and thousands of faces alone are enough to keep people-watchers busy. Recognize regulars, their canvas bags overflowing with leafy greens and bright flowers. Spot obvious tourists, shuffling along, wear-

Af t er H o u r s

ing Hawaiian shirts and happy-but-lost expressions. Say hello to familiar vendors, witness young love sparking to life between two sweaty hands held fast, and spot the particular standouts: the sign carriers, the passersby draped with reptiles, the club or frat pledges in drag or with watermelon helmets. But don’t forget: People are watching you, too. —RM

runner up: downtown


Best Local Red Wine


4910 Edna Road, San Luis Obispo Like Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. in his search for the Ark of the Covenant, winemaker Larry Brooks observed Edna Valley’s early rise to fame for its Chardonnays. But Brooks believes the real progress here over the last 10 to 15 years has been with red varietals. “Better plant material

AFTER HOURS continued




from page


and advances in the understanding of ripening and winemaking have made our Edna Ranch Estate Pinot Noir a consistent and delicious wine,â&#x20AC;? Brooks pointed out. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In some ways we are even prouder of our achievements with Syrah. Only the best soils and farming yield ripe voluptuous Syrah in our cool coastal environment.â&#x20AC;? No matter which red you favor, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find superb quality in both of these reds at Tolosa.

runner up: Edna



Best Local White Wine

Edna Valley Vineyard

2585 Biddle Ranch Road, San Luis Obispo â&#x20AC;&#x153;Chardonnay is what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re known for across the country,â&#x20AC;? explained winemaker Josh Baker, who produces four versions, each one expressing the Edna Valley viticultural areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s distinctive character. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our Estate Reserve Chardon-

nay comes from one specific block at Paragon Vineyard that, year in and year out, gives us fantastic fruit. It exemplifies the vineyard and the place.â&#x20AC;? But donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t miss the other noteworthy white wines produced here. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We take a lot of pride in our Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Viognier. Our Sweet Edna Orange Muscat has crazy tropical flavors and floral nuances. People love it with anything peachy, like ice cream or pie. We like to make our wines friendly and approachable.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D;KMH



ffering the best wines, beer, artisan cheeses, breads and mediterranean foods on the Central Coast. Come in to shop or sit and enjoy the friendly bar! A great adult environment for an afternoon or an evening. Offering a great weekly selection of beer, wine, cheese plates and hot appetizers.


runner up: Baileyana

Best Local Beer


1400 Ramada Dr., Paso Robles Let me pop the cap off one of these things. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ca-sss.â&#x20AC;? Ah, sweet, sweet nectar. With a mild footstamp outside of its brewery in Paso Robles and a few awards under its belt, the Firestone-Walker Brewing Company has the stigma of a big national beer, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all local. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the things we run into a lot of times is, because we have so many placements on the Central Coast â&#x20AC;Ś that people think weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a lot


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Stay focused on sobriety. Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be drawn into unhealthy party activities just because your friends are. Leave a party if it becomes uncomfortable. Politely excuse yourself after you have fulfilled your obligation. The unpleasant â&#x20AC;&#x153;faceâ&#x20AC;? of alcohol and/or drugs usually shows itself later in the festivities. Always have your own ride home or another escape plan. Organize: If your office is planning a party, volunteer to be the â&#x20AC;&#x153;organizerâ&#x20AC;? or another position besides, bartender or the person who goes to the store to buy all the champagne! Action: This is the MOST important thing when you want to stay clean and sober! Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just think you are not going to drink or use drugs. Take ACTION! When you get restless call a sober friend or go to a 12-step meeting. Meditate! Eat! Food can be a very effective way to stop craving for drugs or alcohol. Respect other peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s right to celebrate. Remember; YOU are the one with the issue of addiction. Control: You CAN NOT control other peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actions! People change when they ingest alcohol and other mind altering chemicals and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not your problem. If you become uncomfortable, politely disengage yourself from the situation. The only thing you CAN CONTROL is your RESPONSE to situations, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always better to â&#x20AC;&#x153;respondâ&#x20AC;? to things as opposed to â&#x20AC;&#x153;reactingâ&#x20AC;? to them!

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a barista as “a person who makes and serves coffee (as espresso) to the public.” It’s a simple definition, but it encompasses a surprisingly lengthy list of tasks and skills. For Eric Pettis, a 12-year barista at BlackHorse Coffee (and manager as well), making the coffee is second nature. It’s his relationship with customers that distinguishes him from the hundreds of other baristas making and serving coffee across the county. “To us, a barista is more than just somebody who knows the guidelines of how to make espresso drinks properly,” he said. “It’s about interaction with the customers.” —AS


runner up: Holly

at Top Dog

Best Local Coffee Shop


1065 Higuera, San Luis Obispo 3590 Broad, San Luis Obispo Balmy palm trees. Cupcakes with the kind of thick, frothy frosting worth leaving your spouse for. Fried chicken. Expansive outdoor seating with some of the best people watching in town. What else could you possibly ask for from a café? Besides, of course, coffee “black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love,” which happens to be the motto of BlackHorse.

runner up:



Best Tasting Room

Edna Valley Vineyard

2585 Biddle Ranch Road, San Luis Obispo


Whether they’re sipping it on its own or pairing it with a meal, county readers choose Tolosa as the Best Local Red Wine. Give it a swirl. AFTER HOURS

from page


Best Bartender

larger than we are,” explained Marketing Manager Jamie Smith. The Firstestone folks started brewing in Los Olivos in 1996, shortly before moving into the thick of North County wine country. They’ve crafted about a dozen beers, Smith said, including the popular Double Barrel. “We still are putting a lot of focus in creating small amounts of really phenomenal beers,” Smith said. —CR

runner up: Downtown


Af t er H o u r s

Ben Arrona at Black Sheep

1117 Chorro, San Luis Obispo Bartending is a profession thousands of years old. Think about your favorite bartenders: The memories they serve stick with you forever, providing a mix of tough and tender, referee and therapist. Ben Arrona, a barkeep of four years, credits his personality and “give a shit” attitude to his award. Find him on Thursday, Friday, Sunday, and Monday nights, but he’ll probably be happiest on Monday, his favorite day of the week to com-

miserate with regulars. He serves Black Sheep’s many offerings, including his own “Belgium Christmas”—think Rumplemintz and beer. Most of all, Arrona wants to serve you a drink he would want to drink himself. His advice for patrons? Be patient and don’t dare be rude. —CH

runner up: Drew


Best Barista

Eric Pettis at BlackHorse

1065 Higuera, San Luis Obispo Merriam Webster’s Dictionary defines

It’s more than the excellent wines, the gourmet marketplace, and the super friendly staff that make this destination tasting room a favorite stop for everyone—it’s the ambiance. When guests stand at the tasting room bar, the huge panoramic windows provide a spectacular view of Islay Peak, one SLO County’s seven sister volcanoes, and the 1,200-acre Paragon Vineyard, the first commercial vineyard planted in Edna Valley. The classic varieties make wine lovers happy across the country, but a visit to this winery provides a tasting of the limited Islay Peak Series wines only available here. Hospitality Manager Blythe Foster added: “We pride ourselves on great hospitality and creating a unique tasting experience that you can’t find anywhere else.”

runner up: Tolosa AFTER HOURS


continued page


Best of SLO 2010 • 39

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2010 BEST

of SLOâ&#x20AC;&#x2030;â&#x20AC;¢ 41


from page

Best Drink for the Money

McCarthy’s Irish Pub Thanks SLO County for voting us

Best Place for Chowder We also feature freshly baked pastries & desserts as well as Sweet Earth Chocolates - locally made organic fair trade chocolates • • Open 7am for Breakfast


1491 Monterey St, SLO

Open 8am for Breakfast


197 Pomeroy, Pismo Beach

SLO’s Favorite Coin Laundries

0!2+%2342%%4,!5.$29 0!2+%2342%%4 3,/ (across from smart & final)

Open 7 Days A week at 8am

$1.75 WASH

Every Tues, Wed, Thurs Maytag Neptunes Only


42 • BEST of SLO 2010

Usually if you start right away, you can read War and Peace in the time between when a McCarthy’s bartender starts pouring your drink and finishes pouring it. Some people have been known to beg for a smaller pour. Well drinks in 10 oz. buckets are just $5. A Jameson shot (really a double) is $5.50. One of their premium tap beers in a 20 oz. imperial glass is $5.50. A canned beer is just $2.50. And expect to pay a buck less during their two happy hours every day from 8 to 10 a.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happy hour! Amen!


Best Drink with a View

The Cliffs Resort

2757 Shell Beach Road, Pismo Beach This hot spot on the Central Coat sees it all: Cal Poly students, business types, beachcombers, families, and even dogs. Throw in a crackerjack staff, phenomenal food, and, oh yeah, the heart-stirring view. Imagine a place perched on a rocky cliff, a hotel bar, the only thing between you and the ocean a perfectly manicured lawn. I highly suggest that you let a Sunday afternoon pass you by here, with a bunch of friends and an ice-cold bottle of wine as the centerpiece. The large wooden tables offer umbrellas if you need shade. Hunker down with nachos and conversation, and don’t forget the camera. Cheers. —CH

on the Water

Ever go to a crummy show where you couldn’t even see the band and the bass drowned out the singer and lead guitar? We all have, but it’s never a problem at DTB. The interior is choice in terms of seating, whether it’s a show to sit down or get up and jump around—not a bad spot in the house. And the acoustics are ideal—you’ll be able to sing along with your favorite band without missing a beat. The place is plenty spacious, and if you need to get away from the awesome music for a minute, hop upstairs for a drink and a game of pool. —MF

runner up: Pozo


Best Place to Play Pool


runner up: Windows Free Wi-Fi

Downtown Brewing Co. 1119 Garden, San Luis Obispo

600 Marsh, San Luis Obispo

runner up: Black

Best Live Music Venue


Downtown Brewing Co. 1119 Garden, San Luis Obispo

Not many pool halls left anymore? Cheer up, Fast Eddie. You can still hustle your way to an all-expenses-paid night of drinking at Downtown Brew, one of the few decent places around to shoot some nine-ball. The tables are level, the cues straight, and the green felt isn’t speckled with mystery stains. Grab a beer, call next game, and I’ll see you at the table. But give me a few warm-up games before you judge. Like I tell my friends, I’m better when I’m drunk—or I might just be a shark. You’ll have to find out. —MF

regnaD l i e s i n t s’nogard eh m o u t h

runner up:

Hot Shots

Danger lies in the drago n’s mo u

Af t e r H o u r s




McCarthy’s Irish Pub took several honors in this year’s readers poll, including Best San Luis Obispo Bar. Order up and find out why.

