It's true that locals love their kale, local greens and fresh pressed juices. With ample bike lanes, fresh air and miles of open space trails and beaches, there's a reason why SLO CAL is often ranked as one of the healthiest places to live and play. That said, we still know how to get down to flavor town. Sometimes you just need a big, beefy burger and good whiskey on ice. When that carnivorous craving strikes, we know just where to feed. Check out these five meaty hangouts and whiskey pairings.
1. Eureka Burger
Mouth, meet meat! With eight juicy burgers on the menu, including a tangy short rib Kimchi burger, 28 day dry-aged burger, and—our fave—the bone marrow burger (with shiitake bone marrow butter, charbroiled onion, mustard aioli, and roasted Roma tomato)—you cannot go wrong burger-wise at Eureka Burger in Downtown San Luis Obispo. A full bar allows for plenty of cocktail and craft beer options, but it's their whiskey selection that truly stands out above the pack. I mean c'mon! Any place with a “whiskey book” filled with options from smooth to smokey is going to know how to best pair your burger to your bourbon. Let the pros do their job. Just be sure to ask for extra napkins.
2. Barton's Kitchen Window
OK, so it's technically not a burger, it's a meatloaf sandwich. Still, all we see is bread, beef, and delicious bourbon barbecue glaze topped with bacon and fried shallots! Sounds like a burgery-beefwich to us! Located at Grey Wolf Cellars off Highway 46 West in Paso Robles Wine Country, this is the perfect stop to satiate your savory needs while en route from northern SLO CAL to the coast. The best part? You can sample locally made whiskey onsite, or grab a bottle to go. KROBAR Craft Distillery is famous for its rye whiskey rested in American Oak Barrels, a must-taste experience. You'll also want to try their Americana Bourbon, and (get ready for this) port finished rye whiskey, which is (yep) a beautiful ruby red color. How's that for feeding your wild side?
3. Granada Hotel & Bistro
Sophisticated yet funky—that's what you can expect from the thoughtful, trendy provisions at Granada Hotel and Bistro in downtown San Luis Obispo. Loaded with signature bacon-onion jam, cheddar cheese, aioli, tomato, and crunchy house-made pickles, this burger is as artful as the restaurant itself. You'll want to Instagram your surroundings just as much as the burger, and it's a good thing because you can totally stay a while, depending on the vacancy at the inn. What to wash down your side of fresh cut fries with? Try a classic Old Fashioned with old forester bourbon, demerara sugar, angostura bitters, and—of course—a snazzy cherry. Let's make #whiskeywednesday a thing. Who's with us.
4. Thomas Hill Organics
Rare, medium, or well done, this burger is all about terroir. With a super locally sourced menu that changes with the seasons, Thomas Hill Organics may not be your first thought when the word “burger” comes to mind. This celebrated farm-to-table joint is, however, located in Paso Robles, where folks love their beef, no matter what the micro-climate. Stop in for lunch, and order up the “painted hills grass-fed burger,” laden with romesco, cambazola, applewood smoked bacon, and caramelized onion all on a fresh brioche bun. Sure, they have a fabulous garden burger (what farm-to-table eatery worth its salt wouldn't), but that's not the point of this blog post. Ask your friendly bartender or waiter to recommend a great whiskey, whether you want something locally sourced or Kentucky-made. Just remember to thank your local farmer for this fabulous spread!
5. Flavor Factory
Beach burgers are the best burgers. Morro Bay's Flavor Factory is a burger mecca, churning out some of the sloppiest and sumptuous slabs of beef around. Many locals agree: There may not be a beefier burger along the coast. Made with a hand-ground combo of premium ground chuck and flavorful pork, expect a fatty patty topped to epic proportions (we recommend ordering the burger with Ortega chili, cheddar, and bacon and we double dog dare you to fit it all in your mouth). Although Flavor Factory serves beer and does not have a full bar, you're not far from a satisfying sip of hooch. Located a few miles south in the bayside town of Los Osos, Foggy Bottom Distillery offers up locally made bourbon, and won't mess up your day of coastal cruising.