Come for the food, stay for the view on Highway 1
If dinner with a coastal view is your idea of pairing perfection, SLO CAL's scenic Highway 1 is your dream dining destination. Overlook the glittering Pacific Ocean —with all of its wind-swept majesty—you'll dine in a true epicurean paradise. Local wine and beer, vibrant regional produce, fresh seafood and astounding culinary creativity come together to create an unforgettable feast (for the tastebuds and the eyes). We've set the table so you can savor a seaside sunset like never before. Go on, dive in!
Dine at the dunes
The ethereal white sand dunes—which stretch along Highway 1 on SLO CAL's northern coastline—are enthralling any time of the year. Same goes for these coastal eateries in Oceano and Nipomo.
Happy days can still be found at Oceano's Rock n Roll Diner. This cheery 1950s themed restaurant—located within a pair of antique train cars—serves up flavorful American and Greek fare, including old fashioned milkshakes, handmade pita bread and juicy burgers. Less than half a mile from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Area (where you can hop on a horse or ATV), be prepared for dinner and fun, all rolled into one.
A village in the dunes: You need not be a member of the Trilogy at Monarch Dunes living community to enjoy fabulously fresh meals at Adelina's Bistro or Monarch Dunes Golf Club. Order up a fresh salmon filet at Adelina's, grab a quick salad and sandwich at The Monarch Club (also known for delicious cocktails), or treat yourself to happy hour drinks and appetizers at the Butterfly Grille, located at the Monarch Dunes Golf Club. Not only will you be in close proximity to that undulating dunescape and Monarch Butterfly Preserve; you're also just a few steps from an 18-hole green just waiting for a putter.
Waves of pleasure
Romance blossoms in Avila Beach and Pismo Beach, where your dining experience begins with a fiery sunset, peaks with dolphin sightings and ends at a cozy coastal resort, inn or vacation rental.
Recapture that je ne sais quoi. With a bright patio overlooking calm bay waters and French-inspired plates crafted with regional ingredients, Blue Moon Over Avila offers up a coastal date night of passionate proportions. Don't forget to ask your waiter about their hand-picked variety of imported and local wines. Cheers to your love (and that amazing ocean view).
Shucks, do you really mean it? Oysters are an aphrodisiac, after all. Have your fill of luscious half-shells—along with tuna poke, hamachi and scallop carpaccio—at Oyster Loft in Pismo Beach, which offers up a modern take on classic seafood. With a sun-dappled patio featuring sparkling views of the beach and an impeccably crafted menu, you and your sweetie will be in good hands.
Tucked away by the bay
Untold wonders await diners in Los Osos and Baywood Park. Located near Montana de Oro's epic hiking terrain and situated along the chill back bay shore, you'll come hungry and leave zen.
Serious about seafood? Located in the tucked-away town of Baywood, Blue Heron is awash in briny bounty harvested from the deep blue sea. Dine on clam chowder, fish tacos, Dungeness crab legs, crispy Spanish octopus—the sky (or, the sea, rather) is the limit. Afterward, stroll along the secluded back bay, where sea birds flit about the banks and craft beer is at arm's reach.
Linger in Los Osos: First, you'll feel the cool coastal air. Then you'll notice the magnificent 70-to-80-year-old Monterey cypress trees towering in the distance. There is something calming about Los Osos and its laid-back vibe. Kuma is an extension of this relaxed attitude (although when it comes to flavor, the chef means business). With hot ramen bowls brimming with rich broth and creative sushi rolls topped with zesty sauces, you'll enjoy Asian fusion flavors in an easy-going indoor/outdoor locale. Looking for more casual eats after a round of golf? Look no further than Sea Pines Golf Resort.
More bayside bounty: Morro Bay's bustling Embarcadero has a lot to love: saltwater taffy, fishermen hauling in their catch and shopping galore. However, the quiet ocean view (which can be seen from many restaurants located on the water) holds its own charm, too. When eating at Windows on the Water, you'll experience the magic of a coastal sunset cast against iconic Morro Rock. Dine on fresh-caught seafood and local wine, plus decadent desserts like butterscotch crème brulee. Keep an eye peeled for kayakers, otters and seals below. Yes, the options in Morro Bay truly abound. Your table also awaits at Bayside Cafe, Inn at Morro Bay, The Galley, Dorn's, Blue Sky Bistro, Stax Wine Bar and Bistro, and Tognazzini's Dockside (these are just a few of the fishing village's popular seaside eateries). Take your pick!
Take the bait
When you've got the whole family in tow, make sure everyone stays well fed and happy. Fuel up in scenic Cayucos and Cambria and discover why fish who eat together, swim together.
Ride the wave: You've spent the day strolling Cayucos' historic pier and exploring the charming antique shops nearby. Now, dig into some fresh plates the entire family will splash for. Schooners Warf—located right on the beach in Cayucos—is all about serving up savory favorites and classic recipes everyone will rave about. For lunch, dig into flaky Alaskan cod and chips or an albacore tuna melt. For dinner, please the whole gang with lobster mac and local wild-caught fish (the catch of the day) served with garlic mashed potatoes. Everyone loves tacos! If you're looking for a quick bite or lunch to go, swing by Ruddell's Smokehouse in Cayucos for a local favorite: smoked salmon and tuna tacos. Make sure to top with Cayucos hot sauce.
Something for everyone: Looking to spend a few hours bonding with the fam over a fabulous fish-fueled meal? Cambria's Sea Chest, a perfectly kitschy nautical-themed eatery, should be on your travel itinerary. With a game-filled lounge and outdoor fire pit, everyone can stay entertained (and satiated). Calamari, cioppino, several clam dishes, steamed Mussels and more await the “big fish” of the group. The guppies, on the other hand, will love the shrimp cocktail, buttered scampi and dessert options (did I mention ice cream and cheesecake is on the menu?). Traveling with your in-laws and want to really knock their socks off? Impress them with a reservation at Moonstone Bar & Grill, located on uncrowded Moonstone Beach in Cambria. Enjoy American style seafood as well as top-notch steak, lamb, chicken and pork dishes paired with local produce. Yes, you may even spy sea lions basking on the rocks!
Taste the memories
The drive north on Highway 1 is as breathtaking as you might imagine in your dreams: crashing waves, dramatic cliffs and epic hiking trails leading to black sand beaches and secret waterfalls. Of course, the dining in San Simeon and Ragged Point is just as magical.
Dream vista: Nestled atop a scenic bluff overlooking the dynamic Northern SLO CAL coastline, the Cavalier Coastal Kitchen in San Simeon is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (which means you have no excuse not to go). Order up locally caught seafood and premium Hearst Ranch Beef, cooked just how you like it. You can also now order from The Truck, a casual food truck dining option available at Hearst Ranch Winery in San Simeon helmed by Chef Santos of Paso Robles’ Il Cortile Ristorante and La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant. Each dish is made to pair perfectly with Hearst Ranch wines, so you can go with the flow. Speaking of Hearst, the late publishing mogul's famed castle is located just a stone's throw away. Why not make a weekend out of it?
Edge of the universe: Dining at the Ragged Point Inn adds new meaning to “dinner with a view.” Imagine this. You're at the edge of the world, looking out across an endless expanse of aqua ocean. Whether you nosh on perfectly seared scallops, butternut squash bisque or soft shell crab, your attention will remain on the tide. It's not rude to stare—your dinner companions will be doing the same!