2010 BEST

of SLO • 43

44 • BEST of SLO 2010

Alex G. Spanos Stadium- Completed 2007

Best Construction Company




(805) 543-7411

2010 BEST

of SLO • 45

Best Place to View Public Art

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Ken Christensen

Art s Scene Best Local Artist—Visual

Jeff Claassen 785 Marsh, San Luis Obispo Jeff Claassen’s first art exhibit took place in his apartment. He moved his furniture into storage, invited his friends, and his DIY attitude was rewarded with sales. He opened his first gallery in November 2004, figuring that the $300 monthly rent was worth knowing whether he could make it or not. He did, and has gradually moved into larger and larger spaces until he came to occupy a space with plenty of room to display his own paintings, as well as those of friends and fellow artists. One of the rare breeds who has a talent for business as well as art, Claassen’s primary medium is spray paint and India ink, usually applied to wood rather than canvas. His medium—often associated with graffiti in San Luis Obispo—could easily make him an outcast within the arts community. Instead, Claassen has established himself as a reliable and familiar face within the scene, a distinction that probably contributed to his Best Of victory. —Ashley Schwellenbach

runner up:

Dotty Hawthorne Best Movie Theater

The Palm

817 Palm, San Luis Obispo

Diana Brenna

David Burton

Open 11 am - 5 pm every day except Tuesday (between July 4th and Labor Day open everyday)

Free Admission


1010 Broad St. • San Luis Obispo • West End Of Mission Plaza

46 • BEST of SLO 2010

The Palm Theatre is a cinematic staple for SLO County. In a community rife with theaters geared toward mainstream Hollywood fare, the Palm is an oasis of art and independent thought, whether your taste runs toward foreign or art house films, or even documentaries. It can take you just about anywhere, from Third Reich Nazi Germany to a café called the Two Windmills in contemporary Montmartre. “We’re here to expand the world of cinema, perhaps beyond Hollywood,” said Jim Dee, who opened the Palm in 1988. “It just takes the cinema in SLO a little bit further. It widens the possibilities.” Each of the theater’s three screens is intimate; seating maxes out at 120 in the largest space, 88 in the second screening room,

and 49 in the third. Dee’s also particularly proud of his efforts to keep prices down. Concessions are cheap, and tickets cost $8—and only $5 on Mondays or before 5 p.m. —AS

runner up:

The Fremont Best Fine Art Gallery


777 Higuera, San Luis Obispo I had never before stepped in foot in this “handmade contemporary crafts gallery,” so a field trip to downtown SLO was in order. An eclectic mix hits visitors in this modern space—a perfect spot for gift shopping: knickknacks, candles, furniture, even neckties or a Japanese Mawari Doro. You’ll find more than 20 exhibitors, such as local glass artist Larry Brebes. Owners Tres and Debra Feltman opened the store more than18 years ago when they couldn’t find one that suited their own gifting needs. They pride themselves on hosting a variety of media, including Sticks Furniture placed center stage. Don’t rush through browsing in this store—you won’t want to miss a thing. —CH

runner up:

Steynberg Gallery Best Local Theater Group

SLO Little Theatre

888 Morro, San Luis Obispo If the SLO Little Theatre were a person, it would be a mere two years out from retirement. Instead, the aptly named downtown space is charging full speed ahead in an effort to present programming that appeals to newer—and younger—audiences. It’s still the theater that stages lavish “Legends” productions with martini nights that have


continued page



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M-F 8am-8pm · Sat 9am-6pm · Sun 10am-5pm

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Corner of Broad & Marsh 781-0363

Tank Farm & Broad St 786-4596

Trauma and Emergency Services 1010 Murray Avenue, San Luis Obispo For a physician referral, call (800) 483-6387

2010 BEST

of SLO • 47


become legendary in their own right. But staff at the theater have also started partnering with other nonprofits, like local dance company Civic Ballet, to bring new faces and talent to the stage. The theater is juggling its status as a fixture within the community with the brave attempt to reach new audiences, and readers seem to appreciate the effort. —AS

10 years later, he owns three Traditional shops (two in SLO and one in Pismo), doing about 400 sessions per year, specializing in larger, modern pieces. Customer service is paramount to Perlich, and before ink hits the skin, he discusses options, tracing, and possible variations of the piece. He won’t begin until the client is satisfied.“ I want to do the unexpected,” he said, “and exceed expectations.” —CH

runner up:

runner up:

ARTS SCENE from page

The Great American Jake Schroeder Melodrama of Traditional Tattoo

Shad Perlich

Best Community Event

Farmers’ Market

Thursday nights on Higuera in San Luis Obispo As members of the giant community that is the human race, we all have basic needs—most of which can be met each week at San Luis Obispo’s weekly Farmers’ Market. There’s food, water, shelter (temporary under an awning or more permanent with help from a real estate agent’s booth), companionship, and even places to relax with a massage or dream interpretation. Add to that the frequent presence of a bounce house, a climbing wall, musicians on practically every block, glad-handing politicians, religious proselytizing, strolling athletes, flyers and coupons, face-painters, balloon animals, and more: You’ve got yourself the Best Community Event. —RM

runner up:

Concerts in the Plaza Best Tattoo Artist

Best Photographer

Steve E. Miller

To us, Steve E. Miller (or Stevie Baby, as we prefer to call him) is just the tall, cranky dude in the office with the messianic good looks who gives amazing full body massages. But to you, readers, he is so much more. You have once again enshrined him with one of the greatest honors a photojournalist can have in this town. What’s his reaction to winning this grand award? Does he lord this profound accomplishment over the rest of us peasants? Certainly not. “There are plenty of other people who should have been picked instead of me,” said a humble and magnanimous master photographer. That’s the sweet guy we all know. We’ll try to give him a hug every day for all of you who voted for him. He’ll love that. —RAM

runner up:

Tom Meinhold Best Place to View Public Art

Shad Perlich of San Luis Obispo Traditional Tattoo Museum of Art 251 Higuera,

Jake Schroeder 48 • BEST of SLO 2010

San Luis Obispo

1010 Broad, San Luis Obispo

Johnny Cash wafting through the sound system, floor-to-ceiling windows facing bustling Higuera, and contemporary décor with rich hardwood floors—Traditional Tattoo is not your mother’s tattoo shop, and Shad Perlich isn’t your everyday tattoo artist. The 35-year-old and four-time Best Tattoo Artist winner began his career as an apprentice at an old-school biker studio;

Walking into the Museum of Art (formerly the San Luis Obispo Art Center), visitors quickly get hit with choices: a multitude of exhibits among a handful of galleries within this newly branded art space. It’s a haven for artists and more than 40,000 yearly visitors. What started as an art association 50 years ago has blossomed into something more. In addition to rotating exhibits (changing every six weeks),

Art s Scene

ARTS SCENE continued




Best of for 16 years


Jef f Claassen has a modern style most associated with graf fiti and street art. And SLO County readers have embraced it, naming him Best Local Artist—Visual in this year’s poll. ARTS SCENE from page


there are film screenings, concerts, Art After Dark events, the Plein Air Festival (one of the best in the country), a Lecture and Tea series, and kids’ classes. “The name change doesn’t mean we are changing anything that we are doing,” Executive Director Karen Kile said. “It just better explains to a wider public what we do.” —CH

runner up: Art

After Dark

Best Local Actor

Zac Efron

Local boy made good, Zac Efron was born in San Luis Obispo and attended Arroyo Grande High School. He’s a fun actor to watch in such tween and teen fare as High School Musical and 17 Again. More important—he got his start here, and there are other young gems to be mined, if you care to look. Check out high school musicals, like Seussical, Seussical presented by the Studio Players in June, or their show Live Love Dance in mid May. Call 473-0377 for info. Nipomo High School presents the foot-stompin’ Best of the Beat in late May at the Clark Center for the Performing Arts. These diamonds in the rough are out there; get out more, and you may find the next Zac Efron on a stage near you. —AW

runner up:

Cheyenne Hardinan

Best Place to See a Play

Performing Arts Center 1 Grand Ave., San Luis Obispo

Calling the Performing Arts Center a theater would be like calling the Staples Center a basketball court. With 1,289 seats, an orchestra pit, and a pipe organ equipped with 2,767 individual pipes, the PAC is a venue designed and perfectly honed to cater to the performing arts. Catch a band from Ireland or a dance company from New York. Next door, the smaller and more intimate Spanos Theatre is home to the Cal Poly Theatre and Dance Department’s frequent contemporary plays, a not-to-be-missed live theater experience on the Central Coast.


The Villa Family would like to

Thank You


runner up:

SLO Little Theatre Best Dance Company

American Dance


3195-A McMillan, San Luis Obispo

They’ve tapped, pirouetted, and popped and locked their way across North America, and next summer San Luis Obispo’s American Dancers are

ARTS SCENE continued



34 South Street, San Luis Obispo, 781-3925 2010 BEST

of SLO • 49


In - home


every subject, every grade this Mentionhour ad for 1


-Thank yoU for voTinG US-

beST TUTorinG ServiCe 2 yearS in a roW! 8 8 8 6 7

(805) 54-TUTor

Serving all of SLo County


Toty Viola blends jazz, salsa, and international sounds to tickle listeners’ ears. His talent and performances earned him the title of Best Local Entertainer.

