SHOPPING & DINING
San Luis Obispo Shopping & Dining
San Luis Obispo is famous for its stunning natural beauty, with mountains that pour directly into the sea… farming and wineries that sustain the community… and hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails for everyone to enjoy. But did you know that Downtown SLO offers a dynamic street scene featuring eclectic dining opportunities? Let’s take a quick trip around town and see what we can find.
Downtown is a wonderful convergence of old and new that starts with the mission of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa in the center of town. Built in 1772 it is one of the oldest standing structures on the West Coast.
Roaming around town you will find that the mix of local small business and nationwide chains give this downtown a very unique personality. There is plenty to see and do from quick bites to fine dining, and t-shirt shops to fine art… downtown SLO has it all.
The Big Sky Café
Big Sky Café is located in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo just a block from the Mission Plaza. Its brick and weathered steel façade is easy to spot on Broad Street.
Big Sky Café won the 2nd best Breakfast and 3rd Best Cafe in San Luis Obispo In Mustang News annual Poly Picks.
- More info and directions HERE
Lotus is noted as the only authentic Vietnamese cuisine on the central coast. With national favorites like Pho and Bahn Mi on the menu, along with a few Korean selections thrown into the mix, this place has something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.
Luna Red is located in the heart of SLO and boasts a globally inspired menu and an exceptional dining atmosphere. Enjoy their amazing outdoor patio with hand strung lights overhead and the town’s creek passing right beneath you! Indoor and outdoor cocktail bars along with live music on select evenings create an inviting vibe that encapsulates the SLO life attitude. Come here to chill and enjoy a great dining experience.
The Grill House
The Grill House brings you a unique blend of classic American cuisine with a side of German inspiration. Staple American fare like tender burgers and tasty sandwiches compete for your attention with a stout list of brats, a selection of California and European wines, and a separate beer list that will make your head spin. The Grill House also offers an impressive breakfast menu with unique German egg scrambles and traditional American pancakes. Prost!
Firestone Grill is a chain of four locations across Central California and, and it’s one of the more popular places in Downtown SLO. They have been serving up world-famous Tri-tip, burgers, and mouthwatering BBQ fare since 1984. The casual atmosphere welcomes folks of all ages to experience their unforgettable dining experience. Bring the family and order up at the counter or dine on their outdoor patio!
- More info and directions HERE
Old San Luis BBQ is an old school joint whose Santa Maria style BBQ has won the hearts of SLO locals for many years. This walk-up “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant has all the classics you’d expect from a down-home grill spot, with craft beer on tap, locally farmed organic vegetables, artisan sausages, and family style meals. Be sure to enjoy the outdoor patio seating since you won’t be able to wait until you get home. Don’t miss Old San Luis BBQ.
Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen
Finney’s Crafthouse & Kitchen is a family owned and operated American Tavern that offers a made-from-scratch menu ranging from traditional favorites of tacos, flatbread pizzas and signature burgers, to new and innovative items which can be found on their hand-crafted cocktail list. You are sure to find something for everyone here! Feel right at home in the SLO community with their classic brick walls, antique copper bar, and vintage photographs, while listening to Classic Rock soundtracks or watching a sports game on their large TV screens!
San Luis Taqueria
San Luis Taqueria recently opened its doors in 2019 and has since been known for its truly authentic Mexican food and lively atmosphere. Sit out on their open patio and enjoy live mariachi music while you revel in their tasty tacos on homemade tortillas or treat yourself to their infamous California Burrito. Head inside and serve yourself to their traditional homemade salsa bar or their freshly squeezed juice menu!
If you would prefer to cook a meal for yourself, then the downtown SLO’s NIGHT Farmers’ Market has you covered for all the fresh ingredients. This market comes to life every Thursday night and offers much more than your average farmers’ market. Known as “the premiere event” on Thursday nights throughout the city, join the vibrant crowd in purchasing your fresh greens and produce for the week, alongside an overflow of entertainment and cuisine opportunities.
Make sure to check out their website for the weekly entertainment lineup, or just show up and get ready to be surprised by events such as their annual Window Decorating Contest, the Winter Tree Lighting ceremony, the Summer Concert Series, Holiday Parades, and more! Walk away with a hot fresh plate of Mexican food, BBQ, or woodfire pizza. Maybe you won’t be cooking tonight after all.
No matter where you end up eating at the end of a long and festive day in Downtown SLO, you’re going to need some dessert. Lucky for you there are no fewer than a dozen ice creameries, yogurt shops, and cookie factories in the downtown area. These are all local small businesses so be sure to support them with your patronage.
This is just a small sample of the food & dining scene here in San Luis Obispo. Access to fresh local ingredients help the downtown chefs create vibrant seasonal menus that offer something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. When you get into town just park your car and start walking – you’re bound to find something that strikes your fancy within a couple hundred feet. Eat well and be well!
Avila Ranch is situated on an idyllic swath of land nestled between the vineyards on the quiet side of famous Highway 101. Located on the other side of the highway is a collection of big box stores that make the SLO life easy and convenient. Familiar names like Costco, Target, Petco, Home Depot, Bevmo, and many more are all within 5 minutes of your new front door. Also sprinkled just outside Avila’s front gate are local Mom n’ Pop shops from nail salons, to yoga studios, to pet groomers. You name it and it’s probably close by.
Or, if you’re up for the 5-minute drive to downtown SLO, an eclectic world of small shops and boutiques are at your service. Anything and everything from antiques to jewelry shops live next to more names you know like Urban Outfitters, Banana Republic, and Anthropologie. Plenty to eat and drink downtown as well, so you can stay fueled up and continue shopping!