FANNY WRAPPERS LINGERIE Hanky Panky · Jezebel · Felina · PJ Salvage

Natori · Wacoal · Betsy Johnson · Honeydew


From all the ladies at Fanny Wrappers

Thank You


On May 7th from 4-8 pm Fanny Wrappers will be hosting the first Wacoal “Fit For The Cure” bra fitting event in SLO County. Partial proceeds to go to the Susan G. Koman Foundation. Come help us cure breast cancer.

50 • BEST of SLO 2010

ARTS SCENE from page


taking Europe by storm. The 32 company members—aged 9 to 22—are required to take six hours of class each week, training in modern, jazz, tap, ballet, etc. The older dancers also put in another six hours of rehearsal each week. They’re dancing machines, regularly traveling to compete against other companies. Once a year they make a point of hosting a local spring show, called Rhythms. And while the studio is located in downtown SLO, the talent hails from every corner of the county. —AS

runner up:

Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo

Arts Scene

Best Local Entertainer

Toty Viola

Born in Palermo, Sicily, Toty Viola began listening to American jazz artists like Wes Montgomery, George Benson, and Joe Pass as a kid. He came to the United States in 1995 and has performed at the Detroit Montreaux Jazz Festival with such notables as David Brubeck, Diana Shurr, and McCoy Tyner. Viola’s international blend of Italian, Latin salsa, and jazz soothes the savage beast. His mellow rhythms are a perfect score for enjoying Central Coast sunsets while sipping local wines with someone special. Catch him at Giancarlo’s Ristorante Mediterraneo in Morro Bay or at the Lido Restaurant in Shell Beach. Check out his website for a brief sample of his cool jazz guitar riffs. —AW

runner up:

Rich Ferguson

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2010 BEST

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52 • BEST of SLO 2010

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2010 BEST

of SLO • 53

Best Wine Shop

2nd Annual

Monterey Street Wine Company 1255 Monterey, San Luis Obispo

This May


FREE 10-DAY MEMBERSHIP –or– JOIN NOW and the SUMMER IS FREE!* Good for EVERYONE in your FAMILY! What better way to BE FIT and BE FAMILY this Summer?

The Monterey Street Wine Company stewards seem personally acquainted with each grape crushed for each bottle on their shelves, they’re so knowledgeable. Connoisseurs haunt the place for scoops on local vintners, microclimate fluctuations, upcoming limited releases, and authoritative recommendations for the best Pinot Noir of the region to pair with filet of beef chasseur (some might be persuaded to try a certain Petite Syrah instead). There are tastings. There is banter. There is also cheese—a fine selection. Buying a bottle here is less a purchase than an education: You’ll learn every infinitesimal detail about its origins to impress dinner guests.

runner up: 15


Degrees C

Best Local Bookstore (New)

The Novel Experience

779 Higuera, San Luis Obispo

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500 S. River Rd.

3534 El Camino Real

One 88 Tank Farm Rd.

SLO MultiPlex

Arroyo Grande





1299 James Way

*All memberships include a ‘safe start’ fitness program to guarantee your success! FREE Summer equates to 90 Free days. Contact the Club nearest you for details as some restrictions apply to 10Day pass and “Summer is Free” specials. Offer ends May 25, 2010

54 • BEST of SLO 2010

runner up: Coalesce

Best Local Book Store (Used) “Four” for Your Dollar!

Paso Robles

Twenty years ago, when Jim Hill purchased a bookstore on Higuera Street, he was unemployed and had a young family to support. Two decades later he finds himself the proud owner of a shop stocked with 20,000 books weathering an uncomfortable recession and overall decline in reading as a leisurely activity. But the bibliophile is sticking with his tried and true philosophy of providing personalized services and recommendations and a quick turnaround on special orders. “I’m determined to stay here at their service,” he admitted. “I feel like the trustee of a community trust rather than a business owner.” —AS

Phoenix Books 990 Monterey, San Luis Obispo

Rising from the ashes of similar bookstores now gone is Phoenix books, continuing to provide great prices on great and not-so-great literature. Hey, they have a section labeled “Smut!” Now that’s honesty! It’s a tad disorganized and smells a

bit musty, but that’s the atmosphere and aroma of a true treasure hunt. Phoenix Books has everything from old to recent pre-read tomes, classical literature, and words of the weird. They regularly get new “old” arrivals and have a huge array of film, science fiction, pulp fiction, and art books—and yes, smut from the 1800s on, encompassing works by the Marquis de Sade to Victorian romps with chambermaids! You’ll find anything from great white hunters, head hunters, head shrinkers, and shrinking prices at Phoenix Books. —AW

Nan’s Pre-Owned Books runner up:

Best Place to Buy Music (New)

Boo Boo Records

978 Monterey, San Luis Obispo Spend a lunch hour delving into the bins of CDs at Boo Boo Records to nourish the soul. Speaking of soul, it’s here—album, after album, after album by the Godfather, the Queen, Christina, and a hundred others—along with waves of newwave, rock, blues, country, classic and any other music genre yet conceived, all on durable CDs and vinyl disks (take that, iTunes!). Boo Boo’s is the Central Coast contender to Amoeba Music far to the north and south, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, chances are it doesn’t exist. —EC

runner up: Best


Best Place to Buy Music (Used)

Boo Boo Records

978 Monterey, San Luis Obispo Boo Boo Records sounds like a mistake, instead of the single best source for CDs and tunes on vinyl within three hours’ drive it is. Comb the hundreds of used discs, first. There’s a terrific selection, which varies overnight, so don’t mull; buy that rare album. Talk about a goldmine: The used stock is simply one rich vein off the Central Coast mother lode of melody. Boo Boo’s has more blues than three radio stations could play in a year, more righteous tracks of electric guitar than 20 Fillmores could produce, two lifetimes of folk ballads, bluegrass enough for the state of Tennessee, so much gospel Madalyn Murray O’Hair would have converted. You get the picture. —EC

runner up: Cheap BURNIN’ MONEY


continued page


2010 BEST

of SLO • 55

Prices Are Born Here...And Raised Elsewhere

Thank You For Your Support For The Past 20 Years! – Joe · Kevin · Brian · Ron · & The Entire Tire Store Gang –

252 Higuera Street · San Luis Obispo · (805) 541-TIRE


GOODWILL Voted #1 Thrift Store for over 12 years!







Thank You for Voting us #1

Designer Names Vintage to Vogue Funk to Formal


Casual to Cowboy Mattresses

IN BUSINESS Family Owned & Operated

• San Luis Obispo • Store: 15 South Higuera • 544-4965 •Outlet & Vehicles: 880 Industrial Way • 544-0542

• Paso Robles •

• Atascadero •

• Grover Beach •

1020 Park Street

8310 El Camino Real

1628 W. Grand Ave

56 • BEST of SLO 2010




719 Higuera (Broad & Higuera)


8300 El Camino Real (Longs)


643 Spring Street



Find fresh blossoms at Open Air Flowers, voted Best Flower Shop by New Times readers. True to its name, you can shop for arrangements with the sky above you.

BURNIN’ MONEY from page

Now the question is, do Jones and Croft shop together? —Catherine


runner up: Big

Best Men’s Clothing Store

Best Antique Shop

Patrick James

SLO Antique Treasures

641 Higuera, San Luis Obispo First rule of men’s fashion: “Listen to the women in your life; they’ll steer you in the right direction,” Patrick James Vice President Patrick MonPere said. Then go to Patrick James. “If you’re looking for a woman, then you can come in and [SLO store manager] Sarena will hook you up with an outfit that will get you some nice compliments.” Next, make sure the clothes fit right. The biggest mistake MonPere sees is guys buying clothes that are too big or too small. Luckily, veteran store employees are there and “they’re not going to let you walk out not looking right.” And if you find something you like that still doesn’t fit, they have on-staff tailors to take things in or let them out. The Fresno-based company has 15 locations, but MonPere said, “We treat each store like we only have one store.” —CR

runner up: Ross

Best Women’s Clothing Store


760 Higuera, San Luis Obispo This Barry Goyette-designed space is as gorgeous as the clothes it carries. It’s a perfect place for browsing with girlfriends or picking up a pair of deliciously to die for Frye Boots. Owner Leslie Cameron opened the store more than 16 years ago and has transformed it into a coveted shop that sells high-end fashions to dernier cri lovers. Bags, jewelry, butter soft blouses, and hot denim all live among a crackerjack staff. The quality of clothing can’t be found anywhere else in town, nor can many of the labels: Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, the Olsen twins’ Elizabeth and James, among others. Take note of the highly anticipated twice-yearly warehouse sale featuring deep discounts of up to 90 percent. —CH

runner up: Forever


B u r nin’ M one y



1248 Monterey, San Luis Obispo

Best Lingerie Shop

Fanny Wrappers

799 Higuera, San Luis Obispo Impressario Florenz “Flo” Zeigfield told the IRS the lacy panties worn by his showgirls made the ladies feel and act beautiful, a key to his success. He was granted the tax deduction. Flo would love Fanny Wrappers, the place to make your fanny look hot. The shop offers a wide range of panties, in small to wide sizes, and always carries the latest in body shapers and Oprah undies, said employee Katy Santiago. Best seller Hanky Panky is a thong that makes you feel like you’re bare down there and fits all sizes of derrieres. You’ll find the perfect bra fit here, in basic shades and wild prints of zebra, tiger, leopard, and cheetah. Fanny Wrappers even has a men’s line of silk briefs, pajamas, and robes. Rowr! —AW

runner up: Victoria’s


Best Thrift Store


San Luis Obispo, Grover Beach, Paso Robles, Atascadero This is the go-to place for serious white elephant hunts. The economy has made virtually everyone a bargain-hunter, and you may need a sherpa to help carry your finds while you shop—or at least a spouse or strong teenager. I recently saw Ivanka

Trump wearing a gorgeous gold-chain bib necklace and lo and behold! Treasure! A beautiful look-alike at Goodwill for $10! I bought a gorgeous skirt for four clams and wore both on a date with my sherpa. I also found lovely dress pants for my grandson for three bills. Goodwill always needs donations (in good condition, please). Since 1955, Goodwill Industries of the Tri-Counties has provided jobs, training, and placement services to people with barriers to employment. They truly are a gem! —AW

runner up:

Old Mission Thrift

Best Local Outdoor Store

Mountain Air Sports 667 Marsh, San Luis Obispo

There’s a reason why Indiana Jones and Lara Croft always manage to come out of their adventures unscathed. Before an adventure begins, they must head to Mountain Air Sports for their necessary gear. The establishment has been providing the highest quality of specialty outdoors equipment since 1975 in San Luis Obispo. “There are so many things we do that are different from other people, like our customer service and merchandise we carry,” said Wayne Patterson, store owner. Highly popular brands include Osprey and Patagonia, both featuring products that range from sleeping bags to mosquito repellent shirts.

You may not find the elusive Fountain of Youth, but you can relive yours at this remarkable antiques emporium. Whether you are looking for a specific treasure for your collection, seeking a unique gift, or just browsing, this place will take you as far back as the ’60s—the 1860s, that is—with period linens, porcelains and china, furnishings, antique decor, photos, and old posters, magazines, and books. Owner Monica Tate also stocks some amazing vintage bling. The prices are such that you don’t need to come from old money to shop here, although you will find old money for your coin collection. So cruise into SLO for a slow afternoon of treasure hunting at SLO Antique Treasures. —AW

runner up: Antiques

on Main

Best Pet Store


Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Atascadero, Paso Robles Lemos Feed and Pet Supply started with one store in Arroyo Grande in 1972 and has grown to 14 stores throughout the Central Coast. The secret to their success is not only the array of pet foods, toys, chewies, beds, and dog houses offered at fair prices. Nor is it their low cost vaccination clinics and pet adoptions sponsored by rescue groups and local humane societies. It’s not even clever gift items for fuzzy friends, like a doggie raincoat in a hot pink Pucci-esque print or cat trees resembling set pieces from The Hobbit.

BURNIN’ MONEY continued



Best of SLO 2010 • 57 2010 BEST of SLO • 57

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Lemos is tops due to its friendly, competent, and courteous staffers, who gladly carry huge loads of pet supplies, like safari porters, to pack into your car. Such customer service is a rare find, indeed! —AW

runner up: Tails

Miner’s Ace Hardware

Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Nipomo

1244 Pine St. Ste. 210

1508 Mill Street





Best Hardware Store

Fixed Fee Divorces Available No charge for Initial Consultation

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BURNIN’ MONEY from page


When Indy finds an artifact and needs some serious supplies to clean it up, where can he go? Miner’s Ace Hardware. A family owned and operated business since 1956, for 54 years it’s managed to stay out of the growing “Big Box” trend and strived to continue to be the little guy. “People appreciate the familiar feel,” said Paul Filice, president of Miner’s Ace Hardware. “I think we were chosen for our great staff. They’re knowledgeable, and we’re lucky to not have a lot of turnover so we can focus on our good service, which is our forefront.” Good choice, Dr. Jones. —CS

runner up: Brisco’s

Value Hardware

Thanks SLO County!


Best Grocery Store

Trader Joe’s 3977 S. Higuera, San Luis Obispo

SANTA BARBARA 14 State Street 962-0049 HOURS: Mon-Sat: 10-6 Fri 10-7 • Sun 11-5 Plenty of Free Parking


58 • BEST of SLO 2010

SAN LUIS OBISPO 667 Marsh Street 543-1676 HOURS: Mon-Sat: 10-6 Thurs 10-8 • Sun 11-4 Plenty of Free Parking

Should you decide to break out into healthier eating habits (I promise, it is not too late), Trader Joe’s would be the best place to start. “Every product with a Trader Joe’s label can be assured that it’s not artificial. Our produce is all natural, and that definitely helps people,” said store owner Mark Edwards. It all started in 1956 as a small chain of convenient stores called “Pronto Markets.” It wasn’t until 1967 when the original Trader Joe renamed the stores to, you guessed it, Trader Joe’s. They also have an easy to navigate website where you could find the tastiest yet healthy recipes. Are you inspired yet? —CS

runner up: New


Best Flower Shop

Open Air Flowers

1055 Osos, San Luis Obispo Who doesn’t daydream of receiving a stunning orchid arrangement in a sparkling, rock-and-moss-filled square pot? Since 1983, Open Air Flowers has strived to find the best, locally grown flowers, and staffers pride themselves on an ever-changing selection. Over the years, the shop has become an integral part of downtown SLO, and vice versa. Owners Leslie and Vance Weber (when you stop by, you’ll most likely see the creative force, Leslie, arranging blossoms) attribute their success to their customers, but also to their three longtime employees: Carrie, Amy, and Brie. Visit and explore the “open air” shop on Osos, off of Higuera, in bustling downtown SLO: You never know what you may find. —CH

runner up: April


Best Video Game Store


487 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo 2180 El Camino Real, Atascadero Thinking about cracking your whip on screen? Then visit GameStop, the gaming heaven. Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Game Cube—you name it, they got it. Tired of your overly priced Assassin’s Creed Creed? You could always trade it for credit or for another game you’re not too keen on shelling money for. That’s the best part, especially in this economy. According to SLO store manager Robert Wren, the trading hype will never stop: “It’s good that you don’t have to pay retail price for games you know you’ll want to trade. We have full flexibility. If you don’t like it, swap it.” —CS

runner up: Cheap


Best Eyewear Store

Michael’s Optical

719 Higuera, San Luis Obispo If things are a little blurry, you might want to run by Michael’s Optical, provider of the best optical service in the county, according to New Times readers. Boasting more than 30 years of experience, they’re highly trained to help you look your


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best. They also assist in ordering contact lenses, and coupons are available online for a selection of products. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our specialty is eyewear and accuracy in determining what lenses will work with the doctorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s prescription,â&#x20AC;? manager Steve Nutt said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have the ability to do the professional side and apply it to your eyewear along with good quality products on the more fashionable sense.â&#x20AC;? That should really clear things up. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;CS

runner up: Urban


Best Magazine/ Newspaper Selection

Barnes and Noble 894 Marsh, building G, San Luis Obispo

Glamorous models, thought-provoking essays, political figures, niche hobbies, gaming tips, entertainment gossip, scientific explorations, and more share space on the second floor of downtown SLOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Barnes and Noble. Pouting lips, tousled hair, and eye-catching headlines will start to catch your eye before youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve even made it to the top of the escalator. Buy a periodical or twoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;whether erudite or fluffâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;and sit for a spell in the cafĂŠ overlooking the Downtown Centre. Go ahead and get a cookie to nibble while you read; you can work it off by walking back down the stairs since the escalator only goes one way. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;RM

runner up: Borders

Best Jewelry Store

Kevin Main Jewelry

720 Higuera, San Luis Obispo You donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t need to work in King Solomonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Mines to find the perfect diamond. Kevin Main is the main witch doctor of love with the right gem for your precious jewel. He knows carat, cut, and color, and his remarkable craftsmen will create a 3-D computer model of any custom design. Check out the incredible â&#x20AC;&#x153;Hearts on Fireâ&#x20AC;? diamonds, which glint and sparkle like nothing else. The informative and friendly staff, variety of beautiful pieces from classic to modern, and reasonable prices are real treasures in this gem establishment. Big or small, if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking for a rock, Kevin Main Jewelry really rocks!

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;AW runner up:

All That Glitters

Look inside the hidden cove

Best Toy Store

Tomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Toys

682 Higuera, San Luis Obispo Plush jungle animals, safari jeeps, trucks, cars, dolls, puzzles, magic tricks, dinosaurs, and more make Tomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Toys the go-to place for your children and your inner child. Half the fun of shopping here is watching grown-ups relive their youth, oohing and aahing over oldfashioned toys and the big train set in the back of the store. This place has a great selection of dolls, from Barbie to Madame Alexander, and is the motherlode for anything and everything Bakugan. Indulge your little kings and queens of the jungle with a trip to Tomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, where the staffers are kid-friendly and know their audience, big game and small. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;AW

runner up: Whiz


The day The place 

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Best Shoe Store

Charles Shoes

867 Higuera, San Luis Obispo If the shoe fits, then it must have come from Charles Shoes, where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll find a wide range of footwear, in wide sizes, too! Charles carries everything from Acorn to Keds, from Rockport to Skechers and more. The family-owned store has been in downtown SLO since 1966, offering quality footwear, hard-to-find sizes, and superb customer service. They actually wait on you, like in the old days, and will size you up and have you steppinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; out in style. And boy, do they have styles! Charles Shoes offers everything from formal to casual shoes, work-out shoes, and boots. So kick up your heels and beat a path to Charles Shoes for your footwear of choice. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;AW

runner up: Mikeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s


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Best Tutoring Service

Grade Potential 1411 Marsh, suite 207, San Luis Obispo

Like many students, David Serwitz struggled with calculus, and finding a reliable tutor was another struggle in itself. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why he founded Grade Potential: so students of all grade levels could get the help they need in achieving their academic goals. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I started this because of my own frustrating experience in finding a competent tutor who could both meet my needs and work with my schedule,â&#x20AC;? Serwitz said. Go to Grade, and expect results: According to outgoing surveys, 87 percent said they achieved their goals, and 96 percent said they would come back for help in the future. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;MF

runner up: Linda

Mood Bell

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SLO County! From the Staff & Dancers at American Dance of SLO




Need serenity now? Locals recommend Smiling Dog as the Best Place for Yoga around. Choose from various disciplines —and maybe even opt for a massage. Best Radio Station

Wild 106.1



3195 McMillan Ave., SLO • (805) 543-4409

62 • BEST of SLO 2010

Wild 106 is your one-stop shop for the latest and greatest in hip hop and top 40, and the No. 1 station I play in my car and in my ear as I work out. If you want a rude boy, a telephone call with Lady GaGa (the only local radio station I’ve found that plays her) and Beyonce, your drug of choice from Ke$ha, or you’re needing it now from Lady Antebellum, dial it in to Wild 106.1. JoJo Lopez, director of programming and on-air personality, said. “We have a very loyal audience and we put all our time and energy into making sure we’re playing their favorite songs and giving away prizes that they want to win.” —CH

runner up: KCBX

Best Bike Shop

Art’s Cyclery

2140 Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo 183 Suburban, San Luis Obispo Bust out those cycling shorts, strap on the helmet, and pedal your happy self down to Art’s Cyclery, a one-stop shop for all things bike. Since opening in Los Osos in 1982, Art’s has become synonymous with the scenic trails and bike paths of SLO County, and has recently expanded to become an online Shangri-la for biking enthusiasts. Even if you already own a bike, you can find apparel and accessories that would make Lance Armstrong tip his cap to you. —MF

runner up:

Ira’s Bike Shop ABOUT TOWN

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Best Place to Buy a Musical Instrument

Blue Note Guitars 3220 Broad, suite 100, San Luis Obispo

Be honest: You know you air guitar to your imaginary fans, using your bed as a stage as you rock out to your favorite group (Muse, in my case). So why not actually jam it out with Blue Note Guitars? The neighborhood musical instrument store not only lets music lovers rock out in the shop, but folks who want to improve can take lessons there as well. They have a wide range of guitars, from acoustic to electric, amps, and accessories. And customers are ever flowing. “I think it’s because we care about our guitars,” guitar repairman Ray Hughes said. “We set it up at the best possible point, right off the walls.” —CS

Avatar landscape or a scene from a Grimm Brothers fairy tale, owners Ron and Peggy Carlock can help you improve it. The vast plant selection poses only one problem: What to choose! The Carlocks are always happy to recommend plants to suit every garden need, and there’s an outstanding array of pots, garden art, soils, fertilizers, and more. There are classes and special events, and a wide range of gifts and decor. Need ideas? This is an oasis of fragrance, waterfalls, and color that inspires. Ron’s Nursery is truly the Temple of Bloom for gardeners of every caliber. —AW

runner up:

Miner’s Ace Hardware

About Town

runner up: Owens

Music Company Best Auto Mechanic

Villa Automotive

787 Francis, San Luis Obispo 34 South, San Luis Obispo When a tomb raider’s jeep breaks down in the middle of a jungle, she speed dials Villa Automotive on her satellite phone. This is the 17th time New Times readers voted Villa as the No. 1 auto mechanic company. “We are family owned and operated,” President John Villa said. “Most employees have been here for more than 10 years; clients have been with us forever. People’s cars break down; they want to go to a place where they’re comfortable.” Villa staffers pride themselves on their ability to diagnose and repair almost any problem your car can give you. Their track record shows it, and any jungle trekker certainly would approve. —CS

runner up:

Rizzoli’s Automotive Best Nursery/ Garden Store

Ron’s Nursery

1207 South 13th, Grover Beach Going on a quest for a shrubbery or two? Don’t beat about the bush. Whether your garden looks like an

Best Hair Salon

The Bladerunner 894 Monterey, San Luis Obispo

Much like the 1982 Ridley Scott noir classic of the same name, The Bladerunner Salon and Day Spa has a postmodern style all its own. A downtown SLO landmark for 13 years, the salon staffs more than 30 stylists, technicians, and wellness professionals to make you look and feel like the cutting edge. Take a load off and experience what their certified massage therapists can do for you, or stock up with top-of-the line hair, nail, and body care products. Check ’em out before you visit: Many of the hair technicians have online profiles at —MF

runner up: Salon


Best Place to Pamper Your Pet

Golden Paw

2314 Broad, San Luis Obispo My best friend, Ariel, loves to be pampered, and so do I! There’s nothing like a belly-rub to start the day. You can really make our fuzzy butts wag with joy when you have us groomed at Golden Paw. The capable staff is grrreat, they take good care of their furry clients, and they know what makes my BFF and me happy! My fur shines, I smell good, and my nails are always just right! They can get pretty busy, so you’d better make an appointment. They also carry a full line of pet supplies, toys, and Canine Caviar—oooh, so good! Treat your best friend to the

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best pampering in town by people who know what we like. —PAW

runner up: Tails

Best Health Club/Gym

Kennedy Club Fitness San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, Atascadero

What makes a gym more than just a place to get sweaty and watch pretty people out of your peripherals? How about a 50-meter outdoor pool, more than 100 group classes to participate in, personal rehabilitation therapy, nutritional counseling, and basketball and racquetball courts? And why stop there? Kennedy also sports tanning beds, massage therapy, a wellness center, and even a cappuccino bar. With four locations in the county and simple membership plans, this place makes it easier to get into shape for the sunny season.

runner up: Club



Best Place for Yoga

Smiling Dog

1227 Archer, San Luis Obispo Call it the knotted-nerve untangling center, a school for serenity, a quiet cafe to meet a friend for lunch, even a smart boutique for natural fabric clothes—or just call it Smiling Dog Yoga. A half-dozen yoga disciplines

taught throughout the week (Hatha, Vinyasa, Yin, Kundalini, Raja, Bhakti) could account for the clear eyes of the graceful woman at the desk, or maybe it’s simply the meditation class. Not everyone may seek nirvana through contortion, though: For those who shed distraction more readily when supine, there’s massage in a variety of styles, including blissful hot-stone massage, at very reasonable prices. Learn the techniques for spiritual renewal and be sure to try the Ahi tuna. It’s open every day. —EC

runner up: Yoga


Best Chiropractor

Brian Buchanan, People’s Chiropractic

965 Monterey, San Luis Obispo Got your back up? Or out? Well, there’s no bones about it, Dr. Brian Buchanan is the bone-twister to see to loosen you up. A chiropractic adjustment can also mean an attitude adjustment because, let’s face it, when you hurt, you’re not at your best in the personality department. Dr. Buchanan will explain what’s causing your pain,


The Best Construction Company award went to Specialty Construction—a solid choice for locals.

About Tow n

as well as help alleviate it and recommend exercises, stretches, and other ways to maintain back and body well-being. He takes time with his patients and his friendly, professional, and relaxed manner will relax you, too. So don’t ask witch doctor (get it?) has your back, give Dr. Buchanan a crack at you! —AW

runner up: Wolf


Best Health Food Store

New Frontiers

896 Foothill, San Luis Obispo Tempeh? They have it. Miso? You bet; 10 different types. Yes, and they have gluten-free cookies and crackers, gluten-free nondairy pizza, mayonnaise absent the eggs, meatless (soy) taco filling, and toasted sesame tahini, too. But hold on, non-vegans, here’s the place to find Irish butter, mouth-watering Greek yogurt, and organic eggs fresh from the nest. Those who stray further from vegetables can shop without shame for wild! (not tame) swordfish from New Zealand, farmed salmon from Tasmania, and prime filet mignon nurtured on the Sierra slopes free of antibiotics and hormones. Birkenstocks meet Bruno Magli in this shrine to abundance. Try this recipe: Liberally spread the deliciously salty dark-red or Hatcho miso on one side of a cinnamon-raison bread slice, spread toasted sesame tahini on one side of a second slice, pack slices of firm tofu topped with green onion in the middle of the sandwich, and enjoy a delectable lunch. —EC

runner up: Trader


Best Place to Get a Massage

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort 1215 Avila Beach Drive, San Luis Obispo

After a long week on safari in the jungle of life, you need to pamper yourself. If daily stresses have rubbed you the wrong way, you need to relax and revitalize with a massage at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. Arrive early and luxuriate au natural in one of the mineral spring hot tubs to relieve tension. Then turn your muscle groups over to one of their highly skilled massage therapists. The prices will soothe your wallet, too. Massages start at $65 for a 30-minute express session to $110 for an hour-long gentle or intense rubdown. Finish with a stroll around the gardens or a leisurely lunch at the Gardens of Avila. Ah, paradise found! —AW

runner up: The


Best Day Spa

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort 1215 Avila Beach Drive, San Luis Obispo

Take your spouse, invite your best friend, or go alone and spend a day at Sycamore. My Brit hubby and I channeled our inner Tarzan and Jane and soaked in one of the many outdoor hot tubs. I reveled au natural as warm jets soothed my aching

ABOUT TOWN continued



About Tow n

64 • Best of SLO 2010

64 • BEST of SLO 2010


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2010 BEST

of SLO • 65



ABOUT TOWN from page


body (the reserved Brit insisted on swim trunks). Cost? $12.50 per person for an hour of naked bliss in nature’s midst! The day-away package on Monday through Thursday is golden! Soak for an hour in a mineral springs hot tub, get a 60-minute massage or facial, and take a yoga, Pilates, or tai chi class, polished off with brunch at the Gardens of Avila Restaurant, all for $130. Tarzan likes! Jane loves!


runner up:

The Bladerunner CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to discover the best possible outcome for an abused or neglected child’s future. It is the goal of the CASA volunteer to place every one of these children into a safe, permanent home and to give them hope for a better life.

Thanks SLO County!

Have one on us.

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Present this ad for a free soft drink with any entree.

66 • BEST of SLO 2010

A SLO County Favorite, Again.

(805) 541-6542

Best Local News Source


channel 6 Hanging above us in our own newsroom is the readers’ award for runner up for local news organization. It’s a reminder of how far we have to go to catch up with KSBY, the winner of our Best Local News Source category. We ask ourselves: What is it about them? Is it their fine investigative, hard-hitting news stories? Hmmmm ... Or is it the simply the perky smiles of their news anchors that get us through the day? Maybe we’ll never know the answer to why TV trumps print again and again, but what we do know is that we at New Times will keep striving for the gold ring. Watch out, pretty people. We’re gonna get that award someday. Someday. —RAM

runner up: New


Best New Company of 2009


1119 Garden, San Luis Obispo Before the place even opened in February 2009, buzz already surrounded Ciopinot. After a year of its operation in downtown SLO, readers found the classy wine and seafood joint has lived up to the hype. The classic brick building now sports a cool urban interior thanks to designs from Wendy Cohen (wife of owner Leonard), and it’s been the recipient of the mayor’s beautification award. “We were really welcomed into this community and look forward to continuing being a part of it in the future,” Leonard said. So check it out; parking is reason-

able at the location on Nipomo and Higuera (seriously) and the quality is as good as it gets.

runner up: Kohl’s


Best Divorce Lawyer

Gary C. Faucette 1508 Mill, San Luis Obispo

As long as there are humans on the face of the Earth, there will be divorce attorneys. And if you have to face the inevitable, why not use Gary Faucette, a lawyer for more than 20 years? An experienced mediator, Faucette sees about 20 divorce cases a month, but if War of the Roses comes to mind, you’re wrong. Faucette helps former couples resolve issues instead of a judge overseeing the process, and he says it keeps the situation from having a winner or loser. Faucette offers free consultations and is a litigator as well. In part, he credits his success and popularity to his right hand, paralegal Janee Manriquez.


runner up:

Daniel Helbert Best Construction Company

Specialty Construction Company 645 Clarion Ct., San Luis Obispo

It can be a rough world for construction these days, but Specialty Construction Company President Rudy Bachmann is hopeful, particularly when the community shows its support by voting his company the best in SLO County. “It’s tough but we’re getting through it,” he said. “We remain optimistic for the future.” After more than 20 years in the business, Specialty Construction works on projects involving everything from office and medical buildings to civil engineering to public utilities and work for telecommunications companies. “We work with developers, all types of company owners, and they will literally come to us with a building concept on a napkin,” Bachmann said. “We will manage the project from that point all the way through handing a key at the end of the day to them.” —CR

runner up: Mano ABOUT TOWN

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About Tow n

Best Home Remodel Company

Cal Coast Construction

872 Morro, San Luis Obispo 381 N. 4th Street, Grover Beach Suppose Indy needs remodeling after finding his home ransacked by unknown persons. He can trust Cal Coast Construction. From additions to termite repairs, window and door installations, to all home repairs, the company strives to provide the highest quality of service. Manager Caleb Lopez has been following the company’s motto “we always answer our phones” strictly, and reaps the rewards. “I feel that rather than just treating everyone like another client, we try to establish a relationship to get a feeling of what they want,” Lopez said. “People’s homes are a very important part of their lives. We try to treat them that way.” —CS

runner up: Clean

Cut Construction Best Place to Buy a Wedding Dress

Down the Aisle

144 W. Branch, Arroyo Grande “Quality, beauty, unique style” is what Down the Aisle co-owner Andrea Moller thinks makes a good wedding dress. And Down the Aisle is dripping with all of it. “We hear brides all the time say they’ve been to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and they can’t believe that they’ve found it right here in little Arroyo Grande,” Moller said. Though bridezillas haven’t reared their fire-breathing crazy at Down the Aisle (as far as Moller can remember), she painted a trip to the store as a stress-free lounge with friends and family, complete with an elegant environment and spacious sitting rooms. “I think we have something to offer that’s unlike anything in the county,” she said. For the more daring bride, Down the Aisle also stocks the newer, bolder fashions, such as colored shoes and full dresses that can turn into a short dress. —CR

runner up: A

Heart’s Desires

Best Place for a Wedding Reception or Big Bash

Madonna Inn 100 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo

If it’s a good enough place for Karl Rove to have a reception, it’s good enough for me. Okay, that may not follow the rules of logic per se but heck,

why not? Where else would you want to have a reception or a big event? What blushing bride could resist the “Gay ’90s” banquette room for her wedding reception? It’s described on the Madonna Inn website as “a romantic room with red walls, mirrors, and big wooden pillars.” It bears a striking resemblance to some boisterous late 19th century Parisian gathering hall or other, but all historical coincidences aside, the Madonna Inn really is the largest and most unique place to have an event, bar none. —RAM

runner up: The

Cliffs Resort

Best Car Wash

Sunset North Carwash San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles

Ever since I went to Sunset, hysterically crying, with wine-colored vomit in my brand new car, I’ve been a customer for life. Operator Bart DeVaney’s father, Patrick, started the chain in 1993; today, there are four full service locations in SLO, Paso (which also has a self serve option), and Arroyo Grande. Facilities are completely hand-wash focused and offer full detail centers and wax specials. The various locations sprinkled throughout the county are super convenient. The staff learns your name and is ready and willing to tackle the dirty dilemmas of automobiles, boats, RVs, or limousines for $8 and up. —CH

runner up: El

Thank you to all of our supporters and members who voted us number one friend to the environment! Since 1971, with your help we have accomplished a world of good. We welcome your participation in our efforts to promote sustainability and environmental responsibility. Get involved with your local environmental organization. Visit our website at


Best Local Bank/ Credit Union

SESLOC Federal Credit Union

Join us for the 1st Annual

Morro Bay Triathlon

San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles To be able to afford trips to Germany to fight Nazis, Indy would do well to consult with SESLOC Federal Credit Union about foreign currency exchange—one of the many services the institution provides. The credit union formed in 1942 and has been an organization of people and for people, serving anyone who lives, works, and attends school in San Luis Obispo County. They also dedicate themselves to youth financial activities, bringing financial awareness and saving smarts to the next generation of SLO citizens. So if Lara Croft is looking for financial advice or a vehicle loan rate, Indy will guide her to the right place. —CS

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Olympic distance racing to benefit ECOSLO For more information and to register or volunteer please visit

runner up: Founders

Community Bank

ABOUT TOWN continued



805.544.1777 1204 NIPOMO STREET WWW.ECOSLO.ORG 2010 BEST

of SLO • 67

Thank you for all your support & votes We still have your backs

PAY ONE FULL MONTH & GET THE SECOND MONTH FREE! We are your local one stop storage spot! - Semi Annual & Annual Rates - Large & Small Units - U-Haul Truck Rentals - Packaging Supplies (805) 546-9788 154 Suburban Rd., SLO wne d Locally o for over d te & opera in SLO! 18 years Located behind Food 4 Less


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Best Weekend Getaway in SLO County

Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort 1215 Avila Beach Drive, San Luis Obispo

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a jungle out there, and sometimes you need to escape from it all. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an oasis of calm in our midst at the Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort. Surrounded by majestic oaks, fragrant jasmine, and blue jays hopping in the beautiful gardens, this resort is just what we all need. Get massaged, dine at Gardens of Avila Restaurant, take a yoga class, and walk or hike the many trailsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;including one that ends atop a hill with a 360 degree view of Avila Bay below and surrounding woods behind you. Best of all, prices are reasonable! Rooms have private hot tubs and decks, game tables, fireplaces, and, if you must, flat screen TVs. The rooms arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t numbered, but have names like â&#x20AC;&#x153;Blissfulâ&#x20AC;?â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll feel after a getaway at Sycamore. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;AW

runner up: Cambria

trips, and even provides storage. That makes Cambodia sound like a good idea, too. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;CS

runner up: U-Haul

Best Real Estate Company

Century 21 There will be a time when Lara Croft finds her 80-plus-room mansion exhausting, and when that happens, Century 21 will be there to help her find a cozier abode. Real estate agents extend their local experiences from Pismo Beach to Paso Robles, and they serve all coastal cities in the north and south counties. No matter where you want to move to, Century 21 provides a complete national listing on its website, including local resources and even real estate glossary. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the most recognizable brand name,â&#x20AC;? said broker Steve Weiss. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our education and ethic shows through. People can see it.â&#x20AC;? Happy house hunting, Ms. Croft. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;CS

runner up: Keller


About Tow n

Pines Lodge

Best Moving Company

Best Place to Make You Look Younger

Sycamore Mineral Meathead Movers Springs Resort 144 Hind Lane, suite 140, San Luis Obispo

1215 Avila Beach Drive, San Luis Obispo

Is Jerusalem striking your fancy? Or somewhere closer, though no less exotic? Meathead Movers can help transport your household gems with guaranteed quality service. Meatheads are professionally trained student-athletes working their way through college. After going through extensive training and background checks, they pay attention to every detail to ensure a smooth process. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This community supports us to help the students to the next step of their lives. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an honor for us to be involved in their stepping stone,â&#x20AC;? owner Aaron Steed said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Because we establish unique relationships, it helps us to be successful.â&#x20AC;? The company covers on-site moving, long distance

The Fountain of Youth may be a myth, but the rejuvenating arts at the Sycamore are legend! Is your face sagging, are your eyes bagging, and your spirits dragging? Well, Bwana, haul them over to this spa and mineral springs resort for a real lift. Wine therapy body treatments start at $75 and include a glass of the elixir of youth: a local Chardonnay. Enhance your experience for $25 more with a scalp, hand, or foot treatment, or a cooling vitamin K eye repair. Or venture on a dayaway package, just $130 Mondays through Thursdays, with an one-hour soak in a mineral spring hot tub, a 60-minute facial or massage, and an hour-long yoga, Pilates, or tai chi class, followed by brunch at the Gardens of Avila Restaurant. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll bwana go back often! â&#x20AC;&#x201D;AW

Meet the man with at the forunner ot o up: Salon Lux Meet the

68â&#x20AC;&#x2030;â&#x20AC;˘ BEST of SLO 2010

Meet m theanmawnitw h itthhethdeodgog at thaet ftohoe foot of the hill t of

the hill

Our family of fine restaurants would like to thank you for voting us Winners of 7 Best of SLO County Awards

726 Higuera St. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

...& one of the Best places for Brunch. Best San Luis Obispo Best Restaurant Restaurant Period

Best Cambria Restaurant

Best Wait Staff

Best Place To Go On A First Date

Best New Restaurant of 2009

Sunday Night Tapas

(805) 927-5007 4095 Burton Dr., Cambria

1009 Monterey Street / SLO / 540-5243 / Near the Historic Fremont Theater

2010 BEST

of SLOâ&#x20AC;&#x2030;â&#x20AC;˘ 69

70 • BEST of SLO 2010

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of SLO • 71

French Hospital Medical Center is the Central Coastâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Award-Winning Community Hospital. Share in our pride as we add the most recent award to our growing list of awards and accolades! Avatar International has selected French Hospital for its Five Star â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Loyalty and Endorsement Award for Emergency Department Service 2009. Awards UĂ&#x160;Ă&#x160;xÂ&#x2021;-Ă&#x152;>Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x160;Â&#x153;Ă&#x17E;>Â?Ă&#x152;Ă&#x17E;Ă&#x160;EĂ&#x160; Â&#x2DC;`Â&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x192;iÂ&#x201C;iÂ&#x2DC;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x160; qĂ&#x160; Â&#x201C;iĂ&#x20AC;}iÂ&#x2DC;VĂ&#x17E;Ă&#x160; iÂŤ>Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x152;Â&#x201C;iÂ&#x2DC;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x160; -iĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x203A;Â&#x2C6;ViĂ&#x160;Ă&#x153;>Ă&#x20AC;`Ă&#x160;LĂ&#x17E;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x203A;>Ă&#x152;>Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x160; Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x152;iĂ&#x20AC;Â&#x2DC;>Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;>Â?Ă&#x160;vÂ&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x160;Ă&#x201C;ääÂ&#x2122;

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Best Tanning Salon

Tanners Cove

3920-5 Broad, San Luis Obispo 667 Marsh, San Luis Obispo 845 Oak Park, Pismo Beach Hey, you ghostly pale hermits! Put some color back in those cheeks. And what better place to do so than Tanners Cove? With locations in Santa Maria, Pismo, Orcutt, and SLO, Tanners Cove turns 11 years old this July. Their secret of success? â&#x20AC;&#x153;We change our bulbs regularly, so we have pretty powerful bulbs,â&#x20AC;? said Kendra Maloney, who manages the downtown SLO location. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So I think people like that.â&#x20AC;? Beyond beds and bulbs, Tanners Cove also offers spray booths for a quick color blast. From Spring Break through summer, the Cove gets a flood of people hoping to achieve that â&#x20AC;&#x153;mapley brown color.â&#x20AC;? The most popular packages include a month with the regular bed for $35, or $62 for an unlimited month with the â&#x20AC;&#x153;power bed.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Power bed goes a little bit deeper into your skin,â&#x20AC;? Maloney said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a longer-lasting tan.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D;CR

runner up:

Planet Beach Best Board Shop

Central Coast Surf boards 855 Marsh, San Luis Obispo

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no small feat what Mike Chaney has achieved with his 35-year-old institution that is CCS. Kyle Parker, assistant manager, credits the distinction of Central Coast Surfboards this way: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Customer service, the knowledgeable and friendly crew that works here, and the selection of surf, skate, and snowboarding products.â&#x20AC;? The gear includes menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clothing, surfboards, skateboards, and snowboards covering brands like Rusty, Santa Cruz, and Wahl, among others. The best sellers? Board shorts, sandals, surfboards, and sunglasses. Plus, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a cool fish tank right inside the door. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;CH

1911 Johnson Ave. San Luis Obispo, CA 93401 (805) 543-5353

72â&#x20AC;&#x2030;â&#x20AC;˘ BEST of SLO 2010

runner up:


Best Golf Course

Avila Beach Golf Resort

6464 Ana Bay Road, Avila Beach If I told you there was a place where you could golf for $20 at the beach, you might laugh in my face. You wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be laughing, however, when you saw Avila Beach Golf Resort. All levels of golfers are welcome at this par 71, 6,500-yard world class, championship course. There are many different golf instruction programs: for individuals, groups, corporate clinics, or even junior golfers, and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a large, two-tier putting green ready for all types of techniques. The driving range is open from dawn to dusk. When youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve called it a day, park your cart and head into McPhees for an ice-cold brew or martini lunch and laugh all you want with your fellow golfers. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;CH

runner up: Morro

Bay Golf Course Best Place to Ride Your Bike

Bob Jones Trail

Two wheels good. Folks looking for some face time with fresh air can find plenty of it along the Bob Jones Trail, part of an effort to help cyclists someday circle from San Luis Obispo to Avila Beach and back againâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or vice versaâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;with super ease. The stretch from the city to the sea is so inviting, some people actually slow down, dismount, and walk it. Named after a staunch proponent of conservation, green space, and environmental protection, the trail offers views of what some (Land Conservancy of SLO, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking at you) have dubbed â&#x20AC;&#x153;the essence of the San Luis Obispo area and greenbelt.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D;RM

runner up:

MontaĂąa de Oro Best Place to Take the Kids

the beach

Pacific Ocean coastline Locals who see the beach as nothing more than something to cross on their way to the surf


continued page



"ESTplace to lavish attention to your©"EST&RIENDSª


the golden paw Thank you for 28 Years of Support

Best Place to Pamper Your Pet

• All Breed Dog & Cat Grooming • Dog & Cat Supplies • Carrying Flint River & Canine Caviar feeds Est. 1982 John Salmeron, Owner/Groomer

GET BOARD Central Coast Surf boards equips locals who want to hit the waves—or other surfaces suitable for thrill-seekers. GET OUT

from page


or—ahem—somewhere to break up need to see the stretch where sand meets water through the eyes of a child. Odd stones, amazing shells, and marine creatures turn up with every step. Each incoming wave is an event, as is the decision on whether to dive in headfirst or run away so only a smidgen of foam catches your heel. There are birds to chase, sticks to poke into holes, tidepools to explore, and vast, crumbly castles to build. Older kids can fly kites, throw around a football, or get together an impromptu volleyball game. Don’t forget the sunscreen. —RM

runner up:

SLO Children’s Museum Best Hike

Bishop Peak

Is Bishop Peak the most favored of the Nine Sisters? Morro Rock may draw more attention,

but even before San Luis Obispo’s iconic hill crowned by three points first caught the eye of John Muir, Bishop Peak stood out. While historic padres dubbed it and miners quarried it, today’s visitors hike it. The severalhundred-acre Bishop Peak Natural Reserve regularly invites locals looking for a good climb into some fresh air. One two-mile trail elevates followers 1,000 feet from where they started, taking them into the domain of the birds. Try to spot members of the 100 or so species who call the peak home, or just imagine you have wings of your own and drink in the view. —RM

2314 Broad Street San Luis Obispo • 543-8930

runner up:

Montaña de Oro Best Community Garden

SLO Botanical Garden

3450 Dairy Creek Road, San Luis Obispo Plants native to the five Mediterranean climate zones comprise one


continued page

Thank you for voting Woods Humane Society Best Local Non Profit 2010. Your support and generosity enable us to continue to serve the homeless dogs & cats that call our shelter home. Please visit our website to view our Volunteer Opportunities, Wish List, Adoptable Animals, or to make a financial contribution to our cause.


Get Out

875 Oklahoma Avenue, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405 805-543-9316 -

2010 BEST

of SLO • 73



to all of the winners in this issue!

from page


quarter of all known vegetation, on 2.2 percent of the Earth’s land—land that is rapidly being sacrificed for human habitation. The San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden is one of the rare facilities dedicated to cultivating, conserving, and propagating the seed stock of those endangered varieties. It’s a sweeping, tranquil, magnificent vista, the perfect setting to commune with nature. Take a hike and enjoy its splendor while you can: There are plans to transform the garden into a theme park with a 3,500seat amphitheater, five cafes, 52 miles of paved paths, and a gondola to transport tourists (4.4 million are expected annually).

Hormone Therapy is not just for women!


- Recharge & Improve: Energy, Muscle Mass, Mood, Libido, and over all health! You are not alone! 50% of men over 50 and 95% of men over 70 suffer from low testerone.

Feel Your Best! Balance Your Hormones Sleep Better, Feel Energized


Specializing In: Primary Care • Gynecology Bio Identical Hormone Treatment Bariatric Medicine • Addiction Therapy

Mention this ad for a Special $19 Initial Consultation & Body Composition Analysis. Exp. 5.31.10

Coastal Clinic Johnnie Ham, M.D.

runner up:

Emerson Park Best Local Dog Park

10% of all profi ts support the Wounded Warriors program.

Convenient Evening & Weekend Hours Available 575 Price Street Suite 313 • Pismo Beach • (805) 201-9135 •

Laguna Lake 504 Madonna, San Luis Obispo

My best friend, Ariel, and I love going in search of the Lost Bark at Laguna Lake Dog Park! There are ducks swimming and geese (those guys can be mean!) just hanging around the rippling water. My BFF loves to sit and stare or take pictures, and sometimes we bring a picnic. Oooh, Greenies are so good and so is Laguna Lake Dog Park! I can run all over open spaces, sniff all of my buddies’ butts, and meet new pals. There are water bowls for when we get thirsty, room for Frisbee or tennis ball games, and

plenty of rebarkable places to smell, whiz, and poop, plus little bags for poop-scooping, which is very important. I can’t wait to go again!

—PAW (Ariel’s dog) runner up:

Elm Street Park Best Local Jock

Chuck Liddell

Charles David Liddell holds a professional kickboxing record of 20 wins with only two losses. Sixteen of those wins were knockouts. He’s one tough Jungle Jim who studied Koei-Kan karate when he was 12 and has a “Koei-Kan” tattoo on his scalp. You know that hurt! The Ultimate Fighter was on the San Marcos High School football team, became a Division I wrestler at Cal Poly, and still found time to attain a business and accounting B.A. He has appeared as a cage fighter in Cradle 2 the Grave starring Jet Li, and in 1981 Liddell played a boy scout who annoys Jack Nicholson in The Postman Always Rings Twice. You’d have to be a super jock and Ultimate Fighter to get away with annoying Jack Nicholson!


runner up:

Jordan Hasay

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74 • BEST of SLO 2010

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2010 BEST

of SLO • 75

76 • BEST of SLO 2010

Best Waste of Taxpayer Money

Los Osos sewer

Yes, Los Osos sewer, you’ve made it to the big time. You should be proud. You beat out the Lake Nacimiento water project for the biggest waste of taxpayer money, and that’s no small feat. You’ve had $16 million lavished on you, and the taxpayer hasn’t gotten a thing in return. Yes, whatever they do install in the luckless village will probably satisfy no one. Yes, no one outside of Los Osos would likely be sad if they never heard another word about the project. But until county and state politicians come up with some other gigantic public works boondoggle, you will shine like the great turd blossom you are. Shine on, big turd, shine on. —RAM

runner up:

fixing roads

Best Friend to the Environment

Environmental Center of SLO County

It’s been nearly 40 years since the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo—aka ECOSLO—opened its doors as the county’s first recycling center. Today, this nonprofit organization is still dedicated to protecting and enhancing our natural environment. Its hardworking volunteers are a common sight in local recreation areas, picks and shovels in hand as they help keep trails spiffy. Got questions about the environment? ECOSLO’s website, e-mail newsletter, and downtown office are chock full of useful information on a wide range of local issues, from oil drilling to school gardens to alternative energy. Their latest recycling effort: recovering used fishing line at Port San Luis.

—Kathy Johnston

runner up:

REC Solar

Best Controversy or Scandal

Los Osos sewer

The voting public decided to go old school on us and pick that old chestnut, the Los Osos sewer project, for best scandal. Apparently, former Deputy

County Administrative Gail Wilcox spreading her love around to a sheriff’s union negotiator was beneath our fair readers’ dignity. Or maybe, like an annoying rash that doesn’t go away, everyone is just sick of it. But look on the bright side: When your great grandchildren can poop in Los Osos and not have to worry about it coming back in the kitchen faucet, will all the millions spent on the sewer matter? Yes, they will matter, because deep down in your soul you’ll know you’ve been had. People will still be fighting 100 years from now about what kind of sewer to put in Los Osos, so it’s nice to think politicians not yet born will probably be suffering over this ridiculous project. —RAM



runner up:

Gail Wilcox


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Best Annoying Public Figure

Abel Maldonado

California lieutenant governor There’s really no telling why Sen. Abel Maldonado won—or lost, depending on how you want to look at it—the Best Annoying Public Figure category. The termed-out conservative Republican from Santa Maria committed political suicide during the insane 2009 budget cycle when he voted in favor of tax increases, solidifying his position as Capitol pariah and whipping boy to his own party, but he broke the budgetary freeze. Not that his move bought him any friends on the left as he awaited appointment by the Legislature to the lieutenant governorship. Asked about the Best of SLO award, Maldonado sounded confused. “I think I get that because I’m very active, and I work very hard, and I’m not going stop fighting for the people of the Central Coast,” he said in his characteristic polished diction. “And if that’s annoying, well then, I’m sorry.” —CR

runner up:

Pat Hedges




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It’s nice to know that when you send Jr. to school in San Luis Obispo County, he probably won’t come back a complete idiot. At least that’s the hope. That’s probably why schools won the vote for best use of government funds—not that schools had much competition. Government services are slowly being reduced all over the county. Our roads are slowly

continued page

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Best Use of Taxpayer Money

Community Watch


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Co m m u n it y Watch

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of SLO • 77

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decaying to East Coast standards. More and more taxpayer money is getting poured into government employee salaries and pensions. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a terrible mess that will only get worse. Schools have reportedly lost 20 percent of their state funding in the last 18 months, but they soldier on. In a way, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the only tax we pay that gets money back to the constituentsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;through kidsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; educations. Bravo, schools. Bravo. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;RAM

runner up:

fire departments Best Elected Official

Dave Romero

This year I promise

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;Must be a slow news day,â&#x20AC;? Dave Romero said when he was told heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d been voted Best Elected Official. After telling a reporter he was honored by the award, he slowly walked away. Why do you love Romero? We have no idea, but I can tell you a secret? We secretly love him, and hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why: He knows exactly who he is and what he stands for. You always know what Romero believes in and what he is all about. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an exceptionally rare quality in a politician. Romero is also a bridge back to an earlier time, when builders actually built great things, astronauts walked on the moon, and people believed Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best days were ahead of us. Long live Dave Romero. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;RAM

runner up:

805-541-1100â&#x20AC;˘ 3930 Broad St., SLO â&#x20AC;˘ (in the Marigold Center)

San Luis Obispo mayor

*some restrictions may apply

Bruce Gibson

VOTE WINNER Locals love SLO Mayor Dave Romero. Even if they hate him, they love him. Best Nonprofit

Woods Humane Society 875 Oklahoma Ave., San Luis Obispo

Not all pets are as lucky as me to have a warm and happy home or BFF like Ariel. Some make it to Woods Humane Society, where their mission is the humane care of unwanted animals in SLO County. I was a rescued dog at age 5, and older pets often lose loved ones who die or move away. The current economy has also left people and their pets homeless. Woods Humane Society offers tawoofic, pre-owned pets that are spayed or neutered, and the dedicated staff makes Woods one of the top pet shelters in the nation. Woof! Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pretty special! So are the pets at Woods, needing loving homes. They also love to be petted and walked, so volunteer to walk on the wild side with one of my pals at Woods. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll make your day!

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;PAW (Arielâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dog) runner up:


Co m m u n it y Watch

Specialty Construction, Inc. is honored to be recognized by our clients. On behalf of all the folks at SCI, we would like to thank you, our clients, for your confidence & trust in us over the last 20 years.



Goleta Water District Green River Mutual Water Company Hamish Marshall & Alex Pananides Heritage Ranch CSD Hope Lutheran Church Jacobs Engineering Group Jim Flagg Jim Harrison & Peter Hilf John Gordon John Wallace Joslyn Sunbank Company Kern County Water Agency Kimo Pankey La Clinica de Tolosa Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County Leon Van Beurden Los Osos Community Services District Lubert - Adler Marina Coast Water District Martin Resorts, Inc. Marty Indvik & Al Segal Melanie Morgan DVM Mid-State Bank and Trust Mike & Debbie Rowley Mike & Diane Polley Mike Cannon Mission Oaks Annex Mission San Miguel Myrtle Reid New Life Church, Pismo Beach Newhall Land and Farming Company Niner Wine Estates NKT Commercial Oceano Community Services District Pacific Gas & Electric Pacifica Hotel Company, Inc. Parable Group, Inc. Pete Riolo & Jim Ellsworth Phillip & Janice Kissel Pixley Public Utility District Port San Luis Harbor District Quinn Equipment Rene & Debbie Bravo SAES Pure Gas, Inc. San Luis Coastal Unified School District San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum San Luis Obispo County Office of Education San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church Santa Lucia Bank Santa Maria Joint Union High School District Shea Homes, Inc. SLO Economic Opportunity Commission SLO Promenade


Allan Hancock Joint Community College District AT&T Corporation Atascadero Mutual Water Company Avila Beach Civic Association Avila Beach CSD B & B Steel and Supply of Santa Maria Barnett, Cox & Associates Bill & Doug MacMillian Bill Lee Bill Reising, Jr. Bill Reising, Sr. Bob & Toni Pringle Brown & Root California Department Of Corrections California Department of Parks & Recreation California Department of Transportation California Polytechnic State University Cambria Estates Vineyards and Winery CHW, Arroyo Grande Community Hospital Chevron City of Atascadero City of Buenaventura City of Gonzales City of Greenfield City of Guadalupe City of Lompoc City of Morro Bay City of Paso Robles City of Pismo Beach City of Porterville City of San Luis Obispo City of Santa Barbara City of Santa Maria Cold Canyon Landfill County of San Luis Obispo County of Santa Barbara Flood Control County of Ventura Craig Cowan Crystal Engineering Cuesta College Danny & Janice Davis Department of the Air Force Department of the Navy Dioptics Medical Products, Inc. Dr. Bonnie Markoff Dr. Frank Mazzone Dr. Jac Pedersen Dr. Kenneth Stevens Dr. Michael La Puma Edna Valley Vineyard Embassy Suites Hotel San Luis Obispo Galaxy Theatres Golden 1 Credit Union

Snider Machine Solvang Elementary School District Sprint PCS St. Patricks Catholic School State of California Department of General Services Sun Micro Systems Templeton Unified School District T-Mobile USA, Inc. Tom & Karen Spillane Trinity Lutheran Church of Paso Robles U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Union Pacific Railroad Unitarian Universalist Fellowship San Luis Obispo United Rentals University of California Santa Barbara Unocal Corporation URS Corporation Verizon Wireless Verne Thacker & Connie Ganter Vina Robles, Inc. William Borgsmiller Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc.

645 Clarion Court, San Luis Obispo | 805-543-1706 | 2010 BEST

of SLO • 79

New Times Best of SLO County 2010  

24th Annual Best of San Luis Obispo County Readers Poll